1.26.2007

the more things change

I'm continuing to read The Nun of Kenmare, the autobiography of our community's founder Margaret Anna Cusack (known "in Religion" as Mother Mary Francis Clare). This book was written after she had gone through many trials and difficulties with the church hierarchy. No doubt her challenging experiences gave her a certain perspective. One might even call it prophetic ...

Facts cannot be hidden as they were in previous ages. People know that certain evils exist, and though they may be silent for a time, the existence of these evils is not forgotten. An open, honest admission of the evils in the church would go far to lessen them. It would, at least, save the church the awful crime of even appearing to approve evil by not condemning it. - The Nun of Kenmare, 1888

Later she writes about placing her Sisters in a parish where she knew the priest to be of less than desirable character.

I thought if I went to the bishop and refused to go, that a new story would be circulated to prove that I could not agree with my bishop; so I went, and I held my peace until the truth of what I had been told was so apparent that I felt bound in conscience to report the matter to the bishop. He was not surprised, for, of course, he knew the poor priest's failings, but what can bishops do? They must have priests, and they must often take what they can get or leave their missions unsupplied. - The Nun of Kenmare, 1888

I wonder what Margaret Anna would think of our church today. Certainly these two passages could have easily been written about the recent Church sex abuse scandals, more than one hundred years later.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how SMUG this post comes off...

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Dear Anonymous,

I’m sorry you found this post smug, which was of course not my intention. I was merely struck by how one could apply her critique of the late 19th century church to the situation today. But then, smugness like beauty is I suppose in the eye of the beholder.

Peace,
Susan

Anonymous said...

Today I lead a retreat day on the theme of "Finding God on the Margins" and one of the examples I used was Margaret Anna Cusack. Coincidentally one of the quote I used was the one about the necessity of facing evils in the church. Everyone resonated with Margaret Anna and her story and perspective on trying to be a faithful disciple in difficult times. So, as Susan remarks, smug and beauty are in the eye of the beholder.

Terry

Anonymous said...

I think it's easy to look to the past as a rosy-colored wonderful time, free from the problems we face; when in reality, they faced as many problems, if not the same problems we face. I do find the first quote to be oddly applicable, though.

Anonymous said...

I don't think your post is smug - the sex abuse scandal was just one of the many things that have lead me to calling myself a "recovering Catholic." I think it is very sad and goes along withe the phrase "the more things change the more they stay the same."