There have been updates since my posting of two blog posts regarding the spotlights on Sister Laurel for apparently offending students at a Catholic high school as well as the mansion-gate situation Archbishop Gregory is involved in.
Here are the two original posts:
To date, I have not read or heard the talk this nun gave so it is hard for me to really defend or condemn her statements.
However, as a graduate in social science of psychology I can say that studies on causation and correlation regarding homosexuality and external factors is extremely difficult to rely on. In light of this, IF Sister Laurel made comments saying masturbation causes a boy to become gay etc, then I am afraid to say that this is unscientific and unfounded according to the studies I have read. Perhaps she is being misquoted?
However, Aquinas college’s president seems to believe that Sister Laurel overstepped her expertise and misspoke:
“In her presentation, Sister Jane Dominic spoke clearly on matters of faith and morals. Her deviation into realms of sociology and anthropology was beyond the scope of her expertise. – See more at: http://www.aquinascollege.edu/college-statement-charlotte-catholic-sister-jane-dominic/#sthash.qQs2HsCA.dpuf“
The Catholic school held a meeting recently where nearly 1,000 attended. According to the Catholic New Herald, the meeting was extremely hostile filled with disrespect and hate.
A counter petition defending the nun was made online:
Father Matthew Kauth, the chaplain of the school offered his apologies and a statement in which he claims that Sister Laurel gave a talk he was not expecting.
Here is the statement:
When I went to seminary over 20 years ago, I recall with what great joy I learned
about Christ and His teachings in His Church. For me it was the difference between
looking at stained glass in the dead of night-being able to make out rough lead outlines
and then to have those windows shot through with the power of incandescent light. The lead bars I had taken in my youth for skeletal formations were actually the solid frame work for those gleaming gems of glass. His teachings seemed like skeletal death without the light. With the light, indescribably attractive. My reaction? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this? Why did no one tell me that He and His teachings were so beautiful?
Sorrow for my own sins and repentance ensued but also a deep desire to shine-to tell
anyone and everyone what it looks like with light. When I became a priest, I was assigned to St. Matthew’s. It was a parish of young families and the problems for the young are not always the same as those for the seasoned. Questions constantly came to me about the lead structures-the skeletal formation of the teachings: why no abortion, why no contraception, why no divorce and remarriage, why the teaching on same sex attraction? As a skeletal structure it seemed as if the teachings bred death, hatred, an absence of love. Those bars seemed to confine more like prison bars than the Gospel of liberation. Most knew the bars but few had seen the glass. So I began to shed light-not my light for who am I? The light of Christ as explicated by my father Blessed John Paul II, who as Providence would have it, died on this day in 2005. What was the result of these talks? Why didn’t anyone ever tell us? I saw the same wonder and attraction to the teaching and at the same time the pain, different for all, of past remembrances of sin. If only someone had shown them they said.
To break through those bars can be tempting like escaping from a cage-to so, however
destroys the image, destroys us. The structure is His law, the design in His mind written into our very nature, and to break it, breaks us.
When I came here, I experienced to an increasing degree the suffering that
comes to our children and the blackness they feel inside. They are taught by nearly every form of media that Christ’s teachings in His Church are restrictive bars, medieval torture chambers to keep them from happiness. When they have “broken free” I get to see their agony. I desire with a father’s heart to protect them harm and the false notions of freedom to be able to live in the true freedom which chastity brings-free to love as we were made to love.
This is where Sister comes in. I heard Sister speak in the Fall at St Patrick’s.
While I had given so many talks on this topic in so many different ways I found her
approach just different enough-a new voice and the added perspective coming from a
woman. I decided to bring her here. As you recall, I wanted the boys and girls separate
and thought it would be a time for families to address these topics in a more intimate
setting. The result across the board? Why didn’t anyone ever tell us this? She had
shown light and those bars were not the bars of a cage, but that which held up the beauty of Christ and the human person and kept the enemy, our only enemy, from damaging their beautiful souls. Those bars protect the dignity and beauty of the human person as well as hold up His beautiful image in us. It was so well received that at the request of parents and students alike I decided to have her back for the whole school. – http://catholicnewsherald.com/images/stories/News_Local14/fatherkauthfullstatementupdate.pdf
The plot seems to have “thicken” a bit. Sister Laurel is taking a sabbatical from teaching and giving talks according to a statement from Aquinas college:
A STATEMENT FROM AQUINAS COLLEGE
April 04, 2014
From Sister Mary Sarah, O.P., President of Aquinas College:
The events around the recent talk by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P. in Charlotte, NC have produced a great deal of speculation from many sides. Among the commentators, there are few who were actually present to hear the talk, which was not recorded.
