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Archive for April, 2010

Readers,

Today’s post comes from a guest contributor, Chantel, who has been reading our blog since the beginning.  She submitted this editorial that she came across from The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly newspaper.   The editorial is from 1978, and is reprinted with the permission of the author and publisher. Many thanks to Chantal and Al Matt!

Fr. Hehir Should be Fired

by A.J. Matt, Jr.
March 16, 1978

Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, the USCC’s associate general secretary for international justice and peace, is one of the key men who constitute the inner circle’s think tank at the Washington headquarters of the United States Catholic Conference. Fr. Hehir has been instrumental in the increasing politicization of the USCC and came into prominence and influence during the term of Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin as president of the NCCB-USCC.

Among the “credits” Fr. Hehir can claim are key roles in developing the “Call to Action”; persuading the Bishops to pull back from a firm anti-abortion stance during the 1976 presidential elections; recommending to the Bishops that they approve the turnover of the Panama Canal; blunting any episcopal resistance to the return of St. Stephen’s crown to the Hungarian Communists.

It has become increasingly apparent that the USCC’s inner circle of policy-makers, within which Bryan Hehir is not the least, has become an echo chamber for Carter administration policies in a number of areas.

The secularization of the USCC policy (and therefore the U.S. Bishops’ policy) is now proceeding under Fr. Hehir’s guidance into the area of demographics. According to a recent NC News report, Fr. Hehir has now “proposed a human rights strategy to bridge the gap between the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion and artificial means of birth control and its belief that overpopulation can be a real social problem.” Into the “gap” steps Bryan Hehir with a three point approach which would, in effect, “Carterize” the Church’s position on abortion, contraception and related population matters. Here’s what NC News describes as Fr. Hehir’s proposal:

First, he said, the Church believes that social justice is the key factor in controlling population growth. The Church believes that parents will reduce their family’s size when they are assured of “minimum dignity” and satisfaction of human needs, Fr. Hehir said.

Second, he said, the Church should oppose certain means of population control on human rights grounds. “We would oppose abortion on human rights grounds … and we would oppose sterilization as a tool that is too dangerous to place in the hands of government.”

Third, Fr. Hehir said, he would offer a strictly personal opinion that ‘We could, on the basis of living in a pluralistic society, remain silent on the contraception question’ in the public policy area while upholding the Church’s teachings internally.

He said such an approach was consistent with Catholic tradition because ‘Catholic tradition doesn’t always try to translate internal policy into public policy.'” (St. Louis Review, 3/3/78).

Stripping away the jargon, what the Hehir proposal amounts to is: (1) that an increase in material well being will move Catholic married couples to selfishly limit the size of their families; (2) that abortion and sterilization should be opposed more from a pragmatic perspective than from any absolute moral reprobation; (3) that the Catholic Church should institutionalize what has become known as the Kennedy, Drinan, Carter syndrome of schizophrenic morality: “personally I am opposed, but …”

That Fr. Hehir can use an official position within the Church to propagate such sophistries is an affront to every Catholic whose generosity makes it possible for our Bishops to have a USCC in the first place.

Contrast Fr. Hehir’s narrow and mean view of Catholic parents as selfish materialists with this vision of the love and generosity which motivates truly Catholic couples:

May the Second Vatican Council increase in Christian spouses this spirit of generosity for the expansion of the new People of God. May it also arouse in them the desire for children whom they can offer to God in the priesthood and in religious life for the salvation and service of their brethren and for the greater glory of God. Let them always remember that the expansion of God’s kingdom and the possibility of the Church’s penetration among men for their eternal and earthly salvation is dependent on their generosity.” (Pope Paul VI alloction of 2/16/66).

Fr. Hehir’s proposal to “remain silent on the contraception question” is nothing short of  a cowardly moral cop-out covered up by the excuse of our “living in a pluralistic society.”

To suggest, as Bryan Hehir does, that to “remain silent” while our government formulates and imposes laws promoting contraception and other immoral practices is “consistent with Catholic tradition” is simply false.

Catholic tradition as embodied in countless episcopal declarations, papal allocutions and encyclicals  has denounced contraceptive propaganda and programs in whatever context they might appear – even in “pluralistic societies”!

In stark contrast to Fr. Hehir’s accomodationist position, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expresses genuine Catholic tradition with respect to law which violates morality. Addressing itself to the limits of human law in par. 21 of its “Declaration on Procured Abortion,” the Congregation declares:

The law is not obliged to sanction everything, but it cannot act contrary to a law which is deeper and more majestic than any human law: the natural law engraved in men’s hearts by the Creator as a norm which reason clarifies and strives to formulate properly, and which one must always struggle to understand better, but which is always wrong to contradict. Human law can abstain from punishment, but it cannot declare to be right what would be opposed to the natural law, for this opposition suffices to give the assurance that a law is not a law at all.”

For too long Catholics in this Country have endured the clamor and posturing of various and sundry experts who presume to inform their consciences while the real teachers and shepherds, the Bishops, too often remain silent. The time is long overdue for our Bishops, joining in communion with Christ’s Vicar in Rome, to assert themselves, as instructors of the Catholic conscience. Firing Bryan Hehir would be a good beginning.

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Readers, just to note–this was written 32 years ago!  The ideology you heard above about Catholic teachings being for private moralityinside the Church and not public morality has served as the justification for decades of dissent by so-called “Catholic” pro-abortion and pro-gay politicians.

Even more important, Fr. Hehir’s and others’ ideas like this were able to advance and take hold over the intervening 32 years because people did not understand the Church’s moral teaching to begin with.  For example, Hehir based part of his argument on the “need” for population control. Now, history has obviously proven that perceived “need” wrong since we’re facing something more like a demographic winter. But to even consider that population needed to be controlled was wrong.

