A reader writes:
That's a really discouraging story. When I keep reading your posts about the Catholic hierarchy, I usually have the same reaction. I always think that the Church is a lot bigger than its administrators and intellectuals, and that there's a lot of good being done by a lot of nuns on the ground. So no matter how discouraging the present Pope might be, you can take solace in other parts.
I have a friend in Chicago who sets up boxes to collect clothes in high rise buildings. People clean out their closets, and he takes the clothes to a Catholic Charities run organization that helps battered women get on their feet. They find them places to live, help them get jobs, etc. The clothes are useful because they tend to be nice professional stuff -- good for job interviews.
When you meet people doing work like that, it really makes you feel good about the Church specifically and religion generally. If you spend all your time reading about fundamentalists, or about intolerant angry people, it's really discouraging. But when you look at what religion can be on the ground -- what it very often is -- it gives you a lot of hope.
But these whacked out people at the DC diocese are actually preventing nuns from helping people.
Reading the Washington Times article on this, I am reminded of my own family life. My father, very much a traditional Finnish Lutheran (and the son of a Lutheran pastor from Queens Village), has long made it clear that he cannot "condone" my sexuality. This became somewhat of a problem when trying to bring home my boyfriend of five years for Christmas. We went back and forth on the matter, and eventually he laid down the law; either I could come home alone, or not at all.
A few weeks into January, after I had stayed away, he called me to say how sorry he was for that decision, and explained himself by saying that he didn't want to give the impression to the gathered family that he was O.K. with homosexual relationships.
As I read about the DC Archidioces' actions, the biggest thing that's clear to me is that this is as much about the perceptions that the church feels will arise than about any conflict with doctrine. I hope that they will come to realize, as my father did, that the unconditional love mandated by the Gospels and two thousand years of Christian teaching is far more important than keeping up appearances.
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