Homeless Nuns

There was a story years ago about a convent of elderly nuns who were facing bankruptcy. This was not the vow of poverty they took when they pledged to give all their earnings to the Church. This was plain old bag lady poverty. Their local Bishop had used his authority to make financial decisions for them and against their wishes. When things turned out badly, it was the nuns who were left with the bills.

The Church made some very Bad Choices for years in covering up wrongdoing by some of its priests. While the most well-positioned, like Cardinal Law, can make a soft landing in Rome, the money has to come from somewhere.

Sister Angela Escalera may be forced to say goodbye to the Santa Barbara community she’s known for more than 40 years.

“I’m very hurt. I’m very very hurt,” Sister Angela said.

In a brief letter, the Los Angeles Archdiocese explained the convent may be up for sale. All this is to help pay for the sex scandal plaguing the Catholic Church. Although the letter was dated in June, the sisters only received it recently. There were no phone calls or visits by the archdiocese.

“It was a very cold letter, and I think that’s what hurt the most,” Sister Angela said. Sister Angela, Sister Margarita, and Sister Conseulo dedicate their lives to serving others.

Some ordinary lay Catholics, failing to understand the wisdom of the Church’s priorities, are acting from the heart.

Supporters vowed to shelter three nuns whose convent will be sold to help pay the costs of California’s clergy sexual abuse cases.

“What a terrible thing for our church to do to these poor ladies,” said Clara Reese, a retired businesswoman from Thousand Oaks, Calif., who is raising money for the nuns in Santa Barbara, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Nuns have always been taken for granted by the Catholic Church. They dedicate their lives, work for free or give their checks to the convent, ask for very little. These nuns were moved around like furniture. They should have been invited to participate in the decisions about the abuse crisis and its financial consequences. They might have agreed to sacrifice their convent. They’ve been sacrificing all their lives for the Church.

As often happens, ordinary people show more decency than the higher ups. Catholics in Santa Barbara are voting with their time and their dollars for the nuns. I hope they win.

UPDATE: American Nuns Support Health Reform.