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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  PBS  September 28, 2013 11:30am-12:01pm PDT

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brown >> funding for to the contrary provided by... the cornell douglas foundation. committed to encouraging stewardship of the environment. land conservation, watershed protection and eliminating harmful chemicals. additional funding provided by the colcommon foundation, the cal last genetic foundation, the carpenter foundation and by the charles a. foundation. this week on to the contrary... first, pope francis and catholic women. behind the headlines. a former nun says the church
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should reconsider celibacy. then women, money and politics. [777] [777] >> hello i'm bonnie erbe welcome to to the contrary, a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, the vatican and women. a number of remarkable events surrounding the papacy took place this week. most recently, pope emeritus benedict xvi emerged from retirement to respond to criticism of his handling of the priest pedophilia scandalment he denied accusations that he covered up sexual abuse by priests. meanwhile, former father greg
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reynolds of australia became the first person excommunicated under the papacy of pope francis. he is an outspoken supper of women's ordination and gay marriage. then, there was a slew of publicity and positive reaction from catholics around the world last week to pope francis' remarks criticizing the church in his words he said the church should drop its obsession with devicive issues such as gay rights and abortion and contraception. there was less coverage of his reversal a day later. he lectured catholic object city tricks budget cuts evils of abortion saying every presentingty aborted bears the face of jesus. mercy was this a flip-flop or does pope francis truly want to stay away from issues like abortion >> there is no flip-flop. pope francis is committed to define the mission of the church the salvation of jesus and
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letting people know about this as well as committed to the moral teachings of the church >> i think pope francis wants to have his cake and eat it too and time will tell whether he can getaway with it >> i do believe his intent in the comments was to say there are many issues that we have to address in the catholic church. abortion is a sin and he did not say it wasn't. >> yeah, i don't think this is a flip-flop. i think he was trying to contextualize the abortion debate in the larger conversation of all of the church's teachings >> i'm thrilled to save we have a catholic panel today which was wonderful. i am not a catholic. huge fan of this pope or at least i was last thursday and friday i'm thinking what is he doing? not that he cares whether i am a fan or not. but bill mayer has been saying nice things as is pierce morgan of cnn >> a lot of us are communicators
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here on the panel and the pope's got the right tone and that is something that has been missing in the church for a longtime. what happened is the catholic church almost wanted to become a political agency dictating their positions. and what he is trying to do is trying to focus that back to what is the core mission of the church and that is to introduce people to the love of christ. >> and breaking away from materialism. getaway from a very what had become a materiallistic. but i do want to get to the role women play in this. and why a day after giving this -- >> incredible -- incredible interview does he not go back and say anything nasty about gays or homsexuals but he says and again, obviously abortion more of a women's issue than a man's issue. is it because he has less when he is trying to make the church opening and welcoming, does that
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mean -- >> that is the moral teaching of the church is defending the sanctity of life. a woman sent him a letter i think she was in south america saying this man who i had sex with i'm pregnant. he wants me to get an abortion what do i do? the pope picked up the phone and called this woman and said you have this don't abort this child. have the child. this is a beautiful gift from god. it is that touching personal touch to people and it is about he is not going to change his positions the church's teachings on abortion. it's clear >> well, he is going to be interesting and time will tell because i think the dialogue he extended a dialogue and i'm supportive of that and i think he wants to put the church in a larger context. but there are some realities that eventually he has to go beyond talking. and abortion is one and the role of women and particularly of nuns. because this is an issue --
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>> he has raised he wants to come up with a deeper theology of women which a nun wrote in time magazine she didn't know what that meant. >> there is a lot of deep theological analysis by nuns. it's not a new concept because he avoiding the bottom line issue what is the role nuns will have? he publicly said the ordination of nuns is closedp the excommunication of the priest in australia who is known supporting the ordination of nuns is telling you where he is going. and this is not going to be easy for him. this is not going to getaway with words. he has to start acting if he is going to maintain his popularity. >> i was going to say the priest excommunicated was not just because of the issue of supporting nuns being holding higher offices or seats. but the fact that he outwardly supported gay marriage which
