Bishop Jugis Says He Supports Sister Jane — UPDATED

Bishop Jugis

David Hains, who is the person LifeSiteNews quotes in the article on which I based this post, left a comment in Public Catholic’s combox. In the comment, he says that he did not make the statements that LifeSiteNews attributes to him. I called Mr Hains to verify that he had actually left the comment, and during our conversation, he told me that Bishop Jugis (no r) is going to issue a statement concerning Sister Jane soon. 

This post incorrectly spells of the name of Bishop Jugis both in the headline and several times throughout the article. As the Bishop’s spokesman I can assure you that he has not issued a statement on the matter at this time, 4/9/2014. The statement you are quoting came from Father Roger Arnsparger, Vicar for Education in the Diocese of Charlotte. Thank you for your interest in covering this story. 

Hooray and Huzzah!!

Bishop Jugis, of the Diocese of Charlotte, has finally issued a statement through his communications director in support of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel.

“Nothing in Sister’s talk opposed Church teaching,” Diocese of Charlotte Communications Director David Hains said in an interview with LifeSiteNews. Hains also said that “Sister would be welcome to speak in the diocese in the future.”

According to Hains, Bishop Peter Jugis is expected to make a public comment on the situation soon.

Sister Laurel withdrew from her position at Aquinas College and has taken a sabbatical in response to what sounds like abusive behavior from a mob. At the time, the Diocese did not support her. The bishop’s spokesman who came to a meeting which was attended by a large crowd tried to parse the situation by at least partially acceding to the crowd’s criticism of the sister.

I’ve read that as many as a thousand people attended that meeting. If this is true, and if the school in question is typical of most Catholic High Schools, there were almost certainly a large number of people at that meeting who were not affiliated with the school. This points to a basic problem, which is mob action that is incited and fed by people outside a community who have specific political and social agendas. In this case, the agenda is to silence the Catholic Church concerning its own moral teachings.

When the bishop’s spokesman walked into that room, he probably was unprepared for what he met there. It is entirely possible that he spoke out of fear and confusion or just plain being over-awed by the emotional violence facing him. It would be completely understandable if he stuttered a bit under these circumstances. However, throwing the sister under the bus should not have happened, no matter how much the crowd scared him.

The subsequent cashiering of Sister Jane also should not have happened. I am way past glad to hear that the Diocese has decided to take a more faithful stand in this matter. Hopefully, Bishop Jugis will say something that is clear-cut and settles the situation in favor of Sister Jane.

However, bishops all over the country should look at this and learn from it. These are perilous times for the Church. When a nun can be attacked by a mob in this manner for simply teaching Catholic morality, the message is clear that the Church is under attack.

The worst possible thing a bishop can do is accede to mobs that are attacking his own faithful people because they are being faithful.

I’m glad the Diocese has finally decided to issue a statement in support of Sister Jane. They should have done it the first day. Hopefully, Bishop Jugis’ statement will be clear-cut. Also hopefully, this will not signal a move toward parsing and fearfully choosing every word when teachers in that diocese teach the faith. We are called to proclaim the faith, not dip and dodge and try to make it fit in with the world.

In the future, I hope that bishops who are faced with this situation will not wait so long or let things get so out of whack before they do the right thing.

From LifeSiteNews:

The bishop of Charlotte is backing a Dominican nun who has been at the center of a fiery controversy since last month when she gave a speechpromoting Catholic teaching on sexuality to students at Charlotte Catholic High School.

After a public meeting with diocesan and school officials turned ugly, with parents and students alike shouting at administrators over what they perceived as “hateful” remarks criticizing homosexual behavior, divorce and extra-marital sex, a spokesman for the diocese told LifeSiteNews that the nun in question, Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, did nothing wrong and will be welcome to speak on the issue again if she chooses.

Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel

“Nothing in Sister’s talk opposed Church teaching,” Diocese of Charlotte Communications Director David Hains told LifeSiteNews in an email. “Sister would be welcomed to speak in the diocese in the future.”

Hains said Bishop Peter Jugis is expected to make further public comment on the situation soon.

Sr. Laurel’s critics have complained about a section of her talk in which she discussed scientific findings related to the causes of homosexuality. According to the Charlotte Observer, she was accused of using “suspect anecdotes, antiquated data and broad generalizations to demonize gays and lesbians as well as divorced and single parents.”

But one Catholic scientist says he recently heard the sister give the exact same speech she delivered to the students, and in his opinion, there is nothing in it to which a practicing Catholic could possibly object.

“I was in attendance at the same presentation when given on Long Island, NY a few months ago,” Dr. Gerard Nadal told LifeSiteNews.  “In that meeting, Sister Jane gave medical and scientific data that came from reputable sources and were presented as examples of the consequences for human behavior that contravenes the moral magisterium of the Church. As a Ph.D. in medical science, and as a Catholic schooled extensively in my faith, I saw no contradictions, but rather a seamless presentation.”

