The news today is that it seems we have a deception of
monumental impact for the future of Catholic education in this country underway in the Archdiocese of Boston. Fr. Bryan Hehir appeared on WBUR Thursday talking about the situation of the lesbian parents whose son was denied admission to a Catholic school, and he directly contradicted Wednesday’s nuanced message from Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
The first con-job or deception is what Cardinal Sean, Bryan Hehir, and everyone speaking for the Archdiocese have characterized as the purpose of Catholic education in Boston, namely, to educate everyone, including “unconventional households.” We are curious as to where exactly this came from as an underlying assumption in the first place. In contrast, Archbishop Chaput said, “The main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values.” One reader just sent us the following: “A Catholic school has no business in pandering to ‘diverse, often unconventional households’ who subvert at home what the child learns at school.” Isn’t that what a public school is for, not a private school? “The Cardinal points out that the question must be the best interest of the children. But the real question to be answered here is: Which children? Unlike a public school, the Catholic school’s mission is not to educate every child in the Boston area, including the children of this lesbian couple, and not to find ways to provide an education to the children of every unconventional family. Its mission is much more unique and focused: educating young minds in the treasures of the Catholic faith.”
Hehir’s bottom line message on WBUR was that Catholic schools in this archdiocese have been and will remain wide open to children of gay couples. He said, “Are we doing it already? Yes. And we intend to do it as the Cardinal indicated, with formal policies!”
This leads us to the second part of the deception–namely what the actual status of addressing this scandal is. Compare what Fr. Hehir said about doing it already and continuing to do it vs the headline in today’s Pilot:
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said the Archdiocese of Boston should look to the precedent set by another American archdiocese that has already grappled with this issue.
The Archdiocese of Denver has formulated a policy that calls into question the appropriateness of admitting the children of same-sex couples. It is clear that all of their school policies are intended to foster the welfare of the children and fidelity to the mission of the Church,” Cardinal O’Malley said in a rare mid-week blog post. “Their positions and rationale must be seriously considered.
What did Bryan Hehir say about the Denver situation on WBUR? (Listen for the question at about 5:00 in the recording and Fr. Hehir’s response at about 5:45):
I think you need to take the cardinal’s statement at face value. His judgment is that the good of the child is most important and we do not exclude children based on family background. I think the Cardinal’s point about Denver, it is always understood that each diocese is under the control and direction of the bishop, and bishops do not move across diocesan policies when they differ from one another. At times, the Catholic bishops conference as a whole makes policy decisions that bind the whole conference. But I think it’s understandable that Cardinal O’Malley is not going to be talking about what other bishops do, this is a very complicated case. We’re talking about what will happen in Boston.
With all due respect to Cardinal Sean and Fr. Hehir, someone is deceiving us. Either a decision has already been made and the thinking from Denver is not impacting the Boston Archdiocese’s plans–in which case the Cardinal’s message was deceptive. Or, Fr. Hehir spoke incorrectly, in which case he is deceiving us.
In either case, when a senior cabinet secretary and influential advisor contradicts the Cardinal a day after the leader of the archdiocese makes a very significant public position statement, we have a big problem. Between outside power-broker Jack Connors rearranging the Cardinal’s cabinet leadership team under his nose and this now, it feels more and more like we have a crisis of episcopal leadership and don’t know who is running the Boston Archdiocese any more.
We are asking all readers who care about the future of the Archdiocese of Boston and Catholic education in this country to visit our Take Action page and start firing off faxes, emails, and calls to all of the officials named. Yes folks, that includes the Holy Father, his chief of staff, the Papal Nuncio, the prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, the head of the Congregation of Religions Education, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Yes, all of them. You can even send faxes to Rome at no charge by following the links on that page. Priests and people who work for the church can send faxes without having to identify your name and parish–all you need is a valid email address.
The message is simple. We need the Vatican to intervene in Boston to address a crisis of episcopal leadership and ensure that the moral values, true teachings, and doctrines of the Catholic Church are be taught without limitation in Catholic schools, and first and foremost for children of Catholics to form their faith. Please take action today.