Sunday, March 31, 2013

Has Cafeteria Catholicism become fashionable? Professor Gutting writes for the Times

If you are a disgruntled Catholic college professor waiting for an invitation from the  NY Times to write an op ed essay, please be patient. It may take awhile, but the Times will eventually get around to you.

This week, the Times spotlighted Gary Gutting, a heterodox Catholic professor who specializes in modern French Philosophy at Notre Dame. In a Sunday op ed essay, Gutting expressed his displeasure with the Catholic hierarchy but vowed not to abandon the Church to its leadership or its "conservative core."

Gary Gutting
So what's Gutting's big problem? Gutting thinks the Church's "greatest danger is the loss of membership whom the hierarchy and the rest of the conservative core want to marginalize." The Church's best hope, Gutting believes, is to adopt "the liberal drive for reform."

And what exactly should the hierarchy do, in Gutting's opinion, to heed the liberal drive for reform? Apparently, Gutting believes the Vatican should turn the Catholic Church into a sort of doctrinal cafeteria, where Catholics would be free to affirm the doctrines that appeal to them and reject the others.

In an earlier Times essay, Professor Gutting wrote that he does not believe the Catholic hierarchy has the authority to determine doctrine for American Catholics. Rather, "[i]n our democratic society,  the ultimate arbiter of religious authority is the conscience of the individual believer.”

Most Catholics, Gutting observed approvingly, "now reserve for themselves the right to reject doctrines insisted on by their bishops and to interpret in their own way the doctrines that they do accept."  This is especially true, Gutting contends," in matters of sexual morality, especially birth control, where the majority of Catholics have concluded that the teachings of the bishops do not apply to them."

I have a couple of comments to make about Professor Gutting's essays and his views. First, Gutting is simply wrong to suggest that the Catholic Church is doomed unless it heeds what he calls "the liberal drive for reform."  The Catholic Church is not on its last legs.  After all, there are 71 million of us in the United States and more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide. 

I find it disingenuous for Catholic critics to hint darkly that the Church is falling apart because it won't abandon its traditions. Surely Professor Gutting  knows that it is the liberal Protestant groups that are imploding, not the Catholic Church.  The Episcopalians, for example, numbered 3.5 million members in the 1960s. They heeded the "liberal drive for reform," and there are less than 2 million of them today.  

G.K. Chesterton
Second, if Gutting really believes that "[i]n our democratic society, the ultimate arbiter of religious authority is the conscience of the individual believer," I don't see how he can call himself Catholic.  It seems to me that what Gutting is really advocating is a religion to fit what G. K. Chesterton called the "modern mood."  Such advocates, Chesterton observed, "merely take the modern mood, with much in it that is amiable and much that is anarchical and much that is merely dull and obvious, and then require any creed to be cut down to fit that mood."

But Catholic faith was not constructed to fit the modern mood, a democratic mood or any other mood.  Rather, it is a faith , as Chesterton put it, that "binds men to their morality when it is not identical with their mood."

This faith is the same the world over, and Catholic obligations are the same the world over. Just because (to use Chesterton's phrase) "our political system still rather pathetically claims to be democratic," does not mean that American Catholics can determine the contours of their religious obligations based on their personal preferences.

Faith derived from personal preferences, democratic principles, or even an individual's sense of conscience is not Catholicism--it is Sheilaism; that is, Sheila believes what Sheila wants to believe.   Or in Gutting's case, I suppose his religion is Guttingism.  And Guttingism is an appropriate aphorism for the benighted form of Catholicism that Professor Gutting is espousing in the op ed pages of the New York Times.


References

G.K. Chesterton. The Catholic Church and Conversion. San Francisco; Ignatius Press, 1926.

Gary Gutting. Birth Control, Bishops and Religious Authority. New York Times,  February 15, 2012.

Gary Gutting. On Being Catholic. New York Times, March 31, 2013, p. 3.
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Catholics should see the movie "Pardon" to remind ourselves that we oppose capital punishment

All Catholics should see the movie Pardon, an independent film that tells the true story of Toni Jo Henry, a Louisiana woman who was tried for murder in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana in 1942 and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

Scene from the movie Pardon
In the movie, Henry is portrayed as a young woman who was abused as a child by her parents. She left home and fell into a life of drugs and prostitution. While working in a Shreveport brothel, Toni Jo meets professional boxer named Claude "Cowboy" Henry. The two marry, and Cowboy gets Toni Jo off drugs. Unfortunately, Cowboy is arrested while in Texas; and he is sentenced to life in prison for killing a Texas police officer.

