Archive for June, 2010

Readers, we just caught a new post by the folks over at Boston Catholic Insider regarding the Caritas Christi transaction that looks like it’s a worthwhile read.  It’s their Top 10 questions about the Caritas/Cerberus deal.  All merit a read, but if Question 7 in particular is true, it’s baffling to us why that would be part of the sale agreement:

If Cerberus fails to make the promised capital investments over the next four years, why does the Massachusetts Attorney General get to choose where that shortfall is donated?

Section 8.8b says, “To the extent that, by such fourth anniversary, Purchaser has failed to cause the Health Care System to spend or commit to spend no less than $400 million as provided in Section 8.8(a), Purchaser shall cause the Health Care System to contribute such shortfall to a charitable foundation designated by the Massachusetts Attorney General.”  In other words, if Cerberus doesn’t spend $200 million on improvements they committed to make to the Caritas Catholic healthcare system as part of the deal, Martha Coakley can decide to give that $200 million to the National Rifle Association or the National Organization of Women, or whomever the heck she pleases?  Who died and left Martha Coakley in that position of responsibility?  Why don’t those committed funds go back to the Archdiocese of Boston?  If Cerberus drops the Catholic identity, $25 million goes to a charity of the Archdiocese’s choice, but if they reneg on a couple hundred million of investment in the system, the Attorney General decides where that shortfall goes?  This makes no sense whatsoever.

Can Fr. Erikson or anyone from Archdiocese explain this one to us?

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We are delighted to have heard from Vicar General
Fr. Richard Erikson on Thursday evening in the comments on our last post about Fr. Bryan Hehir (“Fr. Bryan Hehir “Wounds Catholic Unity” by Undermining U.S. Bishops on Healthcare”) and are preparing a response to him in the next few days.  In the meantime, reader Mary Reilly, alerted us to a new blog about what is happening inside the Archdiocese of Boston, and we are intrigued by the initial posts and comments over at aptly-named Boston Catholic Insider.

So far, Boston Catholic Insider is showing some organization charts and what appears to be a “lay of the land” of how the Archdiocese functions on paper, along with the six-figure salaries of their Cabinet members.  We already knew the salaries from the financial disclosure reports, but it’s interesting to see how it all fits together, as depicted in what is apparently a published organizational chart, especially the highest-level of influence.

The depiction of  Fr. Hehir’s responsibilities validates what we have been saying here.  It cites his past salary at Catholic Charities USA as being about $96K/year.  We assume he was making at least that as President of Catholic Charities of Boston combined with his Harvard salary?   (Note: the average salary for a full professor at Harvard is $192,000). Can anyone help us find out what he is paid at Harvard for being a full professor teaching 3 courses  during the academic year?

Beyond Bryan Hehir, the content and insider comments are both interesting, and we’ve discovered a few other choice tidbits already.  For example, we knew that the communications guy, Terry Donilon, has never said a word publicly about the truths of Catholicism or teachings of the Catholic Church, but we didn’t know he had two brothers deeply entrenched in the Obama administration who also helped derail Robert Bork’s 1987 Supreme Court nomination. Here are a few more examples:

While many of us at the Pastoral Center have been on pins and needles for the last few months, the Chancellor just hired himself an assistant whose salary is over $100,000.”

Apparently the archdiocese is hiring David Thorp away from the (very liberal) Holy Family Parish in Concord for a newly created position.

Aren’t you kind to call The Concord Pastor “very liberal”. Around my house, the wife and I tell our children it’s apostasy!  Yes, the Thorpe hiring is VERY curious, isn’t it. He’s been hired for “new evangelism”. What happened to the multimillion dollar effort they put into “Renew”? Has that “liberal” program run it’s course? Didn’t rounding up retired women to convene minichurches in people’s houses work out for them?

Of course, you already know our opinion about RENEW.  Seems like this new blog is worth watching.  For those Boston Archdiocese “insiders” reading our blog, you may want to share some of your tips over there.

By the way, we googled on Boston Catholic Insider and couldn’t find the blog, but we did find this instead–a list of dissident theologian, Richard McBrien’s favorite bishops. (His list was published this month in the National Catholic Reporter).  Among those on McBrien’s list: disgraced gay Archbishop Rembert Weakland and Cardinal Joseph Bernadin (of “seamless garment” reknown)  .As you might know, Richard McBrien preached at the first Mass that Fr. Bryan Hehir celebrated after he was ordained a priest in 1966, so it all does really come back to Fr. Bryan Hehir in the end.

Have a good weekend!

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As you all probably know by now, at a June 15 meeting
of the U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops  President Cardinal Francis George condemned Catholic Health Association President Sr. Carol Keehan for her role in helping pass President Obama’s abortion-funding national healthcare legislation. The USCCB called the CHA’s actions a “wound to Catholic unity.” At about the same time, the CHA was meeting for their annual conference (June 13-15), where President Obama offered his praise via video to Sr. Keehan and the CHA for their role in passing the legislation.  Who was at the CHA’s conference to praise Sr. Keehan in-person right after Obama’s video, give her air-cover, and reinforce that fissure or “wound”? Naturally, Fr. Bryan Hehir. What is the Archdiocese of Boston doing about his ongoing comments that bring division and scandal to the Church?  As usual, nothing.  You can listen to some of Hehir’s comments via the YouTube clip linked to below.

Here are excerpts of the article by Catholic News Agency, “Cardinal George: Sr. Keehan chose Obama over Catholic bishops“:

The bill which was passed is fundamentally flawed. The Executive Order is meaningless. Sr. Carol is mistaken in thinking that this is pro-life legislation.
The cardinal also expressed disappointment with CHA “and other so-called Catholic groups” because, “in the end, they have weakened the moral voice of the bishops in the U.S.”
the USCCB and CHA’s positions on Obama’s health care are not just “two equally valid conclusions inspired in the same Catholic teaching,”
“As Bishops, we disagree that the divergence between the Catholic Conference and Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association, represents merely a difference of analysis or strategy. Rather, for whatever good will was intended, it represented a fundamental disagreement, not just with our staff as some maintain, but with the Bishops themselves.
As such it has resulted in confusion and a wound to Catholic unity.

The problem is a serious one. What did Fr. Bryan Hehir say about all this? First, he praised Sister Carol’s “experienced, hands-on care for the poor and ministry to all, and her intelligent and courageous leadership of this organization,” which was followed by thunderous applause. But the worst came later when he said there were “multiple voices” in the debate, the CHA, the U.S. bishops, and others. Amidst those multiple voices, he said “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”

What?!! So, Fr. Hehir is saying that the U.S. bishops have no more authority to speak on this important issue than other “voices,” like the woman dubbed the “million dollar sister” for her eye-popping near seven-figure salary leading the $16M CHA. Reader LastCatholicinBoston commented:

Duh, Catholics through history have been proven to be right and wrong. What Hehir always leaves out is that the Church and Magisterium are never wrong.  They are the authority.

A reader attending the conference sent us her audio recording  of Hehir’s talk at the conference, and here are short selected clips:

Fr. Hehir’s undermining of the bishops and obfuscating the real concerns is obvious when you look carefully at the Catholic News article about his talk, reprinted in The Pilot. Thanks to blog readers Chantel and LastCatholicinBoston for their insights and comments of rebuttal, which we have expanded on below.

Time to move forward after differences on health reform, priest says

By Catholic News Service (posted June 16 in Rochester Catholic Courier)

DENVER (CNS) — Differences within the Catholic community during the health reform debate were not about the objectives to be accomplished but about the “degree of assurance” provided by the bill on those objectives, Father J. Bryan Hehir told the annual convention of the Catholic Health Association June 13.
That’s massively downplaying and sanitizing what happened, as it became clear toward the later part of the debate, and certainly with the final bill, that there wasn’t really any assurance on federal funding of abortion and conscience protection

“It is time to face the future, not replay the past continually,” said Father Hehir, secretary for health and social services for the Archdiocese of Boston, in a keynote talk on the opening day of the June 13-15 convention in Denver.
How? Hehir gave no answers.  Not once did Hehir give a specific suggestion on how to move forward, especially toward the goals of defending life and conscience protections.

“Understanding that debate — its process and its product — is a necessary task, but far more urgent is the need to answer the question of moving forward from where we are to where we need to go to provide health care which is morally grounded, legally protected and provided with compassion and competence,” he said.
Sounds nice in principle, but no specific suggestions were given. (And Fr. Hehir, how exactly can you have morally grounded legislation that funds abortion?)

Father Hehir, said the debate was complicated by “a disturbing characteristic of the American political process — polarization that is both intellectual and political.”
Yes, the debate over killing the unborn is polarizing. We’re sorry that you find it “disturbing” that Catholics are standing up to protect life. Maybe you should not have oversight over the Archdiocese’s Pro-Life Office or Catholic healthcare in Boston if you have a problem with this.

But he said the end result of the debate “has the proportions and the potential” of such legislative landmarks as the Social Security Act of the 1930s, the civil rights reforms of the 1960s and welfare reform in the 1990s.
Sure does, and it’s scary….