It is the firm belief of Aquinas College that all men and women are created in God’s image and likeness and are made with a capacity to love and be loved. The College supports the Catholic Church’s teachings which are open to the diverse needs and desires of all, which must be considered in light of eternal truths.
We support and affirm that every man and woman, regardless of his or her state in life, deserves respect, and that the health of any culture is gauged according to the capacity of its members to uphold their own beliefs while respecting the beliefs of others. The College’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, was known for his ability to thoughtfully consider all things and retain what is true, regardless of the source of that truth.
We believe it is our privilege to bring the best aspects of our faith tradition to bear on the moral and cultural questions of the present age. In her presentation, Sister Jane Dominic spoke clearly on matters of faith and morals. Her deviation into realms of sociology and anthropology was beyond the scope of her expertise. Sister is a trained theologian from a Pontifical University and has the credentials to contribute to scholarly bodies of work. This she has done in the past with distinction. The unfortunate events at Charlotte Catholic High School are not representative of the quality of Sister’s academic contributions or the positive influence that she has had on her students. The students at Charlotte Catholic were unprepared, as were their parents, for the topic that Sister was asked to deliver. The consequence was a complete misrepresentation of the school’s intention to bring a message that would enlighten and bring freedom and peace.
There are no words that are able to reverse the harm that has been caused by these comments. The community of Aquinas College is saddened by this extreme outcome and wishes to reiterate that this is not something the College condones or desires to create. There is division where there should be unity. The events and discussions that have transpired over the last two weeks reflect that there is something in this that surpasses an ordinary high school assembly.
Sister Jane Dominic has cancelled her speaking engagements and, at her request, is preparing to begin a sabbatical from teaching at Aquinas College. It is our sincere hope that the community of Charlotte Catholic High School will soon begin a process of healing and renewal, and that all who have been affected by this event will be drawn into profound reconciliation as we approach this great season that commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray for all those involved.
The bishop of Charlotte issued this statement:
Bishop Jugis’ full statement, issued April 9, follows:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The past few weeks have been very difficult for Charlotte Catholic High School. We have all experienced a great deal of pain. During this difficult time I want to express my support and encouragement for all the parents, students, staff and faculty at the high school. We must move forward toward healing with charity, the hallmark of our Christian life.
Different viewpoints regarding Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel’s presentation to students on March 21, 2014, have been discussed in a variety of venues.
At the parent meeting on April 2, 2014, many expressed concern about the lack of advanced communication with parents regarding the subject matter of the assembly. Apologies were made at the meeting for that lack of advanced communication.
The content of the Church’s moral teaching was not raised as a matter of contention at the parent meeting. All of our Catholic schools are committed to hold and teach the Catholic faith in its fullness and with integrity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains an explanation of our faith and is accessible to all.
During this difficult time I support the continued work of Fr. Matthew Kauth, the chaplain; Mrs. Angela Montague and Mr. Steve Carpenter, the assistant principals; and Mr. Randy Belk, the dean of students; and all they are doing for our Charlotte Catholic High School students. All of us are indebted to them.
I am shocked to hear the disturbing reports of a lack of charity and respect at the parents’ meeting, and outside the meeting in conversations and in social media. There simply is no room in the Catholic Church for such displays of uncharitableness and disrespect. If we have failed in this regard let us make amends to God and neighbor. Even when we disagree, that disagreement should be expressed respectfully in love.
We ask the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and His healing as we approach the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection. Please be assured of our continued dedication to the mission to teach and live the truth of the Catholic faith at our Charlotte Catholic High School.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis
Bishop of Charlotte
Archbishop Wilton Gregory
The archbishop recently made news for having a $2.2 million dollar mansion built using money meant for charity. According to a news report, he is now selling this mansion.
This was a statement he released at a local newspaper in Georgia:
“We are disturbed and disappointed to see our church leaders not setting the example of a simple life as Pope Francis calls for. How can we instill this in our children when they see their archdiocesan leadership living extravagantly? We ask you to rethink these decisions and understand the role model the clergy must serve so the youth of our society can answer Jesus’ call. Neither our 18- or 14-year-old sons understand the message you are portraying.”So went just one of many of the heartfelt, genuine and candidly rebuking letters, emails and telephone messages I have received in the past week from people of faith throughout our own Archdiocese and beyond. Their passionate indictments of me as a Bishop of the Catholic Church and as an example to them and their children are stinging and sincere. And I should have seen them coming.
