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Catholic Nuns Support House Passage of HCR

From the AP, endorsement of HCR by the leaders of 60 orders, representing 59,000 nuns:

Meanwhile, in a rare public disagreement that will reverberate among the nation's 70 million Catholics, leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 nuns sent lawmakers a letter urging lawmakers to pass the Senate health care bill. Expected to come before the House by this weekend, the measure contains abortion funding restrictions that the bishops say don't go far enough.

"Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions," said the letter signed by 60 leaders of women's religious orders. "It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments ... in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."

UPDATE: Here's the letter. (Thanks, Mollie!)

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Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.

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As if the poor Vatican investigators didn't have enough to deal with!

Good for the nuns.

you go, girls!

Tihs is really deplorable and regrettable.

What is deplorable and regrettable about it, Jim?

Not one of the 300 bishops could see his way clear to support the health reform...as if all the convoluted language, with 3000 pages is such a clear violation of Catholic values. {sexual abuse of minors is not clear] However a majority of the Dem. pro-life legislators will be OK with the Senate bill and language. How come only conservative bishops can say 'USCCB opinions/papers/docs have NO standing in MY diocese'. Is this another 'teaching' we all must obey? David is worried about Vatican investigators? What would you think Cardinal Rode's position on the Senate language will be ? :-)

The nuns' example should inspire the weak-kneed, lily-livered, chicken-hearted congresswomen/men to say NO to the Republicans/bishops/insurance companies and PASS the health care bill.

If (hopefully when) the bill passes and no federal funds wind up being spent on abortion, the American Bishops and others in the pro-life movement will claim all of their protests prevented anyone from daring to implement all of the alleged pro-abortion features of the bill. After all, didn't they stop FOCA?

They should be investigated. Oh wait, they are! Good.

This is a watershed action which will justly sting the leadership of American bishops which has been directionless for some time. This is huge.

Heres the sisters letterCertainly American nuns are much more directly in touch with the nation's uninsured than the American bishops. Many nuns are on the "front lines" in schools, hospitals, and charities working directly with the people. I do not necessarily begrudge the bishops their privileged lives, but I think it does remove them from the lives of average (and particularly poor) Americans.

Yes, the nuns nursed the wounded of both armies on Civil War battlefields without asking their religion, political party, or sexual orientation.And they nursed the lepers at Carville when no one else would do so.Etc., etc., etc.

Proposal: Give the hierarchy to the nuns for a couple of millennia & see how they'd do things. My guess? Better.

Uppity nuns!Things were better off when they were kept barefoot and pregnant ..Oops, right gender; wrong vocation."I do not necessarily begrudge the bishops their privileged lives --"I sure as hell do.

"What is deplorable and regrettable about it, Jim?"This is:"And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments $250 million in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."So much for unity. So much for civility. So much for respect.

I sure as hell do.Jimmy,Think of it this way. It would be a nuisance to kneel and kiss bishops' rings if you were constantly bumping into them at the supermarket or drugstore or on the bus or subway.

On the day he became pope, I sent Benedict an email suggesting that, as his first order of business, he elevate 50 female cardinals. (He hasn't gotten back to me yet.)

It's a nuisance with or without their familiarity. That is one thing I will never do.

So much for unity. So much for civility. So much for respect.But truth is important, too. I guess they could have said, "And despite perfectly understandable though mistaken claims to the contrary made by some of the most wise, well intentioned, and sincere people imaginable . . . "

I'll go with the nuns. They educated me for eight years, and very well, too. The only time I ever came face to face with a bishop, he slapped me.

David - yes, they could have!Or, they could have said something like this: 'Having analyzed what is in the Senate Bill, we believe that its pro-life safeguards are adequate. We respect the USCCB's judgment on this matter, but our own considered judgment is that this bill does not present a danger to the unborn. We stand with the USCCB in opposing Federal government funding of abortion and support their efforts to protect the lives of the uborn.'