As the debate began, there was widespread agreement in the Catholic community about four objectives to be accomplished by the legislation, Father Hehir said. Those objectives were basic health care for all; no federal funding of abortion; expanded access to health care for immigrants; and conscience clause protections for religiously based health care, he said.
With passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, “the four objectives are partially met,” Father Hehir said. “It will take continuing work on each (objective) to meet the potential of a just health care system protective of human life and human dignity from life’s inception along the spectrum to its natural end.”
How do you “partially meet” a goal of not killing the unborn? Either it’s met and the unborn are protected, or it’s not met and the unborn are aborted with federal funds. (When Obama signed the legislation on March 24, Lifesitenews reported: “The executive order claims “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services,” but adds it is to “ensure that exchange plan funds are segregated by insurance companies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.”That’s merely a restatement of the Nelson language in the Senate bill that allows some taxpayers to be forced to pay for abortions as long as an accounting scheme is used to cover up the funding.”)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops insisted, however, that the final bill and the executive order did not adequately guarantee conscience rights or guard against expanded federal abortion funding.

Father Hehir said debate over the “meaning, status and significance” of the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life, “became one of the primary fault lines in the secular and Catholic debates” about the health reform bill. “The final judgment on this bill is not about Catholics inside and outside the permissible range of Catholic moral teachings.”

LCIB: Apparently Fr. Hehir is an authority speaking when he makes declarative statements about the essence of the bill. Perhaps he should speak to Fr. Frank Pavone about the permissible range of Catholic moral teaching on abortion.

Father Hehir quoted the late Jesuit Father John Courtney Murray in distinguishing between mistakes and errors. Father Murray said mistakes are “deficiencies of intelligence,” while errors are based on a “deficiency of good will…His point was not to assume mistakes are errors. His conclusion was that the Christian community is not in error, no matter how many mistakes are made.”
What the heck does that mean? If multiple voices are babbling with radically different conclusions, somebody has to be wrong, and in the Catholic Church, there is an authoritative voice.  Are the U.S. Bishops and the CHA just both equally right? Is there somehow a Bryan Hehir version of the Magisterium?
LCIB: What Murray described and I suspect Hehir knows is what is known as Hanlon’s Razor…and I summarize – never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.  Or, the Christian Community (as defined by Hehir) never acts maliciously (as an enemy of the Church) they are only prone to mistakes. Hehir’s conclusion on Murray’s conclusion is a complete bluff.
What Hehir is saying is that the Christian Community (as defined by him) is never motivated by malice. That is, the wolf in sheep’s clothing does not exist.  We know differently.

Do check out Fr. Z’s blog post, “Who Speaks for the Catholic Church in the U.S.” for more insights into the controversy.

If the history this blog has exposed on Fr. Hehir isn’t enough to get him silenced, one would think his public disagreement with the U.S. Conference of Bishops (where he worked for 15 years) and his endorsement for the CHA and the abortion-funding Obamacare legislation would do it. But not here in Boston under Cardinal O’Malley.

ps. Guess who presided over the opening Mass at the CHA conference?  Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can read our posts about Bishop Lynch and his recent Eucharistic Conference where Bryan Hehir spoke here and here.

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A quick read of this weekend’s edition of The Pilot
and a look at recent news from the Boston Archdiocese confirms the sad state of affairs for Boston Catholics.  The Cardinal Archbishop of Boston seems to have even less backbone than the traces of it we glimpsed earlier in his Boston tenure.  He is continuing to make questionable personnel decisions and let dissident cabinet members and advisors run amuck, and it’s becoming evident that he is failing in his episcopal responsibility to teach, sanctify, and govern.  (Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?)  Here are a handful of examples:

Fr. Bryan Hehir at the Catholic Health Association. Fr. Bryan Hehir spoke at the Catholic Health Association conference on June 13, where he heaped praise on Sr. Carol Keehan for her leadership of the organization, and separately said that “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”  That is yet another Bryan Hehir fabrication. Shortly before Hehir’s talk, a video by President Obama also praised Sr. Keehan for her role in getting the bill passed.  The Pilot reported on Hehir’s talk and the Obama comments, but never covered that about the same time, the President of the U.S.C.C.B, Cardinal George was slamming Sr. Keehan for defying repeated attempts by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to get her to not endorse the abortion-funding Obama healthcare legislation.  We’ll have an in-depth blog post on this in another day or so.  It’s a mystery why The Pilot did not report the full story–do they want to avoid criticizing Fr. Hehir perhaps?  That Cardinal O’Malley keeps Fr. Hehir around has become an embarrassment and scandal to the Church.  The kindest explanation would be that it’s a reflection of Cardinal Sean’s ongoing poor judgment.  Is anyone in the Holy See paying attention to this?

Letters to the Editor of The Pilot. I’ve been reading The Pilot for a lot of years, and never would have imagined that the newspaper had such a strong gay and lesbian readership as the letters of the past 2-3 weeks suggest.  This week all 6 of the letters to the editor published were about Michael Pakaluk’s recent column that talked about the consequences of a Catholic schools admitting children of gay parents. 4 of the 6 were critical of The Pilot or of Pakaluk—one from a Catholic lesbian woman who expressed “hurt and betrayal” by the Pilot’s decision to publish Pakaluk’s column, one was from a gay man who also has a gay sister raising twins, one is from a “devout Roman Catholic” who was “appalled,” and another from someone who felt if children of gay couples were not admitted to Catholic schools, then why not also reject children of soldiers (thou shalt not kill) or a parent who had pre-marital sex.  The absence of good catechesis on the part of these writers is very clear.   Cardinal O’Malley merely issued a short statement in mid-May to placate everyone, and his trusted advisor, Bryan Hehir, forcefully delivered the message  a day later that they are moving forward with creating policies to admit children of gay parents. More than a month has passed, and the Cardinal has done zero teaching on this issue about the reasons why the Church sees homosexual relationships as immoral and disordered.  That lack of any public teaching by him on this issue since 2005 has led to this free-for-all of poorly-informed opinion-spouting.  His own cabinet team and many priests are following a very different direction than the Cardinal’s own 2005 letter.  It’s yet is another clear indication he is failing in his responsibility to teach, sanctify, and govern. He has the time every week to dictate or write the blog of his global travels and his networking with priests, religious, and laity, but apparently no time to teach or govern here in Boston.  Thankfully, two letters were published from lay people who helped set the record straight–one who said that Michael Pakaluk was “absolutely correct about the insidious nature of the gay agenda being implemented in schools with impressionable children,” and another who said, “the truth is, Mr. Pakaluk is just stating what the Bible states…he’s being vilified for accurately representing his religion.”  We are going to ask the Pilot to re-run the Cardinal’s 2005 letter on homosexuality next week.  Let’s see if they do it.

Cardinal O’Malley names Jack Connors, Jr.
to head Cabinet Secretary search.
While we are in the poor judgment department, here’s another example.  After power-broker, Jack Connors, played a key role in the ouster of Secretary of Institutional Advancement, Scot Landry, and after it was reported that Connors has also given a quarter of a million dollars to pro-abortion political candidates in recent years, who does the Cardinal put in charge of the search for his replacement?  Naturally, Jack Connors. Seems to me  that “like attracts like”  in this world.  So, if you want to build a leadership team that will help you evangelize the truths of the Catholic faith and preach the Gospel in-season and out of season, you’d probably start by having search committees for key roles headed by people who are comfortable with those same truths.  Not around Boston, where our Cardinal continues the pattern of acting in a way like he is unable to understand this–or worse still, he understands it and rejects that as important.  How much do you want to bet that whomever is picked for the position has also supported pro-abortion politicians or has dissented from Church teachings in some way?

Cardinal O’Malley praises Dean Garvey appointment as President of Catholic University. Much has been written about how the outgoing president of CUA helped solidify the Catholic identity of the university during his tenure.  On his blog, Cardinal writes, “Dean Garvey has been an important figure at Boston College and has done so much to strengthen the Catholic identity of Boston College.”  Your Eminence, could you give some examples? Um, as reported previously, how did Dean Garvey’s honoring pro-abortion politician Edward Markey in violation of the USCCB’s guidelines help solidify the Catholic identity of Boston College?  How did Dean Garvey giving $1,750 of his personal money over two years to the pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry help solidify the Catholic identity at BC?  How did his signing a statement touting BC Law School’s being “one of the first law schools in the country to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination pledge…and reaffirming their commitment to being a welcome place…for LGBT students” help solidify the Catholic identity of BC?

Based on what he writes on his blog, the Cardinal seems to relish traveling all over the country and around the world schmoozing with people and networking, while we hear next to nothing about him teaching or governing in Boston. Even when the Cardinal blogs something important, it’s often overshadowed by his failure to lead according to what he writes.  For example, he writes about attending the Mass for the anniversary of married couples, and he wrote:

It’s always a wonderful event and an opportunity for us to showcase the centrality of the Sacrament of Marriage in the life of the Church in today’s world, a world where more people are postponing marriage or foregoing marriage, where marriage is under attack because of the divorce mentality, the prevalence of cohabitation and even attempts to redefine what marriage is. The Church must be a very clear voice in defending traditional marriage and holding this up as an ideal for our people, which for us is a sacrament, a sign of the love and the unity that unites Christ and His Church, His bride.

Sounds great, but HELLO!?!  How can the Church have a clear voice defending traditional marriage and hold that up as an ideal for our people in the face of attempts to redefine marriage, while you, Mary Grassa O’Neill, Jack Connors, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and the rest of your administration are holding-up “gay marriages” or gay partnerships as an ideal for Catholic school children making them look equivalent to traditional marriage?

Folks, stay tuned for our detailed post about Bryan Hehir’s CHA talk.  Also, keep reading for additional news from the archdiocese this coming week, including sad news word due any day now about significant Pastoral Center staff layoffs and the naming of new auxiliary bishops.

