Archive for September, 2010

LifeNews and Thomas Peters at CatholicVoteAction.org have both reported extensively in the past couple of days on how Notre Dame’s long-time Associate Vice President for Residence Life, Bill Kirk was recently let go.  Kirk was the only senior official in the administration who supported the pro-life rally held to protest Notre Dame’s selection of President Obama as commencement speaker last year.  The story as also told by a Notre Dame prof in  “So Long Captain Kirk” is a sad one on its own, but there’s something important which none of the publications covering the story were aware of—namely the time spent in Boston by the person who fired Kirk, Fr. Tom Doyle, Notre Dame’s new Vice President for Student Affairs.   Fr. Tom lived at Our Lady Help of Christians in the rectory with Fr. Walter Cuenin for 3 years while he was at Harvard Business School.  Bishop Rene Gracida on Abyssum has coined the expression “Boston Virus” to describe the goings on in Boston, and this is no exception.  First, we’ll recap the main news, and then the rather disturbing Boston angle.

LifeNews and CatholicVoteAction both referenced a piece at National Review Online by Jack Fowler.  Obama at Notre Dame: Golden Dome Bosses Serve a Cold Dish of Revenge Here’s a quick summary.

Notre Dame philosophy professor David Solomon posted a devastating analysis on his “Ethics and Culture in the News” blog on a troubling campus development: the sacking of long-time ND staffer Bill Kirk, the only man from the university administration who joined an on-campus pro-life “NDResponse” rally last year (also attended by South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy) protesting the selection of Barack Obama as the commencement speaker.

Kirk and his wife Elizabeth are prominent campus abortion foes (she was assistant director of one of the few institutes on campus that is avowedly pro-life and orthodox). Now their voices have been silenced, and by the same people who gnash their teeth and pluck their beards about living wages, unionization, fair treatment of employees, and the rest of the Catholic Left’s lobbying agenda. One can hear the college brass channeling Henry II: Will no one rid us of this troublesome pro-life Associate Vice-President for Residence Life?’

Catholic Vote Action says, “The decision to fire Bill Kirk was made by Father Tom Doyle, ND’s new VP for Student Affairs. I think it’s appropriate to email Fr. Doyle a brief note asking him to explain why he fired Bill Kirk. Fr. Doyle’s email is Thomas.P.Doyle.22@nd.edu.”

You can just follow the links above to get more of the story about the Kirks, so now we’ll cut to the chase on Fr. Doyle.  He studied at Harvard Business School from 2001-2003 and spent another year there writing case studies, including one on financial reporting in the Catholic Church.   While he was in Boston for 3 years from 2001-2004, he opted to live in the rectory at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton, where the pastor was noted gay rights activist, Fr. Walter Cuenin.

This 2002 Boston Globe article reported, “After arriving at Our Lady in 1993, Cuenin rejuvenated the parish with a spirit of openness that appealed to Catholics of a liberal ilk. He openly questioned polices on gays and women, and told Globe West in 2001 that Our Lady welcomes “people who are very devout Catholics and people who are hanging on by their fingernails.”

In April of 2002, Cuenin submitted testimony to the Massachusetts  Legislature in opposition to a bill that would have banned gay marriage.  Cuenin and Our Ladys  church were well known as being gay-friendly, and the Boston Globe cited the church in October 2003 as “one that welcomes gays and lesbians, and hosts a gay and lesbian faith sharing group.”  The parish even marched several years in a row at the annual Gay Pride parade in Boston.  Cuenin helped found the dissident group, Voice of the Faithful, in 2002.  He was one of the founders of the Priests Forum, and he was led a group of priests who called for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law.  This article from September 2, 2002 issue of The New Yorker magazine entitled “The Reformer” describes Cuenin in elaborate detail:

Father Cuenin was bothered by the Cardinal’s unyielding allegiance to the dictates of Rome….Our Lady Help of Christians is widely considered an excellent parish. Nonetheless, Father Cuenin’s pastorate has not escaped the chancery’s scrutiny. He hadn’t been long in the job when calls started coming in, from the Cardinal himself or from his subordinates, reprimanding him for, among other things, using translations of scripture that replaced such words as “man” with gender-neutral terms, and for giving a non-Catholic—specifically, the Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts—the Eucharist.

[After attending a Voice of the Faithful meeting in 2002] Cuenin said “But what they need and what we need”—he was referring to the Priests’ Forum—”is a community organizer like Saul Alinsky. Some way to put pressure on the hierarchy for change.   We covered Our Ladys and Fr. Cuenin previously on this blog, and Fr. Cuenin’s ill-informed preaching on salvagion also discussed in our post “What I Believe” is Unbelievable.