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is -- >> he officiated >> and that is -- he broke the rules. and not to get into the cat kiss um. he outwardly spoke against the rules of the church. that is not his job to do >> i think there is a larger issue which speaks to our own sort of characterization of catholicism. unfortunately there are teachings that are both which we consider liberal and conservative. and we so much want to sort of put catholicism into one group or another. and it's not. it is a much larger complex religion that looks at. i mean if you are talking abortion and life then you have to talk about the fact that the church doesn't believe in premarital sex. one of the issues is you know, when sort of a relationship is consummated within a marriage there is a belief that all of those unions should then turn into children. so there are a lot of more
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complex deeper issues >> but what do you think about what he means about a deeper theology for women and giving women more power within the church? >> well, i think that means recognizing more at least the scholars that i would talk to who would say sort of the role of the virgin mary within the stories of the bible and within essentially a context of jesus' life. there are passages within the bible which speak to -- >> does it translate into anymore real powers for nuns >> it could. in real-life. real-life >> it's important to understand the dogma versus the tradition. this is where we have sanctity of life and marriage. et cetera. then you have the church's traditions the male priest, the fact that priests cannot get married. that can change it could change. so i think that is where you have to understand where it all
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kind of plays out. >> let me throw in how was jesus born? and essentially she comes back and says it was between god and a woman and man had nothing to do with it. the other side is if you get into these deep teachings there are actually questions about the role that women might be able to play which is a deeper more expandsive role >> but the talent the church has is there are a lot of churches with no priests because there's not enough priests to run the church. it's losing money because of all the pedophilia cases and losing followers because it is not a modern church. you know it's out of context of the reality. >> and across all churches why? because our country is becoming more secular. europe is becoming more secular. it's not just the catholic church but crisis are occurring in other churches because our countries in europe, they are deciding they are not going to be religious. >> and there is an easy way to
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sum it up which is educated countries where there's more education in the italy, women are having 1.4 children on average that is the fertility rate. that is nothing. that is not replacement value. it's the seat of the vatican why? because women have -- it's the highest rate of phd females in all of europe >> and the economic plays a role because they cannot afford to have more children. there are several factors besides the education >> the truth is educated women have fewer kids. but, but and that is a global truth inside and outside the catholic church. but last, let's talk about the pedophilia scandal. he hasn't really -- is all of the rest of this a way to push that behind the headlines? >> well, i think that some of this has to do with the fact that they still have essentially legal issues. and certainly the church is not going to come out if they think
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they have to be on the hook for greater damages with legal complaints that are still pending. >> let's be clear. what happened was wrong. it was illegal. and i certainly do not support those who move priests from place to place to hide it. they should have been exposed and kicked out of the church. but i believe that the pope's dialogue or the discussion is about opening the dialogue with the world and understanding who we are as catholics. because as so many other religions, there is a misinterprettation. evangelicals are seen to be lunatics and crazy bible thumpers and catholics are said the same way. but we are people who have a strong faith in god. and we want the world to understand why we have that faith and i think that is what the pope wants to do >> all right. our behind the headlines segment is celibacy and the catholic church. mary johnson was a nun who spent 20 years in mother teresa's missionaries of charity order.
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she resigned and is a married atheist and writer live in the southwest. we spoke with her about her fascinating and daring book, "an unquenchable thirst" >> on the one hand we were trying to help the poor. we were feeding them, sheltering them, comforting them. but on the other, mother teresa understood that suffering was what brought a person close to god. and she felt like the poor were closer to god because they were suffering more. >> mary johnson joined the order to help the poor of calcutta, india. instead her time was riff inwith inner conflict. mother teresa taught nuns not just to abstain from sex but avoid touching anyone for any reason whenever possible >> we were having poor, two sets of clothes. washed one everyday hoped it dried. obedience we never had any say. chastity was extreme.