Grant, I meant to add, it's deplorable and regrettable that they're hand-delivering this mean-spirited message to every Representative. Istm they are going to some length to dis the bishops.

I see, Jim. What you really meant is that the statement wasn't nice enough. Or sufficiently deferential. (Incidentally, I find the "REAL prolife" language silly, but not mean-spirited.) I have no idea why "hand-delivering" the message to representatives would bother you. How else should they communicate their arguments to Congress? I take it you were deeply unsettled by the bishops' anti-FOCA postcard campaign?

David yes, they could have!Jim,While I am glad the nuns made their statement, I agree that your rewrite is preferable. So I guess we have found a point of agreement!

I don't understand how their letter is either uncivil or disrespectful or mean-spirited. Quite the opposite, it is clear & concise, and life-affirming. In a civil society, we are allowed to state our opinions clearly and freely, without fear of violence. The nuns made no direct attack on, or even a direct allusion to, the USCCB.Besides, nuns aren't part of the hierarchy. They are laypeople. As such, why should they present a unified front with the USCCB? I second David Nickol: better to speak the truth than to present an arbitrary unified front.

I didn't see any reference at all to the bishops in the sisters' letter. It mentioned only the Catholic Health Association by name, saying it joined with them in supporting the Senate Bill. (The USCCB letter in contrast specifically mentioned and disagreed with the Catholic Health Association). I thought the sisters' letter was just fine and I was very glad to see the Immaculate Heart Sisters signed on; they taught me in grade school in South Philly.

I'm confused by your critique, Jim. By not mentioning the bishops, the sisters' letter goes out of its way to...disrespect the bishops? Perhaps the sisters felt "we stand with the bishops" and so forth went without saying? (Making the same mistake we've all been making around here, apparently.) I see no reason they should have to go into a lot of ritualistic "with all due respect" language just to say what they think. And since the USCCB isn't mentioned, why assume the "false claims" part is a reference to the bishops? Their are plenty of other lobbying groups making demonstrably false claims about the bill's impact on abortion funding right now.

Agree with those in favor of plain English over obsequious Latin.Too much baloney has been larded onto this discussion already.(Soooo proud to see my old teachers' congregations on the list.)

I have to agree with Jim on this one point. The nun's letter is going to be seen (quite accurately) as being in disagreement with the USCCB, and it will only be natural to read "despite false claims to the contrary" as a criticism of the arguments put forward by the USCCB against the bill. The nuns are, quite correctly (in my opinion) criticizing the bishops, but they could have been less blunt and still made their point.

This letter makes me think of the movie "Doubt" and how so much of the Church's history over the last 50 years was so neatly captured in that one little drama. Let's hear it for straighforward, plain spoken English.

Jim, you raise the issue of respect. that is a serious issue, but it cuts all ways. If the USCCB position is the expression of a prudential judgment, why would the bishops not speak in terms of giving advice, of saying that they RECOMMENDED a vote against the bill instead of speaking in terms of OPPOSITION. Where is rthe bishops' expression of respect for those legislators who have worked so hard to try to fashion a good bill. For example, Sen. Robert Casey. We kn ow how some bishops treated him during the 2008 election campaign. Do the bishops, in you view regularly show respect for lay people who are trying to exercise their competence in matters of public life. Just think about the way some bishops dealt with competent people who tried to guide their handling of the sex abuse issue.If I'm not mistaken, there have been calls for "solidarity with the bishop" whatever he says about public matters, even if what he says can be no more than the expression of his prudential judgment. In my view, solidarity is fine, if it's a two-way street. No more clericalism's "my way or the highway" in prudential matters. They do deserve respect for their office. they ought to work hard to earn respect for their prudential judgments.

Cheers to the Sisters ! We all know where the Bishops have chosen to stand. But aren't there any groups of male religious who have the backbone to speak up for health care reform and let the chips fall where they may? Come on fellows. Step up to the plate!

