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Archive for August, 2010

We have read and re-read the statements from the Archdiocese of Boston about the annoying problem of the Catholic bloggers and are miffed–literally beyond words–by the double-speak and deception.

Paul Melanson at La Salette Journey has an outstanding blog post on this topic well worth reading in its entirety.  He opened his blog post with this passage from Isaiah:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and prudent in their own esteem!” (Isaiah 5: 20, 21).

This is what’s happening in Boston.  And what’s most concerning is that it seems to be coming from the top of the hierarchy, not just the underlings.  Here are several examples—with Caritas Christi, the Ted Kennedy funeral, and with this blog.

1) Caritas Christi

In March of 2009, after Caritas Christi announced a joint venture with Centene Corporation and faithful Catholics complained that it included provisions for referring patients to abortion providers, Cardinal O’Malley responded with this comment to  the critics:

To be perfectly clear, Caritas Christi will never do anything to promote abortions, to direct any patients to providers of abortion or in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching and anyone who suggests otherwise is doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church. We are committed to the Gospel of Life and no arrangement will be entered into unless it is completely in accord with Church teaching.

That “great disservice to the Church” pressured the Cardinal to ask the National Catholic Bioethics Center to study the deal, and then after the NCBC’s analysis was done, after several weeks of discussions with the NCBC, Caritas, and Cenetne, the original joint venture was scrapped in late June. Here’s all we heard at the time on the Cardinal’s blog:

Over that time, subsequent discussions involving Caritas Christi, the NCBC and the Archdiocese were held and the Cardinal made his final determination. The Cardinal’s role in reviewing and seeking additional guidance on this proposal is rooted in his responsibility to ensure the Catholic identity and moral character of institutions affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston, including Caritas Christi.

It would seem those people labeled as having done a “disservice to the Church” had actually done a service to the Church.

Fast forward to Friday, August 27, when we learned that Caritas Christi is moving forward with plans to acquire the secular Landmark Hospital in Rhode Island, and to keep it secular, which means they can continue to provide sterilizations and family planning services that contradict Catholic religious and moral directives.  Here’s what the Providence Journal reported:

“…the deal does not require Landmark to become a Catholic hospital or to accept the limitations of Catholic doctrine.  Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer said the hospital intended to remain secular, and Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy confirmed that, saying, “Our intent is to preserve Landmark in its current form, which includes no religious affiliation.”

In June of 2009, when discussions between Caritas and Landmark first were reported, this moral conflict was clear as reported by the Boston Globe.  Thundermist Health Center, the largest primary healthcare provider in northern Rhode Island which has contracts with Landmark expressed their concern that,

“If Landmark converts to a Catholic hospital, Thundermist could no longer provide family planning services or sterilizations there

In case you forget what Cardinal O’Malley said in March of 2009, we repeat his words again.  He said,

“Caritas Christi will never do anything …in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching.”

Is there any question that the acquisition of Landmark announced on Friday will do exactly that?  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light.

2. Ted Kennedy Funeral

We all know the story here.  For purposes of this blog, we will focus on the reaction by Cardinal O’Malley to those who criticized his presiding over the Catholic funeral  for the late Sen. Kennedy.  Here’s the Cardinal’s response, as reported in the Boston Globe on Sept 2, 2009.

One of my greatest satisfactions in my ministry thus far was helping to overturn the abortion laws in Honduras….We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts…

At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other

Let’s see.  So pro-lifers who complained about the scandal of the over-the-top Kennedy funeral were criticized by the Cardinal for their “zeal,” and their “attitudes and practices” that harm the communion of the Church.  Meanwhile the Cardinal gushed with praise for the chorus and the music at the funeral, the celebrity eulogies, and all the great works Ted Kennedy did , merely lamenting the missed opportunity had Kennedy been with us on protecting the unborn.    Fr. Roger Landry at Catholic Preachings described the situation in The Anchor as follows:

We have to add, however, that one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity. It would be very hard for an abortion-supporting Catholic politician to have watched Senator Kennedy’s very public and panegyrical funeral rites and not have concluded that the Church’s teachings on life are, in the end, a very small matter indeed. It would have been even harder for such a politician or others who support the evil of abortion to have been inspired toward conversion.  This leads to one of the most important lessons that pastors in the United States need to draw from the history of the Church’s interactions with Senator Kennedy for its future engagement of other pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Despite the good intentions to try to engage him, teach him, and help bring him to conversion, the strategy failed.”

Cardinal O’Malley, do you agree that your strategy failed and is continuing to fail?   If you agree proclaiming the Truth is important and we will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, why are you allowing an archdiocesan conference to take place featuring a speaker who backed the pro-abortion politician, Kathleen Sebelius, for Health and Human Services Secretary who has been propagating national healthcare legislation opposed by the U.S. bishops because it permits federal funding of abortion? Why are you allowing Fr. Bryan Hehir to speak given what we have exposed here on this blog about his comments that undermined Catholic conscience exemptions and unity in the Church?  Where is the proclaiming of the Truth by the archbishop of Boston about the dignity of each and every life from conception to natural death?

George Weigel, in “The Courage to Be Catholic” said in his chapter about “Why Bishops Failed” that most Catholics want bishops who will effectively exercise the authority that is theirs, and do so in a way that challenges everyone in the Church to a holier way of life.

I think the episcopal failures of recent decades have been similar to the failures of priests: It’s fundamentally a failure in self-understanding. If a priest thinks of himself as simply another “minister,” facilitating the “ministry” of others, he isn’t going to think of himself as what the Church teaches he is — an icon, a living re-presentation of the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ. And if he doesn’t think of himself as an icon of Christ, he’s going to be tempted to act in ways that contradict the commitment he’s made to Christ and the Church.

The same dynamic applies with bishops. Bishops who think of themselves primarily as managers — or worse, bishops who think of themselves as discussion-group moderators whose primary responsibility is to keep everyone “in play” — are going to be unlikely to act like apostles when the crunch comes.

Cardinal Sean, do you see yourself as a discussion group moderator whose main job is to travel, make appearances at events, blog, and keep everyone happy and “in play” or are you an icon of Jesus Christ capable of the sort of boldness seen in Matthew 21:12? Do you even want to be our day-to-day, hands-on, fully-engaged Archbishop of Boston, with the awesome responsibility for teaching, sanctifying, and governing that responsibility brings?

