Sister Jane, chapter 2: Observer still favors the protestors

Remember the fracas over a speech by a nun at a Catholic school? Well, they haven’t forgotten at Charlotte Catholic School in North Carolina, where nearly 1,000 people gathered Wednesday night to complain about Sister Jane Dominic Laurel’s March 21 speech focusing on Catholic teachings on marriage and sexuality.

And again, the Charlotte Observer gleaned enough for a story on the matter, although the reporter couldn’t get in. (Wasn’t his fault, though; the school locked out all media except the diocesan newspaper.) Just not enough information for a clear picture.

As you may remember from my April 2 piece, Sister Jane is a Dominican nun from Nashville who spoke on sexuality at the Charlotte school. Parents said their kids told them the sister voiced “inflammatory comments”: homosexual behavior is unnatural, children develop best in two-parent families, etc. More than 3,000 of them signed a petition and the school arranged a meeting on the matter.

Reporting second hand is a handicap. It means relying on texts and tweets from inside the school gym — inevitably getting more feedback from the angrier parents. But the Observer did have six days, after its March 27 story, to study the matter and make contacts on both sides. There was plenty of time to find the many Catholics who are supporting Sister Jane.

Unfortunately, the new story repeats some of the same mistakes.

Once again, it cites the protesters more than the school’s supporters, although it notes the latter were present as well. The story paraphrases them, but they’re outweighed by the opposition:

Some defended Laurel, saying she was presenting traditional Catholic teachings. But Hains and others said the majority of parents who spoke did not agree with the nun or many of her comments.

And some expressed anger at the school for inviting her, for not stopping her when she veered off script, and for not telling parents ahead of time what she would talk about.

At times, the article blurs the line between fact and personal impressions. It quotes a parent quoting her son:

“He said, ‘We had the worst assembly today,’ ” Traynor recalled. “He said he tried to leave with some others, but they were made to sit down. There are students in this school who are openly gay and some who are not out yet. Obviously, they felt bullied.”

And again, the newspaper didn’t quote the alleged offender, Sister Jane herself. The one whose words were being trashed and perhaps mischaracterized. And it’s not like she couldn’t be found.

With about 15 minutes of Googling, I found her CV and phone number at Aquinas College in Nashville, where she is an assistant professor of theology.

You get a very different take from the Catholic News Herald, which got an inside view. The News Herald extensively quotes Father Matthew Kauth, the school chaplain.

Kauth explains that he wanted to offer kids an alternative viewpoint of sexuality. He also says Sister Jane has spoken at the school in past years. A big service: the News Herald links to the course material from which the nun’s speech was drawn, although Kauth says other data came from an outside study.

The story also quotes four parents who criticized the school for allowing Sister Jane’s speech. But it also cites a few defenders — and how they were treated:

Some parents tried coming to Father Kauth’s defense but were shouted down by other people. Several parents thanked Father Kauth profusely for the positive impacts his ministry has had on their children, who are students at the school.

“I trust the administration here and it has brought very good and energetic talk into our household,” one parent said, but they were booed.

Both articles, the Observer and the News Herald, had school administrators apologizing to the parents for not alerting them to the topic of Sister Jane’s speech and promising to communicate more effectively.

It bears repeating that the school should have opened the meeting to secular media. When you’re locked out, you pick up what you can; and outside the building, as inside, the angriest voices are usually the loudest.

But the Observer’s tilt seems clear, as shown in yet another story about Sister Jane. Notice that now, it’s no longer the topic that’s controversial — it’s Sister Jane herself.

That story, from this past Tuesday, sets up the two sides thusly:

Some parents defended Laurel, saying she was merely presenting traditional Catholic teachings that need to be upheld. Other parents said she had gone way beyond that, and was using suspect anecdotes, antiquated data and broad generalizations to demonize gays and lesbians as well as divorced and single parents.

The Observer still did better than some media, as the New Advent website found. New Advent links a story from the ABC affiliate in Nashville, rather unsubtly titled “Nashville Dominican nun makes anti-gay comments, causes outrage.” And much of that content was borrowed from the March 27 Observer article.

About Jim Davis
  • robert chacon

    Im tired of these parents who send their children to a Catholic school and are then outraged when the school dares to teach Church doctrine. ” Im shocked, shocked to find Catholicism at a Catholic school” is what they may as well be echoing from Casablanca! If they dont want their poor sensitive children hearing that the Church teaches that homosexuality is a disordered sexual orientation, and an intrinsic evil, remove them from the school and send them to the excellent and tolerant public school! Its time real Catholics take back their schools from pro abortion and gay rights activists and their sympathizers!

    • Gordis85

      Agreed…

      The whole story has upset me but I remain hopeful since there are parents who defended Sister Jane. I hope her sabbatical won’t be a long one. My thoughts and prayers are with her. I will remember those who were “upset at what she said” as well. I hope eventually a full transcript of her talk will be made public.