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Many of you have probably seen the news that Catholic
University of America has appointed Boston College Law School Dean, John Garvey, to be the new president.  Fortunately, sources like Catholic Culture and Pewsitter came out quickly letting everyone know about Dean Garvey’s troubling record on failing to defend Catholic teachings. But every report we have seen still is missing a few things, so we’d like to fill in the rest of the story.  Even though this is slightly off-topic, when someone from Boston has a history of failure to uphold Church teachings, you can predict that Fr. Bryan Hehir and probably Cardinal Sean O’Malley are also involved, and this story is no exception.

Catholic Culture’s piece “Catholic U’s new president: Law school dean who awarded honorary degree to abortion proponent” describes how Dean Garvey defied USCCB recommendations and honored the pro-abortion Rep. Edward Markey with an honorary degree in 2007, incurring the public criticism of the Cardinal Newman Society.  It also cites his $1,750 in personal contributions to pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry:

According to federal election records, Mr. Garvey made three donations to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, whose support for abortion led 14 bishops to state during the 2004 presidential campaign that they would deny him Holy Communion. In June 2002, Mr. Garvey donated $250 to the Kerry Committee; in March 2003, he donated $1,000 to John Kerry for President, Inc.; and in April 2004, he donated $500 to John Kerry for President, Inc

Maybe Dean Garvey’s history filled all of the available space in the article, but there are several things they missed.

First, Dean Garvey muddled the Church’s teachings on marriage to the Law School in September of 2009 by his lackluster defense of law school professor, Scott Fitzgibbon, who appeared in an ad promoting traditional marriage in Maine.  Initially Garvey said the prof had the right to represent himself personally but then, as reported in LifeSite News, after faculty complained he welcomed faculty opposition to Church teachings, resulting in “Boston College Law School in Disarray Over Prof’s Defense of Marriage“:

Rather than praising Fitzgibbon’s public defense of a Catholic teaching, Dean Garvey wrote that Fitzgibbon’s “public statements represent his own opinions … and do not state any official position of Boston College Law School.”

We also have faculty members who hold a contrary view, which they too are free to express publicly,” he wrote. “Many have done so while referring to themselves as BC Law professors. One of them has publicly led the fight to oppose the Solomon Amendment on the grounds that it is an affront to gay and lesbian students and prospective members of the U.S. military. Others have taken controversial positions on such subjects as abortion, euthanasia, and the treatment of detainees.”

Three days after Fitzgibbon’s pro-traditional marriage ad aired, a group of 76 “Individual Faculty and Administrators at Boston College Law School,” including Dean Garvey, issued the following statement : “The undersigned members of the faculty and administration at Boston College Law School feel that it is important to reaffirm our belief in the equality of all of our students. We are proud of the fact that Boston College Law School was one of the first law schools in the country to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination pledge, and we reaffirm our commitment to making our institution a welcome and safe place for all students, including LGBT students.”

This blogger asked, “Are They Going To Rename the Law School After Judas Iscariot? “He is basically saying that a law school at what presents itself as a Catholic College does not uphold Church teachings as it is supposed to according to Ex Corde Ecclesia and has denied them. In other words, it has betrayed its mission to be an authentically Catholic college.”

Here’s at least one connection to Fr. Bryan Hehir.   In 2005, Fr. Hehir chaired the search committee that selected the new Executive Director of the Mass Catholic Conference, Ed Saunders, despite the fact that Saunders had given personal contributions to politicians that opposed the Church on abortion and gay marriage.  The Catholic Conference is the legislative lobbying arm representing the 4 bishops in Massachusetts, and it has reported functionally under Fr. Hehir  since late 2004.  Dean Garvey was also on the search committee.  Here’s what was reported initially when the Saunders appointment was first announced:

Over the last several years, the bishops have faced increasing difficulty influencing public policy, with their credibility tarnished by the clergy sexual abuse scandal and their legislative agenda dominated by high-profile failures: the church’s unsuccessful efforts to stop passage of the same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research bills.

In the process of hiring Saunders, the bishops have made it clear that they expect the church’s legislative agenda to be broader, reflecting the church’s longstanding interest in social policy.

Whenever we hear “broadening the interest to include social policy” and Fr. Bryan Hehir, we can predict what that means.  Shortly thereafter, the proverbial doo-doo hit the fan after it became known (“Conservative Catholics question past donations by bishops’ lobbyist“) that Saunders had given the maximum contribution allowed by law to a number of politicians who supported abortion and gay marriage–including voting against the Church on the then-active constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Those darned “conservative Catholics” always have to muck things up for the Archdiocese of Boston by airing their dirty laundry in public.  Yes, folks, Dean John Garvey was one of the members of the search committee who approved Saunders’ appointment, along with Bryan Hehir who led the search.  Several conservative Catholics reported at the time that they applied for the position but were not granted an interview.

Speaking of committees that approve appointments of people for key leadership roles, we should not overlook the role of Boston’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley in the naming of Dean Garvey to head Catholic University.  As the Cardinal reported in his most recent blog (filled with pictures and stories of his travels, networking and activities everywhere else but Boston), he is on the board of directors at Catholic University and voted on selection of the new president:

As I mentioned earlier, following the celebration at the cathedral my hope had been to be able to travel to Rome to be with the Holy Father for the closing of the Year for Priests. However, I was needed in Washington because the board of directors at Catholic University had to come together to select a new president. We are very pleased with the wonderful caliber of the candidates who applied for the position and we look forward to the announcement of the new president in the near future.

Today, Cardinal O’Malley came out with his own statement about Dean Garvey’s appointment:

His commitment to the mission of Catholic education and dedication to exceptional academic achievement will be of great benefit to the University and its students and faculty.”

So Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley continues his own well-established track record of hiring or supporting the hiring of heterodox Catholics to key roles in the Church.

We’ll end with a post on this same topic from the wonderfully outspoken Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida of Corpus Christi, who wrote yesterday, the “Boston virus continues to spread.”

Beginning with the scandal of the funeral liturgy for Sen. Edward Kennedy, I have posted quite a few posts pointing out the sad state of affairs in Massachusetts, especially in Boston.

For years now, it has been apparent that the state of the Catholic Faith as it is lived and manifested in the public activity of prominent Catholics in Boston is truly deplorable.

Ordinarily I would not be commenting on the Catholicism of Bostonians any more than I would comment on the Catholicism of any other diocese or archdiocese in the United States, except that a significant number of national leaders hail from Boston and when they bring their heterodox religious to the Nation’s Capitol their influence is magnified far out of proportion to what it should normally be. The most recent case in point is the appointment of Dean John H. Garvey of Boston College Law School as the new President of the Catholic University of America in Washington.

His appointment was only announced today and already it has begun to produce negative reactions from Catholics, clergy and lay, who love and value the role the University has played in the history of the Church in the United States.

It is beyond my understanding to know how the appointment could have been decided upon  by the bishops and cardinals who constitute the Board of Trustees of the University.

Surely the writings, speeches and actions of Dean Garvey were researched by the Selection Committee and eventually by the full Board.

How is it possible that the Board could have chosen a man whose views on the nature of the relationship between a Catholic university and the Church were so questionable.

His views seem to be opposed to the spirit of all that Pope Benedict XVI has said and written about secularism and relativism.

So many of his views seem to be opposed to so many of the public declarations of the NCCB and the USCC.

It would almost seem that the approval was given by the Secretary of State or by the Congregation for Christian Education without the knowledge of the Holy Father.

What is particularly baffling is how the assent to the appointment by the Holy See could have been obtained in view of the fact that the University if a Pontifical University under the jurisdiction of the Holy See.

I can only hope and pray that before Dean Garvey is actually installed as President of The Catholic University of America pressure from loyal, faithful and concerned Catholics, especially alumni of the University, will have persuaded either Dean Garvey to decline to be installed, the Board to withdraw appointment, or the Holy See to withdraw its approval.

Yes folks, the Boston virus continues to spread. Apologies for the side-trip off our main topic, but no one else seems to be sharing the “big picture” and we thought our faithful readers should know it.

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We get lots of emails and we debated whether
to share this one. This email exchange between a Boston priest and a lay person originated with a recently published Letter to the Editor in The Pilot by the priest in favor of admitting children of gay couples to Catholic schools, but then pulled in Fr. Bryan Hehir, so we felt it would be of interest to our readers.  The priest’s letter was published on June 4, and heres an excerpt:

Cardinal Sean’s statement was compelling and instructive as to how we all should think about this issue.  After affirming the mission of Cahtolic schools as institutions that “…exist for the good of the children,” he clearly states what needs to be a guiding principle going forward.  “we have never had categories of people who were excluded (from Catholic schools.)”  To which he could have easily added, “…and we don’t indend to start now!”  …To begin to discriminate against children who have two mommies or two daddies would fly in the face of this very proud tradition.  Sadly, one diocese in our country has chosen to do so.  For most Catholics, tihs is both a black eye for the church and a personal embarrassment.”

How the priest determined he could speak for “most Catholics” on this issue is a mystery to us here at Bryan Hehir Exposed. Because the priest was comfortable having his initial comments published in the Pilot (and because he was also referenced in a follow-up article in the Boston Globe), we felt it was OK to share excerpts from this email exchange:

Sent: Sunday, June 06, 2010 9:33 PM
Subject: Big Picture on Catholic Education for Children of Gay Parents
I read your letter to the editor of the Pilot, and was most disappointed to see what you wrote. The essay below [“The Big Picture on Catholic Education of Gay Parents“] was written by someone especially to address the sort of perspective you put in your letter. The column by Michael Pakaluk that was printed just below your letter further reinforces the weaknesses in your argument of being open to everyone without exception. It sounds like you are not concerned about any of the consequences of your recommendation. I hope and pray you will reconsider your perspective after reading the essay below as well as Michael’s piece. –

We were of course flattered that the writer passed along Joe Sacerdo’s essay.  The priest responded:

On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 4:08 PM, Msgr.  wrote: Hi Dan… Have we met ??? I consder the artcle by Pakaluk to be un Christian, incorrect, hateful and misinformed.