3) This blog

As regular readers of this blog know, the statement from the archdiocese about reaching out to the bloggers is about ¼ true and ¾ deceptive.  The part that’s true is that the Vicar General reached out and invited a conversation. But as we shared previously and in our last post, the conversation’s purpose was positioned as a one-way lecture by the Archdiocese about how we should blog in a less critical way, with nobody present from a position of authority to address the concerns and with a track record of having addressed such concerns.  Frankly, the Cardinal’s blog post of late April supportive of Fr. Hehir along with the speaker agenda for the upcoming Social Justice Conference  sends us a message the Archdiocese is not looking to act on the concerns we have raised—rather they are thumbing their noses at us.

Paul Melanson said it so well in his post that we will close with an except from his post.

The Archdiocese of Boston has engaged in dishonesty. Responding to bloggers who have raised a multitude of legitimate and very serious concerns, including the promotion of dissent from Church teaching and various scandals such as the Kennedy funeral and an event honoring Mayor Thomas Menino, who is also pro-abortion and supportive of same-sex “marriage,” the Archdiocese said in a statement that, “Cardinal O’Malley and his staff are dedicated to building unity in Christ and Christian community within the Archdiocese. Toward that end, we have reached out to bloggers on numerous occasions to ask them to enter into a professional and Christ-centered conversation with us. We are concerned about the harm caused to individuals and to the community by anonymous and unfounded claims on blogs.”

Readers of this blog know full well that when Archdiocesan officials were asked – repeatedly – to cite just one example of a post which is “inaccurate” they lapsed into silence. Harm to individuals and the community? Such harm is a result of dissent from Church teaching, not the defense of the same. It is most significant that Bishop Rene Henry Gracida has been posting articles from Catholic bloggers exposing the leaven of infidelity within the Boston Archdiocese at his wonderful Blog in a series entitled “The Boston Virus.”

Does the Archdiocese of Boston consider His Excellency to be advancing “unfounded claims” as well? Would Mr. Leccese consider Bishop Gracida to be a “dissident” as well? And how can the Archdiocese honestly claim to be dedicated to “building unity in Christ” when it is really advancing a false irenicism?

God preserve us from such nonsense!

And so while Mayor Thomas Menino, who supports abortion and same-sex “marriage” has been honored by the Archdiocese of Boston, while Father Bryan Hehir has “respect” for the Democratic National Committee (which also advances these evils), Catholic bloggers who promote and defend the Magisterial teaching of the Church are accused of harming individuals and the community.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.
Two final notes.  We offer our condolences to the family of Edward Saunders, Exec. Director of the Mass Catholic Conference on his death after a short illness.

Lastly, Wordpress has experienced some technical problems with their blog subscription system that removed some of our blog subscribers.  If you previously subscribed to get automatic emails from this blog and have not been receiving them, please re-subscribe.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

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We’re watching the attention over blocking the Boston Catholic Insider blog by the Boston Archdiocese with a combination of dismay over the Archdiocese’s response and amusement as our blog about dissent from Church teachings seems to be making its way through the archdiocesan Internet filters with flying colors. Today we’ll talk about the upcoming Archdiocesan Social Justice Conference featuring a backer of pro-abortion Gov. Sebelius for Health and Human Services Secretary, but first a brief comment about the bureaucratic-sounding response to Boston Catholic Insider.

When the archdiocese says they have “reached out to bloggers on numerous occasions to ask them to enter into a professional and  Christ-centered conversation with us” we assume that probably is referring at least to this blog, perhaps others.  There are two problems with their statement. First, their latest announcement about speakers for their upcoming Social Justice Conference further proves they don’t care the least about doing something about the problems we have raised.  (Remember, the objective of meeting with us from their perspective was “…to have a frank conversation about what is the best way to serve Christ and His Church, and to give you a broader frame of reference for future blog entries.”  (Nothing about acting on the issues we have raised–just lecturing us on how to blog in a friendlier, less critical way).  Secondly, the reference to “unfounded claims” sounds strikingly similar to their comments to us about posts considered “untrue” or “inaccurate.”  We asked several times in good faith for specific examples so we could correct them and never got a response. 

Anyway, welcome to Fr. Bryan Hehir’s Social Justice Conference #3, “Charity and Justice in our Daily Lives.” taking place Saturday, October 9, 2010.

Join parishes from around the Archdiocese of Boston to learn more about Catholic Social Teaching, celebrate the work for justice already going on, and find out concrete ways to connect faith with action in the service of justice. Featuring:

  • Keynote Address by Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services for the Archdiocese of Boston
  • Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching by Fr. Thomas Massaro, SJ, Professor of Moral Theology, Boston College

Fr. Massaro, of course was one of 26 signatories to a letter supporting the nomination of pro-abortion Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Just Google on “Fr. Thomas Massaro abortion” and here’s a sampling of what you get.  

Catholic Professors Criticized for Supporting Pro-Abortion Sebelius for Health Post

The pro-abortion group Catholics United has started an organization to defend President Barack Obama’s pro-abortion health selection and has been criticized for spreading misinformation about Sebelius’ record. Now, the Cardinal Newman Society is concerned that half of the 26 Catholic activists, scholars and theologians who signed the CU statement are professors employed by Catholic universities.

These professors are giving comfort and aid to those whose stated goals are to advance policies directly opposed to Catholic teachings on life issues,” CNS president Patrick Reilly told LifeNews.com. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed pro-life legislation on four separate occasions as governor of Kansas,” Reilly said. “After she vetoed the pro-life Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act in April 2008, Bishop Joseph Naumann [said she should stop receiving communion.]”

Abortion, not resume, could dominate Sebelius confirmation (CNN)

Calling Sebelius an “enemy of the unborn,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue said the Kansas governor’s nomination is particularly disturbing…Sebelius’ support for abortion is so far off the charts that she has been publicly criticized by the last three archbishops of Kansas City.”

In May, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said that Sebelius’ stance on abortion had “grave spiritual and moral consequences.” He asked that Sebelius no longer receive Communion until she repudiated her stance and made a “worthy sacramental confession.” Naumann was reacting to Sebelius’ veto of state Senate Bill 389 and the subsequent House version, titled the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act, either of which would have tightened abortion regulations in Kansas.

Do the choices of Fr. Massaro and Fr. Massaro reflect the best the Archdiocese can muster to talk about Catholic social teaching?  The notice about the conference and the speakers comes just months after Fr. Hehir spoke at BC about Catholic conscience exemptions and said, if “we do not choose well” on exempting Catholic medical workers from having to perform abortions is “we could harm the individual” who needs the abortion, and it also comes just months after he helped reinforce what USCCB president Cardinal George called a “wound to Catholic unity” by praising the Catholic Hospital Association’s leadership at their national conference shortly after they gave public support that was key to passage of the abortion-funding national healthcare legislation. Our posting of video and audio clips from those events was what evidently prompted Vicar General Erikson to complain to us about the blog, but apparently his statements that objectively undermined Church positions on these issues or that undermined the USCCB were not enough to keep him from keynoting the upcoming conference.

