Rogue Nuns

A plaque at Plaza Mayor depicting the punishment inflicted on the unorthodox during the time of The Spanish Inquisitions

The Vatican recently accused U. S. nuns, specifically the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), of radical feminism because they focus more on the human rights and the poor, rather than pushing Church doctrine against contraception and homosexuals. 

This was the lead article that I was reading on my iPhone that was streaming from The National Catholic Reporter the day that I happened to be sitting in Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain. The irony did not escape me. The Vatican, particularly arch-conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke and pedophile protector Cardinal Bernard Law, is now targeting “rogue nuns”. As I sat in the very place that The Spanish Inquisitions took place, I couldn’t help but think that Burke and Law, like Ferdinand and Isabella, must feel very confident that they are purifying the Church and maintaining Catholic Orthodoxy – cleansing it of those who would dare to question the hierarchy.

God bless our rogue nuns! What the bishops fail to realise is that WE are the Church and that WE have been heavily shaped by the love and nurturing of those religious women in our lives. Cradle Catholics like myself were often taught by sisters who sacrificed their personal lives to enrich our own. My own three aunts were Sisters of The Most Precious Blood and tirelessly gave of themselves day in and day out – building up the Kingdom of God on earth. But mostly the nuns that I knew (and know) loved us. Lived with us. Laughed with us. Cried with us. And faced the joy and heartache of life with us. If they questioned official Church teaching it was only because they walked with us as we ourselves questioned a hierarchy that at times seems woefully out of touch with our lives.

So bring it on Vatican! Silence the nuns! Demand obedience above all! Threaten excommunication! But the love that these women have inspired and The Church that they have built will never go away!

I think of my Aunts Lucy, Noel, and Gene Marie and thank God daily for their presence in my life. I think of great teachers: Thecla – who inspired in me a love of architecture and design (and was instrumental in my career choice), Jeanine – who gave me the opportunity to speak in public (some folks wish I would shut up now), Fidesta – who always made learning fun (even when she was a little bit scary), and so many more. I think of friends like Lucille who gave my family refuge when I transferred to Wisconsin for a new job (and left Deb alone with 3 small kids), Nivard who welcomed me to a new city when I was feeling very alone. And Helen, Dorothy, Mary, Ruth, Annette, Carol, Cindy, and countless others that have lived, loved, laughed, cried and walked with me.

We all know that the Spanish Inquisitions were really about power and never about love. The WE that is The Church will never abandon the Sisters that have built US. And loved US.

Come Holy Spirit Come!




Cervantes Monument at Plaza de Espana - Central Madrid

It’s Tuesday in Madrid and it’s foggy. And so is my head. Day three in Spain. Day four with the head cold. I’m traveling with my colleague from England. I’m afraid poor Stuart will have endure my constant nose-blowing and coughing. I’ve run out of cold medicine and they don’t sell over-the-counter stuff here without seeing a doctor. So now I only have cough drops, some Tylenol and lots of tissues – ugh!

As miserable as I feel, at least I got some sight-seeing in yesterday morning. To test my Spanish skills, I took the Metro to Central Madrid from my hotel. There was a moment or two when I questioned the logic of that decision but it all worked out. I traveled to Plaza de Espana which is within walking distance of the Spanish Senate and Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and Cathedral de Santa Maria. There is a monument to Cervantes there complete with likenesses of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Palacio Real is the largest palace in all of Western Europe. I was able to tour the Palace which is amazing – room after room of marble floors, guilded mouldings, art treasures and beautiful frescos. There is a formal dining room that would comfortably seat 75 people at one table! The Spanish Royalty really knew how to live.

Today it’s back to work; touring El Corte Ingles stores. We’re installing at Alcala Henares tonight and we needec to meet with the site supervisor and store manager. Then on to El Corte Princessa and Castellana. We’re replacing existing Liz Clairborne shops with new Jones New York shops in about 145 locations. I’ve once again become the official interpreter – Stuart is from England and speaks no Spanish (He speaks ‘English’ English and sometimes I could use an interpreter for him). I’ve gotten quite good at saying, “Perdon, donde esta Liz Clairborne?” I then usually wait for the person to point because their instructions in Espanol are often more than I can comprehend/translate. Tomorrow we’ll return to Alcala and possibly visit the warehouse in Toledo. Thursday we’ll take the train to Alicante. In the meantime I’m still searching for a Farmacia that will sell me an antihistamine.

I’m really trying to be grateful for this experience. Most people I know will probably never get to travel to Spain, but right now I’d just like my nose to stop running and to find something to eat that doesn’t have an egg on top of it. I think things will be better after my siesta.

Buenos Tardes,


Does The Rain In Spain Stay Mainly In The Plain?

Okay I’m in Madrid and I have to plead geographical ignorance. Is Madrid in the plain?  My room is on the 19th floor of this hotel and I have a pretty good view of the city (and beyond). There seems to be some mountain range in the distance. This could be a plain but I’m not certain.

This is about all of Spain that I've seen so far...

The reason I’m wondering is because it’s raining here in Madrid. I’m jet-lagged. And I can’t get that stupid song out of my head – thanks Audrey Hepburn (actually Marni Nixon whose voice was dubbed in “My Fair Lady”). Oh great, useless trivia rolling around in my head to keep me awake! It’s after midnight and I’m coming down with a cold and it’s rainy and dreary and the television here is worse than in Mexico. At least on T.V. in Mexico most of the women look like a young Charro (remember her, “coochie, choocie”? – she was married to Xavier Cougat when he was about 80 years old and she was in her 20’s?) Oh great, more useless trivia! All the women I’ve seen so far on Spanish T.V. look and SOUND angry. Also the exchange rate here is ludicrous – $30 Euros for a 15 minute taxi ride (that’s like $50 US). International travel is so glamorous! Dios mio!

I missed the ‘Crystal Ball’ last night with my Valentine; instead I was in the seat on the flight from New York next to a couple of contortionists. These people wiggled and crawled around on  that flight like they were possessed. “STAY IN YOUR SEAT!” Oh, for the love of God, how many times could two people use the bathroom on a 7-1/2 hour flight? If you guessed anything under 6 times; you would be wrong.   

Sorry for the rant but I feel pretty crappy and way too sorry for myself. I think the Nyquil® is starting to “kick in”. Anyway, I should stop writing now before I start to sound petty, stupid or intolerant. Besides I really love Spain. And don’t forget: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain…” Damn it. There it goes again!

Buenas Noches,