Hope for the Catholic church?
- Today I read a story in the NY Times about the looming possibility of bankruptcy for the Boston diocess and the general state of things looks bleak. However, to me some of the best hope I’ve read in some time in the RC Church was in an MSNBC story: The Sister’s Battle with the Bishop. What I found powerful most were these paragraphs at the end of the story…
- Despite the years of upheaval in her church, and even amid the widening national crisis, Kelly remains upbeat. She sees this as a moment for massive reform.
“The scandal is one thing. The cover-up by these cardinals and these bishops, it’s a crime. They should all be in jail,” she says. “This is a marvelous opportunity of hope for the church. This abscess on the body of Christ has been there for centuries, and now we’re lancing it, poison is pouring out, and the laity and good bishops are saying, ‘No more.’”
Kelly has her share of critics, especially since she advocates far more than usual calls for a married priesthood or women priests. For her, healing the church requires a quantum leap beyond the reforms begun at the Second Vatican Council: Do away with priests entirely, and let parishes choose their spiritual leaders themselves.
“We should close every seminary and go back to the church in the early first century. And what do we see there? The apostles were not priests,” she says.
Still, even devout Catholics in the Santa Rosa diocese sing Kelly’s praises, if for no other reason than her steadfast willingness to take on a figure of significant religious and political clout. “The only person in the diocese who has the cojones to do anything is Sister Jane Kelly,” says Dr. Paul Miller. “The male clergy are wusses in comparison.”
Kelly has circulated a manuscript of a book on her experiences in the Santa Rosa diocese — “I know I’ll be excommunicated,” she jokes — and she continues her work in Ukiah with charities and the local parish.
In her eyes, this is a time of revolution in the Catholic Church — perhaps one of the most significant in its two millennia of history. Through it all, she maintains Catholics can keep their faith even if the institution of the church crumbles around them.
“We’ve taken the rock of Peter and turned it over, and look what we found,” Kelly says. “And now were going to heal it and bring it back to where it belonged.”