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If you or someone you know was traumatized in Catholic elementary school, here's the closest thing you're going to get to an apology. (Includes poll.)

If, like us, you are the beneficiary of a primary Catholic school education, you may have some interesting memories of all the things you got from those nuns. Like raps on the knuckles. Curt, abbreviated classes in "science." Lessons for boys in how to pee without using your hands!

Once, as punishment for giving the wrong answer in Math class, we witnessed a classmate being forced to swallow a tablespoon of salt. (Really. We don't have photographic proof of that last one; you'll just have to take our word for it.)

Do you know what we never got from those nuns? An apology.

Well, times change, and lo and behold, all these years later, an apology is just what the kids are getting from the principal at St. Andrew Elementary, a Catholic school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

And yes, the principal is apologizing for her role in permanently scarring these schoolkids' psyches.

"We work so hard to be good role models," wrote principal Nancy Matteo in a school-wide email this week, "and then I go and do something stupid!"

The "stupid" thing she did wasn't what we were expecting, however.

It turns out that Matteo was apologizing for sending out graduation-dance invitations -- with a picture of Ellen DeGeneres on them. Uh oh.

Writing that she was "obviously NOT thinking" when she graced the Oscar-themed dance invites with an image of the world's most famous lesbian (who has hosted the Oscars twice), this panicked principal sounded practically in tears as she denounced DeGeneres as a "poor role model" who "lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church." She begged everyone to return "every single invitation" so that she can "personally destroy them" -- presumably in her Jesus-brand "Christian Love" paper shredder.

It's not clear if anyone actually complained or if Matteo just had a delayed moment of gay panic. What is clear (to us) is that beloved entertainer Ellen DeGeneres (whose image was surely used without permission) doesn't deserve this. "Perhaps I was distracted by the Oscar," Matteo wrote, hilariously attempting to explain her choice of the photo. Those naked statues can be distracting, indeed.

As for us, we've just about given up on getting an apology from the people responsible for the traumas in our own Catholic-school childhood. So we'll just have to take what apologies we can get. Keep 'em coming, Matteo! Assuming you're not fired in retribution for your "stupid" mistake, we're looking crazy forward to what stupid thing you'll be apologizing for next. What do YOU think it will be?

(Posted by author; original post and poll at


What outrageous snafu will the principal of St. Andrew Elementary have to apologize for next?

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| 41 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good article until the poll (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista, Gooserock

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:25:28 AM PDT

    •  I wasn't to keen on the title either, I have (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dougymi, Ian S, old wobbly, kurt, sturunner

      seen it used elsewhere, I can see the reasoning, but still

      "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

      by LaFeminista on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:48:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Regarding the title (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sharman, Rashaverak

        it is probably reminding you of a rather famous incident in which Jerry Falwell called her that name, denied that he did it, went on a talk show where they showed him footage of him saying it, and he stormed off the set.

        The title is actually referencing that incident, not stealing it from another article. At least not intentionally. It's really just a ping-back to that.

    •  Apparently (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      this struck a bad nerve with some people. Granted, the message isn't novel. It is simply another example of a particular conundrum: Ellen is talented and successful and seemingly well meaning. That she's a bad role model because of her sexual orientation, in the eyes of a Catholic school, is somewhat predictable buy nonetheless very sad.

  •  what (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JoanMar, LaFeminista

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:26:36 AM PDT

  •  The goal of Catholic sex-ed: Making sure every ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxfolger, LeftOfYou, Rashaverak

    The goal of Catholic sex-ed:

    Making sure every girl learns about her period in the same way Carrie White did in Carrie...

  •  Don't Confuse Catholics and Evangelicals (5+ / 0-)

    The Catholics accept science on every subject other than sex, so they wouldn't be going to the creation museum.

    Peppermint patties might be plausible.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri May 30, 2014 at 11:46:55 AM PDT

  •  Your Catholic school experiences (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Villanova Rhodes, sturunner

    Sound like they've been garnered from stand-up comedians or the early 1900s rather than direct experience; because what you describe is very much at odds with what is reported by the numerous people I know who attended a Catholic school - other than maybe the sex part. They report top notch instruction in science and other subjects. Most also report discipline that was firm but fair, and not abusive.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:28:03 PM PDT

    •  Let's agree that, perhaps, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, Rashaverak

      neither of us has a scientific sample in our back pocket of who was and who wasn't traumatized in Catholic school.

      I know many many people who had very very bad experiences that they try to reconcile to this day. I was lucky - I only have one really bad one.

      As for physical abuse, my older brother still has a scar on his had from when a nun tried to crack his knuckles with a ruler. And he was the kid with the perfect attendance record and highest grades in his class.  

      Another thing that we can agree on is that in many ways their commitment to teaching is often superior to other elementary teaching institutions. That's why I was sent to a Catholic school by my parents, who were not Catholic.

