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.
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.