Still, in light of all the controversy, Aquinas College announced in a press release Friday that Sr. Laurel has asked to take a sabbatical from her teaching and speaking duties for an indefinite amount of time.

  • margaret1910

    I have to say, it’s hard to believe that the diocesan spokesman (David Hains?) who attended that meeting was unprepared for what he found there. I can only assume that he did not take the time to check out the comments at the Charlotte Observer, because I knew what sort of mob this was very likely gonna be before the meeting.

    Anyway, very glad to see that Bishop Jugis is supporting Sr Jane Dominic. I hope his next statement will be strongly worded.

  • oregon nurse

    “I was in attendance at the same presentation when given on Long Island, NY a few months ago,” Dr. Gerard Nadal told
    LifeSiteNews. “In that meeting, Sister Jane gave medical and
    scientific data that came from reputable sources and were presented as
    examples of the consequences for human behavior that contravenes the
    moral magisterium of the Church. As a Ph.D. in medical science, and as a
    Catholic schooled extensively in my faith, I saw no contradictions, but
    rather a seamless presentation.”

    Was this a presentation to high school students or to professionals?

    How does this square with other statements that she presented information not normally a part of her talks (Fr Kauth said it was not presented at her first talk) and not included in her online videos.

    How does this square with the statement from her own fellow sister and college president that she did not have the expertise needed to present it?

    • SisterCynthia

      How is it you have an apparent need to pretend the messed up LGBTQetc lifestyles are healthy, by attempting to undercut the presentation of facts that show the lifestyle is, in fact, unhealthy? How is it that you seem to want kids ONLY to hear the culture proclaiming that sexuality is anything you want it to be, at the moment, and any and all options are healthy and should be celebrated, since you think they shouldn’t be “exposed to an academic debate”? How is it that you want only a tiny bit of truth, that sex should be male+female monogamous unions, while refusing to accept the other side of the coin, which is, the other stuff isn’t okay and wow, surprise, it doesn’t work very well, either? This will probably seem rude, but after the past cpl days of watching your posts, it seems to me you need to ask a lot more questions of yourself than you do Sister Jane. :-/

      • hamiltonr

        Sister, please don’t question Oregon Nurse’s motives. I love your comments on this blog; they add so much to the dialogue. Please don’t take offense at this caution.

        • SisterCynthia

          No offense taken, Rebecca, I really didn’t like anything I wrote when trying to compose the above post, but since my brain wasn’t coming up with anything that sounded better I finally went with it and hoped it would maybe just spark a conversation and not an argument. I don’t LIKE being a jerk, even tho I’m quite capable of it and if I let my temper lead, I can certainly “go there” all too easily. :p This blog, with its motley crew of folks, adds a lot to my life. I don’t want to be the proverbial bull crashing the china shop. :)

          • hamiltonr

            You are a gift to the blog Sister. I am very glad you’re here.

      • oregon nurse

        “How is it you have an apparent need to pretend the messed up LGBTQetc lifestyles are healthy, by attempting to undercut the presentation of facts that show the lifestyle is, in fact, unhealthy? How is it that you seem to want kids ONLY to hear the culture proclaiming that sexuality is anything you want it to be, at the moment, and any and all options are healthy and should be celebrated, since you think they shouldn’t be “exposed to an academic debate”? ”

        This is a completely unfair characterization of anything I have written. Anyone who knows me on this blog knows I am not someone who thinks the homosexual lifestyle, ssm, or the typical LGBTQ activism is healthy or moral. I am trained in the scientific method and I know how often data, even non-controversial data, can be misunderstood when presented inexpertly and/or in an inappropriate setting – which I think there is good reason to believe may have happened here. You don’t have to like my opinion, it’s right there in the statement from Aquinas College and from Fr Kauth and the diocesan representative as reported in the archdioceses own newspaper.

        “How is it that you want only a tiny bit of truth, that sex should be male+female monogamous unions, while refusing to accept the other side of the coin, which is, the other stuff isn’t okay and wow, surprise, it doesn’t work very well, either? ”

        Have you taken the time to actually view Sr. Jane’s videos online? I have, and I have no quarrel with them. There is a considerable amount of psychology and sociology woven throughout her talks that addresses just what you’ve said. So, why is the controversial part of her presentation being characterized by Fr. Kauth and her own college as something outside her normal talk? Why have they essentially said that the high school setting was perhaps not the appropriate place for presenting the information? I’m getting the feeling that the response might have been thought to be predicatable and the approach unwise. This can be true and valid while still conforming to Catholic teaching in content. But a large part of what we expect from professional educators is to KNOW THEIR AUDIENCE and know how to teach effectively to it. Since she seems to have been doing just that for 80 some presentations without attracting controversy I have to assume something very different was presented at Charlotte. By all accounts I’ve read from parents at that school this is not a liberal school.

