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By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 23, 2006

Flipping through Alitalia's in-flight magazine some time ago I was amused to come across a Flight Attendant Employment Preliminary Application form. In among the usual questions (name, date of birth, education, etc.), this one caught my eye: "Sa nuotare (do you know how to swim)?" I thought it a good illustration of Italy's "tempered optimism" about how well its own most elaborate projects may be expected to work in reality.

More recently I was directed to another application form, this for priestly ordination in the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit, which describes itself as "The Pastoral Church at the Dawn of the New Christian Era." Here we find a wider range of questions, as befits the august vocation to full-time pastoral ministry, including

Physical characteristics?
Name of Significant Other?
Hobbies or Avocations?
Philosophy of Life?
Motivating personal values?
(my favorite:) What does progressive Catholicism, unburdened by required dogmas, mean to you?

Happily we're given a roster of the men and women who successfully made it through the selection process and are currently serving, at the dawn of the new Christian era, as clergy. Some, alas, are still kept in the shadows because of the remote danger of veracity. You have to love the justification offered for the underground church:

Incognita
United States of America

The Catholic Diocese of One Spirit is honored to be able to encourage and validate the calling to priestly ministry of women. Among the most remarkable women alive today are thousands of Roman Catholic nuns, many of whom are called to ordination. Our "incognita" priest is a prominent Roman Catholic sister. She has been ordained "in camera." Just as Rome designates cardinals "in camera" and then is justified in denying their identities because of the grave danger of persecution if such designation becomes known, so too do we ordain current Roman Catholic nuns (others are in the pipeline) "in camera" and deny identifying them. Sadly, this is because of the real danger of rejection, ejection and homelessness which would befall them from their own church if such ordination were known. God bless these brave and dedicated women!

One day, perhaps, Sister X will be excamerated. We'll all be the better for it.

The attractions of membership in a church that is unburdened by required dogmas and that accepts American Express are obvious. Yet methinks anyone inclined to climb aboard this particular ark would do well to ask himself one question:

Sa nuotare?

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