The American ConservativeSister Jane In The Lion’s Den
By Rod Dreher • March 31, 2014, 5:19 PM
Sister Jane Dominic Laurel is a nun who is part of the Nashville Dominican community, known for their Catholic orthodoxy. According to the Charlotte Observer, she caused a huge uproar in an area Catholic high school [sorry I didn't make the "Catholic " part clear in the first version] when she gave a talk about Catholic sexual morality:
Days later, some students launched an online petition that called her comments “offensive and unnecessarily derogatory.”
A record of the comments was not available. But students attending told their parents she criticized gays and lesbians and made inflammatory remarks about single and divorced parents.
The petition, which has drawn more than 2,000 supporters, listed 10 objections to her remarks, including this: “We resent the fact that a schoolwide assembly became a stage to blast the issue of homosexuality after Pope Francis said in an interview this past fall that ‘we can not insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.’ We are angry that someone decided they knew better than our Holy Father and invited (this) speaker.”
Some students told their parents that a few teachers left the assembly in tears.
In addition, parents called for a letter-writing campaign, sending out emails that listed the addresses of the Diocese of Charlotte, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, even the pope in the Vatican.
So far, nobody has produced a recording of her speech, or the text, so its content can be independently examined. But the diocesan spokesman told the paper that the nun has a Ph.D. from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. It’s not like the school pulled in any old nun off the street. At least one person who heard the talk stood up for Sister Jane:
The Rev. Tim Reid, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, sent an email lauding the nun, saying “she represented well the Catholic positions on marriage, sex, same-sex attraction and proper gender roles … The Church has already lost too many generations of Catholic schools students to … a very muddled and watered-down faith.”
Here’s a link to the petition. From its complaint:
9. We resent the fact that a school wide assembly became a stage to blast the issue of homosexuality after Pope Francis said in an interview this past fall that “we can not insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptives methods.” We are angry that someone decided they knew better than our Holy Father and invited a speaker who addressed the issue of homosexuality to our school to speak twice in the course of one school year.
10. We the students of Charlotte Catholic High School are confused why time was spent condemning the practice of homosexuality when we could have been spent condemning: world hunger, gun violence, the death penalty, unjust care of the elderly, human trafficking, genocide, discrimination etc.; OR been promoting: love, prayer, the Beatitudes, practical ways to serve Christ, patience, just war theory etc.
Again, as far as I know, there is no recording or text of the nun’s speech available, so unless you were there, you don’t have any way of knowing whether the talk was over the line or not. Some of their complaints (see the petition) indicate that the nun may have said some bizarre things. It is possible to present orthodox Catholic teaching in an offensive way. On the other hand, the priest said Sister Jane was right on target. It could be that these Catholic students were being told the Catholic truth, and they thought she was giving them hell. I don’t know, and unless you were there, you don’t either.
But look, if these students are objecting to a straightforward presentation of Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality, then they’re nuts. You go to a Catholic school, you should expect to be exposed to Catholic teaching. This is not a bug; it’s a feature. That it would even be at issue shows how far things have decayed. It’s one thing to have heard Catholic teaching at a Catholic school and to disagree with it. But to have a massive public fit over a nun being invited to the school and teaching what the Catholic faith teaches — that is, to protest that the school “allow[ed] these ideas to be expressed” — shows how far things have declined.
The local bishop is going to meet with parents and students about it on Tuesday night. If you have found a link to text of Sister Jane’s speech, or to a recording of it, please share.
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