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An example in humility

I lived in California for three years in the mid 1990’s. I don’t know if it is the proximity to Hollywood or there is something in the water, but California can be a truly challenging cultural experience. In California was the first time I ever went to a shopping mall and felt viscerally frightened of teenagers. My oldest came home from kindergarten and asked when my husband and I would be getting divorced. He was the only child in his class that did not have divorced parents so he assumed it was inevitable. Looking at the Catholic leadership in that area includes the likes of Cardinal Mahoney and Bishop Brown. (Don’t get me started on those two!) So when blogs started broadcasting that the Bishop of San Francisco had given communion to men in drag who were mocking women religious, I could only shake my head and pray that we will eventually be liberated from such liturgical nonsense.

However, I am heartened to find that the Bishop of San Francisco, Bishop Niederauer, has offered a very humble and sincere apology:

After the event, I realized that they were members
of this particular organization and that giving them
Holy Communion had been a mistake.
I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of
San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so.
The manner of dress and public comportment of the
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to
women religious and to the witness of holiness and
Christian service that women religious have offered to
the Church and to the world for centuries. The
citizens of San Francisco have ample reason to be
grateful to women religious for their unfailing
support of those most in need, and to be deeply
offended when that service is belittled so
outrageously and offensively.
Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to
attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress
in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold
sacred, they place themselves in an objective
situation in which it is not appropriate for them to
receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of
the Church to give the Sacrament to them.
Therefore I conclude that the presence of the
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Mass on October
7th was intended as a provocative gesture. In that
moment I failed to recognize it as such, and for that,
as I have said, I must apologize.

It is very easy to criticize our priests and our bishops. And there is no doubt that much of the criticism is well deserved. However, I also think that an apology such as this should be publicly accepted. I am very happy that this bishop did not obstinately persist in justifying his errors out of pride. I hope I can be equally gracious in admitting and apologizing for my own errors, of which I am sure there are many.


Jim said…
This might be a bit off-topic, but it seems to me, Dr. Hunnell, that you've lived in quite a few places in the United States. That being the case, I would be interested in knowing which place you liked the best? (Other than New Jersey, of course.) :-)

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