Melinda Henneberger of Slate Magazine writes on the eviction notice given to nuns in the Santa Barbara Convent as part of an effort on the part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to meet the costs of paying victims in the priest abuse scandal.
Here's her conclusion:
So, why begin on the backs of these servants of the poor—in full traditional habit, no less? I'm trying to imagine the conversation in which the men who protected the men who victimized children thought to spread the pain first to these women—"Hey, let's start with Sister Angela! That'll show 'em our priorities!"—but I just can't get there.
And if, as I am sorry to suspect, the decision to send the sisters packing was actually intended to garner sympathy—and maybe even a tidy profit—for the church—well, this scandal may never be over. In Santa Barbara, supporters Catholic and non-Catholic have rallied to the side of the sisters. In the community where they are known and beloved, supporters are raising money that might allow them to buy the convent outright, presumably for more than the $97,746 value put on the property by the county assessor's office; other small, older homes in the neighborhood are selling for upward of $700,000.
But the damage done by this miscalculation—however it was hatched—raises questions about how much Cardinal Mahony's leadership and judgment have improved since he allegedly shuffled known sex offenders from one parish to another.
The bill has come due, and hard decisions must be made. But the idea of elite men kicking women on walkers to the curb is not, I think, one that will inspire many of the faithful to put a little something extra in the basket on Sunday.