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The good Catholic Church
  by Nicolas Kristof


There seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys’ club of the Vatican 
and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan. 

The Vatican certainly supports many charitable efforts, and some bishops and 
cardinals are exemplary, but overwhelmingly it’s at the grass roots that I find
the great soul of the Catholic Church.

It may be easy at a New York cocktail party to sniff derisively at a church whose apex
is male chauvinist, homophobic and so out of touch that it bars the use of condoms even 
to curb AIDS. But what about Father Michael Barton, a Catholic priest from Indianapolis? 

I met Father Michael in the remote village of Nyamlell, 150 miles from any paved road here 
in southern Sudan. He runs four schools for children who would otherwise go without an education, 
and his graduates score at the top of statewide examinations.

Father Michael came to southern Sudan in 1978 and chatters fluently in Dinka and other 
local languages. To keep his schools alive, he persevered through civil war, imprisonment 
and beatings, and a smorgasbord of disease. “It’s very normal to have malaria,” he said. 
“Intestinal parasites — that’s just normal.”

Father Michael may be the worst-dressed priest I’ve ever seen — and the noblest.
Anybody scorn him? Anybody think he’s a self-righteous hypocrite?

On the contrary, he would make a great pope.

Just a reminder that there are Catholics who aren't in on "the activities."

I wonder why they don't speak out against the rapes more forcefully?
Are the good Catholics the sheepy, we-don't-want-no-trouble Democrats?

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