Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The transparency of stained glass

Near the end of Alma Guillermoprieto's review essay The Mission of Father Maciel [$] in the June 24, 2010 issue of The New York Review of Books, he observes,
Many priests and nuns, it would seem, opt to “obey” rules but not comply with them, as the Spanish formulation has it (obedezco, pero no cumplo). I offer this simply as anecdotal evidence, but in my casual, friendly, and often admiring acquaintance with members of the Catholic orders--all from the social activist branch of the Church, for whatever it’s worth--a remarkable number have been involved in some sort of couple relationship.
And yet, as far as I've seen, one would get the opposite impression from any order's fund-raising appeals. Mr. Guillermoprieto goes on.
I once attended a major church festivity in a small town at which several of the priests and nuns who arrived to celebrate Mass were openly, and even defiantly, there with their partners, either homosexual or heterosexual. In 1979, at the time of John Paul’s first visit to Mexico, I had a conversation with a progressive Spanish priest who lived with his partner, a middle-aged woman, about his split life. Why, I asked, didn’t he leave the Church if so many of its norms violated his own convictions and desire for honesty? I remember his saying, in effect, that the possibility of doing good within an institution as enormous and influential as the Church was greater than the chances for doing good outside it.
Completely unrelated to remaining on the payroll.

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