We can blame it on the priests and bishops for not teaching, or for teaching incorrectly in some cases, and certainly we have big problems there.  But at the same time, when we get to our judgment day, can we say to the Lord in asking forgiveness for our sins and failings, “I’m sorry, Father never taught me this?”  Unless we are all prepared from the get-go with true moral teaching and proactively seek that out ourselves, we’ll fall on our faces every time.

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Welcome back for the next part in our series
describing events where Fr. Bryan Hehir is the featured speaker along with gay activists and proponents of the gay culture. In our last post, we shared how Fr. Hehir was featured in a speaker series at a gay-friendly church (that participates in the Gay Pride parade) along with a gay activist whose organization published and distributed a graphic guide to safe gay sex. Today we cover his joint appearance with a “Catholic” lesbian feminist theologian who supports women priests.  We previously discussed Fr. Hehir keynoting a conference April 30-May 1 along with a proponent of gay priests who wants everyone to “stretch the imagination” by watching gay-themed movies and reading gay novels.

Lets cut to the chase.  Fr. Hehirs judgments on where he speaks and who he implicitly endorses in his roles as President of Catholic Charities and Archdiocese Secretary for Healthcare and Social Services, leave many people with more questions than answers. To be up front with readers, I am not what you would call the brighest shining bulb in the chandelier when it comes to theology, so you will need to discount what I write appropriately.  But after you read the two links above and this post, you can reach your own conclusions.

It was the thick of the sexual abuse crisis in the church.  On October 2, 2002, Fr. Hehir was featured along with lesbian feminist theologian Mary E. Hunt at a Regis College symposium, “Women, Church and Society: The Heart of the Matter” as part of a discussion series in response to the sexual abuse crisis.  Here’s a report on the event and some excerpts.

Hehir and Hunt established the terms of dialogue. The intellectual context for the symposium was set forth in the October 3 position papers presented by Father Bryan Hehir and theologian Mary E. Hunt. Hehir spoke on “The Consequences of the Crisis: Defining the Issues.”

…in twentieth-century Catholicism, teachings on sexuality have been “a chronically afflicted area,” and there are issues that need to be examined and re-examined…dissent is an expected part of the theological tradition of which we are a part…He ceded to Dr. Hunt discussion of any perception of the influence and role of women (Fr. Hehir)

There’s the matter of calling Catholic teachings on sexuality “chronically afflicted” but let’s put that aside for now.  We repeat for clarity, Fr. Bryan Hehir “ceded to Dr. Hunt discussion of any perception of the influence and role of women. “ Who is Mary Hunt?  Surely, she must be of the reputation  and level of orthodox Catholicism of, say,  someone like a Harvard Prof. Mary Ann Glendon or a Prof. Mary Shivananden for Fr. Hehir to unconditionally cede discussion of the womens’ perspective on the Church to her, right?  Nope.

Hunt is a Catholic lesbian feminist theologian who is Co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) and is an advocate for women priests.  This biography says she served on the national board of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, is an LGBT Religious Archives Network advisory board member, and member of CLOUT (Christian Lesbians Out) and of Dignity.  By the way, Bryan Hehir did not just bump into Mary Hunt at this program unaware of her background.  She, like Fr. Hehir, was trained at the Harvard Divinity School.  More importantly, Bryan Hehir co-presented with her in 1983 in their 6-week lecture series called “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John” at the Marxist-leaning Institute for Policy Studies’ Washington School for progressive activists in Washington, DC, but that is a whole ‘nother story.  Anyhow, hiere is how Hunt described herself at a talk in 2005 on “Eradicating the Sin of Heterosexim“:

I am a Catholic feminist theologian who is a lesbian, living happily for more than twenty-five years with a wonderful woman. We adopted a daughter, who is now four years old from China on December 12, 2001…For some people, we look like a new model of the Catholic Family of the Year. For others, of course, we are the epitome of everything that is evil.

Hunt and her lesbian partner Diann Neu  were winners in 1988 of the Paulist Center’s Isacc Hecker Award.

For being catalysts of women’s religious speech and creativity. Mary Hunt and Diann Neu co-founded the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual. Based in Maryland, WATER is a feminist educational center offering women the resources to develop their spiritual nature and assume leadership roles in their faith communities.

Hunt is downright prolific, so you can find literally hundreds of citations for her out there.  Here are a few more.

From Hunt’s chapter, “Lovingly Lesbian: Toward a Feminist Theory of Friendship” in the 1995 book “Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection”

The cost of heterosexism has been so high as to erase the lives and loves of many lesbians from history….the ultimate ephiteph for any woman, regardless of her sexual preference, is lesbian….The idea…is that all women take friendly their friendships with women, and the only word we have to indicate this revolutionary reality is lesbian.”

From The Wanderer, October 16, 1997, reporting on a woman priest movement gathering in Oakland CA

Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist,” held in Oakland on Oct.5th, was supposed to be a turning point in the history of women in the Catholic Church. The ritual presented in Bishop Begin Plaza in downtown Oakland, two years in the organizing by the stars of the feminist theology set, was to inspire women to throw off the chains of patriarchy, wrest control of the priesthood from men, and begin functioning as self-proclaimed, self-ordained priests. “Some of us are called to the priesthood,” said the liturgy’s emcee….About 250 to 300 people attended – they were mostly women, nearly all white, a mixture of aging, rich housewives; young, angry lesbians; and Church bureaucrats…

While the celebration was described as “the Mass as we know it with the Mass we can only imagine . . . a mixture of liturgy and theater,” the ritual bore no resemblance to a Catholic liturgy.

