Dear Readers,

Bishop Loverde recently sent a letter responding to one I wrote about Good Touch Bad Touch. In it he rebuked me for an e-mail I sent to my Les Femmes list which includes the editor of The Herald and the Director of the Family Life Office. I’ve answered the bishop’s letter, but since the e-mail was public I want to make a public response as well. Space limits prevent printing the letters and e-mail in their entirety, but I’d be happy to send them, preferably by e-mail or to those who send $1.00 for postage and copying. The bishop wrote: “In addition to your letter to me, I have in my possession an email that you have been circulating, admonishing those in your audience to deal with my staff ‘as sly as serpents and gentle as doves’…This has been perceived by many as uncharitable and unjust. I want you to know that I am appalled that one of my flock is misusing scripture in this way. The context of Matthew 10:16 is the Lord’s sending forth the Apostles like sheep in the midst of wolves. My staff seeks to help people, not destroy them. Rash judgment is unbecoming of persons who desire to be faithful to the truth.”

The relevant e-mail paragraph reads: “I urge every parent whose children or grandchildren will be affected by [GTBT] to call Cathy Nolan…and ask to preview the materials. Be low key and polite. Remember the scripture admonition to be as ‘sly as serpents and gentle as doves.’ I told Cathy that a meeting was insufficient to get the full impact of a program, that I want to inspect the materials in depth and watch any videos involved. It seems a little strange to me that parents (or even priests) can only review the materials under supervision…. We will see if this blossoms into a ‘it's not convenient for you to see them because my assistant isn't available.’ I will call her in a few days to follow up. Please don't let her put you off with the parents' meeting. And pass this on to any concerned parents you know.”

Finally, my reply to the bishop: “With regard to the e-mail, Your Excellency, I had no intent to offend you or any of your staff, and I’m sorry it was misunderstood. The editor of The Arlington Catholic Herald and the Director of the Family Life Office are both on my mailing list and I expect anything I send may be passed on to you. When I quoted Matthew 10:16 I was talking about the apostles’ mission of evangelization. I’ve always thought Jesus was telling them to be wise, not only in dealing with “wolves,” but in their preaching, like St. Paul. He was clever and gentle when he spoke to the Greeks about their temple to the unknown God. I was urging people to ‘be low key and polite’ and prudent when they spoke to Cathy Nolan. To the degree I muddled that message I apologize, but I don’t think a charitable interpretation of my e-mail supports the view that I accused your staff of trying to “destroy” people. I don’t question anyone’s motives. Nevertheless, people can do much damage with the best intentions as the bishops’ handling of priestly sex abuse cases illustrates.

“Parents have an obligation to protect their own children and others as well, and that is what Les Femmes is trying to do. Unfortunately, there are many inconsistencies in the diocese’s handling of this matter which do not foster trust and seem to conflict with the Charter’s call for openness and transparency. As a veteran of the Fairfax County battle over sex education, I am uneasy at similarities in the way the diocese has approached this.

“Be assured of my prayers and those of Les Femmes for you and your staff.”

Table of Contents