The "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" (the smallest state with the longest name), the "Ocean State" (I think they got that by arguing that the state has the highest percentage of coastline per square mile) is a bundle of contradictions on the question of religion.On the one hand, the state was founded by religious free thinkers, who did not feel bound by the Puritan orthodoxy in CT and MA. The first synagogue in the US is in Newport. On the other hand, the state is now heavily Catholic--the most Catholic state in the union. But, as Bishop Tobin knows, that does not mean RI Catholics "Pay, Pray, and Obey." I tend to think of RI Catholics (it's my home state) as Roger Williams Catholics.At any rate, I was sad to see this scuffle arise in Cranston. Whatever you think of her cause, it's hard to deny that the young woman has a tremendous amount of courage--and she lost her faith for reasons that are the hardest to address existentially if not theoretically--the problem of suffering.
Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.