The stars of the show were introduced (feminist bigwigs like Mary Hunt and her partner Diane Neu, with representatives from the Women’s Ordination Conference, Woman Church Convergence, WATER, and the Women’s Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago – most of them aging matriarchs), followed by a demonstration of the gestures to be used in the ritual (viewed from the back, this spectacle looked rather like an army of kindergarten teachers doing the “itsy bitsy spider” song).

Here’s a Dec. 6, 1999 Article entitled “Witchcraft infiltrates Christendom” (or at the original source “Wicca Infiltrates the Churches”)

When Kathleen Ward Atchason left Wicca, or witchcraft, to join the Roman Catholic Church she never dreamed she would encounter witchcraft within the walls of Christendom. …Concerned that such programs encouraging goddess worship were incompatible with the Bible, Sylvia Dooling, wife of a Presbyterian pastor, founded Voices for Orthodox Women, or VOW. Its goal is to try and influence the Presbyterian Church to be more orthodox through the proper channels of the church. “We have grown from twelve members two years ago to 1,000 members today,” Dooling tells Insight. “Presbyterian women are concerned about this.”

Mary Hunt is a feminist who does not share Dooling’s concern and is pleased with the growth of feminist philosophy in the Christian church. Hunt is a Roman Catholic and codirector of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, or WATER. An editorial on the front page of Waterwheel, WATER’s quarterly newsletter, reads, “Starhawk gets it right in her new introduction to the twentieth-anniversary edition of The Spiral Dance, the book that launched Goddess religion into the contemporary mainstream. ‘How do I learn this… how do I pass this on?’ ” Hunt tells Insight that while her newsletter quotes Starhawk, a Wiccan high priestess, that she and codirector Diann Neu consider themselves to be Catholic, although WATER is not affiliated officially with the Roman Catholic Church. “We seek to influence it however and receive funding from some Catholic bishops,” she says.

One issue of the newsletter features a liturgy for All Saint’s Day, honoring the gracious Mother Goddess, “Wisdom-Sophia,” written by Neu. Participation of a young woman, a middle-aged woman and a crone are required. “This liturgy is a resource for others to use on their own or in their denomination. We are not promoting Wicca,” says Hunt, “but it is certainly something that is a help.” Hunt and Neu hope to transform the church by inducing it to have a more feminist agenda. They hold workshops and sponsor events on such issues as spirituality, sexuality and anti-racism. Yet the church to which they profess to belong does not agree. “The Catholic catechism forbids divination, sorcery and magic as a mortal sin against the first commandment-and that includes Wicca,” explains the Rev. Mitch Pacwa, a Roman Catholic professor at the University of Dallas and author of Catholics and the New Age.

Sorry for the repetition here readers.  In case it was not clear to you, Fr. Hehir “ceded to Dr. Mary Hunt discussion of any perception of the influence and role of women.”

From Feminist Theo-Ethics: Queering Imagination and Action, Mary E. Hunt, Lancaster Seminary, Lancaster PA, November 9, 2006.

I am delighted to participate in “Imagining a Queer World.” My focus is on “Feminist Theo-ethics: Queering Imagination and Action” which I approach in three moves. (1) First, I look at the context and moral framework in which we find ourselves and explain why I think a new approach is necessary. (2) Second, I suggest that we begin to act accordingly by changing the default conversation among us from homosexuality to
heterosexism. (3) Finally, I draw out some of the implications for strategic actions for justice that accrue from such a change.
Feminist biblical scholar Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza has called these unjust structures “kyriarchy” or interlocking structures of lordship. She relies on the Greek word for “lord” used so loftily within the Christian tradition to underscore that the “lording over” is the problem. Kyriarchy helps to explain what is not ever a single, individual problem, but always a structured, socialized injustice.

This is “queering” which means bringing insights from those who have been marginalized for transgressing sex/gender boundaries—including those who are lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender and our friends—so as to rethink moral questions. Queering involves more than sexuality—it is deliberately transgressive of the many structures of oppression that reinforce the structures of heterosexist lordship.
Queering is an effort to reshape our context into one that reflects respect, dignity, and the means for all to flourish. My goal is to build communities of ethical concern and action. Thus, engaging and involving “the rest of us” is crucial.

To be fair, Mary Hunt may be a fine, intellectually bright person.  We don’t mean to sound judgmental.  But at this point, it almost doesn’t matter what Mary E. Hunt had to say about the crisis in the church from a woman’s perspective.  That Fr. Bryan Hehir, then President of Catholic Charities USA and a year later Secretary of Social Services for the Archdiocese of Boston judged this the right person to author position papers with on the situation of the Catholic Church and be featured with on the panel and to “cede discussion of any perception of the influence and role of women” to, raises some serious questions.  Lets combine that with him speaking at the gay-friendly Paulist Center in a series with a gay activisit, and his plans to speak this Friday, April 30 with a gay priests and gay culture proponent and one cant help but at least minimally question his judgment to be a cabinet secretary and senior advisor to the Cardinal archbishop.  If you’re troubled by all of this, visit our Take Action page and voice your concerns to the right people.

But don’t let us sway you.  You make up your own mind.

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We hope you’ve read our 3-part series on Bryan
Hehir keynoting an April 30-May 1 conference with a “gay priests” proponent who thinks heterosexuals should “stretch our imaginations” by reading gay novels and watching gay-themed movies.  (Special thanks to Pewsitter for giving our news a world-wide reading audience!).  If that post was troubling to you hold onto your seat.  Today we share with you about a Fr Hehir speaking gig from not long ago as Cabinet Secretary in the Boston Archdiocese at a gay-friendly church in an adult education series with a prominent gay activist who published an illustrated guide to gay sex.

