For everyone following the situation of the Boston Archdiocesean Social Justice Conference that took place on Saturday, we’re pleased to give you a recap on what happened.
As blog followers know by now, this conference featured Fr. Bryan Hehir and Fr. Thomas Massaro, SJ of BC, who publicly supported the pro-abort Gov. Sebellius for Health and Human Services Secretary in the Obama administration. Several hundred people sent faxes and emails to the Holy See and Cardinal O’Malley protesting the conference. Though the event still went on, your efforts made a huge difference to minimize the potential harm to the Body of Christ!
Several Bryan Hehir Exosed readers attended the conference and shared details. Attendance was only about 100 people, including archdiocesan staff, so the ruckus raised apparently helped keep people away. We’re not sure why a Boston police officer was stationed at the front door early in the day. Either the archdiocese was worried about this blog trying to disrupt their festive gathering, or perhaps they thought the social justice people who are used to protesting things would form a protest to commemorate the day.
Both Fr. Hehir and Fr. Massaro still spoke, and they avoided saying anything in their talks that was nearly as egregious as what we have documented here on the blog.
Fr. Hehir talked on the topic of “Charity of Justice.” He said “to be Catholic is to be scriptural, sacramental, and social,” and his 4 themes were around life, dignity, work, and vocation. He said in the Church’s public ministry we must be a voice for the defense and promotion of life at every stage of life, and then said the bishops of the U.S. over the past 2 decades have said we must cultivate a ”consistent ethic of life” across the entire spectrum of life. (Of course, as we know, the “consistent ethic of life” is an equivalent way of saying “seamless garment, ” which is the way of having abortion be considered no more important than other issues like poverty, pornography, and capital punishment).
One reader told us they cannot understand how Fr. Hehir has become so adept at failing to match his words and deeds. Fr. Hehir reminded this audience that October is “Pro-Life Month” and acknowledged we need to protect life at all stages from conception to natural death, yet at a BC forum earlier this year, he said he was concerned that conscience exemptions for Catholic healthcare workers could harm the ability of a woman to get abortion services. How can we protect life starting at conception if you are concerned about how women will get abortions that end the life before the baby is born? And this is the second year when the Boston Archdiocese has stalled and stone-walled volunteers looking for just a modest top-level endorsement from Fr. Hehir’s secretariat in support of the “40 Days for Life” initiative supported by dozens of other dioceses. Fr. Hehir, what gives? When all eyes are on you, you find a way of saying the right words, but when you are not being watched closely or the rubber hits the road with actions that happen behind closed doors, it’s a different story.
Fr. Massaro’s talk on Catholic Social Teaching never mentioned abortion specifically. Here’s Fr Marraro’s handout. Near the end of his talk, he briefly discussed 9 fundamental themes of Catholic social teaching, starting with the “Dignity of Every Person and Human Rights” (see page 2 of his handout, bottom of the page). He verbally referenced protection of life at every phase of life under the “dignity of every person” section and claimed the Vatican documents Pacem in Terris, Centessimum Arrus, and Gaudium et Spes were references for that, but our read of all 3 documents found their focus is not at all about protecting life from conception to natural death. And Fr. Massaro, the nationally-recognied expert on Catholic social justice made the exact same mistake that Fr. Bryan Hehir made back in 1975, saying that Pope Paul VI’s Octogesima Adveniens is also known as “A Call toAction .” In fact, “Call to Action” is merely the title of the 4th section of the Pope Paul VI’s letter, not the name of it.
Most of the other breakout session speakers at the event had nothing as overtly controversial in their backgrounds as those in past years, so it’s clear the Boston Archdiocese was being more careful this time around to avoid additional criticism. Nonetheless, two names still jumped out at us—both habitless religious sisters.
Sr. Margaret (Peggy) Cummins, of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) , which helped to pass the abortion-funding Obamacare, was there, speaking on Human Trafficking. And Sr. Honora Nolty, OP, of RENEW International was there to speak on faith sharing. Sr. Nolty is from the Dominican sisters of Amityville, NY. Here’s their vision:
As prophetic witnesses in collaboration with others, we will call ourselves, the Church and society to credibility. We will be responsible members of the universe. We will promote the dignity of marginalized persons. We will reject violence in ourselves and in society in order that all Generations will grow and cherish life. With the world as our frontier, we are open to the Spirit.
Whichever reader is the first person to find “God” in the vision statement gets a free copy of the ARISE workbook, courtesy of Bryan Hehir Exposed. Sr. Nolty was also quoted in a NY Times article in 2005 that talked about how the sisters had to have a ‘tag sale” at the Long Island estate they owned and sold for $35 million:
In recent years, the order held non-denomination retreats and events run by a variety of organizations, but could not raise enough funds to pay the maintenance costs for the building and the grounds….Sr. Margaret said, “We walk away now trusting in the creative power of the universe to create the next thing.”
Perhaps if they had tried holding Catholic retreats there, or maybe they had replaced the “the bronze statue of a Lakota Indian woman carrying a peace pipe”–which stood outside the entrance to the Hakamé house used by the order for art classes—with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they would have found more success. As for “trusting in the creative powers of the universe,” we are at a loss for words.
Major appreciation to the hundreds of people who signed the letter to Cardinal O’Malley, the Papal Nuncio, and to the Vatican. Our message got through loud and clear, and it’s obvious that they cleaned-up their act for this event to ensure that the speakers didn’t say anything heretical or scandalous.
But, as long as certain people are still in influential roles, there are yet more important battles ahead.