  •  Oh, look. A mean-spirited diary about nuns, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZsparky, Rashaverak

    somehow spurred by the action of the school's first lay principal. How brave of you.

    I am the beneficiary of a Catholic elementary school education, and happy to be so. It was, at that time, superior to the public schools in my area -- including in science -- and stood me in fine stead, as it did nearly all of my classmates.

    Yes, the young women in heavy black & white habits working thousands of miles from their homes in Ireland for no pay made some mistakes while they handled classrooms of 55 - 60 students ranging from mildly developmentally disabled (then called Educable Mentally Retarded) to gifted. Being a decade or so behind U.S. times on the matter of corporal punishment was one of them. But owe you or anyone else an apology for their 24/7 service? Unless you were sexually molested, let it go, or get therapy and get the hell over it.

    Like most Catholic school alums of a certain era, I can appreciate the good humor of the popular riffs on nuns and Catholic grade schools. This isn't that. Your bile detracts from what could have been a decent diary on the actual story.

    •  Thank you for your comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Villanova Rhodes

      You raise some valid points. I do not agree, however, that sexual molestation is the bar that should (or, more appropriately, should have) been set regarding whether or not someone has a reason to complain about Catholic school.

      There are many ways to abuse young minds, even though you are giving them a well rounded introductions of the three Rs.

      •  I single out sexual molestation because (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maxfolger, Rashaverak

        it is the one systemic issue in the Catholic education for which people can and should demand both apology and recompense even well after the fact. (Even on this issue, it was far less commonly associated with being a child in a Catholic school than with being an altar boy.)

        Of course there is always stuff to complain about at the time the child is still in school, public or parochial. My mother did plenty of it, with six of us going through the school. I'm not doubting your experience & could swap stories. But disciplinary practices evolved a long time ago. FWIW, most of the "bad boys" who got this sort of corporal discipline, though they wouldn't recommend it or tolerate it for their own kids, are the ones who turn out in force for school reunions and anniversary celebrations, while the "good boys" who suffered a different sort of trauma generally don't.

        IOW, I'm not suggesting we adopt the 50s/60s-era style of Catholic education. I'm just saying that if you're still nursing a psychic wound years after seeing someone else eat a spoonful of salt, or getting rapped on the knuckles, maybe it's time to process that and move on. Apologies are not on the horizon.

        I think maybe you're really just pissed off about current doctrine and policies about LGBT issues. And that we share. Pax vobiscum.

        •  Thank you for your follow up (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Villanova Rhodes

          and at the old age of 50, yes, I can say that elementary school was a long time ago; that not all schools are the same; that things have most likely changed during that time.

          Nothing in this diary accuses those working at Catholic schools today of doing anything beyond dismissing someone who could be a good role model as a bad role model for outdated (IMO) reasons. The other parts are anecdotal.

          As for processing and moving on, I do agree that it is the most healthy route in almost any circumstance. I can actually laugh, now, about some of the things that happened. Though they did leave me very skeptical of religious authority.

          I don't mean to say this in the way that someone might say "I have a black friend so I'm not racist" .... but two of my closest friends are a nun and a priest in their 60s and 70s. Without drama, they have helped me forgive. That's what Christians should teach. I respect that. And I appreciate them as people and as theologians. I do not appreciate the nun in second grade who told my entire class that my parents were going to Hell. That humiliation in front of peers at a tender age was inexcusable. Forgivable? Yes. Excusable? No.

          The only observation in your above comment that I'm not entirely on board with is that the "bad boys" who suffered abuse are the most enthusiastic alums. I know women have been battered and have dealt with the battered women syndrome. They wouldn't recommend it for their kids but it took a lot of bravery for them to break the cycle. While the diary here is, granted full of generalizations, I don't think that generalizations should be made about people who have suffered abuse and end up rallying for the abuser.

          Sorry if this sounds like a rant -it's not, I truly respect and appreciate your points.

  •  Not all Catholic schools fit this stereotype. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Villanova Rhodes, maxfolger

    Many of my friends that went to Catholic schools are such excellent writers, thinkers, and have a compassion for others. I went to public school and often our classrooms were a tad more chaotic than what was allowed in the parochial school. Now, when I place student teachers with mentors, I often favor the Catholic schools in our area where they freely teach evolution, sex education or comparative religions.  I asked why there seemed to be less restriction about these topics than in public schools and the answer from the teachers and the administration was, "We want our students to seek the truth."  Times have changed - and enlightenment is here. It is sad that an entertainer as kind, funny and generous as Ellen has to be identified as anything other than just that.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 02:46:58 PM PDT

  •  Those naked statues can be distracting, indeed. (0+ / 0-)

    Just ask John Ashcroft.  He'll tell you how distracting they can be.

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