The Paulist Center. The Weekly Standard described it as a place “where people who hate the Church go to church.”  They participate in the annual Boston Gay Pride parade—both with adults, and with teenagers who attend “Youth Pride” and the Boston Area Gay Lesbian Youth (BAGLY) events, and it’s well-known as a gay-friendly church.  When pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry is in Boston, thats where he worships. Yes folks, its the Paulist Center of Boston and you guessed it, Bryan Hehir has felt right at home speaking there.

When you visit their website today, youll see the problems with the place immediately.  The mission statement describes the ideology of folks they attract, “Attentive to the Holy Spirit, we are a Catholic community  that welcomes all, liberates the voice of each, and goes forth to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”  There’s a Lesbians, Gays, and Friends group (“for men and women who celebrate their lives in the context of a faith community), a Liturgical Dance group, Pax Christi, and Voice of the Faithful.  The Weekly Standard’s “A Curious Kind of Catholic” explains there are no kneelers in the church and at times the Mass departs from the Catholic text.

In 1995 the Paulist Center awarded their Isaac Hecker Award to Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent…

For their bold ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics, their families and friends

The pair was subsequently banned by the Vatican from speaking on homosexuality as their views were contrary to Church teaching:

About a year ago, the Paulist Center’s  LGBT & Friends group featured a speaker talking about the experiences of gay and lesbian people who choose to adopt children. You get the idea.

So, in fall of 2005, while the Archdiocese of Boston and the state of Massachusetts was still in the thick of a public battle to pass a constitutional amendment to ban “gay marriage” (in which the Catholic Church helped gather 170,000 signatures for a referendum vote banning “gay marriage), where does Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Cabinet Secretary Bryan Hehir give a talk on poverty and social justice?  The Paulist Center, naturally.  And whos the first guy up speaking in the adult education series that also featured Fr Hehirr? Prominent gay activist and founder of the AIDS Action Committee, Larry Kessler.

We don’t have the time to go into all of the history of Larry Kessler.  Heres the best example of what you need to know.  His AIDS Action Committee published an illustrated sexually-explicit guide to safe sex for gay people called the “Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st century”.  Its gross.  Really gross.  MassResistance has a copy of the book online, but warning, it’s very explicit and very disturbing. It opens with “Hey Queer Boys!  Is this is a great time to be gay or what!”  WARNING, the following 2 links are very graphic. Apologies for the graphic language and pictures folks, but topics include  “watersports”, “fisting,” “mutual jerkin’ off,” and “Handy Dandy Condom Guide.”  Under condom usage, the book says, “Condoms say ‘I care’ and using a condom lets your partner know you think he’s worthwhile as a __ck.” On May 19, 2005, the Boston Globe reported that these booklets were given out by mistake at a Brookline High School event on gay and lesbian issues attended by high school and middle school students.

In case its not clear, the Paulist Center felt good about sponsoring a talk by the guy whose organization published this vile immoral material.  And Fr. Hehir agreed to be a featured speaker in the Paulist Center adult education series along with the publisher of this material. Anyone yet questioning Fr. Hehirs judgment at this point?

One might ask, what if Fr. Hehir was somehow unfamiliar with Larry Kessler?  Not likely.  Here’s the sequence of events in 2005:

May15 Paulist Center promotes participation in Boston Area Gay Lesbian Youth  (BAGLY) Event, which takes place May 21. (Here’s an example of what takes place at BAGLY)
May 19 Boston Globe reports that Kessler’s AIDS Action Committee Little Black Books given out at a high school on April 30.
June 11 Paulist Center, along with Dignity and Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton marches in adult Gay Pride Parade. The groups also shared a Pride Festival booth.
September 11 Paulist Center adult education series announced, featuring Larry Kessler (speaking on HIV/AIDS on Sept. 13) and Brian Hehir.
September 24 Gay-friendly pastor, Fr. Walter Cuenin resigns/is removed from church in Newton due to financial improprieties. The situation with Cuenin was so volatile and well publicized in newspapers, talk radio, and blogs, that it was a hot topic of discussion at the Chancery-level.
September 28 Larry Kessler comes to Cuenin’s defense in September 28 Boston Globe article. ”It wasn’t an invitation from Walter, but from the justice and peace committee of the parish, because gay rights is an issue of justice in our minds,” said Larry Kessler, a member of the parish council at Our Lady Help of Christians and a founding director of the AIDS Action Committee. Kessler said this year was the second that a group from Our Lady Help of Christians marched in the gay pride parade. A dozen people participated, and there was a banner with the parish’s name and the slogan, ”All are welcome.”
November 29 Bryan Hehir speaks on “The Challenge of Poverty” at gay-friendly Paulist Center. (Side note: after his talk on poverty, he returns to his rectory home in the town of Wellesley, which has the 7th highest median income in Massachusetts)

Fr. Hehir has been described as “a brilliant, brilliant student of politics–especially the geopolitical scene,” by the former general secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference.  Did the politically “brilliant” Fr. Hehir somehow naively misunderstand where he was speaking or who else was opening this educational series with him?  If you look at his record as described in our Chronology, it would suggest with high likelihood that he knew what he was doing, and there is a consistent pattern of him speaking at events or venues where known dissenters from the faith were also speaking.  He’s still keynoting a conference April 30 with a priest who is pushing homosexuality in the priesthood and wants us watching Brokeback Mountain!  By Fr. Hehirs participation in such events as an Archdiocesan Cabinet Secretary with these people, he gives a public signal suggesting that the Archdiocese and Catholic Church supports these people and organizations.  Then one must ask the question, if a Archdiocesan Cabinet Secretary’s moral judgment is such that he feels this is where he belongs and this is what a Catholic Archdiocese and the Catholic Church should give even some external signal that they encourage and support, why is Fr. Hehir still in his position?  And why does the Cardinal or should anyone trust his judgement on any other matters like Catholic education, Catholic public policy, finances, church closings, healthcare, and other critical areas?  Isn’t it time for Fr. Hehir to be removed or resign?

