‘Perpetual Indulgence’ Versus Religious Conviction

June 16, 2023

Nathaniel Hurd, who directs RFI’s work in North America, wrote an article published in RealClearReligion this week discussing why the “’Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ should not be given a place of honor by any culture-shaping organization in America,” including the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hurd writes:

Since 1979, a group of men has dressed as grotesque parodies of nuns and publicly performed sexualized acts, calling itself the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.” The organization exists to mock Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, for affirming certain truths about life, marriage, and human sexuality. The group has no limits to profaning that which Christians hold sacred. It even organizes outdoor burlesque reenactments of the Crucifixion of Christ.

The Los Angeles Dodgers invited the “Sisters” to participate in its Annual Pride Night and to receive its Community Hero Award. The Dodgers then disinvited them in the wake of an outcry from Catholics and other Christians. When the “Sisters” and others complained, the Dodgers decided to re-invite them and proceed with honoring them with the award.

Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams recently released a statement rebuking the Dodgers for celebrating the “Sisters.” Williams is a friend and fellow Catholic. His statement is a public exercise of his Catholic faith, and he has incurred fierce criticism as a result.

Seeing photos, videos, and stories of the “Sisters” provokes in me a deep sense of sympathy for them. Everyone is made to selflessly love and be loved. Anyone who sexualizes themselves and others as intensely as this group reveals, at least in part, an unmet longing for that kind of love.

Perhaps this is why the group so ferociously fixates on nuns. Two of my dearest friends are religious sisters. They love God by serving people who are poor and sick: changing soiled garments, cleaning sores, and comforting the dying in the middle of the night. Poverty, chastity, obedience, prayer, self-sacrifice and self-denial, and modest dress exemplify their lives. They are joyful and free. All of this confounds the promoters of  “perpetual indulgence.”

The group also reflects aspects of “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) ideology. SOGI proponents have been shaping segments of society for decades. At the heart of SOGI is a view of the human person and human fulfillment that is incompatible with the convictions of Catholics and many other religious people. The differences go beyond moral disagreement. They extend to questions of how to understand the place of desires, including sexual desire, identity in our lives and in reality itself, and whether the search for truth points us to look within ourselves or to a transcendent source. Such deep divides cannot be overcome easily.

Read the full article: “‘Perpetual Indulgence’ Versus Religious Conviction.”