Anyway, does anyone besides us think the presence of certain speakers on the agenda for this Boston Archdiocese-backed conference makes some kind of statement about how seriously the archdiocese takes the cause of defending the unborn?  Does anyone out there think it also makes a pretty strong statement about how seriously they take the concerns we have raised since March?  We have just sent an email to the bloggers at Boston Catholic Insider suggesting there is no apparent reason to enter into a conversation with the leadership at the Boston Archdiocese until they make some acknowledgement of the legitimate concerns raised by taking some visible action to address them. 

Frankly, we think it’s time for folks to visit our Take Action page and start making some phone calls and sending some faxes and  letters to Rome once again.  There’s a new prefect at the Congregation of Bishops, and he is no doubt looking forward to hearing from you.

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The ancient Greek poet, Euripides (480 -406 BC) once said, “One can judge a man by the company they keep.”  Once you read about the connection between Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jim Wallis (who founded and leads an organization with anti-Catholic views called the Sojourners), George Soros, and the pro-abortion, pro-gay Democratic National Committee, we’ll invite you to revisit the Euripides quote and see if it applies. Here’s the situation in a nutshell:

Jim Wallis and his organization have gotten financial support from athiest George Soros and are friends of the Left.  Not only that, but Jim Wallis is a “a guy who believes a lot of the stuff that Jeremiah Wright does. He is a blatant redistribution of wealth advocate, a Marxist.”  (March 24, 2010 report quoting Glenn Beck). Sojourners also holds or supports anti-Catholic views.  It seems that Fr. Bryan Hehir associates himself with Wallis and has spoken at one of the Sojourners’ events.  Beyond that, Fr. Hehir’s comment on a panel with Wallis that Hehir respects the Democratic National Committee (which vehemently opposes the Catholic Church on key issues like abortion and gay marriage) validates the kinds of questions about Fr. Hehir that we have been raising for some time.  Let’s tackle each one of these separately.

Jim Wallis and his organization have gotten financial support from George Soros, are friends of the Left, and hold anti-Catholic views

Deal Hudson at InsideCatholic.com just posted earlier this week about how George Soros and his Open Society Foundation have been funding Jim Wallis and his organization, the Sojourners.  (We’ll get Fr. Bryan Hehir’s past or present association with Wallis and the Sojourners in a moment).  According to Hudson:

The funding from Soros’ foundation, The Open Society, was revealed by Marvin Olasky in World magazine.  This is the same foundation that provided six-figure funding to Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United.  Both organizations are important Catholic voices in the Wallis-led coalition, and both have fully supported Obama’s pro-abortion agenda from the start.

Wallis is denying he receives support from Soros even though Jay W. Richards, author of the NRO post, has screen shots of the relevant pages from the Open Society web site showing grants of $200,000 in 2004 and $25,000 in 2006.  Dalyrmple posted PDFs from the Open Society web site on August 12 only to find they were removed a few days later.

On August 18, Wallis and Sojourners finally confirmed the Soros/Open Society funding, which also included previously undisclosed $100,000 in 2006.

Mr. Hudson refers to a piece in National Review which says:

Now, it isn’t news that both Sojourners and Wallis are friends of the Left; I explored the connections in my book Money, Greed and God, and others have connected the dots as well. But were Wallis and Sojourners actively involved with secular left-wing mega-donors and with the election machinery of the Left?

This article in In World magazine from July 17, partially answers that question by referencing a 2007 Washingon Post report that Wallis’s organization, Sojourners, loaned/rented Sojourners’ mailing list to the Obama campaign.

Jim Wallis is a “a guy who believes a lot of the stuff that Jeremiah Wright does. He is a blatant redistribution of wealth advocate, a Marxist.”  Sojourners also holds or supports anti-Catholic views

Jim Wallis is in the news a lot.  His own biography on Sojourners website describes him as “bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life.”  He is President Obama’s spiritual advisor and a policy advisor.  What are his views you might ask?

Earlier this month, Paul Melanson at LaSalette Journey blogged on this exact topic and Fr. Bryan Hehir’s relationship with Wallis.  In Paul’s post, “Why would Father J. Bryan Hehir choose to associate himself with such a leftist radical”, he said:

In a previous post I showed how Father J. Bryan Hehir of the Boston Archdiocese has associated himself with leftist radical Jim Wallis and his organization Sojourners (which has been financed by Nazi collaborator George Soros) and which promotes the New Age Globalist Earth Charter which seeks to replace the Ten Commandments and dismantle the Roman Catholic Church.

Jim Wallis, in his book entitled “The Great Awakening,” expresses his support for homosexual unions and even spiritual “blessings” for such unions. He writes, “I support civil rights laws for same-sex couples. That, for me, is a justice issue…Gay marriage should not be the primary battleground in the fight for the health and stability of marriage and family in our society. In a pluralistic democracy, we should support civil and human rights for all our citizens, regardless of our different theological and biblical interpretations of the complicated and thorny issues surrounding homosexuality.

Needless to say, this attitude is not consistent with the Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church.

Here are a few excerpts from Paul’s previous post on Jim Wallis:

He wasn’t just against the Vietnam war, he rejoiced in America’s defeat there showing his leftist sympathies by publicly criticizing the Vietnamese and Hmong refugees who fled that communist regime…Wallis also supported the Sandinista Communists in their attempt to take over Nicaragua in the 80s, actively participating in resistance against the American military – AND working side by side in this cause with none other than Jeremiah Wright, the radical anti-American Chicago preacher who was our president’s pastor for twenty years.

In addition, Wallis supported the FMLN, a communist terror group from El Salvador itching to spread their Marxist revolution throughout South America. Men have been called ‘traitors’ for much less than what Wallis has stood for.

In 1983, the organization, Accuracy in Media published a lengthy book on the far left policies of Wallis and his organization, documenting 53 political positions of Sojourners on such issues as Israel’s right to exist, terrorism, socialism, capitalism, human rights, etc. In all 53 position statements, it was found that Sojourners’ views were completely in line with the views of hard-line Soviets.

Wallis believes that Castro’s Cuba, Chavez’s Venezuela, and Ortega’s Nicaragua are the Marxist paradises the US should emulate...So, after being arrested by the US government 22 times in forty years, where has he soft-landed? As spiritual advisor to President Obama. Now, with the help of our own government, he hopes to turn mere ideology into policy. He is a living, breathing advocate for total government control, complete socialism, or ‘totalitarian socialism.'” (See here for full article).