Time for me to ask readers to take action once again.  Hit the Take Action page, and make calls or send emails/faxes ASAP to the Papal Nuncio and head of the Congregation of Bishops.  Please drop us an email to let us know after you’ve taken some action.  Have a good weekend folks!

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Readers, for those who are upset with whats
happening in the Archdiocese of Boston and with the events Fr. Bryan Hehir is involved in, we have made it easier than ever for you to take action.  Visit our new Take Action page from anywhere on the site and you’ll see how you can call, fax via Web, and/or email to the key officials who need to hear your complaints.

Please take special note of the instructions sending a free Fax via the Web Yes, it is now possible to send a fax for free using a standard web browser without ever leaving your chair and computer. (Priests and church employees who fear repurcussions will be pleased to know that no fax/phone number or email address appears on the transmission!)  So, you can send a fax at no cost to the U.S. Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Sambi in Washington, DC or to the head of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re in Italy or to any other church official, such as Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Boston or others.  Follow the instructions here.

We have also updated the Brian Hehir Chronology with some new, more comprehensive information and will continue to do so weekly.  A .pdf version of the chronlology is also available for you to use in faxing or communicating with senior church officials.

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At long last, here’s the final installment on Fr. Bryan
Hehir’s next speaking gig on April 30 in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida.  In Part 1 we talked about Fr. Hehir keynoting along with another speaker who advocates for gay priests and gay culture, and in Part 2 we talked about him also sharing the podium with a priest who changed the liturgy and communion rite in his diocese in ways that had been previously rejected by the Vatican and USCCB and were outside of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). Now we’ll finally look at Bishop Robert Lynch’s leadership of the Diocese of St. Petersburg where the talk and conference are taking place.

First a little background on Bishop Robert Lynch.  He worked at the National Council of Catholic Bishops starting in the early 1970’s and was associate and general secretary of the NCCB from 1984 until 1995.  So, he and Fr. Hehir go way back. There is much that seems wrong happening under his leadership: ending Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, taking no action to prevent the starvation death of Terri Schiavo in 2005, allowing Schiavo’s former husband to have a Catholic wedding after the premeditated murder of his wife, sexual harassment accusations from a male employee (known for his “muscular physique”) settled for $100K and steering $30 million in no-bid church construction contracts to another “muscular triathlete.”  So given all that in addition to what we reported in Parts 1 and 2, of course one might just ask the question, does it make  sense for a senior archdiocesan official like Fr. Hehir to implicitly endorse all of the above by speaking at his conference?  Here are the details:

1. St. Petersburg  Diocese ends Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration: Ignoring all of Pope John Paul II’s repeated pleas for the promotion of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, the Diocese of St. Petersburg issued new guidelines which on September 1, 2000 ended the practice of perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in parishes, and only allows worship of the Eucharist reserved in tabernacles.

For parishes that wish to inaugurate adoration of the Blessed Sacrament the Bishop says they should “reflect on… their commitment of time and money to social services.” Among other reflections, they should ask, “Does the eucharistic bread look like bread?”

2. Bishop Lynch took no action to help save the life of Terri Schiavo in 2005 and instead issued bizarre statements undermining efforts to save her.   A must-read is this article from LifeSite News

The Florida Catholic Bishops’ conference has stated plainly that Terri’s means of receiving food and water does not constitute ‘extraordinary’ means of preserving her life, and is a simple requirement of ordinary care. ..Bishop Lynch’s comments are bizarre and shocking given the fact that Michael Schiavo has abandoned his wife and has taken up an adulterous liaison with another woman with whom he has sired two children and has campaigned to end Terri’s life by starving her to death.

Bishop Lynch moves from the bizarre and shocking to the outrageous when he implies that this lack of “peace,” is the fault of her parents for being determined to save her life. ..Lynch goes on to say that the decision to starve Terri to death is one that will be made by ‘a family’ which, incomprehensibly, he identifies as Michael Schiavo alone.

Inexplicable also is the apparent unconcern of the Bishop for saving Terri’s life, an indifference that will outrage Catholics since he also took no action when Michael refused to allow Terri visits from a priest and to receive the sacraments.

According to a report in LifeSite news published after Terri’s death,  Fr. Gerard Murphy of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida actually helped Judge Greer make the decision to dehydrate and starve Terri to death. Turns out that Fr. Murphy testified on behalf of Michael Schiavo, and Bishop Lynch supported Father Murphy’s seriously flawed position. Heres more:

The Catholic Media Coalition called Bishop Lynch’s behavior “baffling.”

COMMENTARY – Catholic Bishops Send Conflicting Message On Respecting Life

A Revolutionary to the Core

Bobby Schindler Reveals Shocking Support by Catholic Clergy for Sister’s Euthanasia Killing

Cardinal (Renato) Martino issued a stirring appeal from Rome shortly before Terri’s death when he said,

Whoever stands idly by without trying to prevent the death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo becomes an accomplice to murder.

Bishop Lynch did nothing.