Beyond Fr. Tom Doyle’s having lived at Our Ladys with Walter Cuenin, we do not know a lot about him.  When he graduated from Harvard Business School in 2003, he was honored for leadership with a Deans Award.  Some of our Newton readers who went to Mass at Our Ladys during the period of time when Fr. Tom was there sent us emails over the weekend with recollections of Fr. Tom as being youthful and energetic and giving homilies that were down-to-earth–but he also typically wore athletic attire under his vestments (ie short pants and sneakers in warm weather) when saying daily or weekend Masses.  He started at University of Portland in 2004 as executive assistant to the President and advanced to Executive VP, and was apparently well-liked and popular during his six years there from 2004-2010.  At Notre Dame, the 2010-2011 “Guide to Student Life” published by Fr. Tom’s office tells how “Student Affairs strives to create an inclusive, diverse, vibrant environment,” describing the “Spirit of Inclusion” and “Resources for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning Students” (p.46) in a similar manner to the same guides of previous years with no mention of Church teaching in this area,  so if he were bringing any new Catholic orthodoxy to Notre Dame, it is not apparent in the student handbook.

Fr. Tom’s choices to live at Our Ladys and to explicitly mention living at Our Ladys in his Univ. of Portland biography are curious ones that might cause anyone to ask a few questions.  Priests faithful to Church teachings  tend to prefer living in rectories with like-minded priests.  And vice versa.   There are a lot of churches within just a few miles driving distance from the Harvard Business School.  The reputation of Fr. Cuenin and Our Ladys was well-established before Fr. Tom arrived in Boston and chose his living accommodations.  Reasonable readers of this blog might ask the question, exactly what was it about Our Ladys and a known dissident like Fr. Cuenin that made Fr. Tom decide to live at that particular parish?  If you were a priest faithful to Church teachings and lived in a rectory with a pastor who gave testimony opposing the Church’s teachings on marriage to the state legislature, would you want to keep living there when plenty of other rectories were nearby with space available?  Given the range of Fr. Cuenin’s actions that undermined the Church during that time when Fr. Tom was living there, was there nothing that made Fr. Tom say, “I’m outta here”?  If Fr. Tom was comfortable staying at Our Ladys which was permeated by Fr. Cuenin’s unorthodox ideology and sufficiently proud of being there that he mentioned it in his bio, through what sort of lens does Fr. Tom judge orthodox Catholics?

Oh, we nearly forgot to mention the Bryan Hehir connection.  Next month, October 17-20, Fr. Hehir and Fr. Doyle are both scheduled to speak at Notre Dame’s “Program on Mission-based Leadership and Organization Development.That’s just a week after Fr. Bryan Hehir is scheduled to keynote yet another Boston Social Justice Conference, this one featuring a BC prof as a speaker who publicly supported a pro-abortion politician as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  The “Boston Virus” continues…

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About a month ago we shared examples of the
Dismantling of Catholic Identity at Caritas Christi,” and a few days ago we told you how Caritas was planning to acquire the secular Landmark Hospital and leave the acquired hospital free to do procedures that violated Catholic Religious and Ethical Directives.  Local Catholic bloggers sounded the alarm bells along with folks like CJ Doyle, Deal Hudson, John O’Gorman and Ray Neary, and though it’s nice that Cardinal O’Malley and the Caritas CEO issued their statement Wednesday saying the soon-to-be-acquired hospital will abide by Catholic moral directives after all, it still feels like a wrecking ball is continuing to hit Catholic healthcare in Boston.

Today we’ll briefly revisit the current situation with Caritas/Landmark/Cerberus, but we mostly want to take you on a short tour of how the Catholic identity of Caritas has gradually been dismantled over the past two years.  It is particularly noticeable since “you know who” arrived on the Caritas board.First, do read the post over at ThrowtheBumsOutin2010 for a humorous retelling of the Landmark story. 

On Sept. 1 the archdiocese released a statement saying that Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley “was concerned about public statements that Landmark would not be operated as a Catholic hospital if acquired by Caritas”…Another shining example of letting people go unsupervised until you read what they’re doing in the newspaper.  We’re making progress though. [The Cardinal] was Johnny on the spot responding to the criticism, there was no attempt to call us ‘people doing a disservice to the Church,’ and they skipped the charade of calling in the National Catholic Bioethics Center and thanking them for their opinion without releasing that opinion publicly…The details of the arrangement are hermetically sealed in an envelope and are to remain secret until the deal gets the go-ahead from the judge. But trust them, it is all as Catholic as the Pope.”

As we said in our earlier post, when the original Caritas/Cerberus deal was announced, we saw Caritas, the Cardinal, Fr. Bryan Hehir and anyone else quoted in the press saying the Catholic identity would be preserved forever:

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)

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)

Those statements of course have been proven to be short-lived, as the deal isn’t even yet signed and Caritas was already planning to violate the directives with a new acquisition until those annoying bloggers and faithful Catholics started complaining.  Who is the one person on their Board today charged with maintaining the Catholic identity?  You guessed it.  Fr. Bryan Hehir. 

