The scandal over the St. Cecilia Church’s Rainbow Ministry Gay Pride Mass canceled by the Archdiocese of Boston got deeper with word in Monday’s Boston Globe that the archdiocese has flipflopped and now has “no objection” to a “prayer service” by the same group at the same time for the same purpose as before. The pastor publicly accused concerned Catholics of “hate” during his Sunday homily, and a diocesan auxiliary bishop who was there on Sunday is apparently OK with both the prayer service plans and the accusations of hate against orthodox Catholics.
After the archdiocese’s initial response canceling the Mass that sounded strong and courageous, things are now spiraling out of control. At the end of this post, we’ll tell you how to Take Action about the growing scandal, which now involves the pastor, Fr. John Unni, Bishop Robert Hennessey, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and his spokesman, Terry Donilon. If this scandal continues beyond the next few days, someone will probably need to resign.
First there was the Mass planned to celebrate Boston Gay Pride described in this way: “The Rainbow Ministry of Saint Cecilia Parish invites all friends and supporters of the LGBT community to a Mass in celebration of Boston’s Pride Month.” Here’s the blog post, since removed, entitled, “Liturgy to Commemorate Boston Pride 2011.” Here’s the original bulletin listing:
Then concerned Catholics complained and the archdiocese insisted the Mass to celebrate Gay Pride be cancelled. The archdiocese said, the “wording and placement of a bulletin notice announcing that the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry will be joining the parish at a Mass on June 19 may have given the unintended impression that the Mass is in support of Gay Pride Week; it is not,’’ said Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. “The pastor will clarify this issue at the Masses this coming weekend.’’ Donilon declined to answer questions about the apparent contradiction of the church’s bulletin and his statement.
Clarify the issue, the pastor did. Monday’s Globe reports Fr.John Unni said this in his homily:
Rev. John J. Unni preached a fiery message of unconditional love and what he called “acceptance of all.’’“You are welcome here, gay or straight, rich or poor, young or old, black or white,’’ Unni said as he paced up and down the center aisle. “Here, you all can say, ‘I can worship the God who made me as I am.’ ’’
Like the bishop said, good love always requires sacrifice,’’ Unni said. “We are being called to do not what is easy, but what is holy.’’
At one point, he called the conservative bloggers who criticized the Mass “unbelievably hurtful’’ and said he was trying to “not just succumb to being told what to do.’’
“We are not this renegade, crazy, liberal church,’’ Unni said, to smiles and nods from the pews. “We’re just Christians trying to live the gospel.’’
Now, instead of the Rainbow Ministry’s Mass next Sunday at 6pm promoted for the purpose of celebrating Gay Pride, which the archdiocese canceled because it gave the unintended impression it was in support of Gay Pride Week, “the Rainbow Ministry will hold a sidewalk prayer service next Sunday at 6 pm” apparently for the same purpose. What does the diocesan spokesperson say about this: “Donilon said the archdiocese has no objection to the service, especially if it isn’t held inside.” Let’s get this straight–an indoor Gay Pride Mass gives the “unintended impression” it’s in support of Gay Pride, but an outdoor prayer service at the same time as a substitute after it’s already been marketed as a celebration of Gay Pride is OK?
Part of the crux of the matter is that Fr.Unni seems to think he’s doing the right thing. In today’s Globe, he is quoted saying, ”
Unni insists he’s not flouting church teachings. “Jesus met people where they were at,’’ he said. “He went to them and reminded them who they were in God’s eyes.’’
Does the poor man not realize that by not teaching Church teachings on sexual morality, he is in effect actually flouting church teachings? Does he not even understand how Jesus met sinners where they were and called them to conversion and turning from sin?
Donilon called me and the blog posts “neither Christian nor civil” in an email exchange copied to multiple people over the weekend. The blog that’s trying to hold firm to the Church’s beliefs and set the record straight that people with same-sex attractions should live a life of chastity consistent with the Gospel and Word of God was called “neither Christian nor civil” by the archdiocese and “unbelievably hurtful” by Fr. John Unni. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the archdiocese’s talking head described St. Cecilia parish as “a great example of people who are civil and exhibiting a real fellowship.’’
Over at The Deacon’s Bench, in comments on this same topic, Deacon John M. Bresnahan commented:
One line in Father Unni’s comments is particularly erroneous in Boston and Mass. He said “We are being called to do not what is easy, but what is holy.” Well, it IS holy to uphold Christian moral teachings. And it IS unholy to give people the impression that any kind of sinful acts are OK if you fabricate an excuse or are part of a political movement. As for what is easy—certainly not upholding traditional moral values in Massachusetts.
Another commenter, FrMichael commented:
To me, there is a simple solution.
Cardinal O’Malley shows up for Sunday Mass at the parish with a Catechism of the Catholic Church. He then reads the pertinent paragraphs of the CCC regarding homosexuality and then offers Fr. Unni the opportunity to publicly assent to each paragraph. Since the pastor publicly made a profession that he fully accepted the teachings of the Magisterium at his installation as pastor, this should go smoothly. If, on the contrary, the priest tries to weasel out, then fire him immediately.
This way outreach can continue to LGBT folks, but nobody is under the illusion that the Catholic Church is going to modify Her beliefs on the matter.
Reader, Alice, at this blog commented:
Will Fr. Unni and those who are currently engaging in homosexual acts who belong to St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry publicly in a written statement accept the way of Courage? Courage is the only organization that has the endorsement of the Holy See. Cardinal Lopez Trujillo,speaking on behalf of the Holy See has stated: “This Pontifical Council for the Family supports the organization, COURAGE, founded by Fr. John Harvey,OSFS, For helping homosexual persons to live in accordance with the laws of God and the teaching of His Church.”(July 7,1994)….Courage requires a commitment to living a chaste life according to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Will Fr. Unni and the members of the Rainbow Ministry publicly and in writing endorse the way of Courage now?
Take Action on Tuesday to address this scandal by calling the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi at 202-333-7121. Leave a message saying that you need the Nuncio’s intervention to get Cardinal O’Malley to do the following:
- issue a written statement clearly stating Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality and homosexual activity
- insist that Fr. John Unni publicly acknowledge those teachings on sexual morality
- either cancel the June 19 GLBT prayer service (still being held at the same time, date and location as the previously promoted event celebrating Gay Pride) or replace the theme and speakers with a talk by a priest representing the Courage ministry, talking and praying about how people with same-sex attractions can live a life of holiness consistent with the Gospel and Word of God.
If you’ve got time for more than one phone call, you can also try calling Cardinal O’Malley at 617-782-2544 and Bishop Robert Hennessey at 617-269-4001.
Cardinal O’Malley said in 2006,
“It is important to express the moral teachings of the Church with clarity and fidelity. The Church must be Church. We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season.Calling people to embrace the cross of discipleship, to live the commandments and at the same time assuring them that we love them as brothers and sisters can be difficult. Sometimes we are told: “If you do not accept my behavior, you do not love me.” In reality we must communicate the exact opposite: “Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.”
Your Eminence, which season is now, “in season” or “out of season”? Are you going to teach the truths of the Gospel and insist that your bishop, spokesman, and pastors do the same, or will we continue being “out of season” with you sitting silently by, letting your spokesman and Fr. Unni muddy the message of the truths of the Gospel?