taking sides

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 18, 2007

Via Thomas Peters, we learn that the cross-dressing Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, two of whom received communion from the hand of Archbishop George Niederauer on October 7th, have posted a facetious press release concerning the incident, headlined "Sisters Upset Communion Being Turned into Political Issue." The press release quotes the "abbess" of the gay agit-prop group, who calls herself Sister Edith Myflesh.

The moniker "Edith Myflesh," it goes without saying, makes reference to John 6:54 (in its King James Version), "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." The disdain conveyed by the flip allusion to Jesus' Eucharistic teaching, compounded by the lewdness of the sexual double entendre, points to a hatred of Christianity that borders on frenzy.

The intensity of the gay-activist antipathy as well as its target of choice is displayed with exceptional clarity in the Drag Nuns Communion incident, and the reactions to the incident highlight the fault-lines along which the U.S. Church is split. One might think gay-friendly moderates would cringe at the flamboyance of the drag-queen activism and the belligerence of the Sister Edith sacrilege, but in fact the reproaches come exclusively from the conservative side of the aisle, while the progressivists seem unable to grasp what all the fuss is about. Some have hesitantly conceded that the Sister Act was "inappropriate" -- as if the dispute hinged on the etiquette of church-going -- but the general liberal consensus seems to be that anything that antagonizes the Catholic League must be on the right track and worthy of defense.

Deplorable though their stuntmanship was, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence may, contrary to their intent, perform a signal service for orthodox Catholics and for the Church at large. Think back to 2005, and the in-fighting surrounding the upcoming Doomsday Doc, eventually issued as the Vatican Instruction on "Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies." The controversial point was the Holy See's contention that homosexual men lack the "affective maturity" necessary to the spiritual paternity in which the priesthood is authentically lived out. Remember the delegation sent ahead of time by the U.S. bishops begging that the Instruction be shelved? Remember the squeals when it was issued all the same? Remember the gasps of indignation at its statement that homosexuality was a "disturbance of a sexual nature ... incompatible with the priesthood"?

So picture a priest or bishop working in the Vatican curia who lived through the Doomsday Doc warfare and the arguments back-and-forth. And now on his office computer he's got a video-link to the Mass at Most Holy Redeemer. "Deep-seated homosexual tendencies are objectively disordered," he recites to himself, watching adult men in mascara and nun-drag given communion by a U.S. archbishop, "Got that right." No screed, no treatise, no series of lectures could make the point more memorably.

Will it make a difference, concretely? Not in the short term. The majority of U.S. bishops, remember, was trained in a theological culture that views the Sister's principal lapse as "over-accessorizing." Blasphemy (little different from heresy in this respect) is treated as a quaint, 19th-century sort of sin, the censure of which would be as comically obsolete as a treatment for dropsy or St. Vitus Dance, and few churchmen speak ill of the objective disorder in whose service the blasphemy is uttered. We can expect few efforts to tackle the current scandal. But the post-Conciliar ecclesiastics are passing away, and their successors are bolder where they're wrong and bolder where they're right. By putting their real motives on open display, Sister Edith and her pals have helped shape the terms of the conflict for the next generation.

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  • Posted by: - Oct. 20, 2007 7:17 PM ET USA

    No reasonable person can justify the actions of these mocking individuals. All true, faithful Catholics are expected to present themselves “worthily” at the Table of the Lord: Clean hearts and souls, clean hands, body and clothing. Only in extreme conditions (i.e., war, catastrophe) does an individual merit forgiveness for not dressing properly for Mass.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 20, 2007 1:39 PM ET USA

    This makes me look back fondly to the times when heresy was a civil crime!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 2:46 PM ET USA

    "Better, in their view, to remain silent rather than be seen as even remotely publically criticizing another brother bishop." Oh would that that was the case! It seems so many bishops, although they may fear unpopularity in the USCCB, fear being thought "un-PC" by the public even more. Political correctness appears to trump orthodoxy any day of the week.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 2:07 PM ET USA

    Hello Ross Dee, You hit the nail on the head. The comment "we can't know what's in a man's heart" when it's so blatantly obvious sounds a lot like "Surely you won't die", which were Satan's words to Eve. Whenever someone appeals to the vacuous when trying to make a moral judgement, is certainly headed for moral confusion. I've heard similar statements from pro-abortion advocates.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 1:32 PM ET USA

    Dom, actually, the "correct" and now conventional pronoun for men in drag is the feminine. It's supposed to maintain the illusion that "she" is trying to create. Uncle Di, thanks for the coverage on this. Poor Archbishop Niederauer might feel all put out about this, but if he was doing his job, we wouldn't even be talking about anything, now, would we? (Gee, never thought I'd look back - relatively - fondly to the days of Abp Quinn . . .)

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 10:27 AM ET USA

    The press release quotes the "abbess" of the gay agit-prop group, who calls herself Sister Edith Myflesh. Uncle Di: Methinks you got your pronouns confused, as this is no "she" but a "he." But who can blame you with this mess of gender-bending silliness. You'd think radical feminists might be upset at this slur against women too, but how can they be when the target is a mutual enemy?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 10:22 AM ET USA

    Often insensitive media coverage reflecting ignorance of the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist in this awful affair should make the Church consider the desirability of returning to a more respectful treatment and practices relating to the reality involved. I think that insensitivity reflects conditions with so many Catholics.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 9:08 AM ET USA

    The silence of so many bishops is sad. The Fathers of the Church reprimanded their brother bishops when necessary. They took the purity of the faith seriously as well as the salvation of souls.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 19, 2007 8:02 AM ET USA

    I understand "the long view" expressed here. Ultimately, that "view" is grounded in the dual recognition of the pendulum swing of history, and faith in the permanence of the Church. Conversely, the "long view" is balanced by the ringing silence of the episcopacy in reaction to the sacrilege at Holy Redeemer. Better, in their view, to remain silent rather than be seen as even remotely publically criticizing another brother bishop.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 18, 2007 9:03 PM ET USA

    "Just a quick note to recognize the wonderful mass yesterday at your Church. Your entire congregation was so welcoming and it was great to be able to participate. You are a wonderfully inclusive Church." All of you who have the misfortune, as I do, to belong to a parish which has the word "inclusive" in their committee derived mission statement, feel free to throw up now.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 18, 2007 5:55 PM ET USA

    Some mainstream media has picked this up and are actually criticizing the "Sisters" for their actions. Maybe someday between this and the sexual abuse issue they will criticize the Bishops, rightfully, for their absolute lack of leadership. Tragically the generation(s) of semanary emphasis on "not offending anyone", being everyone's friend, and "can't we all just get along" is killing the Church particularly in the USA. As Christ taught, sometimes the answer the Bishops need to give is "NO!!"

  • Posted by: - Oct. 18, 2007 2:31 PM ET USA

    I always hear this ,"we do not know what is in their heart when they present themselves for Holy Communion". I wonder what is in the man's heart when he dresses as a woman? Could I come to a conclusion that he is not accepting the attributes that God gave him and this person decided to do his "own thing"? Or, is that too judgmental? If anybody can present themselves for Holy Communion with blatant outward offenses, before God and everyone, why did Jesus give us Confession? Is there an answer?