The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

A letter I never thought I’d see in the New York Times

In today’s paper, they’ve published a couple letters responding to Maureen Dowd’s Sunday screed. This one was both humble, and humbling, because it put the entire kerfuffle in such a beautiful context:  

To the Editor: 

Lay as well as religious people ask for one right and one only when they give their free adhesion to the Roman Catholic Church: the right to use their talents toward the redemption of the world from the slavery of sin. They endow the pope, through the hierarchy, with the power to decide where and how these talents will be most beneficial toward this end. 


In so doing they make a sacrifice of themselves. From the Latin “sacrum facere,” sacrifice means to make yourself “sacred” — that is, reserved to a special function, unique. As we believe that in the Christian community every person is sacred, devoted to a unique role, each person is awarded the same dignity, irrespective of his or her role. 

Lack of access to priesthood cannot be constructed as a form of disrespect or discrimination, as Maureen Dowd seems to imply.  

I am a liberal Democrat who has supported every single feminist issue, save for abortion (an issue on which feminists themselves are divided), but don’t expect that my political and social views should shape the organization of the church I credit for allowing me to live a very gifted life. 

Lodovico Balducci

Tampa, Fla., Oct. 25, 2009 

The writer is a doctor.

Thank you, doctor.

Comments read comments(18)
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posted October 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Perhaps we are forgetting the main issue here. Nuns in America are the target of an investigation by shadowy forces in the Church, details of which the public does not have access, nor the nuns from what I can tell. At the same time, some quasi-official and non-official Catholic internet sources are pumping out some rather critical remarks toward nuns, criticizing their political beliefs, how their funeral mass was conducted, etc. Perhaps we should show our religious sisters the respect they deserve, I feel that they are doing a great deal of good for the Church and society as a whole. Why the sudden urge to take this thing public?
I read the NY Times article and liked the first response to Dowd’s article better. As to Dr. Balducci’s comments, let me break down it down as I see it… First, we have no rights as Catholics and are obliged to sheepishly follow the pope. After this comes a line about being “separate but equal”. Then, women can not become priests, but in some Orwellian sort of way, this isn’t discriminatory. Finally, while being a Democrat himself, sharing most of their political and social beliefs, has no qualms that his church possesses a different set of values.

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Dana MacKenzie

posted October 27, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Dr. Balducci is a grown up. Thank God for him.
The sisters are not being investigated by “shadowy forces.” But I see their paranoia has become the narrative of the “progressives.”
Go check out the website of the apostolic visitation, which is very transparent. Read the questions, read the comments. The “progressive” sisters are trying very hard to maintain the fiction that they are under siege by evil men and subjugated women who are the equivalent of Jewish capos at Auschwitz, but even they are having difficulty doing it.
But anyone who eagerly buys into that fiction is telling quite a lot about himself. Or herself. None of it impressive.

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Dana MacKenzie

posted October 27, 2009 at 4:36 pm

And by the way, DML, the church is not a democracy; it never was. If you don’t think the church holds the splendor of truth, you do not have to be a Catholic. If you do, you might take the time to ponder and pray about it – and you might find that the well-reasoned and well-thought out stands have seriously sound thinking behind them. But if you expect the church to be an extension of your politics, as clearly you do, you will never be happy. Church is not a political rally with an extra dose of God. And frankly, too many on both sides, left and right, seem to think it is exactly that.

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posted October 27, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Cardinal Rode’s public comments on the matter are enough to give any reasonable person some concern about the “visitation.”

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Mere Catholic

posted October 27, 2009 at 6:48 pm

“Nuns in America are the target of an investigation by shadowy forces in the Church”
Sounds like a line right out of Dan Brown’s predictable mouth.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 27, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I’ve found a website that may be of interest to some readers — and a key part of it is a document that I suspect most people haven’t read, “Instrumentum Laboris,” the letter from the Vatican outlining what the visitation entails and the questions being asked.
You can find that, and more, right here.
After looking over the material, it seems to me that the only orders who have anything to worry about this are the ones where women don’t live in community, don’t pray the Liturgy of the Hours, don’t have regular celebrations of the Eucharist, don’t have a clear vision of their charism, and don’t have successful recruitment efforts.
Frankly, the orders who fit that description have more serious things to worry about than a visit from the Vatican. Or so it seems to me.
Dcn. G.

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posted October 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm

And this would include 95% of our religious sister in the US, correct me if I’m wrong. The impact of this ‘visitation’ could be pretty big, right?

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Paul Snatchko

posted October 28, 2009 at 10:58 am

That’s an excellent letter.
My own life was greatly impacted by a Catholic sister: Sr. Thomasmari Gore, M.S.B.T. She was one of our campus ministers at NYU in the 1990s.
Sister Thomasmari was a constant source of support and guidance (spiritual and practical). In addition to the campus ministry work and student mentoring, she also ran the Catholic Center soup kitchen and was constantly finding housing for international students.
M.S.B.T. stands for Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. FYI:

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posted October 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Feminists are *not* in the least bit divided over abortion… regardless of what some guy in Florida says. Because, if you’re anti-choice, you’re not a feminist. Sorry: anyone who believes that it’s OK to make fifty percent of humanity prisoners to the contents of their uterii cannot be said to be in favor of equality and autonomy for women. Period.

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posted October 28, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I do not want to turn this post into a discussion on abortion. But how can feminists be for abortion, when the contents of the uterus are little girls. Or when women are forced to have abortion because they have had their child quota.
How can feminists be for the killing of little baby girls?

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Your Name

posted October 28, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Dear Pam,
Your labeling of people as “the contents of [women’s] uterii” can only be made by one who thinks that butchering said people is an actual legitimate right; the depravity is truly staggering.

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posted March 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I happen to be in the company of several nuns who were speaking of that letter from Rome which they refered to as The Instructions. As they spoke I listened. They seemed to have very little objections. Just wanted the same.For the priesthood, no civilian dress, read the office daily,say Mass daily,be involved in Catholic actions at least weeekly outside the rectory. For them to receive the same benefits and perks the priest receive, able to own private property, and receive wages comparable to the priest.
Their talk sounded reasonable to me.

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