Dan’s response:

 Msgr.  Thank you for your response. I do not believe we have ever met. I simply saw your letter in The Pilot. I think Pakaluk’s comments about pornography are off-base, but his concerns about the tacit approval of gay relationships which the Catholic school gave seem legitimate. How do you propose to address all of the issues mentioned in the essay on the “big picture” (written before Pakaluk’s column appeared)? Are there aspects of that which you think are also incorrect or misinformed? Some of those same arguments plus new ones are described today at: https://bryanhehirexposed.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/are-boston-catholic-schools-violating-vatican-directives-and-canon-law/

Always great to see a plug for the blog! Seems like a straightforward question that should have produced an objective, fact-based response, right?

On Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 9:16 AM, Msgr wrote: the blog “brianhehir exposed” is a shameless attack on a priest who has been nothing less than a great asset to the Catholic Church. I am not inclined to go to that blog. Prudence, charity, reasonableness and sensitivity need to inform our attempts to remain faithful to the teachings of the church .

We are feeling very hurt by this comment.  “Shameless attack on a priest who has been a great asset to the Catholic Church”?  We are trying to get the Archdiocese and Fr. Hehir to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, and we think Fr. Hehir and the Archdiocese should be ashamed of some of the things they have done.The exchange continued:

 Msgr, Thank you again for your response. Can you educate me on what specifically you feel is factually inaccurate? The evidence from his track record seems rather well documented that he has rather consistently opposed or worked to undermine Catholic Church teachings over the past 35 years, both behind the scenes and in public venues. Can you help me understand how that makes him a great asset to the Church? Or is it that you feel the areas where he has opposed or undermined Church teachings are areas where the teachings should be changed, so the blog calling those out in a critical way makes it a shameless attack?

The priest’s response:

Msgr  wrote: Hi Dan… Father Hehir was the author of the bishop’s letter on war and peace and has distinguished himself both within and outside the Catholic Church. Cardinal Sean O’Malley apparently agrees with this assessment since he has asked him to be a member of his cabinet. Reasonbly speaking, if Father Hehir were such a threat to the stability, sanctitity and orthodoxy of the church would not Cardinal Sean have acted before now to silence his voice. I hope that this helps you to distinguish between committed people of faith and people who are using the media to propogate their thoughts. Best Wishes….

Hmm.  So, Fr. Hehir is an asset to the Church because 27 years ago, he became famous for authoring the 1983 bishop’s letter “A Challenge of Peace” and because the Cardinal likes him? 

Hi Msgr, Thank you again for your response. I’m not sure I understand the logic behind either of the reasons you mentioned for why Fr. Hehir is a great asset to the church. The bishops letter on war and peace Fr. Hehir authored was proven wrong within only a few years after it was written. Its message of pacifism was intended to counter the Reagan-era arms buildup, but it was that arms buildup (not pacifism) which helped bring an end of the Cold War. The bishops were forced to back down from that same position of pacifism a few years later when that approach was proven wrong.  So, his authoring of that letter serves as an example of one of Fr. Hehir’s “big ideas” which was ultimately proven wrong. Secondly, that our Cardinal apparently feels that he’s a great asset surely does not make it true just by the Cardinal’s belief, does it? Cardinal Law believed a number of his senior administrators and cabinet members were assets, meanwhile they were reassigning child-molesting priests to other parishes to keep harming children. Fr. Hehir publicly contradicted the Cardinal on the situation with St. Paul’s Hingham on radio station WBUR one day after Cardinal O’Malley put out his message about the approach going forward.  There are no doubt a number of people who the Cardinal Archbishop feels are great assets who are in fact working actively to undermine Church teachings.

These two are obviously not seeing eye-to-eye.  We wonder why they even continued the communication. 

Msgr  wrote: I am not sure I recall the bishops issuing a statement “backing down” from their previous letter which was not an encomium to pacifism. Nor am I aware of all the people , close to the Cardinal, who are working to undermine the Church..

We don’t know what to make of the Msgr.  But, we do admire the layman for holding his ground:

Msgr,  As best as I recall from my own knowledge of history as well as historical documents, the USCC secretariat regarded the Reagan administration as almost immoral for its contribution to the arms race and its apparent preference for military solutions that avoided the underlying causes of certain regional conflicts. The Challenege of Peace asked for an absolute ban to nuclear weapons, either as a first strike or in retaliation. Numerous statements by the USCC opposed any military aid to El Salvador, including congressional testimony by Fr. Hehir himself in the early ’80s. Under the Carter Administration, the U.S. did not supply military aid to the governments of El Salvador.but as we all know, social and economic assistance and attempts at a political settlement didn’t work and the Communist-backed Marxist rebels just grew stronger. I believe it was in February of 1984 that Bishop James Malone provided congressional testimony saying that following a visit by US bishops to El Salvador in 1983, “our conference muted its long-standing opposition to all U.S. military aid to El Salvador.” In terms of people close to the Cardinal working to undermine the Church, here are two examples. I believe you’re on the board or were on the board of Regis College. In October of 2002, Fr. Hehir appeared on a panel at Regis and called Catholic sexual teachings “a chronically afflicted area.” How does that not undermine the Church? On May 16 that the Archdiocese was going to carefully study and consider the policies of the Denver Archdiocese that banned children of gay parents from Catholics schools. “…their positions and rationale must be seriously considered.” A day later on WBUR, Fr. Hehir said the opposite–that the Cardinal was “not going to be talking about what other bishops do.” Fr. Hehir said Catholic schools in this archdiocese have been admitting and will continue admitting children of gay couples with formal policies. That he contradicted the Cardinal publicly a day after the Cardinal’s previous statement surely gives additional evidence that he is undermining the Church in Boston, wouldn’t you agree?

Seem like fine examples from our perspective.  Things quickly go south from here:

Msgr  wrote: The two examples that you cite regarding Fr, Hehir at Regis and his comments after the Cardinal’s statement are very weak indeed.

After that, the part of the exchange we saw fell apart quickly:

Msgr, I think we are on totally different pages and this exchange has become unproductive.

Fr. Hehir came out and said publicly the teachings of the Church on sexual morality were wrong, and you don’t think that’s a problem or undermining the Church. You came out publicly to say you felt Catholic schools unconditionally admitting children of gay parents was also fine, with no regard for any of the consequences of that, including the psychological harm to the children of teaching them their parents’ relationship is immoral. (all documented below, in Pakaluk’s piece, and elsewhere, which you apparently refuse to acknowledge). Perhaps it is not intentional on your part and you do not even realize you are doing it, but your comments communicate that you personally have no problem with leading Catholic faithful astray. How many readers of the Pilot will come away from your letter to the editor mistakenly believing the Church has no moral objections to homosexual relationships? Perhaps you might wish to re-read what Cardinal O’Malley said on this topic in his letter on homosexuals: http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/2006/11/17/ Jesus told the adulteress to “Go and sin no more.” The Cardinal said we must tell active homosexuals, “Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.” Fr. Hehir’s comments at Regis did not say this–they said the opposite. Your letter did not say that–it suggested the opposite. I don’t know how many souls have been led astray by priests failing to preach the truth of the Gospel and the true teachings of the Catholic Church in this archdiocese. This exchange began with my comments about your letter to the editor of the Pilot, which failed to even once mention Church teachings on homosexuality and homosexual relationships, and instead appeared to put them on a pedestal by criticizing Fr. Rafferty’s decision.

I continue to hope and pray you will reconsider your perspective and understand the blind-spot that you yourself apparently have in terms of what it means to preach the truth in-season and out-of-season. In Christ, Dan 

Neither one was going to change the other’s mind, so they agreed to disagree:

From: Msgr, Date: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 Dan… for the first time in our dialogue, I completely agree with you ” “I think we are on totally different pages and this exchange has become unproductive.”

Doesn’t look like these two are exactly going to become quick drinking buddies.  Perhaps there were other parts of this exchange that were not provided to us, but it sure seems like the priest was completely unwilling to consider any facts or evidence about the consequences of admitting children of gay parents that would negate his viewpoint.  He also conveniently neglected to mention anything in his Letter to the Editor about Church teachings on homosexuality, or the part of the Cardinals’ statement that he planned to carefully consider the Denver Archdiocese’s precedent and rationale for excluding children of gay parents in the interest of the psychological well-being of the child. 

Hopefully this priest is not representative of the Boston presbyterate and will not be in a teaching role in the future. He needs our prayers.

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The latest revelations in recent days from the
Archdiocese of Boston and their Catholic schools suggest they are actively ignoring Vatican teachings and directives, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Canon law, and even the USCCB. Read on for these 3 examples, as we will let you be the judge.

