More than a hint of hypocrisy
The recent interview of Bishop Leonard Blair by Terry Gross, host of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” provided an interesting and revealing contrast to that of Sr. Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who was interviewed the week before. A certain inevitability hangs over this bishops vs. nuns clash, occurring as it is at the end of a long, historic arc that, since the mid-’60s reform council called Vatican II, has placed these two groups on course to a collision.
Listening to the two interviews was like listening to the ecclesial version of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Their language, what they view as important, what their lives are spent doing are so incredibly different that one has to wonder if any conversation, never mind dialogue, could be possible without an interpreter.
Many of the differences in this contretemps lie in the realm of the subjective — regarding the role of religious life and the role of magisterium post-Vatican II, the meaning of obedience, and so on. But one segment of the interview, a portion that can be assessed against a long and established record, is worth revisiting. It is the part where the host asks the bishop about the sex abuse scandal and why, in light of the nuns’ investigation, bishops should not be investigated as well.
Gross, reading from a column by Kathy Galleher that appeared in NCR, said, “The church has not yet been willing or able to examine its own role as an institution in concealing and enabling decades of abuse. The bishops have not taken collective responsibility for their actions and inactions, and for the enormous pain they’ve caused. As much as the abuse itself, it is this failure by the hierarchy to acknowledge and accept their responsibility that has angered and disillusioned so many current and now-former Catholics.” [more]