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Nuns and labor

August 15, 2008

Re "Nuns, hospital staffs clash," Aug. 8

As an Episcopal priest who has worked closely for 27 years with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange on lifesaving social justice issues, I believe it is important for your readers to understand the differences in how the parties involved make decisions.

The Sisters' community makes decisions based on prayer and careful discernment within their religious community. The sisters have always cast their lot with the poor and powerless.

I was also a member of the Teamsters and steelworkers unions before I was a priest, and I know that the union process can involve aggressive pressure and harassing intimidation. Unions have indeed made life better and more just for American workers, but they can act in a different world of values, where the end justifies the means.

Labeling as paternalistic the sisters' concern for a careful decision about a healthcare union is simplistic. The evidence of their true values is in their long history of compassion in Orange County.

The Rev. Canon

Brad Karelius

Rector

Messiah Episcopal Parish

Santa Ana

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