Sojourners is behind the “Call to Renewal” movement, a movement supported by Father J. Bryan Hehir of the Boston Archdiocese. The question is: why would a Roman Catholic priest wish to associate himself with a radical such as Jim Wallis? Especially since Sojourners promotes the New Age Globalist Earth Charter, an initiative which seeks to replace the Ten Commandments and to neutralize the Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have criticized the beliefs underlying the Earth Charter. Here is  an excellent article where you can read more.

Not to be forgotten is this overview of Wallis (from Discoverthenetworks, a guide to the political left), which cites how Wallis is a dedicated foe of capitalism and contends Biblical scripture calls for redistribution of wealth to help the poor:

To this day, Wallis remains fiercely opposed to capitalism and the free market system. In many interviews, he has stressed his belief that capitalism has proven to be an unmitigated failure. “Our systems have failed the poor and they have failed the earth.”

In 1995 Wallis founded Call to Renewal, a coalition of religious groups united in the purpose of advocating, in religious terms, for leftist economic agendas such as tax hikes and wealth redistribution to promote “social justice.”

More than a mere religious leader, Wallis, a registered Democrat, is also an adroit political operative, publicly portraying himself as a politically neutral religious figure whose overriding allegiance is to God. Always with the disclaimer that neither major political party can claim to authoritatively represent the values of religious faith, Wallis passionately contends that Republican policies tend to be immoral and godless.

After the 2004 presidential election, Wallis acknowledged that he had cast a vote for the Democratic candidate, John Kerry.  In January 2005, Senate Democrats invited Wallis to address them in a private discussion. Meanwhile, some fifteen Democratic members of the House made Wallis the guest of honor at a breakfast confab whose subject, according to The New York Times, was devising ways to instill support for the Democratic Party into the hearts of the religious faithful.

In a January 13, 2006 radio interview with Interfaith Voices, Wallis was asked, “Are you then calling for the redistribution of wealth in society?” He replied, “Absolutely, without any hesitation. That’s what the gospel is all about.”

According to a March 10, 2007 Los Angeles Times report, in recent years Wallis has sought to re-brand traditional slogans of the religious right, like “pro-life,” to refer to such leftist agendas as working with AIDS victims in Africa or helping illegal immigrants in America achieve legal status so they can continue to live with their U.S.-born children.

Fr. Bryan Hehir associates himself with Wallis and has spoken at a Sojourner event

Fr. Hehir spoke at Wallis’ Sojourners conference, “A Table in the Wilderness” in 1997, along with Wallis.   As Cabinet Secretary for Social Services, Fr. Hehir has also spoken on a number of panels with Jim Wallis in recent years.  In April of 2004, they both keynoted this Social Justice Conference in Richmond, Virginia.  Here’s Jim Wallis at the Boisi Center at Boston College in October 2005, where Fr. Bryan Hehir is on the Board of Advisors.  Here’s Fr. Hehir, Jim Wallis, and Mary Jo Bane on a April 2005 Harvard panel on the future of religion and politics.  On March 5 of this year, Fr. Hehir and Jim Wallis were together again at a forum at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Fr. Hehir’s comment on a panel  that he respects the Democratic National Committee (which vehemently opposes the Catholic Church on key issues like abortion and gay marriage) valides the  of questions about Fr. Hehir we have been raising for some time

One of the more interesting panels where Fr. Hehir and Jim Wallis spoke together was on January 18, 2005 at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC.  In this transcript of the event, Fr. Hehir commented that he was finished reading all but 3 chapters of Wallis’s latest book (“”God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It”), and agreed with a number of conclusions, but said he “would have gotten there a different way.”  How Fr. Hehir responded to his introduction at this panel was also noteworthy.  The moderator, E.J. Dionne, Jr, who introduced Fr. Hehir at the session described him as “one of the most insightful thinkers we have on the relation between faith and public life.”  He joked that Fr. Hehir had always been his candidate to be pope, but since he didn’t want to jinx that possibility, he said, “maybe I should nominate Bryan for a job he doesn’t want, which is to be chair of the Democratic National Committee, and then he might get to be pope.”  Fr. Hehir responded,

I feel the need at Brookings to make a sort of presidential statement, that I aspire neither to the papacy nor the head of the Democratic National Committee. I respect the Democratic National Committee and I reverence the papacy, but others can do both of those.”

OK, so readers may say we have a thing about words here, but words matter.  It’s common knowledge that many of the DNC’s positions stridently oppose Catholic Church teachings.  The DNC’s 2004 platform clearly supported abortion (“we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose”), embryonic stem cell research (“We will pursue this research”) and opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment that would have blocked gay marriage from spreading (“We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families.  We repudiate President Bush’s divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a “Federal Marriage Amendment.”).  Maybe Fr. Hehir was just bantering with the moderator in his comment.  But his statement that he respected the DNC was not followed by any other statement that qualified he did not mean that, so that raises questions.   Is this blog the right place to ask how any faithful Catholic could say he respected the DNC in the face of them holding and espousing these anti-Catholic positions?

So, what have we learned today?  We have George Soros funding Jim Wallis’ organization, the Sojourners.   We have seen Jim Wallis’ record of left-leaning Marxist views and the sort of causes and positions the Sojourners support and espouse, including ones contrary to Catholic teachings.  We have seen that Fr. Bryan Hehir spoke at a Sojourners conference and has spoken on a lot of panels with Jim Wallis, so some people might infer some association between Fr. Hehir and Jim Wallis that goes beyond just happenstance.  We have Fr. Hehir on a panel with Wallis saying he agreed with many of the conclusions of Wallis’s latest book on religion and politics–and that Fr. Hehir respects the Democratic National Committee, with no comment about the fact that the DNC opposes the Church on issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and gay marriage.

We come back to the Euripides quote: “One can judge a man by the company they keep.”  Do you think it might apply in this case?

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Praise God!  The Boston Globe is reporting today that the relic of the True Cross, stolen from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross earlier this summer, has turned up in rural Vermont, as confirmed today by the Archdiocese of Boston and the Vermont State Police. Here is an excerpt from the Globe article:

Vermont State Police stumbled upon it after receiving a call from Richard Duncan, a resident of the Upper Eatons Trailer Park in Royalton, Vt., about 25 miles northwest of White River Junction, according to a lengthy statement released by the Vermont State Police this afternoon.

Duncan told police he was having an argument over the phone with his partner, 34-year-old Earl Frost. He said he wanted Frost to share some information with police.

“Frost was put on the telephone and advised Troopers that the altercation was over a religious artifact that was stolen from a church in Boston,” the Vermont State Police statement said.

So Richard was having an argument with his partner, Earl, over the religious artifact stolen from a church in Boston that somehow made it into their possession.    Hmm.