Fr. Hehir, just curious, did you ever drop a dime to your pal Bishop Lynch when poor Terri was being starved to death and ask him to use the full influence of his episcopal position to speak out in favor of saving her life?

3.  To add insult to injury, Bishop Lynch allowed a Catholic wedding for Michael Schiavo and the mother of his two children after Michael had Terri starved to death. This is in opposition to Canon 1090 which states , “One who, with a view to entering marriage with a certain person, brings about the death of one’s own spouse or of the other person’s spouse, invalidly attempts that marriage.”  See:

Neither Shalt Thou Kill Thy Spouse

Schiavo-Centonze Marriage At Risk

Then there’s the matter of the St. Petersburg Diocese’s law firm (Divito and Higham) having contributed the maximum amount possible to the reelection campaign of Judge George Greer, the judge at the core of the Schiavo case who supported efforts of Michael Schiavo and his attorney, euthanasia advocate George Felos to end Terri’s life. They made this contribution at about the same time that the late Pope John Paul II issued his statement disallowing death by starvation and dehydration. How can a diocese be pro-life when the Bishop’s own general counsel is giving money to support a judge who agreed to starve an innocent person to death?

4. The story of Bishop Lynch wouldn’t be complete without a few more tawdry incidents. For example, theres the allegation of sexual harrassment against him from a male staff member and friend that was settled for $100,000

William Urbanski, diocese spokesman and former Lynch aide, filed a complaint with the diocese alleging that Lynch had made sexual advances towards him.

He initially appreciated Bishop Lynch’s lavish gifts–stereos, cameras, upscale clothes. But he began to feel increasingly uncomfortable when Bishop Lynch would touch and massage him.  He said that Lynch forced him to share a hotel room when they traveled on business together, pressured him to photograph his muscular physique in a speedo bathing suit, and that Lynch had grabbed his thigh as the two drove in a car. He also claimed that on one trip, Lynch had come out of the shower nude to show Urbanski how much weight he had lost. Lynch admitted he may have may have crossed the line between friendship and work and described the matter as a misunderstanding: “I did not intend anything. We were close friends.”  A diocesan investigation, led by three close Lynch aides, found no evidence to back Urbanski’s allegations of advances. Mr. Urbanski said investigators never interviewed him.

Nonetheless, the diocese paid $100K as severance under the condition that Urbanski not sue.  Is anyone else wondering why a diocese would fork over $100,000 from donations to support the Church if the allegations has zero substance?  Here’s some additional reading on that tawdry situation:

The story of Bishop Robert Lynch (a “must read”)

Church paid $100K to Lynch aide

Despite Anger, Urbanski not shunning religion

Oh by the way, then we also have Bishop Lynch steering $30 million in no-bid construction contracts to another friend, David Herman, who like Urbanski, is a muscular triathlete. Lynch and Herman had vacationed together to places including Hawaii, Israel, and Rome.  The St. Petersburg Times reports:

Lynch had given every construction contract over which he exercised sole control to a friend, David S. Herman, without seeking competitive bids or interviewing other established contractors in the area.  According to diocesan figures, Herman Construction Services was awarded contracts totaling $30.3-million since 1996, when Lynch became bishop.

Contractor for diocese jobs calls Lynch ‘good friend’

Diocese projects go to Bishop’s friend

So to summarize, we have a Cabinet secretary of the Archdiocese of Boston going to keynote at a Eucharistic Conference in Florida along with a priest who advocates for gay priests and the gay culture (including gay movies and books) and along with another priest who ordered his diocese to adopt new rules for the sacrament of Communion that had been previously rejected by the Vatican and U.S. bishops.  And he’s speaking in a diocese where the bishop banned perpetual Eucharistic adoration, slammed pro-lifers for objecting to the most rabid pro-abortion president in history being honored at Notre Dame, was described by a Vatican official as an accomplice to the premeditated murder of an innocent disabled woman, settled a case of sexual harassment against one male employee for $100,000 and steered $30 million in no-bid contracts to another male friend.  This blogger commented, “Would Bishop Lynch chase the money lenders out of the temple or would he have ATMs installed?”

Any readers in the Diocese of St. Petersburg or elsewhere, I urge you to contact the papal nuncio and Congregation of Bishops and ask to have this trainwreck of a conference with its scandal-mired speakers cancelled.  (Contact info is here). And if the judgment of a Cabinet secretary like Fr. Bryan Hehir after 44 years in the priesthood is that this conference is where he wants to speak and hang out with his friends, this is yet another reason why his opinions should be ignored.

Should the conference proceed intact, they will no doubt have a lovely time together April 30-May 1.

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Today we review more of the story on Fr. Bryan
Hehir’s next speaking gig coming up April 30 at the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s “Living Eucharist” conference in Florida. For new readers, here’s Part 1, where we shared how one keynote speaker alongside Boston Archdiocesan Secretary for Social Services, Fr. Bryan Hehir, is the non-collar-wearing Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. who advocates publicly for gay priests and tells his audiences they should be reading gay novels and watching gay movies like Brokeback Mountain. Hehir as a senior archdiocesan cabinet official and most influential advisor to Cardinal Sean O’Malley apparently feels just fine sharing the main podium with Fr. Timothy. So here we look at the other keynoter Fr.  J. Glenn Murray and then next at Bishop Lynch’s leadership of the Diocese of St. Petersburg where the talk is taking place.

Fr. J Glenn Murray, SJ.  Fr. Murray is a Jesuit liturgist and here’s his bio.   “J Glenn” specializes in African-American worship, and like everyone else “J Bryan” hangs out with, seems to have had his share of ‘swings at the bat’ to undermine the Church.