They found 60 people who support the current bill. So this is news?

"I see, Jim. What you really meant is that the statement wasnt nice enough. Or sufficiently deferential."I suppose I didn't think it was nice enough. I used the term "civility". I did find it somewhat lacking in that vitue.I would have liked to see some manifestation of solidarity with the bishops, even if Network doesn't agree with their analysis. We're unified by one faith, one set of beliefs. We're one church. They are our teachers in faith and morals, and this is an issue with a moral dimension. It's not outrageous to ask the various sectors of the church to show a modicum of civility and solidarity with one another on these important issues, especially in public utterances meant for external consumption.

"Im confused by your critique, Jim. By not mentioning the bishops, the sisters letter goes out of its way todisrespect the bishops? I did think their reference to "false claims" and "REAL pro-life stance" was to the bishops. But you're right - there are other pro-life groups making similar claims to the bishops'. Maybe I've just got bishops on the brain today.

I wonder if the sisters notified the Bishops beforehand. Or is this situation similar to the Notre Dame affair where, if I remember correctly, the local Bishop learned of the Obama choice for an honorary degree almost at the last moment?

Hi, Bernard, you're quite right that the bishops and their various staffers as in the Pro-Life Secretariat shouldn't be exempt from rules of civility and respect for others. The handful of their statements that I've been focusing on in all of these dicussions didn't strike me as out of line, but of course this is one of those things that is in the eye of the beholder.I agree it's not difficult to dredge up examples of bishops behaving badly. I'd like to see the sisters hold themselves to a higher standard of comportment than *that*. :-)

"Lets hear it for straighforward, plain spoken English."Clear and concise writing needn't exclude civility. There is a difference between respectful and obsequious.

Btw, I realize this is a tangent, but it's a serious question: if the bill passes, would religious sisters who currently receive no retirement benefits be eligible for better medical care?

Jim,The reality is that the bishops have made serious mistakes in faith and morals. We are unique in our times that conscientious Catholics cannot be guillotined for standing up to the bishops. Newman made a point that we should not choose the bishops over our conscience.It is not exusable to explain our wrong actions by stating that we followed the bishops. They have been wrong many times.

If American Catholics should speak with one voice, then a lot more people will need to be brought into the discussion. Our bishops can't just talk amongst themselves on political issues then expect all of the rest of us to just go along with whatever they decide. Some posters question whether the sisters communicated with the bishops before issuing this letter. Did the bishops include the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (and similar organizations) in their own conversations around this bill? As Bernard Dauenhauer pointed out, solidarity is a two way street. Communication works in both directions.

Hi, Irene - I think the sisters are entitled to their own opinions, and to speak them. Whatever else they are, they are also highly visible members of the same church as the bishops, and whatever they say will be perceived in that light. I think they need to keep this in mind in their public statements.

Jim,Is this what you had in mind for civility?"[G]roups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as Catholic or prolife that endorse the Senate version whatever their intentions are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community; and ensuring the failure of genuine, ethical health-care reform. Such groupscreate confusion at exactly the moment Catholics need to think clearly about the remaining issues in the health-care debate. They also provide the illusion of moral cover for an unethical piece of legislation.

"Did the bishops include the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (and similar organizations) in their own conversations around this bill?"--------- (Have any bishops said anything about the investigation of nuns? Have those who pressed for it issued any explanations? Has any bishop told the investigators they are not welcome in his diocese? Have any bishops offered to be present when the investigators are investigating the nuns in their dioceses? Have any bishops offered to supply the paper shredders, computers, etc., which the investigators require?)

In the statement issued two days ago by the president of the USCCB, we read the following:"This analysis of the flaws in the legislation is not completely shared by the Catholic Health Association. They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after passage of the final bill. The bishops, however, judge that the flaws are so fundamental that they vitiate the good that the bill intends to promote. Assurances that the moral objections to the legislation can be met only after the bill is passed seem a little like asking us in Midwestern parlance, to buy a pig in a poke."It seems to me that the last phrase is unnecessary, even somewhat snide.

