The storyline on this whole Catholic schools fracas in
the Archdiocese of Boston just keeps getting more full of contradictions when you look at what Cardinal Sean O’Malley published on Wednesday, what Fr. Bryan Hehir said on Thursday, what The Pilot published Friday, and what Fr. Rafferty just disclosed has happened to his parish. Readers, we have a major crisis here in Boston, so it is urgent that readers Take Action this weekend.
On Wednesday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley said “we have never had categories of people who were excluded” (a factually true statement reflecting the past), but he also said we have to maintain our responsibility to teach the truths of our faith on sexual morality and marriage “courageously.” He also said Boston should look to the precedent set by the Archdiocese of Denver (which does not allow children of same-sex couples in Catholic schools): “…their positions and rationale must be seriously considered” as Boston works on our policy.
On Thursday, Fr. Bryan Hehir–who the Cardinal recently described as “strategic advisor” with “vast understanding of the important place our Church has in society” who brings “fidelity to the work of the Church” and whose “voice brings clarity to our message and mission in serving the Catholic community in Boston”–obfuscated, overshadowed, and contradicted the Cardinal with a message on WBUR that admitting kids of gay couples is a done deal already and what happened in Denver in reality doesn’t matter at all to the Cardinal. People I know in the business world say publicly undermining or correcting the boss on an issue of international visibility like this and making it clear that either one or the other is lying should get Hehir fired immediately. We agree.
Beyond that, we learned more yesterday about exactly why Fr. Rafferty was right to deny admission to the kid of the lesbian couple. As cited on ThrowtheBumsOutin2010, in a letter to his parishioners, Fr. Rafferty said the following:
We want you to know that, in this instance, we believe our decision was made in the best interests of the child based upon our discernment that in our Catholic environment, with its teaching on marriage as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, a child from a same sex family might feel discomfort, frustration or confusion. Additionally, in our small school, without support services, we were concerned whether we could help a child of this age reconcile an inherent conflict between our teachings and his home life.
So as many of us knew all along, that is nothing that should have been “disturbing” to the Catholic Schools leadership types like Mary Grassa O’Neill, Jack Connors, or Michael Reardon that would lead them to throw a good priest under the bus–instead they should have said, “Kudos to you, Fr. Rafferty, for doing the right thing.”
Speaking of doing the right thing, The Pilot (whose publisher is Cardinal Sean O’Malley) has an editorial, “A proper course of action” that also says Fr. Rafferty did the right thing. Here’s an excerpt:
The decision by a parochial school in Hingham to rescind enrollment to the child of a woman who made public to the pastor that she was living in an openly homosexual relation deserves some analysis and should not be dismissed as insensitive or bigoted, as it has been portrayed in some media reports…
The Catechism explains that “scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.’
It can be argued that the appearance of normalcy and acceptance of homosexual behavior that would follow from accepting gay parents into the life of a Catholic school — at parish functions, fundraisers, as chaperones for field trips, etc. — could lead other children to grave confusion about the nature of marriage as the union between a man and a woman. And, of course, we cannot forget the potential psychological trauma that a young child of such a union may face when the school curriculum on the sacrament of marriage and human sexuality emphasizes the complementarity of the sexes as the plan of God for humankind and describes homosexual acts and relations as contrary to the natural order of creation.
This new argument put forward beyond those previously advanced is backed by Pope John Paul II’s Letter to the Bishops on Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:
The movement within the Church, which takes the form of pressure groups of various names and sizes…brings together under the aegis of Catholicism homosexual persons who have no intention of abandoning their homosexual behaviour. One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination.There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups’ concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing….
The Church can never be so callous. It is true that her clear position cannot be revised by pressure from civil legislation or the trend of the moment. But she is really concerned about the many who are not represented by the pro-homosexual movement and about those who may have been tempted to believe its deceitful propaganda. She is also aware that the view that homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love has a direct impact on society’s understanding of the nature and rights of the family and puts them in jeopardy
So where do we sit right now? In the absence of any correction by the Archdiocese since Hehir’s comments were first aired on Thursday, the Archdiocese is leaving the impression that Hehir’s comments represent the final word on this situation. Given that his trusted senior advisor contradicted the boss a day after the Cardinal’s statement, what we do know is that the Cardinal seems incapable or unwilling to stand-up and govern his own leadership team, advisors, and archdiocese at this time.
Who is leading the Archdiocese of Boston today? Is it Cardinal O’Malley? Fr. Bryan Hehir? Jack Connors? Chancellor James McDonough? As the old TV game-show To Tell the Truth used to say, “Will the real Archbishop of Boston please stand up?”