He was Director for the Office of Worship in the Diocese of Cleveland from 1995 to 2007.  That’s the same diocese where the bishop (Bishop Pilla) resigned in the wake of an embezzlement scandal, where the rainbow flag/colors have adorned their Gay & Lesbian Family Ministry website and where they supported dissident organizations like Future Church with office space in a rectory basement through 2006.  But I digress… Fr. Murray himself created a stir in 2003 by issuing new directives in the Cleveland diocese for how Catholics were to receive communion. An article in the August 24, 2003 Cleveland Plain Dealer that extensively quoted Fr. Murray said, “American Catholics are about to experience major changes in the Communion rite as dioceses begin implementing updated General Instruction of the Roman Missal.”   The only problem is that Fr. Murray’s changes were NOT actually what the GIRM called for. Among his changes were:

  • the congregation using the “orans” posture during the Lord’s prayer (this means hands raised as only the priest does)
  • embracing fellow worshippers during the exchange of the sign of peace
  • “ undoing a lifetime of tradition by not kneeling in prayer after Communion.  Instead, in a sign of the communal nature of the sacrament, worshippers will stand and sing until each person has received Communion.”

Fr. Murray acknowledged the changes would “unsettle many Catholics” but said, “”I think it’s a vast improvement.”

Adoremus summarizes the situation and response. Here are a few excerpts:

These changes were advocated by some liturgists  a few years ago — a revision that was eventually rejected by the Holy See….[and] never approved by the bishops. And they were neither included in the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the universal Church, nor in the ‘American adaptations’ of the GIRM.

Cardinal Arinze, then head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, even was asked to weigh-in, and he said:

Earlier, similar responses from the Vatican made it clear that changing customary kneeling to standing was not intended; indeed was ‘laudably retained’.

Adoremus concluded:

The liturgy office in the Cleveland diocese (and several others) is mandating changes that are neither specified nor mandated in the norms for the universal Church or for the US Church. Far from promoting unity, the effect of mandating these deviations from the customary practice in the Catholic Church in the United States is literally divisive — dividing one diocese from another, one parish from another, one Catholic from another.

Besides having no basis whatsoever to change the Cleveland liturgy, he is also a fan of liturgical dance. In this 2004 report, Fr. Murray was seen “accompanied by scantily clad liturgical dancers in black skimpy costumes dancing with their smoking bowls of incense during a children’s grade school Mass.”  He was at the same Religious Ed conference in Los Angeles where Fr. Tim Radcliffe talked about gay novels and movies. Fr. Murray led a “Black Culture” liturgy:

Beginning with a bongo drum sequence and featuring black Gospel singers dressed in native African costumes, the event featured Jesuit Father J. Glenn Murray…He concluded his homily by leading a hand-clapping rendition of “Can’t Nobody Do Ya Like Jesus,” and dancing all around the stage, with Cardinal Mahony, from his presider’s chair, clapping along with the crowd.

Murray left Cleveland in 2007 after Bishop Richard Lennon arrived in 2006 and started cleaning house. But Murray is nothing compared to Bishop Lynch, who we get to in Part 3. In the meantime, first-time site visitors should check out Part 1, about the other keynote speaker on the podium, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. who advocates for gay priests, celebrates Mass for openly dissenting homosexual groups, and tells his audiences to let their imaginations be “stretched open” by watching Brokeback Mountain and reading gay novels. If you’re outraged by all this, drop a dime to the Papal Nuncio in Washington, DC:

Most Reverend Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nunciature
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008-3610
Phone:  (202)333-7121
Fax: (202) 337-4036
Respectfully ask for this “Living Eucharist” conference to be cancelled and that the Apolostical Nuncio have removed from their positions any archdiocesan officials (eg. Fr. Bryan Hehir) whose judgement is such that they think its acceptable to keynote a conference with this group of speakers.

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If you havent yet read it, please take a few minutes 
to read yesterday’s post about Fr. Bryan Hehir keynoting a conference on April 30 along with a known advocate for gay priests. But, we’ll delay Part 2 of the report.  APRIL 15 and APRIL 19 UPDATES:  we previously posted that Fr. Hehir had apparently succeeded with efforts to push out the strongest faithful Catholic in the Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s cabinet staff (and probably the only faithful lay Catholic),  Secretary of Development, Scot Landry, brother of Fall River diocesian priest Fr. Roger Landry.  Based on a blog comment from  “Come off the ledge“, a colleague of Scots and subsequent information received we are correcting and updating our previous post and apologizing for any errors.
As said earlier, Scot is part of a group that started the successful Boston Catholic Mens and Womens Conferences, his office ran the Archdiocesan pilgrimage to see Pope Benedict XVI in New York, hes been involved with Legatus, the organizatin of Catholic business leaders, and he had sometihng to do with the Wednesday night confessions during Lent. In other words amidst a pack of wolves generally running amuck, he is one of the few  good guys.  That is still accurate.

When Bryan hehir was bought in to run Catholic Charities of Boston, the dissidents from Voice of the Faithful said his coming back to Boston was an “extraordinary coup for the archdiocese.” They were basically right–but its actually a coup OF the archdiocese by Hehir and his chronies that has been and still is underway.  That is still accurate.