Toni Jo then falls in with one of Cowboy's associates, a bad guy by the name of Finnon "Arkie" Burks. In order to get money to finance her husband's appeal, Toni Jo agrees to be Arkie's accomplice in a bank robbery. Needing a car, they hijack J.P. Calloway, a Texas motorist who picks them up while hitchhiking on Valentine's Day, 1940. One of them shoots and kills Calloway in a Lousiana rice field.

Toni Jo is eventually arrested and tried for murder in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, where the murder occurred. At her trial, Toni Jo admits being Arkie's accomplice, but she denies having pulled the trigger Nevertheless, she is convicted of murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair. Her conviction is overturned on appeal, but she is tried and convicted a second time and again sentenced to die.

While in jail, Toni Jo is befriended by her kindly jailer, who is Catholic. The jailer introduces Toni Jo to Father Richard, a Catholic priest. Father Richard instructs her in the Catholic faith; and before she dies, Toni Jo converts to Catholicism and is baptised.


Toni Jo Henry shortly before her execution
Photo credit: Ritzpublications.com
At the end of the movie, Toni Jo is electrocuted in the basement of the parish jail. (I don't think I am giving anything away here.) She dies at peace. In fact, at the close of the movie, a photo of the real Toni Jo Henry, taken just before her execution, is shown on the screen; and she appears almost radiant.

Pardon is not a blockbuster hit movie. My wife and I saw the movie on the weekend it opened in Baton Rouge, and only one other person was in the audience. Nevertheless, the movie is well worth seeing. Pardon is a moving tale of forgiveness and redemption and it serves as a reminder that Catholics oppose the death penalty in all cases.

All Catholics know the Church's position on abortion, but many are unaware that the Church is unconditionally pro-life in all circumstances. We oppose abortion, suicide, euthanasia, and capital punishment.

Toni Jo Henry and Father Richard
Admittedly, our stand on capital punishment has recently evolved. The 1992 Catechism, for example, stated that capital punishment is acceptable in some situations. But Pope John Paul II made clear in several pronouncements that the Catholic Church opposes capital punishment in all circumstances.

"I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary," John Paul said in a 1999 homily. "Modern society has the means of protecting itself," the Pope pronounced, "without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform."

Many liberals oppose capital punishment but support abortion on demand. Many conservatives oppose abortion but support capital punishment. But as Catholics we stand four square for the dignity of life in all circumstances. We oppose abortion, we oppose euthanasia, and we oppose the death penalty.

References

The Death Penalty and the Catholic Church. Accessible at: http://www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/Apr1999/feature1.asp#F6

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Catholic Salute to the Hobby Lobby Guy--David Green

David Green
Photo Credit: Hobby Lobby
The NY Times op ed writers spill a lot of ink attacking the Catholic Church for its position on moral issues, including the Church's opposition to Obamacare's health-care mandate.  But the Catholics aren't the only target of the Times attacks.  Bill Keller, former executive editor of the Times, recently wrote a Times op ed essay entitled "The Conscience of a Corporation," in which he criticized David Green, owner of Hobby Lobby, because Green objects to paying for his employees' contraceptives under Obamacare's health-care mandate. 

Green, an evangelical Christian, opposes abortion on religious grounds, and he believes that the morning-after pill, one form of contraceptive, amounts to "chemical abortion" (Keller, 2013, p. A17). Green seeks an exemption from the health-care mandate on constitutional grounds and is in litigation with the federal government over this issue.  So far, he has not been successful in the courts.

David Green's witness on the health-care mandate demonstrates that Catholics are not alone in their faith-based opposition to abortion. Millions of Protestants--mostly evangelical Protestants--are allies in this fight. In fact, the most militant members of the pro-life movement are generally Protestants, not Catholics.

Catholics and Protestants who are fighting the health-care mandate in court are engaged in a battle to preserve religious freedom in the United States. Indeed one Protestant pastor who was quoted in Keller's op ed essay called this battle "the civil rights movement of this decade."