Example 1:
Pilot columnist Michael Pakaluk described in his column a few days ago how his 6-year-old son had a classmate in a Boston Catholic school whose “parents” were gay. He expressed the concern—with specific examples from his son’s experience—where the school dealt with the two men such that the school implicitly taught his child and other children there was nothing wrong with same-sex relationships.  His piece has created what the Boston Globe labeled today a “firestorm” of controversy.  Predictably, gay activists like Jarrett Barrios and DignityUSA complained.  (Note to Globe reporter, if you’re looking for a firestorm, read the next paragraph)

Example 2:
As reported by ThrowtheBumsOutin2010, the school newspaper at Sacred Heart High School in Kingston just published a center-spread story about gay students at the school coming out to their friends.  Teens struggle with academics, broken families, dating, their appearance, self-confidence, what to wear, lack of solid role models in society, hormonal changes in puberty, their identity as a person, peer pressure to smoke, drink, and have sex, and more.  In the midst of all this, how exactly is it that a 15 or 17-year-old just going through puberty determines conclusively they are gay?   What is the school doing to help these teens discover a path to Christian perfection?  Apparently nothing.  The article normalizes a decision by a teen that they are gay or bisexual.  If this article is OK, then why not interview a boyfriend/girlfriend to write about their first experience with sex?  Why not an article about boys first experiences with masturbation?  Why not a centerfold piece interviewing teens who are wrestling with what to do after bing-drinking or getting high on pot or cocaine?  Even if someone went so far as to argue for the teens’ freedom of speech (which is a bogus argument in a private Catholic school), then why is there a complete absence of Church teaching in this same article or newspaper to promote the truth of Catholic moral teachings in this area?  Furthermore, the piece cites statistics and writings of people like Alfred Kinsey, without mentioning details about his work such as his claim that sexual activity in even very young children is natural, healthy and to be encouraged. Concerned Women for America reported that in his research,

Kinsey recorded children having orgasms during manipulation by adult “partners” and insisted that the children’s “definite pleasure from the situation” was evidenced in their “screams,” “convulsions,” “hysterical weeping,” “fighting,” and “striking the partner (adult)” (Male volume p. 161).

Example 3:
Fr. Bryan Hehir, who Cardinal O’Malley recently described as highly trusted “strategic advisor” who brings “fidelity to the work of the Church” and “clarity to our message and mission” said in a May 20 WBUR interview 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.”  That means the Archdiocese fully intends to institutionalize what’s described above.

Can someone explain why you should do that when a wide range of Church teachings and directives say that’s wrong?  Here’s what the Vatican says which the Archdiocese of Boston and their Catholic schools are basically ignoring:

Vatican’s Pontifical Council on the Family’s 1995 document, Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality.

Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents. [No. 43]

In some societies today, there are planned and determined attempts to impose premature sex information on children… They cannot understand and control sexual imagery within the proper context of moral principles and, for this reason, they cannot integrate premature sexual information with moral responsibility. Such information tends to shatter their emotional and educational development and to disturb the natural serenity of this period of life. Parents should politely but firmly exclude any attempts to violate children’s innocence because such attempts compromise their spiritual, moral and emotional development. [No. 83]

“Parents must protect their children, first by teaching them a form of modesty and reserve with regard to strangers as well as giving suitable sexual information but without going into details and particulars that might upset or frighten them [No. 85]

Catechism of the Catholic Church; “the right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable” (2221).

Apostolic Exhortation on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World His Holiness (Familiaris Consortio):

The Church is firmly opposed to an often widespread form of imparting sex information disassociated from moral principles.”

With actions like the above, the Boston Archdiocese appears be overruling the primacy of parents as the first educators of their children. In addition, by condoning the exposure of young children to homosexual parents of other children, they are ensuring that all children will be put in a situation of confusion that will require explanation by parents. How does the Archdiocese explain their rationale behind keeping parents out of the loop and breaking the innocence of a 6-year-old mind to explain why Johnny has two daddies?

There’s more.

Pope John Paul II’s Letter to the Bishops on Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:

The Church 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.”

Code of Canon Law: Canon 22: prohibits the canonization of civil laws that are “contrary to divine law.” Because same-sex “marriages” or civil unions and mutatis mutandis adoptions are contrary to divine law; it is arguable that the civil law allowing them cannot be regarded by the Church as valid. Admission of the children to Catholic schools would certainly give the impression that the status of the parents is comparable to parents united in the bonds of Holy Matrimony.

Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cautioned about recognizing homosexual unions and making them a model in society.

11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

The U.S.C.C.B’s Guidelines for Ministry to Persons with Homosexual Inclination say the following:

Special care must be taken to ensure that those carrying out the ministry of the Church not use their position of leadership to advocate positions or behaviors not in keeping with the teachings of the Church. They must not belong to groups that oppose Church teaching. It is not sufficient for those involved in this ministry to adopt a position of distant neutrality with regard to Church teaching.

The Church does not support so-called same-sex “marriages” or any semblance thereof, including civil unions that give the appearance of a marriage. Church ministers may not bless such unions or promote them in any way, directly or indirectly.

(Then again, as we documented in The Big Picture, Fr. Hehir seems to pick and choose which USCCB guidelines he wishes to follow based on whether he agrees with the guideline or not).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also says the following:

#2357: Basing itself on Sacred Scripture…tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

What about all of this do officials at the Archdiocese of Boston and the Catholic schools find unclear or difficult to follow?  Despite all this, the Catholic Schools in Boston are marching on with full endorsement of people like Fr. Bryan Hehir, $325,000/year superintendent of schools Mary Grassa O’Neill, and apparently the Cardinal, who first said this issue was being carefully studied, but then said nothing about the contradictory message from Fr. Hehir a day later saying the arcdiocese is driving full-speed ahead with institutionalizing the admittance of children of gay parents and just is documenting the policies.

Beyond all of the concerns documented in The Big Picture, it clear that the implicit or explicit approval and endorsement of homosexual relationships, activity, and “marriages” is happening in Catholic schools today.  Does that violate the teachings, guidelines, and directives above?  It sure seems that way.

Cardinal Sean, before you hop on a plane to Dublin this fall to teach Ireland everything you’ve learned and implemented in Boston, would you please clean up this mess by stating Church teachings with courage like you’ve said we should do, requiring that your team abide by those teachings, and getting rid of the people presiding over this situation who cannot commit to those teachings?

We welcome a response from the Archdiocese, and will publish whatever they say to us.

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Response to the “Big Picture on Catholic Education” has been
extremely positive!  We understand the essay is making the rounds across the Boston archdiocesan hierarchy and presbyterate, as well as other dioceses and conservatives across the country.  One of the topics covered in the “Big Picture”–false compassion–merits further discussion because unfortunately, you’re going to hear more stories in the coming weeks about the gay agenda advancing in Catholic schools.

ThrowtheBumsOutin2010 cited how several Catholic school teachers at Trinity Catholic in Newton (on the grounds of the same church whose parishioners marched in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade a few years back) along with a gay sex activist are representing “Catholics United,” who is pushing for unconditional admission of children of gay couples in Catholic schools.   Further below we will share Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s 2005 statement about false compassion for homosexuals in its entirety, but first we’d like to feature the video referenced in our previous post by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who is on the path to sainthood.

The video is divided into two parts on YouTube.  Part I talks about true compassion.  Archbishop Sheen says, “Compassion is a sympathy, a pity, an affinity to be wounded when others are wounded…There’s always been a right kind of compassion.”

In Part II, Archbishop Sheen talks about false compassion in a rather hard-hitting way.

False compassion which is gradually growing in this country is a pity that is shown not to the mugged, but to the mugger…There are some judges..some social workers (not all), there are sob sisters, the social slobberers who insist on compassion being shown to the mugger, dope fiend, beatnicks, prostitutes, homosexuals, punks…For that today, the decent man is practically off the reservation.  This is a false compassion.”

To be fair, when he says “to the homosexuals,” he might have more appropriately said “to those persons who engage in (and continue to engage in) homosexual acts.”

Here is the Letter from Cardinal Sean O’Malley on Homosexuality, issued November 23, 2005.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Church’s efforts to defend the institution of marriage has been interpreted by some as an indication of the Church’s hostility toward homosexual persons. The way that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts framed the issue is unfavorable to Catholics or others who do not oppose anyone, but rather support an institution which is the cornerstone of society.

Right from the beginning of this controversy I have called on all Catholics to rally behind the cause of marriage. It is encouraging that a number of Catholics who are homosexuals have expressed to me their conviction that marriage between a man and a woman is important for children and therefore for society.

The Church’s position is not based on an animus against people with a homosexual orientation. Each and every member of the Church is called to holiness regardless of their sexual orientation. The Church has often warned against defining people by their sexual orientation in a way that diminishes their humanity. Each person is a mystery, an irreplaceable treasure, precious in God’s eye. We are God’s creatures and in baptism we are His sons and daughters, brothers and sisters to one another.

The extreme individualism of our age is undermining the common good and fractionalizing the community. The Church wishes to call people to unity based on mutual respect and a commitment to the common good. We do not want Catholics who have a homosexual orientation to feel unwelcomed in the Catholic Church. We remind them that they are bound to us by their baptism and are called to live a life of holiness. Many homosexual persons in our Church lead holy lives and make an outstanding contribution to the life of the Church by their service, generosity and the sharing of their spiritual gifts.

We must strive to eradicate prejudices against people with a homosexual orientation. At the same time the Church must minister to all people by challenging them to obey God’s commands, the roadmap for a meaningful human life that allows us to draw near to God and to one another.

In the Gospel when the self-righteous Pharisees bring the adulteress to be stoned, Jesus says let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Then to make sure they got the point Jesus wrote their sins on the ground. The stones fell from their hands and they fled. Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you”, but He added, “Go and sin no more.”

If we tell people that sex outside of marriage is not a sin, we are deceiving people. If they believe this untruth, a life of virtue becomes all but impossible. Jesus teaches that discipleship implies taking up the cross each day and following Him with love and courage.