Please understand that I had no desire to move; however, the Cathedral Parish has a problem, albeit a happy one. The Cathedral of Christ the King is one of our largest, most vibrant and fastest growing parishes—but it is landlocked. The site of the current rectory could be used for expansion if the priests could be moved to a new rectory nearby. Because of the proximity of the Archbishop’s house to the Cathedral and the way it is configured with separate apartments and common space, the rector of Christ the King one day summoned the courage to ask me if I would give some thought to letting the parish purchase the residence from the Archdiocese to repurpose it for its rectory. It made more sense for them to be in walking distance to the Cathedral than I, so I said yes, knowing full well that literally left the Archbishop without a place to live.
Soon thereafter, the Archdiocese and the Cathedral Parish received a generous bequest from Joseph Mitchell, including his home on Habersham Road, to benefit the whole Archdiocese, but especially his beloved parish, the Cathedral of Christ the King. Through the extraordinary kindness of Joseph Mitchell, we had a perfect piece of property nearby on which to relocate the Archbishop’s residence.
Some have suggested that it would have been appropriate for the Cathedral Parish to build a rectory on the Habersham property and have the priests each drive back and forth, and in retrospect that might be true. At the time, though, I thought that not giving up the Archbishop’s residence, which was so close to the Cathedral Parish, would have been perceived as selfish and arrogant by the people at the Cathedral Parish and might damage my relationship with them!
So I agreed to sell the West Wesley residence to the Cathedral Parish and set about looking for a different place for me and my successors to live. That’s when, to say the least, I took my eye off the ball. The plan seemed very simple. We will build here what we had there—separate living quarters and common spaces, a large kitchen for catering, and lots of room for receptions and other gatherings.
What we didn’t stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed.
Even before the phenomenon we have come to know as Pope Francis was elected to the Chair of Peter, we Bishops of the Church were reminded by our own failings and frailty that we are called to live more simply, more humbly, and more like Jesus Christ who challenges us to be in the world and not of the world. The example of the Holy Father, and the way people of every sector of our society have responded to his message of gentle joy and compassion without pretense, has set the bar for every Catholic and even for many who don’t share our communion.
As the Shepherd of this local Church, a responsibility I hold more dear than any other, certainly more than any configuration of brick and mortar, I am disappointed that, while my advisors and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia.
I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services.
I failed to consider the difficult position in which I placed my auxiliary bishops, priests, deacons and staff who have to try to respond to inquiries from the faithful about recent media reports when they might not be sure what to believe themselves.
I failed to consider the example I was setting for the young sons of the mother who sent the email message with which I began this column.
To all of you, I apologize sincerely and from my heart.
We teach that stewardship is half about what you give away, and half about how you use what you choose to keep. I believe that to be true. Our intention was to recreate the residence I left behind, yet I know there are situations across the country where local Ordinaries have abandoned their large homes, some because of financial necessity and others by choice, and they continue to find ways to interact with the families in their pastoral care without the perception, real or imagined, of lavish lifestyles.
So where do we go from here?
It is my intention to move deliberately forward and to do a better job of listening than I did before. When I thought this was simply a matter of picking up and moving from one house to a comparable one two miles away, we covered every angle from the fiscal and logistical perspectives, but I overlooked the pastoral implications. I fear that when I should have been consulting, I was really only reporting, and that is my failure. To those who may have hesitated to advise me against this direction perhaps out of deference or other concerns, I am profoundly sorry.
There are structures already in place in the Archdiocese from which I am able to access the collective wisdom of our laity and our clergy. In April I will meet with the Archdiocesan Council of Priests, and in early May our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (a multi-cultural group of Catholics of all ages, representing parishes of all sizes, who serve as a consultative body to me) will convene. I will ask for the Finance Council of the Archdiocese to schedule an extraordinary meeting. At each of these meetings I will seek their candid guidance on how best to proceed.
If it is the will of these trusted representative groups, the Archdiocese will begin the process of selling the Habersham residence. I would look to purchase or rent something appropriate elsewhere.
It has been my great privilege and honor to be your Archbishop for the past nine years. I promise you that my service to you is the reason I get up each day—not the house in which I live or the zip code to which my mail is sent. I would never jeopardize the cherished and personal relationships I have built with so many of you over something that personally means so little after all.
I humbly and contritely ask your prayers for me, and I assure you, as always, of mine for you. – http://www.georgiabulletin.org/commentary/2014/03/the-archbishop-responds/