The psalm from today’s Mass struck me this morning. “The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.” (Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12). I love praying on that image of the shepherd guarding his flock, but the current situation in the Archdiocese of Boston feels more like the wolves have come and the shepherd has run off. Two examples are what’s happening with Fr. Bryan Hehir’s involvement in Catholic hospitals (Caritas Christi) and his push to reorganize the Archdiocese’s cabinet leadership.
Catholic hospitals. We learned this past Thursday that Caritas Christi is to be sold. It may be that it’s a good arrangement financially for the hospitals, and we all hope that the Catholic identity and ethics can be maintained. But, it also looks like wolves are involved in the decision-making and no shepherd in sight, as Fr. Bryan Hehir and business leaders with histories of supporting pro-abortion poiticians are on the Caritas board.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s delegate to the board of Caritas Christi is Fr. Hehir. Supposedly 3 Board members represent the Catholic Church responsible for maintaining Catholic identity, and there’s little doubt that Fr. Hehir had a key role recommending Caritas Board members like past Chair of Catholic Charities of Boston, Neal F. Finnegan–who, by the way, has also given $19,000 to pro-abortion political candidates in recent years.
Finnegan was Chair of the Boston Catholic Charities board in 2003 when they rejected the request by then-apostolic administrator Bishop Lennon to turn down funds raised by the dissident group “Voice of the Faithful” and he was still board Chair when Fr. Hehir named president of Catholic Charities of Boston later that year. In 2005 Fr. Hehir and Catholic Charities honored Finnegan for his “commitment to our mission…the values which should animate our ministry every day — respect for the dignity of each person, the quest for greater social and economic justice and a belief that meaning in life flows from service to others.” I don’t quite understand how you can respect the dignity of each person while giving $$ to politicians who support taking the lives of the unborn but perhaps I’m missing something.
There’s more. Chair of the Caritas Board, James Karam, quoted in Thursday’s Globe article, contributed more than $19,000 among the campaigns of President Barrack Obama; Hillary Clinton; US Sen. John Kerry; Gov. Deval Patrick; Congresmen Barney Frank, and others. In total, 5 Caritas Board members have given $58,000 to pro-abortion political candidates. (Thanks to Catholic Action League for their research).
By the way, it was Finnegan, Karam and John Kaneb, who picked the President of Caritas Christi, Dr. Ralph de la Torre. Mr. Kaneb is vice chair of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and came out in support of Notre Dame’s decision to honor pro-abortion President Obama at their 2009 commencement, referring to Notre Dame as, “a beacon of adherence to its Catholic character.” (Not!) Turns out that it was Jack Connors who introduced Dr. de la Torre to the archdiocese search committee, so it all comes full circle.
But wait, there’s one more thing. Today we learn that de la Torre, his wife and Caritas colleagues gave more than $34,000 to the pro-abortion U.S. Senate candidate, Martha Coakley. Caritas president even hosted Coakely at a fund-raiser at his Newton home. For those who forgot, Coakley said on the campaign trail that devout Catholics “probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”
How can we preserve Catholic identity in decision-making when the Catholic Church-appointed delegates to the Board (including the likes of Fr. Hehir) have records of dissent and/or a history of making significant financial contributions to politicians who fervently oppose the Church? The businessmen involved may be capable administrators or dealmakers, but in terms of adhernce to Catholic moral teachings, it feels like a pack of wolves guarding the sheep. My open request to the Cardinal is this: In the new arrangement for Caritas, can we immediately replace Fr. Hehir and the other so-called ‘Catholic’ board members of Caritas with people who are known to be faithful to Church teachings?
Plans to reorganize the Archdiocese’s cabinet leadership. I don’t know where this stands today, but reports at ThrowTheBumsOutIn2010 and persistent chatter suggest Fr. Hehir, Jack Connors, and others including Chancellor James P. McDonough are angling to push aside or push out the one orthodox person in the cabinet, who has been driving successful programs in fund-raisng and evangelization. This latest scandal for the archdiocese is happening as we speak and may already be beyond remedy. I know something about Fr. Hehir and Jack Connors, but don’t know much about Chancellor McDonough.
We do know that the chair of the search committee that chose Chancellor McDonough is none other than Neal Finnegan. Not that I’m trying to draw any parallels here or rush to judgement, as he may be very good in business matters unrelated to Church teachings. That committee included “clergy from the archbishop’s administrative cabinet” (which, given the cabinet in 2006, can only mean you-know-who. UPDATE/CORRECTION: Members of the search committee are named below by sully in the Comments section). Anyway, if the guy responsible for assembling a committee to pick the chancellor feels good spending $19,000 of his own money to support pro-abortion candidates who actively oppose Church teachings, how much effort do we think he put into understanding if the Chancellor’s ideology was consistent with Church teachings?
So, where are we at right now? Well, instead of the shepherd guarding the flock from the wolf, the current situation feels more like this passage from the Gospel of John:
A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” (John 10:12)
It’s pretty clear to me who represents the wolf in this picture. Can anyone get the shepherd to come back, exercise leadership for a change, and chase the wolf away before it’s too late and the sheep all scatter?