Mr. Keller ridiculed this view in his op ed essay, suggesting that people who take this position help explain "why the fastest-growing religious affiliation in America is 'none'".   And Keller is right to point out that the percentage of church-affiliated Americans is shrinking.

Mr. Keller may believe that most American Christians will eventually acquiesce to President Obama's postmodern agenda, either  by compromising their faith or ceasing to be Christian. And indeed, the mainline Protestant denominations are largely falling in line, led as always by the Episcopalians.

But some number of Christians will remain true to their faith, no mater what the cost--Christians such as David Green. At least a few Christians will not compromise with the new morality. They will not go quietly into the postmodern night.

As for Catholics, we will wait for the saints--saints who will defend the Catholic faith no matter what the cost. And we are grateful to our Protestant allies--good Christians like David Green, the Hobby Lobby guy who is in federal court fighting to defend his constitutional right to free exercise of religion.

References

Bill Keller. The Conscience of a Corporation. New York Times, February 11, 2013, p. A17.






Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Come out with your hands up, and nobody gets hurt! Frank Bruni thinks the Catholic Church should negotiate Church tradition

Frank Bruni thinks the Catholic Church should stop talking so much about sex. In an op ed essay that appeared in last Sunday's edition of the NY Times, Bruni argued that the Church has lost its moral authority to speak on sexual morality and is wasting its breath by continuing to do so.

Bruni believes the Church's positions on a range of sexual issues--a celibate priesthood, homosexuality, contraceptives, and divorce--have enraged and alienated a lot of lay Catholics, many of whom believe that Church doctrine on these issues is neither "wise, kind or necessary." Bruni also repeats an argument he has made before, that Church policy on a celibate priesthood has "winnowed and sometimes warped" the priesthood.

Let's negotiate
Bruni concludes his essay by saying that "[t]he Church's stubborn attachment to negotiable traditions and unenlightened positions has distanced [lay Catholics], but they're not entirely gone." " He thinks some disaffected Catholics might come back into the fold if Pope Francis makes the right moves. "It will be interesting to see," Bruni writes, "how, and if Francis can bring them back."

I have three comments to make on Bruni's latest attack on Catholic doctrine. First, it is Frank Bruni, not the Catholic Church, who should stop talking so much about sex.  In recent weeks, Bruni has attacked Church doctrine repeatedly in the op ed pages of the Times, and most of his criticism has focused on the Church's stance on sexual issues.

Second, Bruni's insinuation that a celibate priesthood has contributed to warping the priesthood is simply not true. Celibacy does not hinder a person's ability to live a healthy and holy life. Dorothy Day, an orthodox Catholic, devoted her life to social justice and serving the poor without a hint of scandal, yet she lived a celibate life after she converted to Catholicism (Coles, 1987).

Dorothy Day: Orthodox
Finally, Bruni criticizes the Church for its "stubborn attachment to certain negotiable traditions," which can and should be changed.  Bruni did not say with whom the Church should be negotiating. Perhaps he believes the Church should negotiate Catholic doctrine with various dissident  groups that claim to be Catholic while rejecting Church dogma on fundamental moral issues.

These Catholic traditions that Bruni thinks are negotiable form part of core Catholic doctrine; and this doctrine is simply not negotiable.  It is derived from three sources: scripture, tradition, and the writings of the early Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church (which include three women). Of course Catholic doctrine may change and evolve over time. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Pope and the Vatican may certainly make changes. But Church doctrine will not change because its faultfinders think it should, no matter how many op ed essays Frank Bruni writes.

Bruni's suggestion that the Church should negotiate its traditions reminds me of a scene from the movie True Grit. U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne, has cornered a band of hapless outlaws in a cabin deep in Indian Territory. Cogburn demands everyone in the cabin to throw down their weapons and come out , and he promises the outlaws he won't hurt them if they follow his directions. The outlaws comply, and Cogburn begins shooting as they come out the door.

In my opinion, for the Catholic Church to negotiate Church doctrine with its dissidents would be something like negotiating with Rooster Cogburn.  Even if the Church did everything its carping critics demand--abandoned its stances on gay marriage, abortion, contraceptives and divorce-- it would still get ambushed. 