      Sad since it seems no one can have a reasonable discussion these days without getting all emotional or being misunderstood or misquoted.

      Whatever happened to respect and honor and we can agree to disagree?

  • fredx2

    ” There are students in this school who are openly gay and some who are not out yet. Obviously, they felt bullied.”

    Really? They felt bullied by a nun?
    Somehow I find that hard to believe. No, they feel entitled now to play the “bully” card whenever they hear anything they don’t like. We are in an age of near McCarthyism. And note that 33 states still ban gay marriage. I guess the President will have to send in the Federal troops into those states.

    • the Heck u Say

      No, 33 states do not ‘ban’ ‘gay marriage’. Rather, 33 states recognize in statute the only definition of the word, marriage, that has ever existed and makes any sense. There is no ban. Never was. Neither is there any silly pretense that two men or two women can be a conjugal couple. Which says nothing at all about how individuals conduct themselves in private or what households they set up. But it does give a leg to stand on to those who refuse to adopt and endorse nonsense or immorality.

    • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

      When one looks across the country at incidents of bullying to promote their point of view the gay movement and their complicit allies wins hands down. They say they want diversity then set out to intimidate anyone who disagrees with them.

  • boinkie

    how large was the school? I heard 900 attended the meeting for “parents”. Either the kids had quite a few parents each or there were outsiders (can you say outside “agitators” bunkie?)
    Reminds me of my son: When we attended a mass with a priest who was there to give a mission, the priest gave a sermon that preached Catholic moral teachings. My son, who had attended 9 years of Cayholic school before switching to a small Christian school for academic reasons, said: Gee, mom, he says the same thing as our principal…..

  • profling

    It’s not the “teaching” that needs to be upheld. It is the person. What happened to personalism? These theologians need to get a new day job.

  • Lyndon A. Acosta

    They should be kicked out from the Catholic school these bullies. And they call themselves catholic? So what if a gay couple is faithful and loving with each other that’s irrelevant. What’s being criticized is their kind of sex that is sex between the same sex.But this will intensify because we’re not against people but against an unseen enemy,May God help us in this battle! May God have mercy on their souls!

  • Maggie Sullivan

    She should be banned forever……how dare she speak about what Jesus taught about homosexuality.

    We all MUST obey the laws of sodomy!!!!

    Don’t you just love it when the church folds like a house of cards at any challenge to her moral teaching….This is great…..the sister says that maybe, just maybe sodomy might not be a super, happy, fun, terrific, idea and she is branded with a scarlet letter and sent packing.

    Now that “catholic” high school is free to promote homo-sex, divorce, abortion and all the fun things in life……it’s party time!

    Thank moloch for silent bishops, cowardly clergy, and catholic schools that teach the kiddies to bow to the whims of the culture of death. As Cardinal Dolan says, “BRAVO.”

  • Juana Oner

    This is how it begins. If they treat a good nun from a good and faithful, venerable community like this, just imagine how they would have, and will, treat us laypeople if we dare to speak the truth, EVEN if we speak it with love.

  • Godfrey Buillon

    Well, I was never a “homophobe”, but I am now!

  • RufusChoate

    I will pray for strength for this good courageous Sister and courage for the craven Pastor, Bishop and cowardly chancery who thought the teachings of the Church were negotiation points with a herd of ignorant unfaithful louts.

    The fact that these bigoted imbeciles found the perennial teaching of church controversial speak volumes of the deprecation on the quality of the normal catechesis at this school.

  • FW Ken

    So far, I’ve read comments by a priest of the diocese and a person who was there. I’ve read statements by the diocese and Sr. Jane’s community. It’s actually a fairly complicated situation, but the point is that if someone like me runs across these sources in casual reading, why can’t a reporter research an intelligent article on the frackus?

    • RufusChoate

      It is always complicated for the Left and dissenter otherwise how could they ever get their way? Without completely obfuscating their desires they have no sane understanding of the Faith and presenting their erroneous personal opinions.

      This was an issue of sinners not wishing to hear the reality of their sin. As a sinner I can appreciate that desire but it is inherently dishonest and fatal to the spiritual life.

  • Mariadevotee

    It does make you wonder what these students have been hearing in their Theology classes at Catholic High if they find Catholic teaching on sexuality so shocking and surprising. I count 12 Religion teachers and seems like some of them should have already gone over this material with their students, making Sr Jane Dominic’s talk just a recap. Nothing new here, folks, move along.

  • RaymondNicholas

    Who gives a darn about the newspaper? The establishment church favors the protestors. The catholics in name only support the protestors. The nun’s order and school support the protestors. No Catholics directly involved support the nun!

  • cinhosa

    In my experience, people tend to react in anger when we hear the truth of our heart and this conflicts with the perceived truth of our egos. Let’s pray for humility and patience for all involved.

  • FW Ken

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