Let’s look now at a brief timeline of what’s happened with what we can publicly see of Caritas’ Catholic identity since Fr. Hehir arrived on the scene.

March 14, 2008. Caritas Christi announces new governance model. Fr. Hehir named as Cardinal O’Malley’s delegate to revamped Caritas Christi hospital board. Archdiocese of Boston involvement to be limited to “matters pertaining to Catholic identity, mission and the implementation of the religious and ethical directives of the USCCB.”  Hehir’s title expanded to Secretary of Healthcare and Social Services.

At that time, Caritas’ logo prominently depicted a cross.   The website description of Caritas’ mission said they were a “Catholic Health Care System” committed to serving those in need “in accordance with the principles of the Catholic Church.”  9 months later it was another story. 

December 2008, Caritas rebranded themselves.  They dropped the prominent Catholic cross from their logo, and in the new version of the logo, the cross is so subdued as to be almost unnoticeable.  They also dropped the statement about being a “Catholic” healthcare system operating in accord with the principles of the Catholic Church from their mission as well.  See below for the before and after:

 January 2008
Logo and Mission
(click here)

Today (and as of December 2008)
Logo and Mission
(click here)


Caritas Christi is a Catholic Health Care System rooted in the history of the Archdiocese of Boston. As a community of health care providers, we affirm Christ’s healing ministry, foster excellence in care, and commit ourselves to those in need in accordance with the principles of the Catholic Church.

Caritas Christi healthcare, rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus, is committed to serving the physical and spiritual needs of our community by delivering the highest quality care with compassion and respect. Our cover values are Compassion, Accountability, Respect, Excellence (CARE).

As described in The Patriot Ledger in March of 2009, Caritas launched what they described as a major marketing push whose theme was “Quality to the People.”  It depicted a raised fist (or clenched fist) holding a stethoscope.  According to Wikipedia, “The raised fist (also known as the clenched fist) is a salute and logo most often used by left-wing activists, such as: Marxists, anarchists, socialists, communists, pacifists, trade unionists, and black nationalists…It dates back to the salute of Rotfrontkämpferbund, a paramilitary organization of the Communist Party of Germany before the WWII.

The advertising firm that developed the campaign was The Boathouse Group in Waltham, MA.  Guess who runs that advertising firm?  C’mon, guess. OK, I’ll give you a hint.  The last name rhymes with “Goners.” You guessed it.  It’s John Connors III, son of powerbroker Jack Connors, Jr. the founder of Hill Holliday, head of the Catholic Schools Campaign, rearranger of the archdiocesan cabinet, Finance Council member, Partners Chair, former Chair of Boston College, and lots more. 

Yes folks, 9 months after Fr. Bryan Hehir joined the Caritas board to help maintain their “Catholic identity”,  Jack Connors’ son’s firm rebranded Caritas Christi, they dropped the prominent Catholic symbolism from the logo, dropped “Catholic” healthcare system and the commitment to serve in accord with Catholic moral principles from their mission statement, and launched a marketing campaign with a central graphic that symbolizes Marxism/socialism.

Then in late February of 2009, less than one year after Fr. Hehir joined the Board, Caritas announced a financial joint venture with Centene Corp.  After faithful Catholics and Mass Citizens for Life complained the joint venture included provisions for referring patients to abortion providers, Cardinal O’Malley first responded by saying anyone who suggested Caritas might have entered such an arrangement was “doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church.”  But then he asked the National Catholic Bioethics Center to study the deal, and after their report came back, Cardinal O’Malley instructed Caritas Christi to withdraw from its part ownership of CeltiCare to avoid any questions about whether Caritas would profit from the deal.  Even though the financial venture was abandoned, the 6 Caritas Christi hospitals would remain in the CeltiCare plan as providers of services.  And under the plan, Caritas Christi is still obliged to refer women for abortions. CeltiCare lists 3 Planned Parenthood abortion locations in Massachusetts.

Who was and is still responsible for the Catholic identity of Caritas and ensuring the healthcare network’s compliance with Catholic religious and moral directives?  Fr. Bryan Hehir.

In July we reported how symbols of the Catholic faith were already being removed from public places at the hospital. (The front desk receptionist explained it to an inquiring visitor as because “the business had been sold.”). Today, if you look at the latest Caritas flyer or St_Elizabeth’s Hospital brochure, you will see the word “Catholic” is nowhere to be found.  Nor do the mission or values of Caritas on their website mention “Catholic.”  Some people have commented on this blog they believe Caritas may be providing “emergency contraception” at Caritas Christi hospitals.   Just last Friday we heard Caritas was planning to acquire a secular hospital and let them operate in violation of Catholic religious and ethical directives–and the only reason that plan was altered was because the statement about their plans appeared in the newspapers and a bunch of annoying bloggers and activists complained about it. 

When will the Archbishop of Boston ever acknowledge that having Fr. Bryan Hehir responsible for the Catholic identity of our hospitals is like making the fox responsible for guarding the chicken coop?

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