It appears that a group of people in the Chancery, including James McDonough (Chancellor), and outside the Chancery, including Jack Connors, has put the squeeze on Mr. Landry’s position as Secretary of Development.  Why would they do that?  Well, since the Sec. of development has been sucessful hitting their fundraising goals year after year in the worst economic climate in a whole generation and those funds pay all of the salaries of people in the chancery among other important programs, it actually makes no sense.  Mr. Landry is so good  at what hes been doing and has such high integrity and strong orthodoxy that he has been able to attract good people to his office, build solid relationships with donors, and hit the fundraising goals,  while hes also running programs that evangelise the faith in his spare time.  Why not just let the guy keep doing great work?  Is it about power?  I dunno.  But we have been told by multiple sources over the past month that Scot is being squeezed out of the develpment role while at the same time their is not necessarily another position available to use his capabilities and skills.   This situation appears to be comiing to a head.  So if he does not have the development role any more and their is not another good job for him soon with resources available to succeed he could be squeezed entirely out.  So we were wrong previously, the final squeeze has not happened yet and there is some chance he may still be saved.  We hope he stays, and apologize for that incorrect information.  As readers hopefully see we document everything and try to maintain the highest journlistic standards.

Here at BryanhehirExposed, we don’t know Mr. McDonough.  But we do know that the search team that hired him was led by Neal Finnegan, who is an old chrony of Fr. Hehir from Catholic Charities.  And we know that the people who are, lets say, pulling the strings in the archdiocese with the most influence these days are McDonnough, Fr. Hehir, and the likes of Fr. Hehir’s buddy Jack Connors from Catholic Charities. (See Cardinal Sean’s blog for just one example of the Hehir/Connors association).   Connors is now remaking parochial schools and involved in all of the education stuff,  and the new Pope John Paul II academy is sending their fund-raisers who seems to have missed a bunch of their goals to now take over fundraising for the archdiocese and replace the guy who was actually hitting his goals.

Lest readers think Jack Connors is merely a humble philanthropist with strong Catholic values, quietly giving away his fortune to the poor and needy, look again.  In the Boston Globe’s 2007 article The Invisible Hand of Jack he is described as a “Boston power broker” who sits on a $500 million fortune.”

I am not selfless. I have fancy houses. I am not giving it all away.

The article says “Connors remains a man with his hand still firmly on the levers of power” and he is “digging in again at the Catholic Church…Connors was chosen by Cardinal Sean O’Malley to restructure the archdiocese’s school system and turn around its finances. The plan is to reverse years of declining enrollment by building new schools, refurbishing others, and putting the schools in the right places.”  When the Globe article was written Connors was planning to raise millions for rebuilding two Brockton schools.  It’s not clear though if Connors is actually giving any of his own money to the Church.  The article says the biggests gifts of the $7 million in annual Connors Family Foundation donations go “to places closest to the family’s heart: Boston College, Mass. General, Brigham and Women’s, Harvard Medical School, and  the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s.”  How many of these institutions really need millions more in $$?  Hey Jack, how about giving some to Archdiocesan Campus Ministry, or the Little Sisters of the Poor, or the Poor Clares,  the Sisters of Life, Daughters of St. Paul, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s order), Brotherhood of Hope, Cor Unum or Sancta Maria House in Boston?

Bottom line is the Chancellor, Secretary of Social Services, and Jack Connors weild most of the power in this palace coup.  If Mr. McDnnough, Fr. Hehir, or Mr. Connors or someone else with a logical explanation are reading this and can explain why they are pushing out a solid Catholic with a record of success from his role as Sec. of Development, please feel free to share it and we will be more than delighted to publish it.

If Cardinal O’Malley is permitting or cooperating in this squeezola and it continues as it has been, that has a very good chance of leaving Fr. Bryan Hehir, chancellor McDonough, Jack Connors, and the gang of Fr. Hehir’s chronies running everything.  (Hehir is definitely one of, if not the most influential advisor to Cardinal O’Malley,  who advises the Cardinal on public policy, the  Catholic schools system, hospitals, has pro-life education under him for some reason, and he is also primary troubleshooter for O’Malley.  Hehir has been quoted as saying of his role, “the amount of things that I’ve been doing had been growing on an ad hoc basis.“).  There is little doubt who is behind the curtain pulling the strings of the puppet so to speak.

We think that is an accurate picture of the current situation.  If anyone disagrees or thinks we have something inaccurate please let us know and we will correct.  Still most importantly, if you have issues with this situation or with any of the activities of Fr. Bryan hehir we have documented,  drop a couple of dimes and faxes to object to this situation and ask that Fr. Bryan Hehir be removed immediately:

Most Reverend Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nunciature
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008-3610
Phone: (202)333-7121
Fax: (202) 337-4036

Begin letters or faxes with “Dear Archbishop Sambi”

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect
Palazzo della Congregazioni, 00193
Roma, Piazza Pio XII, 10
Telephone: 06.69.88.42.17
Fax from U.S: 011.39.06.69.88.53.03

(note, 011 gets out of the U.S. , 39 is Italy’s country code, 06 is Rome)

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree MA 02184-3839
Phone: 617-782-2544
Fax: 617-746-5762

Email

Write your own letter and please be respectful but direct, and if its helpful consider attaching the Bryan Hehir chronology page or other posts from this site. Though you will not get a response from writing or calling the Papal Nuncio and Congregation of Bishops, it is the best way to get attention to matters where the bishop is failing to exercise his responsibility to teach, sanctify, and govern. (Decree concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops, Christus Dominus, section 11)

The Boston Catholic Men’s Conference is Saturday, April 17, including EWTN’s Crossing the Goal team (Curtis Martin, Danny Abromowitz, Peter Herbeck and Brian Patrick) and Mass celebrated by Cardinal O’Malley.  It should be an outstanding event!  Anyone reading this blog planning to attend who is upset about the situation in the archdiocese should feel free to voice their concerns directly to the Cardinal, his staff, or  any of the above at the conference.

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