The report continues:

At the barracks, Frost turned the relic over to the police and said that he had acquired it from an unidentified person in Rhode Island.

On Sunday — almost a week later — an official from the Archdiocese of Boston drove up to the Royalton Barracks to confirm its authenticity.

We are delighted beyond words to hear the relic has been found and returned.  But hey guys, don’t break a sweat rushing to get up there and recover the relic or anything while people are praying every day for its return.  First, it took a about 12-13 days between when it was discovered missing July 1 and when the Archdiocese made a public announcement on July 13–and the theft was only announced after Catholic blogger, Kelly Thatcher at “Lady in the Pew” posted about the theft.  The media coverage of the announcement precipitated by Kelly’s blogging helped in the recovery, in that Vermont police did a web search and knew what the religious artifact might have been before it arrived at the station.  The driving distance from Boston to the Royalton Barracks in Bethel, VT is a 151-mile drive, and Mapquest says it should take about 2.5 hours.  Maybe the folks at the Cathedral were busy with other more pressing things to do between Monday Aug. 9 when the relic arrived at the police barracks and Sunday, August 15 when the official from the Cathedral made it up there.   Who are we to judge?

Something seems odd though.  They’ve been having weekly prayer services every Wednesday evening to pray for the return of the True Cross relic.  We wonder whether anyone from the Cathedral or the Archdiocese told the people gathered last Wednesday night Aug. 10 that they knew what was suspected to be the relic was actually sitting in a police barracks in VT a 2.5 hour drive away. Maybe some of the people at the prayer service familiar with what the relic looked like would have offered to drive up to VT.

Anyway, here is the statement from the Archdiocese:

“Our prayers have been answered as the Relic of the True Cross has been recovered. We are grateful for the great work of the Boston Police Department in their search for the relic. Their professional and diligent work made this effort successful. We also extend our appreciation to the Vermont State Police who assisted in the recovery effort. God has blessed us with His love and capacity to forgive.  We prayerfully carry on His call for forgiveness for those responsible.”

Media note:  Each week a prayer service has been held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for the return of the relic since it was stolen. This Wednesday, August 18 at 7:30pm, we will welcome the return of the Relic of the True Cross to the Cathedral.

We are genuinely excited over the return of the relic!
Forgive us for any words of cynicism.    It’s just that the Archdiocese gives a strong sense of a  lack of urgency over the relic both initially when it was stolen and most recently in its recovery.  It’s kind of like the same sense of urgency they demonstrate over stopping the undermining of Church teachings we’ve documented here by folks like Fr. Bryan Hehir.

Let’s hope they find a way of securing the relic this time around and continuously monitoring it so as to prevent another theft.

Perhaps once they get that worked out, they can apply those same principles toward securing and monitoring the manner in which certain archdiocesean officials communicate the truths of our faith.

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One of the topics we’ve wanted to get to for a while is the role Fr. Bryan Hehir’s had in hiring many of the senior staff people in the Boston Archdiocese, and how the hiring of people not committed to the truths of the faith undermines the Catholic Church.  Boston Catholic Insider has reported on how Fr. Hehir approved a conflict of interest  in letting the PR firm drive hiring the Communications Secretary who would manage them, as well as letting the PR firm on the hiring committee for the Chancellor.  Fr. Hehir also led the search team that hired Edward Saunders as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference.  The Mass Catholic Conference is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church and for some odd reason reports into Fr. Hehir.  Here are some excerpts from their blog post, the reasons for concern when Saunders was hired, then our own take on what has happened since Fr. Hehir hired him.  (No video or audio clips today).

Excerpted from the Boston Catholic Insider post on Saunders:

Edward Saunders, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, holds another of those six-figure jobs that does not appear in the archdiocesan annual report.  Saunders was hired in 2005 by a search committee headed by Fr. Bryan Hehir. Nobody had ever heard of Saunders before he was hired, and people familiar with the search inform us his name appeared from out of nowhere near the end of the process while qualified candidates tell us they were unable to get an interview. When his hiring was announced in mid-July of 2005, it was sufficiently controversial that the announcement article in The Pilot mentioned objections as well as a statement by Terry Donilon defending Saunders as being a strong candidate for the position. The highly experienced associate director for public policy at MCC and interim MCC director, Maria P, did apply for the job, but was rejected and took “early retirement.” 

Reasons for concern.  “Sufficiently controversial” as stated in the post is an understatement.  The Mass Catholic Conference represents the interests of the Catholic Bishops to the legislature, and the previous Executive Director, Gerry D’Avolio along with Maria Parker and Daniel Avila did a pretty good job at it—testifying on key legislation, talking to legislators, communicating what they were doing ,and telling Catholics when their outreach to legislators was  needed via the Pilot, email alerts, and through parishes.  When people looked at the background of Saunders, they were concerned.  Here’s why.

In July of 2005 when Saunders was announced, The Pilot said, “Some local Catholics have voiced objections to Saunders’ appointment saying they are concerned about his past personal contributions to politicians who have consistently opposed the Church’s position on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem-cell research

The Boston Globe (July 13, 2005) went much further:

 The new lobbyist for the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts has in the past given money to lawmakers who support abortion rights and same-sex marriage, causing concern among some conservative Catholics. The mini-controversy…reflects a larger debate within Catholicism over how the church hierarchy should relate to the sizable fraction of Catholic laypeople who disagree with or act against church teachings. Some conservatives have criticized the appointment to church panels of Catholics who support abortion rights or gay marriage, and a few bishops, although none in Massachusetts, have suggested that they would deny Communion to such Catholics.

Saunders, a registered Democrat and a longtime lobbyist on Beacon Hill, declined to discuss his personal views on social issues, saying only, ”Whatever the position of the church is, that’s my position….I’ve been around the State House for close to 20 years, and if you go back through the years, you can see the relationships I’ve developed, and many of them are personal friendships,” he said. ”But I was wearing a different hat, representing the credit union industry, and I’m wearing a different hat now.”

We have checked and double-checked the contribution records–these were personal contriutions, not contributions from the organization Saunders was lobbying for at the time.  Saunders said he had not discussed political contributions with the Massachusetts bishops who hired him.  Why wouldn’t the Catholic bishops and Fr. Hehir have discussed his past political contributions?  Did they not think to ask?  The Globe continued:

According to records on file with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Saunders gave $200 in 2002 to Treasurer Shannon P. O’Brien, who was a candidate for governor; $100 in 2003 and $200 in 2004 to Senator Robert E. Travaglini of East Boston, now the Senate president; and $100 each in 2001, 2003, and 2004 to state Senator Marian Walsh of West Roxbury. Those three Catholic Democrats all support same sex marriage or civil unions, both of which are opposed by their church. O’Brien and Travaglini also support abortion rights. Walsh, a longtime legislative ally of church leaders who became critical of the diocese because of the clergy abuse crisis, was unsuccessfully targeted for defeat by the church last year, when the Catholic Conference issued a scorecard on same-sex marriage in which she and 75 other legislators ranked last.

