March 29, 1999

Ms. Frances Kissling, President
Catholics for a Free Choice
1436 U Street, NW
Suite 301
Washington, DC 20009

Dear Ms. Kissling:

This will acknowledge your recent letter.

I am, indeed, sorry to have that evidence of your disregard for Christ's Church and its teachings. I do detect, however, in your recent characterization of the Vatican as "one hundred square acres of office space and tourist attractions" as an indication that you may be "losing it". Perhaps this is a sign from God to you that you should rethink a lot of these things and ask for that forgiveness, which I am sure God in His mercy will not refuse you.

With every good wish, I remain

Very truly yours,

The Most Reverend Thomas G. Doran, D.D., J.C.D.
Bishop of Rockford

May 11, 1999

The Most Reverend Thomas G. Doran, D.D., J.C.D.
Diocese of Rockford
1245 North Court Street
P.O. Box 7044
Rockford, Illinois 61126

Dear Bishop Doran:

I was pleased to see that you are receiving our mailings and indeed paying attention to the work of Catholics for a Free Choice. Your concern about my spiritual and mental health is also appreciated.

Let me explain my brief and provocative characterization of the Vatican as "one hundred square acres of office space and tourist attractions." I think you would acknowledge that the use of poetic license or even hyperbole is an important vehicle for education. It stops people in their tracks and makes them think about things that may have passed their notice when reported in more mundane ways. It is akin, in a spiritual vein, to the way in which Jesus taught. Was Jesus "losing it" when he said "and everyone who has left...brothers or sisters or father or mother or children...for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold. . ." (Matt. 19:29).

My provocative characterization, I think, causes people to stop and think about the nature of the Holy See, which is considered a "nation state" by the UN. What kind of a nation state is the Holy See or the Vatican? One in which there are few citizens, almost all male, in which there are no democratic elections, and in which those activities and structures we most often see as part of national culture and life are missing. Where, dear brother, in the Vatican State is the community? No primary schools, no village square, and no synagogues or mosques. It is a barren nation, clinging to the vestiges of a European monarchial heyday.

It is only when we put aside the notion of church as state, that the vitality of the church comes outóa moral and spiritual entity that "rules" because of the power of its moral vision, if it rules at all. When it is, as you put it, "Christís church" (as well as the church of Godís people) and not a government, it has the power to capture our imaginations, win our support, and cause us to follow its teachings.

One last question: on an Earth Day past, Cardinal O'Connor engaged in hyperbole similar to mine. He referred to women's wombs as "one of the most dangerous environments in the world today" because of the high number of abortions that occur. Did you worry that he also might be losing it?

Finally, I ask that you rethink the positions you and your fellow bishops have taken that contribute to the deaths of many people, especially those in the developing world. Specifically, I ask you to reflect on your lack of support for safe and legal abortion, for contraception that would prevent both abortion and maternal death in childbirth and for public education about the use of condoms to combat the spread of AIDS. I, too, am sure that God in her mercy would not abandon you if you truly repented of these tragic positions.

Let us pray for each other and for a world in which peace, justice and equality prevail.


Frances Kissling

Catholics for Choice
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Catholics for Choice
1436 U Street NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20009-3997, USA
phone: +1 (202) 986-6093 | Fax: +1 (202) 332-7995

Frances Kissling, President