We have a winner! This contest, which has lasted the last four years, has been rough and tumble. Many people have vied for the crown, but there can be only one. The winner for the single stupidest thing written about the Pope and the Church goes to former Catholic turned religious black hole with a soft spot for call-girl clothing, Maureen Dowd.


Nuns need to be even more sepia-toned for the über-conservative pope, who was christened “God’s Rottweiler” for his enforcement of orthodoxy. Once a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth, Benedict pardoned a schismatic bishop who claimed that there was no Nazi gas chamber. He also argued on a trip to Africa that distributing condoms could make the AIDS crisis worse.

The Vatican is now conducting two inquisitions into the “quality of life” of American nuns, a dwindling group with an average age of about 70, hoping to herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence.

But wait, there’s more! How ’bout this humdinger?

The church enabled rampant pedophilia, but nuns who live in apartments and do social work with ailing gays? Sacrilegious! The pope can wear Serengeti sunglasses and expensive red loafers, but shorter hems for nuns? Disgraceful!

Now that some Anglicans are potentially affiliated with the Catholic Church, let’s have a go at them as well!

As the Vatican is trying to wall off the “brides of Christ,” Cask of Amontillado style, it is welcoming extreme-right Anglicans into the Catholic Church — the ones who are disgruntled about female priests and openly gay bishops. Il Papa is even willing to bend Rome’s most doggedly held dogma, against married priests — as long as they’re clutching the Anglicans’ Book of Common Prayer.

Now I know, the celibate priesthood is not a dogma but a practice you say! It is merely a longstanding discipline and not a matter of faith and certainly not a dogma you further protest. I say, let’s not let facts that can be ascertained withing two minutes on the google stand in her way, the woman is on a roll!

Now before you are too hard on poor little Maureen for all this magnificent inanity, there is an explanation. This can be seen in the opening anecdote…

Once, in the first grade, I was late for class. I started crying in the schoolyard, terrified to go in and face the formidable Sister Hiltruda.

Father Montgomery, who looked like a handsome young priest out of a 1930s movie, found me cowering and took my hand, leading me into the classroom.

Sister Hiltruda looked ready to pop, but she couldn’t say a word to me, then or ever. There was no more unassailable patriarchy than the Catholic Church.

Nuns were second-class citizens then and — 40 years after feminism utterly changed America — they still are. The matter of women as priests is closed, a forbidden topic.

If only lil’ Maureen hadn’t been late to class or Sr. Hiltruda had hit her repeatedly upside the head, she might have learned something. Alas alack.