The Scandals at St. Gertrude the Great

West Chester, Ohio

The Full Documented Story


January 7, 2010

A Third and Final Open Letter to Bishop Dolan

by a Concerned Observer

This open letter to Bishop Dolan is the third in a series from a Concerned Observer who makes an interesting comparison between the situation at St. Gertrude's and the plot of the Greek tragedy Antigone..

Dear Bishop Dolan, 

I have already written you two open letters and, as you have not yet seemed to heed the lessons of the ancient Greek tragedies vis-à-vis the current situation at SGG, I will now pen my third and final letter. 

The first two letters focused on the narrative similarities between the Theban trilogy and the saga of SGG.  But let’s get even more specific, so there will be no mistake that you are following the path of Greek tragedy, not only in its general details but in the nitty-gritty particulars. 

When reading Mr. Johns’ account of the meeting in which you fired his wife, we can see a very compelling parallel in the great confrontation between Creon and Antigone from the play Antigone.   Here the heroine is called before Creon and he wastes no time at getting to the point. 

Cr. “Now, tell me thou—not in many words, but briefly—knewest thou that an edict had forbidden this?”

An.  “I knew it: could I help it?  It was public.”

Cr. “And thou didst dare to transgress that law?”

In like fashion, did you immediately grill Stephanie Johns:

“As she sat down, the bishop wasted no time and came right to the point.  ‘Are you ashamed of anything?’  Mrs. Johns was understandably puzzled by such a question, asked in such a blunt and hostile a manner.  As she could hardly believe her ears, the bishop repeated his question: ‘Are you ashamed of anything?’  ‘Ashamed of what?’ asked Mrs. Johns, in honest bewilderment.  ‘Ashamed of trying to destroy the church and the school.  Ashamed of trying to destroy my good name.  Ashamed of collaborating with Father Ramolla to do so.’ 

Doing the best she can to bear up, Antigone explains that the law of God [in her case, the law of “Zeus”] trumps the unjust laws of men:

An. “Nor deemed I that thy decrees were of such force, that a mortal could override the unwritten and unfailing statutes of heaven.”

Creon of course takes this amiss:

Cr. “But verily this, too, is hateful—when one who hath been caught in wickedness then seeks to make the crime a glory.”

You, Bishop Dolan, not only accused Mrs. Johns of “hate” and “wickedness,” but of working for the Devil:

“As Mrs. Johns sat there, open mouthed with disbelief, the bishop launched into a tirade of abuse, accusing her of placing herself in the middle of Father Ramolla's ‘revolution’, of trying to destroy Bishop Dolan and Father Cekada, the church and the school.  His final allegation was that Mrs. Johns was working for the devil, as what was going on at St. Gertrude's was truly diabolical.  Mrs. Johns agreed with this last observation, pointing out that yes indeed, many things happening at St. Gertrude's were indeed diabolical, and yet permitted by God for an institution He deemed unfit to continue.”

While Mrs. Johns faced firing, Antigone faced death, but both women spoke with courage about their desire to give aid and support to the banished one [Polyneices/Fr. Ramolla]:

Cr. “Thou differest from all these Thebans [SGG parishioners] in that view.”

An.  “These also share it; but they curb their tongues for thee.”

Cr. “And art thou not ashamed to act apart from them?”

An. “No; there is nothing shameful in piety to a brother [Fr. Ramolla, her brother in Christ].”

Feeling he is losing the argument, Creon reaffirms his edict that Antigone be executed and then he denigrates her womanhood. 

Cr. “Pass then to the world of the dead.... While I live, no woman shall rule me.”

Reversing Creon, you first denigrated Mrs. Johns’ femininity and then you fired her, in these words:

“I am not here to answer your questions, little girl.... young lady, get your purse and leave.  You’re fired.” 

The words quoted at the end of Mr. Johns’ article could apply equally to both Antigone and Stephanie Johns, were it not for the fact that the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent in the time of Antigone:

"And when they shall bring you into the synagogues, and to magistrates and powers, be not solicitous how or what you shall answer, or what you shall say; for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you must say." (Luke, 12, 11-12)

Nevertheless, is there not enough of a similarity here, my dear Bishop Dolan, to see yourself as Creon unjustly grilling Antigone and then terminating her?   If so, do what Creon did: admit your error, rehabilitate her, and make whatever reparation needs to be made. 

The great ruler is the one who can admit his mistakes.