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we could write our families once a month. we had to cutoff all relationships with friends we had. we were not allowed to talk to one sister alone. >> nuns were only allowed to visit families once every 10 years. strong connections between nuns were discouraged. johnson began a physical relationship with another nun >> i was very the sister got close to me and it felt good. it was like someone is paying attention to me. someone wants to know who i am. wants to spend time with me. and at the same time, i knew that i had this vow of chastity where i wasn't supposed to have that kind of relationship. i was supposed to be only for jesus. i felt guilty and conflicted stoovment deprived of company and intimacy johnson continued her secret entanglements >> i had a relationship with a priest as well afterwards. and you know, i think it's impossible to say that you can really have a healthy
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relationship with a priest because it has to be something secret. >> after 20 years as a nun johnson left. >> i just left because i felt suffocated and i knew that this was not a place that i could flourish. i kept hearing i heard the words of jesus in my mind. i came that they may have life and have it to the full. and i felt like my life was not full >> now, johnson is an atheist. she wants to call attention to the issue of church celibacy >> we all have the needs for intimacy to love and to be loved to be known by another person there is no theological barrier to having a married clergy. and i hope that that might change. >> even in death, mother teresa is one of the world's most respected women. she won a nobel peace prize among many awards during her lifetime. the catholic church is moving toward making her a saint.
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while johnson admired mother teresa's charitable work she was disappointed by other factors >> she was the only women in the church with enough political capital where the pope and the bishops would listen her. but she never disagreed with them. she felt that her place was to obey them and she said whatever the church teaches that what i am going to believe. and that is how she got on in the world but i do not think it was a service to women or to the poor. >> when you hear about how strict -- not see your family but every 10 years? i mean was mother teresa very good to her subordinates? >> i am not one to question how mother teresa or any order is run that is not my place. i had an opportunity to read the memoir. and you know, a memoir is about your perception of your life and things that happened in your life. so i'm not questioning whether they did or did not happen in her life but i think something that she did not discuss is that
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you know, sometimes you feel you have a calling whether it's to be a priest or preacher or nun and there is a time that you realize maybe i don't have that calling and i need to step back. and she was in a position that she knew early on she should have stepped back and didn't. the thing she discusses in the book about there was a predator, she is sayings it was a predator fellow nun on other people. she should have been exposed and taken out of the order. those things should be addressed. >> agree? disagree? and the thing about celibacy is it just not going to work? >> i think this is where what you see is this division between what is god and what is man. and when i say that what i mean is that god at the sort of spiritual level is about love. and sort of man and human beings are about power. so the problem is there is always -- >> they are also about hormones >> and there's this tension
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between sort of surrendering to god and allowing human beings to control what that means. and i think that some of what you see here is when human beings are in control of what it means to be faithful to god, there become these huge problems >> i think it's important also, there is an article that came out in the "washington post" a blog from father o'brien, a jesuit priest and chose to live a celibate life. the people make the commitment to godment you might not understand it. but it is what they feel is their calling and their vocation and he said that he was in a committed romantic relationship before he was 29. and he was working his job and he felt unfulfilled. and now he is 46 years old and says look i have my struggles with my vows once in a while. i'm human but i've made a choice this is a choice. no one is forcing the women to be in the missionary. they can get out.