Under Massachusetts state law, each year lobbyists can give no more than $200 to a candidate.

Saunders also gave $100 to Boston City Council President Michael F. Flaherty Jr. last month, four days before Flaherty marched in the city’s gay pride parade. .

Marie Sturgis, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said the group is ”investigating” Saunders’s background. ”I realize lobbyists do what they have to do, but we’re talking about principles here, and strong beliefs in some fundamental human rights. ‘There’s a side of me that wonders, if there are personal contributions given to lawmakers or political candidates who are not in synch with what the church teaches, then doesn’t that call into serious question the motives of this individual?”

A spokesman for Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley defended the appointment. ”Ed Saunders is personally and professionally committed to advocate the full range of Catholic social and moral teachings,” said the spokesman, Terrence C. Donilon. ”On that basis and his many qualifications, he was a strong candidate for the position for which he was hired.”

When the archdiocese has to come out with a statement defending a controversial hire, you generally know something is wrong.  Was Saunders the strongest candidate? Who did he know?  Why did some strong candidates find they were unable to get an interview with Fr. Hehir and the committee? 

 Before landing the MCC job, Saunders worked as SVP and legislative counsel for the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island Credit Union Leagues.  He is a Boston College alumnus, class of 1971.  As Boston Catholic Insider reported, “his name has rarely been seen or heard in communications to rank-and-file Catholics since 2005, and most of the time when his name is published or appears on legislative testimony, it is because it has been added to a statement or testimony that was actually prepared by loyal assoc director of policy and research, Dan A.”

Let’s look at what has happened since Saunders was hired.  Here’s what pro-life leader, RT Neary said

Back when Mr.Ed Saunders came aboard, apparently to succeed Gerry D’Avolio in representing the Archdiocese, he was conspicuous in his absence of any testimony at State House hearings. While we had a vibrant panel on Opt-in bills put together by ProLife Massachusetts, and organizations such as Mass Resistance also gave moving examples of abuse in Sex Ed classes, one Ed Saunders was comfortably seated in a back row of the hearing room. He never stirred. While we have been in to testify on other bills, he seems to be a loner, totally without any leadership skills or personality. Also, he never introduced himself to any of us, leading our group to express wonderment as to where he ever came from. Yes, Maria was a dynamo who, unfortunately, left their employ. Further research should be done on how this individual was ever selected and whom he lobbied for prior to being hired. I repeat: He is totally unimpressive!”

Here’s a little more about before and after Ed Saunders.  Before Ed Saunders and Fr. Hehir, the Catholic Conference  used to distribute non-partisan voter guides in all parishes every election season, and they mounted a huge campaign against same-sex marriage in 2004 with live parish information sessions throughout the state, pulpit announcements, bulletin notices, and even a million copies of a special newspaper sponsored by the KofC mailed throughout the state with messages from the Catholic bishops.  Because we are criticizing Ed Saunders and Fr. Bryan Hehir’s oversight of the Catholic Conference since 2005 and someone from the Archdiocese will probably come alone to criticize us, let us even further specifically define what we mean about the before/after with an example.  (Credit goes to team members Marilyn and Mike for the research)

Immediately after the SJC’s November 2003 decision that banning gays from marrying was unconstitutional, polls shows  48% of voters polled supported legalizing gay marriages, while 43% were opposed. Two months later, after an intense campaign by the Catholic bishops, Mass Catholic Conference and other opponents of same-sex marriage, there was a massive shift in public opinion—only 35% supported legalizing gay marriage and 53% were opposed, and there was a 19% increase in opposition to gay marriage by Catholics.  Here’s what the Boston Globe reported at the time (February 22, 2004):

 A majority of Massachusetts residents said they oppose legalizing gay marriage, a significant increase since the state’s highest court ruled three months ago that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Boston Globe poll. The poll also found that an overwhelming majority of those surveyed wanted the voters, not the courts or the Legislature, to define marriage in Massachusetts, through a statewide ballot question to amend the constitution.

The survey, taken by phone Wednesday and Thursday, indicated opposition to gay marriage has jumped 10 percentage points since a Globe survey done just days after the Supreme Judicial Court’s Nov. 18 ruling legalizing gay marriages.

Then, 48 percent polled supported legalizing gay marriages, while 43 percent were opposed. In the recent poll, 35 percent supported legalizing gay marriage and 53 percent were opposed.

The 10-point increase in opposition to legalizing gay marriage came after a strong campaign by the Catholic Church and other opponents, who have denounced the SJC ruling and lobbied for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Among Catholics, the percentage of those who oppose gay marriage increased from 47 to 66 percent.

10 point increase in public opposition to gay marriage in two months and nearly a 20-point swing among Catholics.  Sounds pretty good to us.  When have we seen anything like that since then?  Instead, a bit more than a year later after Ed Saunders arrived on the job and Fr. Hehir assumed full responsibility for the Catholic Conference with Maria Parker gone, their visibility largely stopped, especially on any social/moral issues important to Catholics. Voter guides in parishes have been banned.  Yes, banned.  They will not distribute even the Catholic Answers “Voters Guide for Serious Catholics” favored by Cardinal O’Malley, let alone guides listing the positions of local candidates on issues important to Catholics.   Catholic activists and grassroots activist organizations cannot work with pastors and parishes.  We reported on the total silence of the Catholic Conference on funding gay programs in public schools with tax payer dollars.  Most of the initiatives are stomped out quietly behind closed doors.  Most people will not hear publicly how Fr. Hehir has blocked the “40 Days for Life” campaign from being rolled out in Boston parishes.    But at least before the Boston Globe was in the back pocket of Rasky Baerlein and Terry Donilon, they used to cover this kind of stuff—like when they reported how the Catholic Conference opposed an effort to gather signatures in churches for a referendum that would have barred out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts.  It was an important measure, to prevent exporting gay marriages outside of the state.   The Cardinal even signed the petition.  But then Fr. Hehir and MCC squashed the initiative from proceeding in parishes.  In the good old days of Michael Paulson reporting on religions, The Boston Globe reported on October 11, 2008 in “Archdiocese at odds with gay marriage foes:” 

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, although staunchly opposed to gay marriage, is declining to support an effort to gather signatures at Masses for a referendum that would bar out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

Here is an excerpt from MassResistance’s report on the issue.