Well said, John Page! And the comment is more than rude. Many of the moral objections have in fact been met. And when the Bishops--whose own credibility has been thrown into such question lately-- insist that any assurances the legislation can be amended to respond more explicitly to those moral objections are simply not to be believed, they are treading on dangerous ground.

One should really consider the source. This is a group of nuns from congregations that are dying, and dying for good reasons typified by this defiant statement which in its result is pro-abortion. I suspect that if you polled these nuns you would find a whole tissue of Church issues upon which they dissent. It will be better for the Church and for our country when these congregations finally pass from the scene. They are being and will be replaced by vibrant young congregations that are loyal to the Church. They will continue to do damage but not for many more years.

defiant statement which in its result is pro-abortion . . . .Eggloff,Oh really? Anyone who supports the Senate bill's language over the Stupak language is "pro-abortion"?

Anyone who supports the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade is de facto proabortion. To ignore the inevitable federal funding of the killing of children in the womb is de facto proabortion. I am sitting here looking at the future of women's religious congregations. No pantsuits. No frowns. Eleven smiling faces of fully-habited nuns of the Nashville Dominicans. According to this mailer their median age is 36. Fifty sisters in formation with an average of 15 entering each year. Unhappy dissent equals the death of congregation. Happy fidelity equals youth and growth.

This also gives the lie to Obama and the Catholic left that they want common ground. There is no more common ground position on abortion than no federal funding. It is only the extemes on teh proabortion left who want federal funding. Obama lied to the Pope. He lied at Notre Dame. The Catholic left are complicit in the lies.

I'm sorry, but I don't follow Eggloff's arguments here. Perhaps he could further explain:1. What does the increase in vocations in the Nashville Dominicans have to do with health care reform? 2. How do nuns without pantsuits or frowns chalk up to "unhappy dissent" and the "death of congregation"? 3. How does "this" [what does "this" refer to] give the lie to Obama and the Catholic left [who say?] they want common ground? 4. Common ground on what? 5. What did Obama lie about at ND? To the Pope? 6. Who is the "Catholic left"? How would you define those in it?7. How were the Catholic left complicit in the lies?

John Page - I agree with you.Joe McFaul - I didn't see anything uncivil about the passage you quoted. Folks can disagree civilly.

1. What does the increase in vocations in the Nashville Dominicans have to do with health care reform?The Nuns who elbowed their way into this debate in order to undercut the Bishops have no credibility. They are parts of dying congregations. An example of the future is the Nashville Dominicans.2. How do nuns without pantsuits or frowns chalk up to unhappy dissent and the death of congregation?Bitter unhappy dissenters do not attract vocations. 3. How does this [what does "this" refer to] give the lie to Obama and the Catholic left [who say?] they want common ground?The proposed healthcare bill is the this. 4. Common ground on what?Abortion.5. What did Obama lie about at ND? To the Pope?That he wants common ground.6. Who is the Catholic left? How would you define those in it?You.7. How were the Catholic left complicit in the lies?By supporting the notion that Obama wants common ground.

"One should really consider the source."We should be clear about this. The communique has been issued by an organization called NETWORK - "a national Catholic social justice lobby". Here is how they describe themselves:"NETWORK is a progressive voice within the Catholic community that has been influencing Congress in favor of peace and justice for more than 30 years."Through lobbying and legislative advocacy, we strive to close the gap between rich and poor and to dismantle policies rooted in racism, greed and violence.""Lobby" is the key word here. This statement is not issued on the letterhead of any order of women's religious. Nor is this a case of religious sisters speaking to Congress directly from the classroom, the ER, and the cloister. Nor is NETWORK out doing community organizing or feeding the hungry.Their office is on E Street. NETWORK seems to be in touch with the poor and vulnerable exactly to the extent that the USCCB is. Or the National Rifle Association.

