Controversial nun cancels May speech in Charlotte diocese

A nun whose recent comments at Charlotte Catholic High School caused an uproar among some students and parents has canceled an address she’d been scheduled to give in May at the diocese’s annual youth conference in Asheville.

David Hains, a spokesman for the 46-county Diocese of Charlotte, said the decision was made by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel’s religious order in Nashville, Tenn. “They felt like this just wasn’t a good time for the sister to speak again in the diocese,” Hains said Tuesday. Laurel could not be reached for comment.

Laurel’s speech at a March 21 assembly at Charlotte Catholic, in which she reportedly addressed homosexuality, divorce and single parenthood, led some students to launch an online petition that called her remarks “offensive and unnecessarily derogatory.”

That prompted an avalanche of emails that reflected the culture wars still being waged within Catholicism. Some parents defended Laurel, saying she was merely presenting traditional Catholic teachings that need to be upheld. Other parents said she had gone way beyond that, and was using suspect anecdotes, antiquated data and broad generalizations to demonize gays and lesbians as well as divorced and single parents.

In response, Charlotte Catholic High officials have invited parents of the school’s 1,400 students to a meeting Wednesday night.

Hains said Bishop Peter Jugis can’t attend because of a long-standing commitment at a mission church in Hayesville. But, Hains said, the bishop hoped to write a letter of greeting to the parents that would be read Wednesday.

The meeting, starting at 7 p.m. in the high school’s gym, will be closed to the media. Also barred – and unhappy about it, based on Tuesday emails – are alumni without children in the high school and parents of younger children who attend the diocese’s elementary and middle schools.

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