On Wednesday, October 8, Brian Camenker received a phone call from Ed Saunders, director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC). Saunders ordered us to “cease and desist” any efforts to communicate with parishes (an order which, of course, has no legal standing). He said that the Archdiocese had just sent out an email to all the churches in the state (see below) instructing them not to participate in the petition effort.

Saunders said that the letter by Catholic activists was “disrespectful” (you can judge for yourself). He said that the Cardinal signed the petition “in a moment of weakness” and that he did it “privately” – even though he signed it at a public event in front of several people.

We asked Mr. Saunders why the Archdiocese opposed the petition effort. He gave two reasons, both rather strange:

  • He said the Archdiocese opposed petition drive because the Legislature could simply overturn it. But that’s been true of everything involving petitions — including the Marriage Amendment — since the Massachusetts Constitution was ratified in 1780. That’s the way the system works. Do they thus oppose all Referendum Petitions, Initiative Petitions, and Constitutional Amendments? That’s absurd. This sends a strong message. Look at Proposition 2 1/2, which has stood solid for over 25 years! 
  • He said that the Archdiocese is instead trying to elect a majority of Legislators so good legislation can be passed. Well, we’ve all seen how difficult it is to unseat an incumbent. This is obviously a very long-term project. And how legal is it for the Church to be pushing candidates for public office? In any case, doing this doesn’t exclude supporting the petition drive.

Catholics across the state had planned to collect signatures at church this Sunday (as they had done for the Marraige Amendment). Many pastors were supporting the effort and said they’d be welcome, but now have told them they can’t come. Hundreds of petition sheets are at churches, having been signed by parishioners over the last few weeks, but now we don’t know if we’ll get them back.

Catholic activists react to “failure of leadership” in Archdiocese

Catholic activists, hundreds of whom have been collecting signatures, have reacted with shock and outrage. It’s been quite overwhelming. For example, C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, which has taken a leadership position in this effort, issued the following statement yesterday:

“I urge all Catholics to support the petition drive to hold a referendum on the repeal of the 1913 law. This is a vitally important effort in the critical struggle to defend traditional marriage, upon which the future of our civilization depends. We must prevent the Goodridge decision from being exported to the rest of the country.

“Given the fundamental moral issues at stake, one would hope that those in positions of authority in the Church would support this laudable endeavor, which so many dedicated orthodox priests have already endorsed. Sadly however, faithful Catholics are all too familiar with the culture of betrayal which afflicts our Church. With less than a week to go, we must not be distracted by the failure of leadership, the institutional weakness, or the treacherous influence of liberal clerics in high places in the Archdiocese of Boston. Let us redouble our efforts in the face of this lamentable, but not unpredictable, abdication of responsibility by the hierarchy.”

“This was the last thing we expected to happen!”

MassResistance’s closing comment is indicative of the current state of affairs:

It boggles the mind that the Archdiocese of Boston would openly oppose this effort. They should be in the front lines supporting it (and many pastors want to be). Something is very wrong. People expect the Church to be the moral compass on these issues. Just a few years ago the Catholic Church was a leader in the fight for the Marriage Amendment, and championed the signature gathering effort in the churches. 

So, that’s what we have for public policy under Fr. Hehir and Ed Saunders.  Hehir is known for having said back in 1974 that the Church could regard contraception “as an issue of private morality that the church continues to teach for its members, but not an issue of public morality on which it seeks to affect public policy” (Theological Studies, March 1974).  30-35 years later, the Mass Catholic Conference under his tutelage has been behaving the same way on important social and moral issues of our time.   We are aware that pro-life activists had their request to introduce the “40 Days for Life” campaign in parishes in the Archdiocese stomped out last year.  Let’s see how Fr. Hehir responds this year.

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Today we continue our series of video/audio clips of Fr. Hehir’s public comments on Catholic Church teachings with the topic of Catholics voting for pro-abortion politicians.   After the archdiocese accused of us of making “inaccurate” and “untrue” statements on this blog (an accusation which still has not been substantiated six weeks later) , we have shared video clips of Fr. Hehir’s comments about Catholic conscience exemptions and women priests that contradicted Church teachings, and suddenly the criticism stopped. Despite the lengthy (and expensive) meeting Archdiocesan cabinet secretaries had last week with outside lawyers to discuss options that might address the annoying problem of the anonymous bloggers, since we have received no subsequent criticism, we assume our apostolic ministry now meets with ecclesial approval. After the clip below, we compare what Fr. Hehir said on voting for pro-abortion politicians vs what Cardinal Ratzinger said on this same topic in 2004 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Abortion is obviously one of the key issues of our time, and statements by an Archdiocesan cabinet secretary (and senior advisor to Boston’s Cardinal Archbishop) which do not condemn the evil of abortion and rather suggest a need to preserve access to abortions could cause some people–certainly not this blog, of course–to question Fr. Hehir’s orthodoxy and his positions on this important issue.  So let’s now look at what Fr. Hehir said in this forum at Harvard Divinity School not long ago.

The topic was Thoughts on the Future of the Catholic Church.  It took place on April 25, 2005, just six days after Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. Among the other panelists was Prof. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, a noted feminist theologian.  A Boston Globe report on the event said, “The four panelists hinted at or explicitly stated reservations about his enforcement of conservative orthodoxy when he ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith.”  In response to a woman’s question from the audience about inclusiveness in the church and whether any hope of true transformation to a different model of church was possible, we share with you the audio version of what the Globe reported.  First you’ll hear how Prof. Schussler responded, and then Fr. Hehir’s response.  (If you are at work and can’t play the sound now, the transcribed comments are below).

Schussler: (0:30-1:05) “A woman told me at a Call to Action meeting during the election campaign that she was harassed in her parish because she had a sticker for Kerry on her car, she was told, and it came from Ratzinger, that she could not go to communion because she had the Kerry sticker on the car.”

Hehir: (fast forward to 2:15, after his comment about Vatican II) “If somebody tells somebody they can’t go to communion because they have a sticker on their car (audience laughter), then what’s needed is just elementary catechesis on the nature and logic of Catholic moral tradition. That is available. (audience laughter)”

Where do we start?  First, we have the fact that this was a complaint by a member of the Catholic dissident organization, Call to Action–and communicated by the professor in the Harvard forum, who was also attending the CTA meeting–but we will move past that for now.   Here are two excerpts from Cardinal Ratziner’s 2004 statement “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles.”  The second passage is most relevant to this situation.

The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it'” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

[N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.]