It is never easy to deliver a message that calls people to make sacrifices or to do difficult things. Sometimes people want to punish the messenger. For this reason we priests at times find it difficult to articulate the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. We must never deliver the message in a self-righteous way, but rather with compassion and humility. It is important to express the moral teachings of the Church with clarity and fidelity. The Church must be Church. We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. These recent times seem to us like it is “out of season”, but for that very reason it is even more urgent to teach the hard words of the Gospel today.

We know that friends and relatives of homosexual Catholics sometimes feel torn between their allegiance to Christ and their concern for their loved ones. I assure them that these goals are not incompatible. As Catholics we profess a firm belief in the dignity of each person and in the eternal destiny to which God calls us. Calling people to embrace the cross of discipleship, to live the commandments and at the same time assuring them that we love them as brothers and sisters can be difficult. Sometimes we are told: “If you do not accept my behavior, you do not love me.” In reality we must communicate the exact opposite: “Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.”

God made us to be happy forever. That true and lasting happiness is accessible only by a path of conversion. Each of us has our own struggles in responding to the call to discipleship and holiness. We are not alone. Christ promised to be with us and has given us His Church and Sacraments to help us on the road.

At every Mass we pray that beautiful prayer before the sign of peace: “Lord…look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom.” May God grant us that grace of peace and unity.

Devotedly yours in Christ,

Seán P. O’Malley
Archbishop of Boston

False compassion–as demonstrated in the Hingham school situation by Fr. Bryan Hehir, superintendent of schools Mary Grassa O’Neill, Jack Connors, Michael Reardon and others–fails to challenge people to obey God’s commands and  embrace the cross of discipleship, and it also sends a message that the lifestyle and behavior of the gay couple is to be respected and esteemed by the Catholic Church.  Instead as Cardinal O’Malley wrote, we need to say, “Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.”

Finally, the Vatican’s own “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons” authored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003 under Pope John Paul II, also cautioned about recognizing homosexual unions and making them a model in society.

11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

Readers, this issue will not be going away.  Everyone will need to be armed with tools and the right theological arguments to counter school principals, administrators, gay activists, as well as bishops and cardinals.  If you haven’t yet read the “Big Picture” please do check it out and pass it along to your local priest, local Catholic school, and to Cardinal O’Malley via our Take Action page.

The battle is not nearly over on this issue, and is in fact just beginning.

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Faithful readers, this is now the final version of the"Your problem is that you don't see the big picture."
“Big Picture” essay.  In view of the conflicting messages and lack of recent communications from officials in the Boston Archdiocese over the matter of letting gay couples’ children attend Catholic schools, this essay outlines all of the issues to be considered in the big picture of this topic. Everyone commenting on this topic from the Boston Archdiocese seems to be covering just a narrow slice or two of the problem, and it appears that even the Cardinal and his advisors may have forgotten some of the outstanding things he said earlier in his tenure here in Boston on the issue of homosexuality.  Hopefully, if all of the concerns and arguments are in one place, then people on all sides of this issue who care about Catholic school education can see the big picture holistically and better chart the course ahead for the benefit of children, schools, and the Catholic Church as a whole.  The reason this essay is at this blog is because Fr. Bryan Hehir was the last voice heard (and literally the only voice audibly heard) from the Archdiocese of Boston on this issue–and he has made some of the most controversial and confusing statements on the issue which merit clarification.

Well-known individuals including Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Fr. Roger Landry of Fall River, and Dale O’Leary have already written outstanding pieces on this subject, and this essay is intended merely to extend their enlightening work and help all concerned to more easily and thoroughly understand the issue.

1. Identity and Purpose of Catholic Education
The main mission of Catholic schools is educate children of Catholics with an education shaped by Catholic faith and moral tradition.  When Catholic schools accept children from non-Catholic families, the religious focus remains, and although Catholic schools welcome and teach many children who are not Catholic, this is not the primary mission.  It is unclear where the Boston Archdiocese got the idea that serving “unconventional households” is the central mission of Catholic education.  That is what a public school is for.

2. Partnering with Parents
Archbishop Chaput, Dale O’Leary, Fr. Roger Landry and Vatican documents including Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis) have said it well.  The school  needs to partner with parents to develop children in the faith.  That means the parents have to accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and help reinforce them in the home and family life.  Archbishop Chaput wrote, “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.” There is an inherent conflict here with gay parents  who are happily living a relationship that is considered immoral, which permanently deprives children of their natural law right to both a mother and father, and which can never ever be considered valid by the church.  This is uniquely different than situations where parents are divorced, single parents, or co-habitating heterosexual couples, where those parents themselves may hope for the potential of a valid marriage, and where the relationship can indeed hopefully become valid in the eyes of the Church some day.

3. Excluding People from Catholic Schools
For various reasons, including the need to maintain that Catholic identity and partnership with parents, Catholic schools have indeed excluded “categories of people” in the past.  This is contrary to what Cardinal O’Malley said in his May 19 message.  Though it has changed now, in years past, parish-based Catholic schools used to admit only Catholics, and required the family live in the parish’s geographic region and be a member of the parish.  Blogger Paul Melanson reports that he was excluded from Catholic schools because he was from a military family, and the Catholic school required that the family be living in the same area for 5 years.  Children are excluded from schools on an individual basis because of behavioral problems.  The Vatican has declared that active homosexuals should be excluded from seminaries. For Catholic schools to exclude children might not be optimal in terms of the new mantra of “welcoming everyone,” but everyone needs to remember it’s a private school, and as such someone will inevitably be excluded.

Fr. Roger Landry at CatholicPreaching observed the similarity to the situation of baptizing children, where the Church wants all children to be baptized but the priest has the duty to determine that there is a “well-founded” or “realistic” hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith (Canon 868 in the Code of Canon Law). “If there is no realistic hope that the parents are going to raise the child in the faith…the pastor…must reluctantly delay the baptism in view of the good of the child, who assumes rights and responsibilities upon being baptized. If the child is not going to be nourished in the faith to know and live by those privileges and duties, then the Church defers the baptism, hoping that either the parents will have a change of heart or the child, upon maturity, will freely request baptism as a catechumen.”

Fr. Landry notes that it’s similar for Catholic school
admissions decisions. “There is a requirement, for the good of the child, that the parents commit to raise the child in a situation that at least does not contradict the values and formation given at the school. If the child’s education will not be coupled to a way of life consistent with it, the parents and school would be placing the child in a spiritually and morally schizophrenic situation — which is obviously harmful.”

4. Inherent Contradiction: Catholic School Education for Kids of Gay Parents
Pope John Paul II taught in Veritatis Splendor (No. 113) that the “right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected.” As most readers know and others have written, there simply is an inherent contradiction associated with trying to educate children of gay parents in Catholic schools. Archbishop Chaput wrote the Church teaches that “marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.  These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society.”  When the Church teaches that gay marriage is against the will of God at the same time the parents live a lifestyle that rejects those beliefs, then the child will hear the Church saying their parents (upon whom they rely for sustenance) are bad.  The burden and stress is borne by the child, who is caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.

As Dale O’Leary put it, “Persons in same-sex relationships who have children naturally want to protect their children’s feelings. They aren’t going to want their children to be exposed to the truth. A Catholic school cannot agree to hide the truth.  What is in the best interest of the children of same-sex couples and the other children? If they accept the children in the school, the children will either be alienated from their parents on whom they rely or alienated from God who would be seen as condemning their parents’ choices. While older children might be able to understand and even appreciate the Church’s teaching, younger children certainly will not. To them it will just seem mean. It will put the teachers in an untenable position and confuse the children’s classmates. Therefore, it is reasonable for Catholic elementary schools to explain to same-sex couples that this is not the place for their children.”  This is the same thing that the Denver Archdiocese concluded.

This essay could stop here with the arguments aired by most of people who have written on this topic, as clearly  more than enough reasons are out on the table to make the same decision in Boston as was made in Denver.  However, the comments by Boston Archdiocesean officials including Cardinal O’Malley, the secretary for social services, the superintendent of schools,  and others suggest there will be some  new “Big Tent” policy that makes an attempt at keeping everyone happy by formally approving the admission of gay couples’ children, but which will in reality water-down teachings for everyone while it also compromises the identity of Catholic school education.  But even beyond the very legitimate arguments above, there are many other important issues associated with this situation that very few people are discussing which need to also be laid out and considered.

5. Important Facts About the Hingham Situation
Several facts should be noted about the Hingham situationYour Eminence, I would have concentrated on the facts, but they weren't in my favor!
which are relevant to Fr. Rafferty’s decision and to the discussion about a policy going forward.  The parents in this case have publicly stated they are not Catholic.  They are Christian but do not attend church regularly, and wanted a Catholic school education because of the emphasis on Christian values such as compassion and empathy–values not at all unique to a Catholic school, and which could no doubt be readily gained in a loving home, the Boy Scouts, or any other Christian school.  They told the media they filled out the school’s application form which merely asked for names of “parents,” but in reality the form asks for the names of the “mother” and “father” on separate lines, and multiple sources indicate the parents misrepresented themselves on the form by completing only a last name and first initial where mother’s and father’s names were requested.  When the Archdiocese offered to help find another Catholic school, the lesbian mother said she was uncertain she would enroll her son in another Catholic school because she needed to learn more about their educational programs. She said, “I will be a little bit more guarded in my questioning so I’ll be able to have a real clear picture where they stand.”  This gives additional validation to the decision by Fr. Rafferty to deny admission, and strongly suggests that these parents do not welcome the Church’s teaching, nor are they prepared to partner with the Church for the good of the child’s overall and integral education. No statements of comments from the Archdiocese have yet acknowledged this reality of the Hingham situation or the likelihood of encountering a similar situation with most other gay couples. The Archdiocese needs to publicly acknowledge this.