        What is wrong with asking for this controversy to be clarified by at least having the information Sr. Jane presented. I believe masturbation, divorce, single-parenthood, weak/absent parenting, ssm can all lead to problems for developing healthy sexuality. Do I believe they cause homosexuality – no I do not! Do I think Catholic doctors and scientists believe that – no I donot! what I would like to know is if Sr. Jane presented them as causes rather than correlates (as was initially stated in the petition) and I want to know the sources she uses.

        “This will probably seem rude, but after the past cpl days of watching your posts, it seems to me you need to ask a lot more questions of yourself than you do Sister Jane.”

        No I don’t think you are being rude, only direct, and I have great respect for your opinions that you post here. But my take on it, and it’s the same thing I’ve said to Rebecca, is that it’s important to make sure that the person you throw your support behind has acted correctly. Sr. Jane is not an untouchable figure just because she is a Catholic nun and just because she has an excellent and well deserved reputation as a Catholic theologian and educator on faith and morals surrounding sexuality. IF she made a mistake there is no honor in not admitting it and it will be like a splinter that, until it is removed, will keep causing inflammation. If she didn’t make any mistakes, then we certainly need to know that too and I will gladly sing her praises loud and long. I simply think she is the only one who can truly clear up the questions that remain.

        • SisterCynthia

          Thank you for not being offended, OR. :) I spent the morning trying to decide what to post, or if it would be bad to post, and finally decided that even if it didn’t come out right, it would be better to risk speaking up. I also have a lot of respect for you, and had not SEEN you supporting SSM, SSA, etc., which is why I have not really understood why you have been like a bloodhound on a scent over this, “what DID she say?!” thing. ;) I guess I am more trusting in this situation than you are, which probably makes you wiser than I am, since mere mortals (nuns, preachers and regular layfolks!) all muff things up from time to time. Having a background like mine, tho, probably makes me hypersensitive to people in the church making peace with alternate sexualities… a good friend seems to have decided the way to be “loyal” and “honoring” to her nonChristian gay, lesbian, asexual friends is to pretend their lifestyles are healthy, even if they’d be “better with Jesus.” Or dear friends who helped me to find Christ who support the gay “marriage” of a family member because they want them to be “happy.” I know those folks have fallen prey to the lies that they are drinking life-giving water, when really they are drinking poison that will, even if they ever come to Christ and repent, affect them longterm. It’s mercy that is crueler than honesty, and it makes my heart hurt.
          So, please forgive me for doubting you. :)

        • Dave

          Even if Sr. Jane presented those things as causes rather than correlations, is that really a reason for the parents to essentially become an unruly mob, or a cause to put her to the Inquisition? Sheesh. If I corrected my priests every time they made a factual error or controversial statement over the last 25 years, I’m sure there would have been about 100 unruly mobs.

          I strongly believe that any stress (physical stress such as toxins, hormone disrupting chemicals, emotional stress, mental stress) put upon a child can contribute to or cause behavioral and/or psychological problems. To me, it would not be surprising at all if divorce or poor parenting are PART of the cause of homosexuality in some cases.

  • NCMike

    Bishop Jugis needs to heroically defend Sister Laurel and call for further exposition and explanation of Catholic teaching to the poorly catechized students and parents of Charlotte Catholic High School. If one cannot be “all in” with Catholic teaching, one is “all out.” Christ’s Church is neither a democracy nor a public opinion poll. In the spiritual conflict between good and evil, there is no “moderate”, “compromise” or “Cafeteria Catholic” position.

  • Dave

    My take on Sister Jane is that she was surprised and traumatized by the unruly, wrathful mob (i.e. parents!) and needs to take some time off to regather herself. I don’t think anyone forced her to take a leave of absence.

    If my kids went to that school, I’d pull them out immediately. With parents like that, how bad must the peer influence be?

    Now, a slight caveat – none of us know for sure what was actually said, but if she really said anything that bad, I’d think we’d know by now exactly what it was.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    This is beginning to sound like an orchestrated attack by a radical group. Are we sure it was the Catholic parents of children attending the school? I want the details to come out on all this. It should easy to interview a few people who attended.

    • KyriaGrace

      I read that the school said that only parents of currently enrolled high-school students could attend the meeting. However, PFLAG Charlotte was outside the meeting handing out wristbands, and the president of PFLAG’s son used to go to the school, so… yeah… Also the way that petition was up in a matter of hours sounds like some agitators may have been ready and waiting for a chance to “help” the students and stir things up.

  • David Hains

    This post incorrectly spells of the name of Bishop Jugis both in the headline and several times throughout the article. As the Bishop’s spokesman I can assure you that he has not issued a statement on the matter at this time, 4/9/2014. The statement you are quoting came from Father Roger Arnsparger, Vicar for Education in the Diocese of Charlotte. Thank you for your interest in covering this story.

    • hamiltonr

      Good Morning Mr Hains and thank you for catching the spelling error. I corrected it.

      I just spoke with you about this comment, and I’m looking forward to hearing the bishop’s statement when he makes it.


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