Here is our attempt at fraternal correction.  Fr. Hehir did not state anything about the evil of abortion and in his role as cabinet secreatry for social services, and he should have. He did not state anything about it being sinful for Catholic politicians to vote for abortion and grounds for them to not receive Communion.  (For the record, he also overlooked this in his comments on the Ted Kennedy funeral) He did not state it would be formal cooperation in evil and sinful to vote for a candidate because that politician supported abortion.  He did not state that voting for a pro-abortion candidate was permitted only if there were proportionate reasons.  A bumper sticker implies financial and/or voting support for a candidate, and what Fr. Hehir said was whomever said support for a pro-abortion politician was grounds for not receiving communion needed elementary catechesis.  Does anyone else read into this that he was criticizing Cardinal Ratzinger or his statement?  Does anyone else interpret Fr. Hehir as suggesting that Cardinal Ratzinger , bishops, priests, and/or others of this viewpoint themeselves needed “elementary catechesis”?

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in November 2007 Boston Globe interview, was quoted as follows:

Acknowledging that Catholic voters in Massachusetts generally support Democratic candidates who are in favor of abortion rights, O’Malley said, “I think that, at times, it borders on scandal as far as I’m concerned.”  O’Malley draws line with Democrats (Nov. 15, 2007)

Then-Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis informed his archdiocese of the following in mid-2004:

Catholics in St. Louis who vote for political candidates supportive of abortion rights have committed a grave sin in the eyes of the Church, and should confess and do penance before receiving Communion. (“Voting for abortion rights candidate is a sin,” SLToday.com, June 25, 2004)

Do both Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Burke need elementary catechesis as well?  We invite Fr. Hehir and the Archdiocese to listen to his public comments on women priests (that contradicted infallible Vatican teachings) and his public comments on Catholic Conscience exemptions (where he said, “if we don’t choose well”  we could harm the rights of the person who wants an abortion), along with the above.

Perhaps after that, they might come back with a recommendation regarding who in fact is in need of elementary catechesis.

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Readers, forgive the incompleteness of this post, but with vacations and a “breaking story,” we’re going to be a bit short of words today.  Over at Caritas Christi, the healthcare network about to be sold to private equity firm, Cerberus, the spin-meisters have been saying for months that the Catholic identity would be preserved forever.  Fr. Bryan Hehir, Cardinal O’Malley, and Vicar General Erikson have also been saying the same thing, but many pro-life Catholics have been skeptical, and now we start to see why the skeptics are justified.

Over at Boston Catholic Insider, their most recent post on Cronyism says “numerous reports received indicate that (Ralph) de la Torre (Caritas’ CEO) has already authorized the removal of symbols of Catholic faith and Catholic identity at Caritas hospitals.  If anyone has photos of the lobby of St. Elizabeth Hospital before and after the portrait of Cardinal O’Malley was removed, please send them our way and the same holds for before/after photos of the statue of the Blessed Mother which has also apparently been removed from the Emergency Room area at St. E’s.  These moves would seem to validate the fears voiced previously.”

If the removal of symbols of Catholic faith and Catholic identity has already begun before the deal is even approved and finalized by the Vatican, Archdiocese, Attorney General, and SJC, then we believe Catholic faithful are entitled to know whether the Caritas Board, which includes Fr. Bryan Hehir as the Archdiocese’s representative, approved these moves.  Never ones to pass up an opportunity for a good story, we asked one of our friends over at St. Elizabeth’s to help out.  They said that the picture of Cardinal O’Malley near the entrance was actually removed more than a month ago.  Here is a photo snapped a few minutes ago  of the empty location where his picture once was:

None of the marketing brochures  promoting Caritas mention the word “Catholic” in them. We will post a scanned copy of one of the new Caritas brochures separately.

In the Catholic Church, symbols of the faith matter.  Taking down the Cardinal’s picture as the Archbishop of Boston and expunging the word “Catholic” from promotional materials are symbolic of a dismantling of the Catholic identity at Caritas, as would be the removal of statues and religious articles from the hospitals.  These moves would run counter to what has been said publicly:

The main point is that it’s designed to last forever.  That’s the prevailing hope of everyone involved, that…the Catholic tradition of Caritas Christi stays in place forever.’’ (Charles Murphy, Caritas spokesman, in the Boston Globe, April 28, 2010)

We announced yesterday that an agreement has been reached with Cerberus that ensures the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi hospitals. The sale is still pending as the Attorney General has to review it, but this stewardship agreement was a key component for us because it will preserve the Catholic identity of Caritas.  (Cardinal Sean’s  May 7, 2010 blog)

The Stewardship Agreement memorializes Steward’s commitment to maintain the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi Healthcare system and its fidelity to the mission of the Church’s healthcare ministry.”  (Fr. Richard Erikson, Vicar General, quoted in The Pilot, May 14, 2010)

This is a substantive and structural commitment by the archdiocese and Steward to operate this hospital system by the religious and moral directives of the Catholic Church.” (Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Healthcare and Social Services, quoted in The Pilot, May 14, 2010)

The recently-signed agreement between the archdiocese and Steward provides that the Archbishop of Boston will oversee that the Caritas hospitals run in accordance with the bishops’ directives. The agreement allows the archbishop to have final authority in disputes involving the directives.  The agreement also allows the hospital to maintain its existing ethics committees, and allows the archdiocese to hire its own medical ethicist. Additionally, the hospitals can still provide chapels, employ chaplains, and display Catholic imagery. (The Pilot, May 14, 2010)

If Cerberus deems it is materially burdensome to maintain a Catholic identity, it can terminate the religious affiliation by making a $25 million payment to a charity of the Archdiocese of Boston’s choosing. If that happens, critics of the deal said yesterday, procedures such as abortions could one day be performed at the hospitals. Neary also said Cerberus might decide to develop some of the hospitals’ properties for other uses.  Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy… said most of the group’s complaints were unfounded. “The wild speculation engaged in today is absurd,’’ Murphy said. (Boston Globe, July 28, 2010)

We believe that Cardinal O’Malley had sincere intentions for Caritas to maintain Catholic identity post-acquisition. But the agreement and actions say otherwise.  If Caritas is already treating imagery and words that communicate Catholic identity as “burdensome” enough that they are being removed before the deal is even approved, then how can Catholic hospital workers be assured that something admittedly tougher–protecting their conscience rights for years ahead in the future–will happen as promised? (After all, their Archdiocesan Caritas board representative Fr. Hehir said in April that conscience clauses “adjudicate deeply held convictions and positions in this pluralistic society” and if we are not careful, we could harm the individual who needs abortion services).  And if Catholic imagery is being removed, how can the Archdicoese be assured that Cerberus will not quickly find that maintaining Catholic religious and ethical directives (that ban abortions and other immoral procedures) is also too “burdensome”?  Do Fr. Hehir and the Archdiocese know and approve of what is happening at Caritas already?  Who exactly is in charge?

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