6. The Slippery Slope
So, what might the consequences be of a Boston policyslippery slope
that welcomes children of gay parents as long as the parents agree that the child will be taught the truths of the Catholic faith on sexuality and sexual morality?   Will school application forms ask for the names of “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” instead of the names of the mother and father? What happens if the parents agree to their children being educated in Catholic sexual morality at school, but then go out and publicly celebrate their homosexual lifestyle with their child at the annual Gay Pride parade?  Once a child is admitted, what if they come home crying and distraught because they learned in school that God views the parents’ relationship or “marriage” as invalid and immoral?  What if the parents later complain about the teacher for saying something about the truths of the faith they felt was offensive, troublesome, and discriminatory to their child and their family?  How can teachers be totally comfortable teachings the truths of Catholic teachings on marriage and sexuality when they know it’s likely to make a sensitive child feel hurt or uncomfortable and could result in an accusation of hate-speech?  How should the school deal with a teenage boy with two daddies who questions his normal friendship with another boy, may feel his parental situation makes it OK to sexually experiment and hit on the friend, or decides he must be gay (or a teenage girl who sees her lesbian mother as a role model and thinks her close friendship with another girl means she’s probably a lesbian?  Should a 14-year-old boy who identifies himself as “gay” and applies as an “out” gay teen to a Catholic high school be admitted?  Beyond this, if the policy says children of gay couples are OK, then how do you defend not having openly gay teachers, and then insurance benefits for them?

As has been written previously, for those who  think there is not a slippery slope, just look at how Employment Non-Discrimination Acts (ENDA) that were positioned as absolutely never to result in “same-sex marriages” led to exactly that over time.  In A Gay-Protection Forum, (Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 1989) the Globe denied that Massachusetts new sexual orientation nondiscrimination law put Massachusetts on a slippery slope to same-sex marriage or domestic partnership benefits.  4 years later it was legal for gay couples to adopt children.  14 years later in the SJC’s 2003 Goodridge decision that the law banning gay couples from marrying was unconstitutional, part of the court’s reasoning rested on the legislature’s previous decision to ban sexual orientation discrimination.  There is simply no denying the slippery slope is a reality.

7. The Scandal of Giving Implicit Recognition to Gay Partnerships
As The Boston Pilot explained in their editorial, the
Catechism says 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.’  There is no doubt that giving recognition to same-sex unions by virtue of their children being in Catholic school will have consequences, but no one from the Archdiocesan hierarchy has said a peep about this concern or seems to realize it is part of the gay agenda and they have apparently fallen for it hook-line-and-sinker.

If you have not yet read two landmark pieces about the gay agenda to normalize homosexuality, please do read them–they deserve a whole post and wide circulation amongst the Church hierarchy themselves.   “The Overhauling of Straight America” appeared in Guide Magazine, a homosexual publication, in November 1987—over two decades ago.  This landmark article has become a “bible” of the homosexual movement.  It outlines strategies and techniques for a successful widespread propaganda campaign to confuse and deceive the American people and demonize opponents.

This isn’t really about the child, although the child is affected also. It’s about caving in to the homosexual agenda. The agenda is part of a spiritual battle, and the reaction from Fr. Bryan Hehir, Michael Reardon, Jack Connors, Mary Grassa O’Neill, and Cardinal O’Malley suggests we may have already lost the battle.  Yes, the Church does often let different “categories” of people go to its schools. But unlike the other “categories” of people, the homosexual movement is out to weaken and destroy the Church. Because the lesbian couple in this incident have said in the media they were concerned about the religious education taught in Catholic schools, it appears that the purpose of the parents was ultimately to paint Catholic belief about human sexuality as wrong and force others at the school to adjust to homosexual “parents.”  Here are a few passages from the article:


The first order of business is desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights. Ideally, we would have straights register differences in sexual preference the way they register different tastes for ice cream or sports games: she likes strawberry and I like vanilla; he follows baseball and I follow football. No big deal.

The principle behind this advice is simple: almost any behavior begins to look normal if you are exposed to enough of it at close quarters and among your acquaintances. ..In the early stages of any campaign to reach straight America, the masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself. Instead, the imagery of sex should be downplayed and gay rights should be reduced to an abstract social question as much as possible.

…we can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology. Against the mighty pull of institutional Religion one must set the mightier draw of Science & Public Opinion (the shield and sword of that accursed “secular humanism”). Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before, on such topics as divorce and abortion. With enough open talk about the prevalence and acceptability of homosexuality, that alliance can work again here.


Do read the entire article, as well as this summary of the book,  “After the Ball — How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 1990’s.”   The reactions from Boston Archdiocese in this situation–especially by Fr. Hehir, Mary Grassa O’Neill, and Michael Reardon, but also Cardinal O’Malley–have gone exactly as was outlined and predicted by homosexual authors more than two decades ago.

Pope John Paul II’s Letter to the Bishops on Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons also warned about this problem.  The Church “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.”

Canon Law may also give some guidance.  Canon 22, prohibits the canonization of civil laws that are “contrary to divine law.” Because same-sex “marriages” or civil unions and mutatis mutandis adoptions are contrary to divine law; it is arguable that the civil law allowing them cannot be regarded by the Church as valid. Admission of the children to Catholic schools would certainly give the impression that the status of the parents is comparable to parents united in the bonds of Holy Matrimony.

Fortunately, one source from the Boston Archdiocese, The Pilot, acknowledged this problem, saying, “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.”

8. False Compassion on the Sinner
Cardinal Sean wrote in May 19, 2010 blog post on the schools issue, “We need to present the Church’s teachings courageously and yet in a way that is compassionate and persuasive.”  Yet in his post, for some reason he didn’t present the Church’s teachings or say anything about the immoral homosexual relationship that precipitated this whole situation.

The Cardinal had a strong voice on this same topic just a few short years ago, but sadly now he seems to have lost it. On November 23, 2005, in his own letter on homosexuality, he called on Catholics to show true love to persons with homosexual tendencies by telling them that homosexual acts are sinful.  Otherwise, we are dangerously “deceiving people.”  He reminded Catholics that although Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he did however – after saving her life – tell her “Go and sin no more.”  We were told that some Catholics are misled into false kindness towards those with homosexual tendencies. “If we tell people that sex outside of marriage is not a sin, we are deceiving people.”  The pastor of souls, whose first priority is the spiritual wellbeing of his flock, warned that spiritual wellbeing may be threatened by such false kindness.  “If they believe this untruth, a life of virtue becomes all but impossible.”

It is never easy to deliver a message that calls people to make sacrifices or to do difficult things. Sometimes people want to punish the messenger. For this reason we priests at times find it difficult to articulate the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.

Yes indeed it is difficult.  Fortunately, Fr. Rafferty found the courage to do it.  But a few years later when the rubber hit the road in this situation, the Cardinal and others from the Archdiocese including Fr. Hehir and Dr. Grassa O’Neill seem to have followed the all-too-familiar approach of false compassion which ignores the sins and wrong way of living that many people engage in, and does exactly what the Cardinal himself warned against.  St. Thomas Aquinas has written about this issue and Archbishop Fulton Sheen has an outstanding video on the problem of false compassion that all should watch.  False compassion can blind us from actually being motivated to help the sinner amend their ways.  We excerpt from what apologist/blogger Paul Melanson at LaSalette Journey recently wrote on this topic:

..while it is true that everything must be done to help sinners, this cannot include helping them to sin or to remain in sin. Because of human frailty, every sinner deserves both pity and compassion. However, vice and sin must be excluded from this compassion.”  As St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, this because sin can never be the proper object of compassion. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.1, ad 1).

It is a false compassion which supplies the sinner with the means to remain attached to sin. Such ‘compassion’ provides an assistance (whether material or moral) which actually enables the sinner to remain firmly attached to his evil ways. By contrast, true compassion leads the sinner away from vice and back to virtue. As Thomas Aquinas explains:

“We love sinners out of charity, not so as to will what they will, or to rejoice in what gives them joy, but so as to make them will what we will, and rejoice in what rejoices us. Hence it is written: ‘They shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not be turned to them.'” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.6, ad 4, citing Jeremiah 15:19).

True compassion is an effect of charity (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.3, ad 3). But it must be remembered that the object of this virtue is God, whose love extends to His creatures. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.3). Therefore, the virtue of compassion seeks to bring God to the one who suffers so that he may thereby participate in the infinite love of God.

9. Contradictions in Fr. Bryan Hehir’s WBUR Interview about Catholic Schools
Several key contradictions and points of confusion emanating from the Archdiocese were covered in this  May 21 blog post.  (That included the claim that the purpose of Catholic education in Boston was to educate everyone, including “unconventional households.  It also included the disconnect between Cardinal Sean, who said on May 19 that the Archdiocese was going to study this matter and “seriously consider” the Denver Archdiocese’s positions and rationale, and Fr. Hehir, who directly contradicted his boss a day later on WBUR saying Cardinal O’Malley is not going to talk about what other bishops do, Boston does not exclude anyone, Boston Catholic schools are accepting children of gay parents  already, and “we intend to do it… with formal policies.”)  We are still awaiting an statement from the Archdiocese to resolve this contradiction.