Why? Because many of the Church's critics have no love or devotion to the Church at all. In fact, they are enemies of the Church who will not be satisfied until the Church is destroyed or transformed into a neutered house cat. But of course, our postmodern culture already has plenty of neutered house cats; most of the Reformation-era Protestant churches have endorsed or acquiesced to many of the so-called "reforms" that the Church's critics demand.

I am not saying Frank Bruni is an enemy of the Catholic Church.  His criticisms may be sincere and heartfelt. But I think everyone who cares about the health of our Church should follow the example of Dorothy Day. She clearly saw the Church's flaws--the lavish lifestyles of some of the bishops, a seeming indifference to the poor, its failure to address the sins of corporate capitalism. Dorothy would certainly have had plenty to say about the sex abuse scandal had it occurred when she was alive and active.

Dorothy strove to overcome the Church's flaw by working with the poor as her own faith witness. But as she herself proclaimed, Dorothy was an orthodox Catholic. And--as far as I know--she never criticised or rejected any element of fundamental Catholic doctrine.

So let us work for a better Church, one more in keeping with Christ's spirit, and let us do all we can to root out scandal and abuse.  But we can do that, I believe, while remaining obedient to Church doctrine and tradition, until--in God's good time--Catholic doctrine and traditions evolve and change.

References

Frank Bruni. Beyond the Bedroom. New York Times, March 17, 2013, Review Section, p. 3.

Robert Coles. Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion. Georgetown, MA: Da Capo Press, 1987.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

OMG! Is the Vatican in an "unholy alliance" with Russia and Iran?

The New York Times has backed off a bit from its attacks on Catholic doctrine in recent days. Perhaps the editors sense that many readers are sick of the Times criticism of Catholicism.  Or perhaps they fear that people might interpret the Times' relentless faultfinding as bigotry.

OMG! Is the Vatican in an "unholy alliance" with Iran?
Photo credit: Khaled al Hariri, courtesy of Reuters
So today, the Times attacked the Catholic Church from a different angle.  In an editorial entitled, "Unholy Alliance," the Times charged that "[t]he Vatican, Iran and Russia work to block global standards on protecting women."  Without actually saying so, the editorial implied that the Vatican, Iran and Russia have a common agenda regarding women's rights and that the three entities are impeding the work of a United Nations commission to protect women. "The efforts by the Vatican and Iran to control women is well known," The Times intoned.

Of course, the Catholic Church supports the protection of women; and the Times editorial offered no evidence to the contrary.  As everyone knows, the Catholic Church opposes abortion; and I am sure the Vatican made its position clear to the United Nations commission on that issue. But the Church's position on abortion does not put it in the company of Iran and Russia on the issue of women's rights. For the Times to suggest that the Vatican, Russia and Iran are in an "unholy alliance" regarding the status of women is unworthy of that newspaper.

Frank Bruni
Photo Credit: NY Times
In the same issue of the Times, Frank Bruni, who seems to be perpetually unhappy with the Catholic Church, criticized the process by which the next pope will be selected.  In Bruni's opinion, the secret process for choosing Pope Benedict's successor is a metaphor for the cardinals' "limited interest" in human accountability.  "[I]'s almost certain," Bruni wrote, "that [the new pope] will abide and maintain the church's opaqueness, preserve the current requirements of the priesthood,and stay the course."

Has Mr. Bruni forgotten that some of this nation's most important decisions are made in secret? The Supreme Court, for example, deliberated in secret before it decided Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the most important Supreme Court decision of the twentieth century.  Indeed, the Supreme Court always deliberates in secret, as does every federal and state appellate court.

The Times editorial and Mr. Bruni's op ed essay are both poorly reasoned.  In my opinion, the Times and several of its writers are so intent on discrediting the Catholic Church that they have lost their objectivity, their balance, and their sense of good judgment.

References

Frank Bruni. The Conclave's Fixed Ways. New York Times, March 12, 2013.

Editorial. Unholy Alliance: The Vatican, Iran and Russia Work to Block Global Standards on Protecting Women New York Times,  March 12, 2013.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Here's a cool idea: Let's let NY Times opinion polls determine Catholic doctrine!

In the 1993 movie The Fugitive, Tommy Lee Jones plays a federal marshal in pursuit of  Dr. Richard Kimble (played by Harrison Ford), an escaped prisoner who was convicted of killing his wife. In a thrilling scene, Tommy Lee Jones has Harrison Ford cornered in a giant water pipe that opens like a precipice over a river flowing hundreds of feet below.