Eggloff, thanks for your clarification. Re the following questions:1. I have met many of the younger Ann Arbor Dominicans. They are, indeed, happy and devout, and I expect they will make wonderful contributions to the Church. Does it follow that a nun who occasionally frowns and wears a pant suit is any less of a nun with a sincere calling?3. I still don't see how the health care bill gives the lie to Obama and the Catholic Left's desire to seek "common ground" on abortion. Is it because you believe it does not contain sufficient language to safeguard against federally funded abortions? If so, what language would you point to as evidence? 6. I'm a failed Catholic who has left the communion line but continues to attend Mass with husband and son. It would be unfair to use me as any sort of yardstick by which to measure "the Catholic left." Perhaps you could use some other criteria?

Do you know what else is dying out? home cooked meals, free play for children and marriage. Obviously, these are all welcome trends because virtue and credibility totally depend on the number and average age of people who hold a particular view.Nuns have more credibility than the bishops. For one thing, they get no favors and no advancement here, and might even be expecting retaliation, whereas the bishops . . . what can I say. Many have shown how low they are willing to go to preserve their institutional prerogatives.

If I may say this publicly - I think Jean evinces an integrity and sensitivity that, to my mind, makes her a succeeding Catholic. I pray that somehow the journey works out for you.

I have listened to---and read---your one-sided debate in silence long enough. If it is NOT true that our tax dollars will be used to subsidize insurance companies that pay for abortion, why is it that Democrats have dug their heels in on their refusal to NOT reinstate The Hyde Amendment? It is the ONLY thing that is keeping Stupak and his principled pro-life group from voting for the bill. The answer is obvious: He is right. He is honest. He is the Saint Thomas More of our time. Look at yourselves. If it weren't so tragic it would be laughable: you Commonweal Catholics spend reams of paper arguing over the most excruciatingly obtuse theology, yet you feign your inability to understand what this change in the abortion language will make to our country. I don't buy it. It is straightforward and simple. Admit it: you are liberal Democrats first, and Catholics, second. After forty-seven years of reading and promoting your magazine, I can't ignore that fact any longer. It breaks my heart---because I'm not sure I can live without Richard Alleva---but I am cancelling my subscription. "So what?" (I can hear you sneering.) I am only one traditional Catholic on your long, long list of like-minded readers. You can liken me to that one insignificant child that never gets to see the light of God's wondrous world!

I have disagreed with Jean (with respect) about her approach and I have and will continue to disagree with Jim about his steadfast support of his and other bishops , even when they ar ewrongheaded,I think Egloff is over the top.The tension here between a leadership that continues to lose credibility and the folks on the ground struggling to live their faith is evident.Of course that's why the curia wanted a visitation - the same old problem of trying to get folks to knuckle under to the "continuation" VII brought.I can clearly see why folks here cheer the nuns.Thery're tired of yes men who will only support the powers that be, right or wrong.

Jim Pauwels: I'm so glad you have been gracious enough to deem Jean Raber a Catholic with integrity -- and I agree. But maybe you should try to be so generous with the staff at Commonweal, or others who don't believe obsequiousness to a bishop is the highest form of Catholic devotion, or else discontinue your ugly moralizing.If you can't help yourself, which I'm sure you can't, you can cast aspersions on EJ Dionne for his column in the Washington Post today:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/17/AR201003...

why is it that Democrats have dug their heels in on their refusal to NOT reinstate The Hyde Amendment?As has been said repeatedly, it is the Republicans who have dug in their heels, refusing to allow any substantive change to the bill in the Senate. They have promised to filibuster at any opportunity they get.If you can get one Republican Senator to support the most sweeping limitations on abortion coverage in decades, I bet the Stupak amendment would pass in the Senate. For purely partisan reasons, they will not support that effort, and the Democrats have no choice in the matter.

