The theological tug-of-war between the Archdiocese of San Francisco and gay advocates shows no sign of ending soon, which means there will continue to be news coverage to dig into, naturally.
The latest soldiers in this battle are a group of nuns who staged a walkout when students passed out gay-rights materials at their school. But the nuns engaged in this battle are not old fogeys. They’re savvy 20- and 30-somethings who know what to do with an iPhone and who understand the cultural wars that are unfolding on their turf. Did this crucial information make it into the story?
Listen to how the San Francisco Chronicle described what happened a week ago:
The divisions within the Bay Area’s Catholic community over gay rights hit Marin Catholic High School full force the other day, when a group of nuns walked out of their classes to protest the sponsors of a program intended to protect gay and lesbian teens from bullying.
The five members of the Dominican Sisters of Mary order exited their classrooms Friday as students began handing out flyers at the Kentfield school promoting a nationwide Day of Silence.
Their walkout came one day after 100 prominent local Catholics attracted national attention by taking out a full-page ad in The Chronicle calling on the pope to oust Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, in part for trying to get teachers at Catholic schools to sign off on a morality clause that characterizes homosexual relations as “gravely evil.”
Let's keep reading, because it takes a while to get to these nuns. Meanwhile, note that the newspaper did not describe that doctrinal stand as the teachings of the church.
Marin Catholic High President Tim Navone and Principal Chris Valdez tried to put out the latest brushfire with a letter to parents about “a challenging day on our campus resulting in both students and faculty feeling confused about our mission.”
At issue was Friday’s annual Day of Silence, promoted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network -- whose corporate sponsors include McDonald’s, Target, Disney/ABC, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Google and the NBA. It bills itself as a group of “students, parents, and teachers that tries to effect positive change in schools,” but the nuns at Marin Catholic High see it as anti-Catholic.
The nuns see it as anti-Catholic, or is that the church hierarchy?
A few other questions pop up immediately. The network mentioned here is known as GLSEN which, depending on how you look at it, is a gay rights group trying to stop bullying of homosexuals or a stealth group trying to advocate gay lifestyles in the nation’s high schools and whose founder wrote the forward to a book called “Queering Elementary Education.” President Barack Obama made Kevin Jennings the assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-2011. He is now executive director of the Arcus Foundation, a gay advocacy group.) GLSEN is definitely a group with a POV.
GLSEN apparently doesn’t have a chapter at Marin Catholic, so it’s puzzling as to where these unnamed students got permission to pass out the fliers. Usually you can’t pass out anything at a school -- secular or religious -- that hasn’t been cleared by someone in authority. A guest column by a spokesman for the Cardinal Newman Society (which promotes Catholic teaching) answered some of the questions as to why the nuns took off. But there’s an interesting ghost in this story: The kind of women who those nuns are.
You see, they’re from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, possibly the fastest-growing religious order in the country today.
Founded in 1997 by four nuns from the Dominican Sisters of Nashville, within nine years they’d grown to 59 women (that’s 1,400 percent growth) with an average age of 28 among the professed nuns and an age average of 24 among the novices. As of six months ago, they numbered 120. They have appeared on Oprah’s show twice and are growing so fast, they can’t build their motherhouses fast enough. Most are young enough to have been in high schools where there may have been GLSEN chapters. And now they’re wearing floor-length habits and veils.
I'd love to see some journalists try to get inside these nuns' heads and I hope at some point the two columnists who wrote this piece can get through to these women.
Why did they walk out of classes they'd committed to teach? Who were they trying to protect? Was a walkout an over-the-top response to just some students passing out fliers?
All the many articles about this religious order show smiling faces and happy scenes of them singing or at prayer. A walk-out is something that determined and angry people do. A boycott doesn't fit their public image at all. This is a group that's been on Fox and Friends regarding their top-of-the-Billboard charts position of one of their music albums.
In all the stories done about San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore's Cordileone's decision to crack down on Catholic school teachers, this column gives us a glimpse of something we rarely see: The frustration and anger on the part of conservative Catholics who feel powerless in the face of a public onslaught and who react the only way they know to do.
So, did the nuns decline to talk to the press or were the journalists not that interested in knowing what was going on in the minds of these young women?