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women have the choices. and so he then decided i can i am fine being celibate. i am fully serving god and the people that he serves in georgetown >> well, i'm not disagreeing with you and that is true and sexuality has many dimensions and different people act differently to celibacy >> and the same people act differently in different stages of their life >> exactly. but i have to say that kudos to her for telling the story. she told a very controversial story and she is putting on the table the inside of what it is like to try to lead a celibate life. and we have to agree that the pedophelia cases are linked to t and the rumor that the gay sons of the irish families would end up priests and how did they manifest their sexuality? i would say the urban myth but it is there. so you know it is a hard balance to sue press your sexuality it
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is not a holy situation based on that. that is why we have the pedophelia cases it is a terrible rule to have. >> and because like we think back to the middle ages somehow they were able to stay celibate and not have all the scandals. the real difference is communication. back then there was none and you could run a boys choir and do what you wanted to the kids and it would not get into the newspaper or twitter or anything of that >> and in america it's famous the former president of pair gay was the priest and he had kids galore. it's known that the priests were not celibate. >> but you know, celibacy, the rule of celibacy is not part of the dogma it is a tradition. >> it started in the third century? >> the middle ages. and there were priests that were marrying. and popes that were marrying. this is come down the line into the point where celibacy has
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been accepted. and again as marcy said no one is forced to do this if they have decided they want to take the vows >> but there aren't at least in the states and europe there are not enough signing up >> but what i did want to say is every person that is celibate is not going to be a pedophile or a rapist or predator. >> but the large per tadges of them will have sex in some way shape or form >> most of the research on pedophelia and who becomes these are people that have been abused themselves. this is psychological replication. >> i'm not talking about pedophelia just priests and nuns having sex not with children >> and i think that when you are talking about celibacy generally, i mean, again, i take it back to this issue of control and power. because a lot of it does have to do with human beliefs around the fact that you don't want somebody to have divided loyalties. so you want that person's
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complete loyalty to jesus christ and to the church itself >> and the nuns i really wish there would be a nun and priest to really engage in more of a theological conversation about it. but i've met so many nuns and been so blessed some have taught my children and they feel they are married to christ. you might not understand it, bonnie but it is the mist industry of their -- mystery of their lives that they decided i'm going to marry jesus and that can be odd for people that are not catholic but for the ladies that decided i will make this commitment -- >> why do you have to be celibate in order to be able to run a church? i mean that is why -- that is fine for that nun. and married to christ. the problem is how do you run a church that way? >> some people say and talking to a reverend friend of mine and he says when i have to manage my family and i have the crisis of my people you know what i mean?
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i'm divided. when you have the priest the priest is on call for you when there is a marriage and a baptism and a death. i mean he is there for you. i mean literally. i called my priest and i got a call 30 minutes later. his his commitment to his parishioners and to the lord and that is why they make that vow and it is a tough vow and counter cultural vow and we might not understand it but it is what they have committed their lives to and how best they feel they serve god and their lives are fulfilled. >> let us know what you think. follow me on twitter. from the convents to political converts. women are slowly increasing our ranks in national office but as major political donors not so much. only 11% of the top 100 don fors in the 2012 election cycle were women. what is more surprising that number is just more than half or lower than it was in 1990, two
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academies earlierment while -- decadesleer. while the percentage increased it's done so only slightliment the donor gap is holding steady. not only do men donate more often they generally give more money. all right. so is it because women don't have as much money as men? which the common thought is they are not as rich i don't know if that is born out in the data at all or is it because they don't give to politics? >> well, i mean what i've seen both as a former fundraiser back in the 90s and as well as serve in academic it has more to do with two things; women's donor strategy. women tend not to be strategic and more risk adverse than men. what you find is they will distribute sort of the maximum amount to a whole host of candidates rather than if you will placing a big bet on one candidate or in one
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organization. so there's that side of it. and the other piece is that in the 90s we had simpler sort of finance laws. so they were easier to navigate and you really did have the ability to sort of give maximum amounts to a host of candidates and then give a chunk to the party and that was it. it wasn't much more complicated. now, many high donors actually hire fundraiser to help them navigate this incredibly complex world. >> and we know when there's complexity women will participate less because the culture and the tradition is not there for participation. so if you need to hire someone to do your donations it's difficult. although i have to say that when i was reading the piece, i was thinking of all my connections to political donations in the latino community which is where i have donated most of my money is women. i guess maybe it's my little world it's not representative of
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the majority but there is a network of latinas that is very active >> let us not forget women who are in partnerships that are married. maybe they as a couple agree and they are donating it together as opposed to an individual giving her money to a candidate. >> that is a great opportunity. i think this shows that we have to get more women engaged in saying look you donate you get the candidates you want in office. there is a opportunity for fundraiser to get involved and pull the women in to give money. >> get involved and generate power for women. that's it for this edition of to the contrary. follow me on twitter@bonnie erbe and to the contrary and visit our website, web web where the discussion continues and whether you agree or think to the contrary, please join us next time. [777] [777]
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funding for to the contrary provided by... the cornell douglas foundation. committed to encouraging stewardship of the environment, land conservation, watershed protection and eliminating harmful chemicals. additional funding provided by the colcom foundation, the wallace genetic foundation the carpenter foundation and by the charles a. fruaff foundation. visit our pbs website.
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