Note that the fury on the 'right' is getting to a higher pitch as the health care vote is getting to look like a pass this w/e. The same thing happened with the honorary degree at ND. Would that the 'right' get see the paper degree at a document dump in suburbsn Washington DC and calm down. and know that western civilization is not passing. Wait till they experience worldwide hierarchal resignations soon.

Better yet, read E. J.'s column here!http://commonwealmagazine.org/listen-sistersP.S. and a new post on this topic, here:http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=7336

The Sisters have great moral authority, and seem to be in touch with reality.The incredible revelations about Pope Benedict and Cardinal Brady are one index that the hierarchy are losing all credibility by the hour, and are completely out of touch with reality.We need a Council.

Christina, the House voted for the Stupak amendment and would do so again if the Senate were willing to consider it. It's not because no Republicans will let it get through the current filibuster rules. What's your answer to that? Why aren't the bishops begging pro-life Catholic Republican Senators to relent on their position to allow a vote on the Stupak amendment? Murkowski, Lemieux, Risch, Brownback, Bunning, Vitter, Collins, Johanns, and Voinovich all list themselves as Catholics. Why do the bishops give them a free pass in allowing their priorities as politicians to trump their priorities as Catholics? IOKIYAR. We all know the answer.

Hey, who said anything about standing up for the bishops---or for so-called Catholic Republicans? I am speaking for myself. I cannot ignore my own very loud, informed conscience, that's all. I believe Mr. Stupak is also listening to his.

David G.--Your fine analysis of the abortion language in the Senate bill, as well as the convincing analyses provided by Matthew Boudway and Peter Nixon, have convinced me to support the Senate Bill. "It's not perfect," as Sister Carol has said, and it might need amendment once theory meets reality after enactment, but I can support the Senate bill, in much the same way Fr. Imbelli expressed his support yesterday, with "all sides ... acknowledg[ing] the fallibility of their prudential judgment, and that it is entered upon with a certain salutary 'fear and trembling,' since so much is at stake."Because I've valued your thoughts on sorting out the effects of the bill on abortion funding, I hope you won't mind my commenting that I hope your post at 10:07 was a heat-of-the-moment post that you'll reconsider after reflection, at least in part. Emotions are admittedly high, but the ad hominem nature of the post seems, IMHO, beneath your professionalism. "[U]gly moralizing," for example--was that necessary? My comment is intended in the spirit of charity that should bind all of us as Christians, and specifically as Catholic Christians.

Just want to add:-I see NCR editorial endorses the bill (I understand thery're not "traditional Catholic, whatever that means.)-See Miollie's latest thread on Dionne and the "correction" from Cardinal George, etc.-Thanks to Bill C. for a real right to life comment (I hate to say as usual.)

Jim:Is it a "civil disagreement" to question someone's genuineness as a Catholic without cause?Is it civil, and more importantly, intellectually honest, to paint with broad brush strokes the position of fellow Catholics?Is it a lttle arrogant to dismiss out of hand the genuine opintions of fellow Catholics who know a lot more than you do on healthcare issues?I civilly suggest the author of the quoted article is factually wrrong, refuses to engage the discussion in good faith and the tone is arrogant.

William Collier, thanks for your comments. Yes, there was a "heat of the moment" passion to the comment, but I truly feel it is beyond the bounds to question someone's faith and integrity as Jim Pauwels (and Mark Proska, whoever he is) has done with Grant and the staff of Commonweal. I should be more charitable, yes, and I have hopefully not fallen into the same trap of questioning people's Catholic faith because of their stand on this piece of legislation. I'll try to be more constructive, but I also don't want to let such ad hominems pass. Thanks again. david

The happy, habited, faithful and growing congregations of Nuns have chimed in. Guess who they stand with? The Truth and the Bishops.[The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious CMSWR represents over 103 communities and 10,000 members.] Council of Major Superiors of Women ReligiousP.O. Box 4467 Washington, D.C. 20017-0467Telephone: (202) 832-2575 FAX: (202) 832-6325 E-mail: cmswr@ix.netcom.comMarch 17, 2010In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United States Bishops in opposition to the Senates version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection. Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Churchs position on critical issues of health care reform.The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the second conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States, believes the Bishops position is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation.Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, R.S.M.PresidentOn behalf of the Membership of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

While it's unfortunate to have misleading and disparaging allegations made against one in a public forum, being considered in the same company as Jim Pauwels takes all the sting out of the nastiness.

