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.
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