In desperation, Harrison's character calls out to Jones' character: "I didn't kill my wife!"

And Jones shouts back, "I don't care!"  After all, it's a federal marshal's job to track down fugitive criminals, not determine whether they are guilty.

I think Jones' line from The Fugitive captures the attitude of the cardinals gathered in Rome regarding a recent New York Times opinion poll. Not surprisingly, the poll found that the Catholic Church is "out of touch" with American Catholics.  "We don't care!" is probably what the cardinals would say if you asked them. Or--to quote another line from the cinema: "Frankly, my dear, [we] don't give a damn."

Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive:
"I don't care!"
Polls are useful, of course; and the Times's findings may be accurate.  As the New York Times poll showed, most Catholics don't share the Vatican's views on birth control.  And although a strong majority of Catholics oppose abortion, many probably support abortion in some circumstances that don't accord with Church doctrine.

But the Catholic Church is not a democracy, and it doesn't shape its theology based on poll findings. So if the Times thinks its polls will influence the way cardinals vote in the upcoming election of a new pope, it is sadly mistaken.

Catholics have seen what happens to religious groups that shift their views to harmonize with the fashions of the day. The Episcopalians have shaped their doctrine in accordance with the editorial views of the New York Times, and look what happened to them.

In spite of its politically correct stance on social issues, the Episcopal Church is imploding, and today its membership  is just a tiny fraction of the Catholic population. In fact, some Episcopalians--both lay people and priests--are returning to the Catholic Church, where they are welcome.

If the Catholic Church were an organization that determined its doctrines based on public opinion polls, it would not have canonized St. Thomas Moore, St. John Fisher, St. Margaret Clithrow, and thousands of other good Catholics who died rather than renounce their faith.

Here is my prediction. The cardinals will choose a pope who is as firm on Catholic doctrine as Benedict and John Paul.  If anything, the New York Times opinion poll and the hectoring New York Times op ed essays that have appeared recently will only make the cardinals "man up" and elect a pope even more conservative than Benedict and John Paul.

The Catholic Church needs a pope who will stand firm against the postmodern culture of our day--the "culture of death," as the Blessed John Paul so accurately described it.  If the cardinals elect a pope who is acceptable to the New York Times, I will be greatly surprised.

References

Laurie Goodstein & Megan Thee-Brennan. U.S. Catholics in Poll See a Church Out of Touch. New York Times, March 6, 2013, p. 1.



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Professor Hans Küng Slaps at the Catholic Church from the Op Ed page of the New York Times

The New York Times can't depend solely on its own op ed writers to scold the Catholic Church.  After all, Bill Keller, Frank Bruni, and Maureen Dowd deserve a day off now and then.  Sometimes the Times needs to find outside talent to slam the Church--a heavy hitter like Hans Küng, the famous dissident Catholic theologian.

Thus, on the day Pope Benedict resigned the papacy, Catholics should not have been surprised to find an essay by Professor Küng on the op ed page of the Times--an essay that scorching criticized good Pope Benedict.


Professor Hans Küng
As a practicing Catholic,  I found Kung's essay--titled "A Vatican Spring?"--highly offensive. First of all, I was shocked that Küng would compare Pope Benedict to the Arab leaders who were toppled in the so-called Arab Spring. And I was puzzled that Küng apparently views the possibility of an Arab-Spring type upheaval in the Catholic Church in a positive light, since so far at least the recent turmoil in the Middle East has brought more chaos than reform.

Second, I found parts of Küng's essay to be incoherent, particularly his commentary on the history of the papacy. For example what did Küng mean by this passage:
The efforts of the reform councils in the 15th century, the reformers of the 16th century, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the liberalism of the 19th century met only partial success.
Partial success at what?  Is Küng saying that the Reformation, the French Revolution, and the Enlightenment were only partially successful in changing the Catholic Church? If so, I suppose he is right, because if these movements had been totally successful, we would not have a Catholic Church.

And what did Küng mean when he wrote that the Catholic Church "needs a pope who is open to the concerns of the Reformation to modernity"? Perhaps this sentence was poorly translated from the German, because I find it astonishing that a Catholic theologian would say--in the opening years of the 21st century--that the Church needs a pope who is open to the Reformation's concerns about anything--and particularly modernity.