But the self-contradictions in what Fr. Hehir said
bryan hehir double-speakare actually worse than many people originally realized.  First of all, he said, “At times, the Catholic bishops conference as a whole makes policy decisions that bind the  whole conference. ”  If Fr. Hehir really believes and accepts this, and if he is to be trusted in the future,  then why did he proceed as President of Catholic Charities with honoring the pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage Mayor Menino at their 2005 fundraiser–in direct opposition to the USCCB’s Catholics in Political Life, which states:

The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

Even more disturbing is Fr. Hehir’s apparent failure to learn from public recognition of his past mistakes and wrong positions on issues like sexual morality and public policy over time. On WBUR (listen at 13:00), he  was asked, “How is the church going to be able to balance this policy of openness and inclusion, at the same time adhering to some teachings of the church that tell people their families are living in sinful ways?”  In his response Fr. Hehir reaffirmed comments made earlier on the program by a lesbian mother whose son attended a Brookline Catholic school for a year, saying:

Ms Gonzales very eloquently made the point that Catholic moral teachings include sexuality, but it goes to a much broader range of questions about character, social justice, regard for the poor, human rights, and that’s an extraordinarily important point to mention. That’s precisely what I meant when I talked about the full range of our moral teaching, this includes teaching about sexuality but is not confined to that.

Fr. Hehir said nothing about the homosexual couple living in a sinful way, and instead commends the woman–a perfect example of the false compassion mentioned earlier.  Furthermore, in his response, he seems to be saying essentially the same thing in 2010 which he advised the Catholic bishops to do 27 years ago–broaden the focus from one important moral issue to a broader range of lesser issues–which history shows failed to work. In the book “Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics”  (published in 2001), the chapter dedicated to Fr. Hehir (which drew on personal interviews with Fr. Hehir and with longtime observers of his work) mentions his “considerable” role played while at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in changing the public policy focus for U.S. bishops starting in 1983.  Fr. Hehir’s influence moved the bishops from an almost exclusive focus on opposing abortion to a broader “consistent ethic of life” (also known as “seamless garment”) approach where abortion was dealt with in conjunction with other threats to life and human well-being like poverty and nuclear war.  Fr. Hehir’s rationale cited in this particular book was that he believed:

First, that the abortion issue did not exhaust the richest of Church social teaching…Second, that the credibility and effectiveness of the Church’s teaching on abortion would actually be enhanced rather than diminished by placing it in the context of a broader social agenda.”

Though Hehir’s motivation was described several years earlier by a different author as a “concern that strict application of Catholic sexual mores in public policy would cost the Church valuable allies” (Changing Witness: Catholic Bishops and Public Policy, Warner: 1996; foreward by George Weigel), regardless of Fr. Hehir’s rationale, history would show that he was still wrong.  The 2001 book acknowledges (p. 215) that the effect of Fr. Hehir’s recommendations on public policy had “proved quite minimal,”  and as of the time of the book’s publishing, the ‘consistent ethic of life’ had not yet succeeded in diminishing public support for abortion.  Furthermore, leading opponents of abortion within the hierarchy such as Cardinal O’Connor feared:

that pro-choice Catholic politicians would point to their support for other elements of the Church’s social agenda as a way of deflecting criticism of their pro-choice position–a fear, that, as it turned out, proved well-founded.”

So, Fr. Hehir’s influence which broadened the bishops’ focus from abortion to a range of other lesser  issues did NOT enhance the effectiveness of the Church’s teaching on abortion at all, as we are told he believed and recommended at the time.  This chapter also notes Fr. Hehir’s “crucially important” and “principal influence” roles in the Bishops’ peace and economic pastorals.  Both of them were intended to make a significant impact on public policy.  In the end, the impact is described as  “utterly negligible.”

This author suggests that Cardinal O’Malley, Fr. Hehir himself, and others involved in making the decision on the future of Catholic education for the Archdiocese keep Fr. Hehir’s well-established track record of publicly-acknowledged wrong ideas in mind as they proceed in this critical matter.

10. Flaws in Cardinal O’Malley’s plans going forward
The Cardinal wrote, “Going forward, we will be consulting on these issues with a wide-range of people including the Presbyteral Council and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.”  Though this approach sounds well-intentioned, based on what is already known about the people the Cardinal typically consults with, all should question the composition and judgment of those tapped for input and advice on such an important decision. As noted in this March 31 blog post, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council apparently had no problem with Fr. Hehir’s first social justice conference in 2006, for which the promotional flyer to council members (p.14-15) listed support by the Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which has funded ACORN, pro-abortion and pro-gay organizations,  and a range of Saul Allinsky-modeled radical, left-wing political organizations. A speaker who had led Our Lady Help of Christians parish participation in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade was also featured, talking about how to model those efforts in local parish social justice programs. At the APC’s most recent meeting for which minutes are (Sept. 10, 2009),  Sr. Terry Rickard from RENEW International was there to present, and the council  talked about the fall 2009 social justice conference which featured her as a speaker. As noted previously on this blog, Sr. Terry’s order, the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt, is associated with the liberal social justice group, NETWORK (who the  USCCB recently criticized for their position on the abortion-funding national healthcare legislation), and the sisters’ website  links of interest have nothing going to the Vatican or USCCB, but instead to organizations such the American Friends Service Committee and  United for Peace and Justice that back gay rights and gay “marriage.” If  no one on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council raised questions about the troubling aspects of these two conferences or Sr. Terry’s background, why should their judgment and insights be trusted on something as important as the future of Catholic school education?

As for the Presbyteral Council, we all owe the utmost respect for the many fine priests in Boston, but the Council’s orthodoxy has been somewhat mixed.  Anyone who cares about this issue should know that meeting minutes of several years ago reflect comments including a request by a priest to get Voice of the Faithful items on their meeting agendaobjections to orthodoxy at St. John’s seminary (“the seminary seems to be tipped in an ultra-orthodox direction…as if Mt St. Mary’s in Maryland is the model”), and concerns about “the poor language and pastoral insensitivity of the Roman document on homosexuality and the seminary.”  Cardinal O’Malley himself once raised concerns the council risked turning into a “Kangaroo Court.”

The Cardinal should change his plan immediately to instead consult with the Vatican–and not with these two organizations, or any of the people like Mary Grassa O’Neill, Michael Reardon, Fr. Hehir, or Jack Connors who have already come out critical of Fr. Rafferty’s decision, or any advisors who have given money to pro-abortion, pro-gay politicians that might be part of the unspecified “wide range of people.”

So, many faithful Catholics are asking the question, “Where to from here?”

First, the Archdiocese should refine its definition of the mission of Catholic education to focus primarily on teaching the truths of the faith to children of Catholics parents and those committed to raising their children with Catholic moral values. If the Archdiocese ends up with fewer donors and a smaller number of schools, so be it.

Second, the Archdiocese needs to clarify the current status and plans–either the Cardinal’s May 19 statement is correct that the Denver precedent and rational are being carefully studied and considered (and Fr. Hehir was wrong), or Fr. Hehir’s May 20 comments are correct that this is already a done deal and Denver’s precedent doesn’t matter. The least that faithful Catholics can expect is clarity and honesty from our Church leaders, and this contradiction has yet to be cleared up.

Third, participants in any committee or decision-making process regarding this issue need to be selected based on their proven commitment and backing for the truths of the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality and marriage. As discussed in Section 10, any people who have demonstrated a lack of commitment to these teachings should be excluded from decision-making.

Fourth, whatever policy is developed needs to take into account all of the principles described in Sections 1-8.  Using criteria of what is best for the child sounds noble and compassionate in principle, but looking at the situation through only that lens  fails to take into account other important considerations and consequences.

Lastly, Cardinal O’Malley’s own words on Catholic education and homosexuality should be recalled in whatever policy emerges.

The only two reasons to justify having Catholic schools” are to ensure it is “truly Catholic and truly be one of excellence.”

It is important to express the moral teachings of the Church with clarity and fidelity. The Church must be Church. We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. These recent times seem to us like it is “out of season”, but for that very reason it is even more urgent to teach the hard words of the Gospel today.

Calling people to embrace the cross of discipleship, to live the commandments and at the same time assuring them that we love them as brothers and sisters can be difficult. Sometimes we are told: “If you do not accept my behavior, you do not love me.” In reality we must communicate the exact opposite: “Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.”

“We need courage to be faithful disciples of the Lord. Faithful discipleship is not a cheap grace. It is a costly grace. Following the Lord and embracing his teachings in this secularized society telling us to do something else takes great courage.”

Isaiah 5:20 teaches us “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness.”  Now is the time for courage to teach the truths of the faith in season and out of season, even though it may be difficult.  Few can question that Archbishop Chaput was indeed “compassionate and persuasive” when he wrote, “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible. It also places unfair stress on the children…and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.”

False compassion and failing to communicate when certain behavior is unacceptable is not the Gospel message of love for either the child or the parents.  Those living a homosexual lifestyle who know their lifestyle is inconsistent with the Church teachings on sexual morality and marriage (without the hope of gaining validity as with divorced or single parents) should accept that enrollment in a Catholic school would place the child in a “spiritually and morally schizophrenic situation” which will be confusing and not in the best interests of the child.  Fundraisers engaged in the much-needed efforts to raise money that will ensure the future of Catholic education must realize that this situation will be harmful to the children.  It will also dilute the effectiveness of Catholic moral teachings and compromise the unique identity of Catholic schools whose very future the fundraisers–along with administrators, teachers, and parents–are working hard to preserve.

The Denver Archdiocese concluded that sincere, good-willed persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life that is sharply different from Catholic belief have other excellent options for education that would be a better course for their children.  For the sake of the children, it seems clear that is the same conclusion which Boston and other dioceses should reach.

(Catholics concerned about this issue should visit our Take Action page and send a free fax immediately to the people listed)

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