David G - I haven't questioned the Catholicism of anyone here, and hope I never do. I asked the question, 'in what sense is Commonweal a Catholic magazine?'. Is there something about that question that is unfair?

Joe McFaul: point to some specifics, and maybe we can have a conversation.

"Christina, the House voted for the Stupak amendment and would do so again if the Senate were willing to consider it. "The Senate did consider it, and rejected it. They could consider it again. If the threat of a filibuster exists, then it would seem there are remedies to that as well. That those remedies would be difficult and time-consuming doesn't mean they're impossible.

I wrote: "Is there something about that question that is unfair?"I suppose that is like saying, "I think your baby's ugly - do you mind my saying that"?I do regret saying things, also in the heat of passion, that are better off unsaid. (And perhaps unthought). I apologize for that.Some time, when this is behind us and we've all cooled down, I would love to see a discussion of what it means to be a Catholic publication. But probably this isn't the right time!

Sorry, but that sounds like Cardinal George who wants independent catholic publications to be subject to the Bishops(right or wrong).Yuk!

A suggestion for anyone confused about "what it means to be a Catholic publication," and "in what sense is Commonweal a Catholic magazine":Read Catholic Authors, a fascinating collection of biographies edited by Matthew Hoehn, OSB. (St. Mary's Abbey, 1947.) Many of the writers mention the fact that they were published in Commonweal. The range of genres, points of view, etc., was wide. Catholics who are saddened by the narrowing of the Church are grateful that Commonweal and NCR have resisted the trend. http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=hoehn&sts=t&tn=catholic...

Sorry, bad link to the Hoehn book. This one's better, I hope: http://tiny.cc/AOHMK

I don't see what's wrong with what the sisters said; feisty, yes, but as I read it, they're trying to urge peopl to look at ALL pro-life issues, not just on abortion.But, really, I don't know why Jim P. is taking so much heat here. He thought the sisters should word their missive in a different way. But if he was impugning anyone's integrity as a Catholic, i didn't see it. My heavens, y'all, Jim thinks I'm a good Catholic, and that takes a pretty big dollop of charity.I wonder to what extent some of the heat here comes not so much from what Jim has said, but from the way women have sometimes been dismissed by the Church. Am thinking of those Beguines of long ago who went through some tough times with the church authorities, but a good idea is hard to kill, and a good woman hard to keep muzzled!

No, not my implication at all, Mark.I'm not sure I even agree with the nuns' assessment of the health care initiative, even though not closing ranks with "the girls" might cost me my charter membership in the Great Lakes Chapter of the International Women's Conspiracy.But when women are on the side of truth and right, they'll figure out how to be heard, even if they're annoying or abrasive, and even if the Church tries to ignore them. I was thinking more along the lines of St. Birgitta of Sweden or Joan of Arc and the Beguines I mentioned above. (Their history makes interesting reading! See "Cities of Ladies" by Walter Simmons.) I would never argue that it logically follows that, if it's hard to keep a good woman muzzled, it is easy to muzzle a bad one. Speaking AS a woman, as I so often do, I would say it's difficult to muzzle ANY woman. I suspect we might agree on that point.

"and a good woman hard to keep muzzled!"If the implication is that it's easy to keep a bad woman muzzled, that's just one more thing we dont' see eye to eye on.

"I would say its difficult to muzzle ANY woman. I suspect we might agree on that point."We do--thank God!

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