Thursday, July 2, 2009


I read the New York Times this day and was not surprised. On the left side, all the way down the front page, they began a story about protesting Catholic Nuns. There are about sixty thousand of them left out there in the world. At one time there were many many more than that. They, apparently, do not wear the revealing (and respect demanding) habits of the past. I kind of knew that from somewhere, but it hit home with this article. The substance of the article was about how the leadership of the Catholic Church (read Pope Ratso) is opposing the Nuns because they have kind of gotten together to argue against a few idiotic things still supported by the Roman Catholics of Rome. They oppose, for example, the required celibacy of priests. The Pope is still big on this malformed and unsuccessful doctrine. And it is not, or at least I do not think so, that the sixty thousand remaining nuns are simply horny and want all those priests for their own. No, I am afraid that the nun's logic is more factually grounded (however fun it might be to think otherwise). It seems that, over time, the celibacy thing just has not worked at all. Priests have been out there screwing just about any human they could get their hands on for many many years. The Catholic Church is currently paying out billions in reparations because of the failure of celibacy among its priests. It seems that the pent up sexuality of these guys has led them to exploit young boys under their care. But the payouts have not fazed Ratso. He contends that celibacy works and must be kept in place. All priests must be male and they must not have sex. The male only thing is another piece of studied stupidity that the nuns oppose.

I was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic schools all the way up through my undergraduate degree in college. My elementary school nuns were the most noteworthy of my teachers. It was Hawaii right after the big war. The nuns at St. Augustine Elementary School, just off Waikiki, had just returned from surviving the entirety of WWII in Japanes prison camps. Those nuns were in no mood to take any garbage from elementary school children. Later, I was to train and then serve in the United States Marine Corps. The Corps had nothing on those nuns. My D.I., SSgt. Baines, could not have gone one round with Sister Michael Marie (a.k.a. Sister Joseph Louis), much less the dreaded Sister Gregoria (called the 'Flying Black Axe' for reasons unknown).

I am a writer today because of those nuns. I miss their disciplined learning techniques. Techniques no longer applied to school children anywhere. I learned the ABC's, how to decline a sentence, phonics, and the Chicago Style Manual of English. I learned them by trial and error, and the studied application of attentive pro-active pain. Those nuns did not have to strike often. They used a form of willful psychology and parental support no longer existent within the confines of our culture. I learned to speak in front of groups and to overcome embarrassment and failure. I got a C Plus in English at the end of 5th grade. And I still write very regularly to Sister Michael Marie and Sister Gregoria. In fact, when my book was recently published, I sent Sister Michael Marie a copy of the book (lovingly inscribed) and a copy of my fifth grade report card. I high-lighted the C Plus I received in English with a yellow marker, to point out the error of her conclusion. That was a month ago. I got a letter yesterday. She sent me the report card back with a note stuck to it. "You have improved" it said, and there was B Plus written in red over the crossed out C Plus. She also noted a few grammatical errors in the final production hard-cover novel! I suppose that is why I, and my publisher's editors, did not get an A.

The Catholic Church has not supported nuns in any way for fifty years. The older ones live in near poverty under poor conditions in run-down care facilities. The few younger ones do not even get habits to wear. They are allowed to work for the Church for free and get by as best they can. It is a shame. The value those women provided to millions of children across the world goes unrewarded and barely even thanked. Yes, they did it for the love of God, but come on! The Catholic Church is run by men. By White old men living in splendor inside stone chateaus. They are just like human leaders everywhere on earth. There is no difference, and there is about the same level of compassion exercised and exhibited toward those whom worked to put and keep them there, as exists in the civilian world outside.

I loved those nuns and tried my heart out for them. I did that because I knew, down inside, near the bottom of my little well of souls, they wanted the best for me. I really believed that they wanted me to succeed and enjoy life, and a good measure of bliss. They wanted me to be successful, simply because, well, in their prayerful and hallowed way, they loved me. They loved God above all, and then all the children in their charge. They still do. Their belief in me, and my belief in them, sustains me to this day.

The numbers of nuns are dwindling rapidly, as the older ones die off and no new ones come aboard. This is part of the design of the Catholic Church. I do not know why. Maybe, like most male leaders everywhere, Ratso and his Italian Mafia fear women. I just don't know. But I lament their passing. They have been a force for good and love out here, across the surface of this troubled earth. Those nuns left now deserve honors and a great retirement. The young ones, the few, deserve our endearing support...financially and emotionally, because it is good for us all. I am not much of a Catholic anymore, but I know a good thing when I experience it. I love those nuns, and you should too.