In addition, I totally reject Küng's description of the status of our Church. Küng believes the Catholic Church is in danger of "shrinking into an increasingly irrelevant sect," and cautions us not to be "mislead by the media hype of grandly staged papal mass events or by the wild applause of conservative Catholic youth groups."  No, Küng assures us, "[b]ehind the facade, the whole house is crumbling."

With all due respect, Professor Küng, your dire predictions about the future of the Catholic Church are sheer nonsense.  The Catholic Church is exploding in Africa, particularly East Africa; and we are holding our own in the United States and other parts of the world.

And I was deeply offended by his dismissal of devout young Catholics. I attended Catholic World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, and I recall seeing thousands of young European Catholics crowded on the banks of the Rhine River hoping to get a glimpse of Pope Benedict.  This was Pope Benedict's first participation in Catholic World Youth Day, and I recall wondering if young people would be as enthusiastic about him as they were about John Paul.

On that day on the Rhine, young Catholics were wildly enthusiastic about Pope Benedict. "Benedetto! Benedetto!", they shouted again and again.  It was an experience I will never forget.

I hate to disagree with Professor Hans, but the Catholic Church is not "shrinking into an increasingly irrelevant sect."  He must have us confused with the Anglicans.

Maureen Dowd gets a twofer: She degrades our Blessed Mother and disrespects the Pope in the Same NY Times essay

Maureen Dowed
Photo Credit: NY Times
Maureen Gets a Twofer!
This is the Lenten season, when Catholics  say the stations of the cross--the stations of the cross that mark Christ's walk through Jerusalem on his way to Calvary.

The crowds mocked Jesus on the day he was crucified, so perhaps it is appropriate for Catholics to be mocked during Lent.  We've certainly endured a lot of scorn in recent weeks, particularly in the op ed pages of the New York Times.

Maureen Dowd's essay in today's Sunday edition is the Times's latest attack on Catholicism.  Titled "How Mary Feels About Being a Virgin," Dowd's article highlights the literary work of Colm Toibin, a gay lapsed Catholic who wrote an irreverent play about Mary--our Blessed Mother.  As Dowd explains,Toibin's Mary is not a virgin and does not watch Christ die on the cross. Instead, Mary runs away from the crucifixion, and she resents Christ's disciples for trying to make her appear more nurturing than she really is.

Dowd interviewed Toibin for her essay, and she was able to get a quote out of him that hints that Pope Benedict has a deep affection for his private secretary, whom Toibin described as an exceptionally handsome man. "An 85-year-old man having such a beautiful companion with him morning and night to talk to and with," Toibin is quoted as saying. ""It's like the end of a novel. It's what all of us want for ourselves, straight or gay. It's better than sex."

So Dowd got a twofer.  She was able to  degrade Mary and disrespect the Pope in one brief essay!

Katharine Drexel
It is ironic that Dowd's essay appeared in the Times on March 3rd, the Feast of St. Katharine Drexel.  Drexel, as every Catholic should know, grew up in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century, the daughter of one of America's wealthiest men. While still a young woman, she gave up a life of ease and pleasure, became a nun, and founded a religious order dedicated to serving African Americans and Native Americans. 

Although St. Katharine lived a life of poverty, she retained control of her wealth, all of which she donated to advancing mission of her religious order. She used part of her money to found Xavier University in New Orleans, the only Catholic University for African Americans. Today, Xavier can boast that it has produced more African American graduates who have gone to medical school than any other American university.

St. Katharine Drexel lived a long life of service--she died at the age of 97. Like Maureen Dowd, Mother Katharine was a good writer; and like Maureen Dowd, she wrote a lot.  But you can search through Mother Katharine's letters and diaries and never find an unkind word or a snarky comment. 

Within the last month, the New York Times has repeatedly published disrespectful articles about Catholicism. But it is Lent, and Catholics should accept this disrespect as a penance for our sins and the sins of our Church, which are many  Today, let us take heart in St. Katharine Drexel's feast day, secure in the knowledge that St. Katherine is in heaven and is praying for us.

References

Maureen Dowd, How Mary Feels About Being a Virgin. New York Times, March 28, 2013, Sunday Review Section, p. 1.