Thursday, September 28, 2006


"John Patrick Shanley’s 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt (it also won the Tony Award as best play that same year) is a riveting exploration of paranoia and suspicion in the Catholic Church. Set in a Bronx parochial school in 1964—just as the Vatican II reforms begin to transfigure the Church—evidence of a priest’s wrongdoing comes to light. Sister Aloysius, a strict school principal and traditionalist nun, faces the decision of a lifetime: Does she openly accuse a priest and give voice to her fear of his sinful actions, or does she bury her suspicions and leave room for doubt? This intense and personal power struggle between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn ultimately calls into question both faith and justice in the shadows of this cloistered institution."*

We saw this play last night at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. It was great! Everything about it was top notch. The story, set in 1964, seems ripped from the headlines of not too long ago. The ending of the play is open ended. You don't really know if the priest is guilty or not. And, in the end, it doesn't seem to hurt his ministry at all. I found myself thinking back to my days in ministry and the fear of gossip. One accusation, false or otherwise, would have been the end of my ministry. Every minister faces this. It's part of the deal. Ministers have to be careful and take precautions to prevent even the appearance of wrongdoing. In the play, the priest's ministry is saved thanks to an aging, senile Monsignor. Should it have been? Was he guilty or not? We all have our doubts.


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