22 April 2012

Solidarity with the Sisters

I received my first nine years of formal education from nuns in Catholic Schools. It is fair to say that as a boy my relations with many members of the Sisters of St. Joseph were . . . how to say it? . . . strained. Since I left Sacred Heart School, I have not had any sustained interaction with nuns. And while I suspect we'd still not see eye-to-eye on lots of matters, the nuns consistently have been on the right side of intra-church disagreements. So, I read this column from The Los Angeles Times with a sense of solidarity. I think the reason comes out in this passage about how some of the women in the church see their conflict with the hierarchy:
Sister Campbell said this is all about a "clash of cultures" within the church. The male leaders live in a monarchy, while for decades, good sisters have lived in the real world, pursuing democratic principles in their service to the poor and their exploration of the new.

"Where was Jesus?" she asked. "Jesus was with the poor, with the marginalized, with the outcasts."
Of course, it is (to be charitable) very difficult to reconcile democracy as I understand it with fealty to scriptures.* But the nuns take the right perspective - that of the marginalized. And they at least seem to engage in the struggle to confront the world in a democratic way.
*P.S.: I resolve this tension with little strain by simply ignoring the scriptures. One favor the Sisters of St. Joseph did do, was to (literally) beat the faith out of me.

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Blogger Natasha Mhatre said...

I have to say I share this ambiguity you feel towards nuns and the Catholic church in general.

I'm from a pretty middle class family in India. The only opportunity that I had for a good education, at a price my parents could afford, was from a school run by an order of Catholic nuns. At school, while non-Catholics were never coerced into it, I grew up with at least a superficial knowledge of the Bible. I've always been thankful for it when I read. There are so many sub-concious/ deliberate references to it in writing that are accessible to me as a result of this. Literature would be impoverished without this knowledge.

On a more political and social level, there are forced/frenzied conversions to Christianity in a lot of India. But there are also hospitals & schools where the state derelicts it's duties. There is the distribution of food, medicine, other forms of relief, through missions. Its hard not be at least a little ambivalent.

There's less of gender divide on this front of the Catholic church, but yes, the nuns remained rooted in a place. And most of the priests move on from what they would call 'service', to bigger and better things.

23 April, 2012 18:27  
Blogger Stan B. said...

Yeah, be thankful you didn't have to spend your high school years in the "company" of Brothers- there was little, if anything enlightening round their way...

23 April, 2012 19:12  

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