Archive for the ‘National Council of Catholic Bishops (NCCB)’ Category

As the dust settles on the election of Archbishop Dolan as the USCCB’s new President and the defeat of Bishop Kicanas, since the name of Cardinal Bernardin was resurrected in many of the media reports, we thought we’d just make sure everyone knew the ties that connect Fr. Hehir, the late Cardinal Bernardin, and Bishop Kicanas. 

In the course of writing this, we stumbled across some articles about Bernardin that were, er, rather controversial and disturbing as relates to the advancement of the gay agenda and sub-culture in the Catholic Church by Bernardin. Grab a good strong cup of coffee or tea.  You’ll need it today.

Kicanas Connection to Bernardin

USA Today said about Kicanas:

The expected choice: the Bishop of Tucson Gerald Kicanas, a Chicago-born and trained bishop mentored by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin who was known as a voice for social justice in the era when the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote major pastoral letters nuclear weapons, the economy and AIDS. In 2008, Kicanas won The Cardinal Bernardin Award for his commitment to finding common ground within the Catholic faith.

Bernardin’s pastoral letter on AIDS  talked about public education campaigns that could give out information about condoms, and it was later modified after objections by Cardinal Law, Cardinal O’Connor, and Cardinal Ratzinger becuase some of its passages went against Church teachings or appeared to condone immoral behavior.

Bernardin was mentioned as the model for a potential Kicanas USCCB presidency very frequently; just do a Google search on kicanas and bernardin and you’ll find 2700 results.

Kicanas Connection to Hehir

Since Kicanas was a protégé of Bernardin’s and Fr. Hehir was close to Bernardin too, it only makes sense that Kicanas would probably have some connection to Fr. Hehir.  Here is Bishop Kicanas speaking at the National Leadership Roundtable, where Fr. Bryan Hehir is on the Board of Directors along with Sr. Carol Keehan of the CHA, whom Hehir praised earlier for her leadership in supporting the abortion-funding ObamaCare.  (We wrote about that in Fr. Bryan Hehir “Wounds Catholic Unity” by Undermining U.S. Bishops on Healthcare).

Like most of the other organizations that Fr. Hehir is a member of, the National Leadership Roundtable is not without controversy:

“Bishops who might welcome the help offered by the Roundtable project in its early phases may later find that those who only wanted to be of assistance have effectively taken over a large part of the decision-making authority traditionally belonging to the episcopal office,” Fr. Richard Neuhaus, an influential New York archdiocesan priest wrote in First Things, the monthly journal he founded. “He who pays the piper, and all that,” wrote Neuhaus.  “An additional concern expressed by lay critics of the Roundtable project is that it would create a small elite of wealthy lay people and progressive activists falsely claiming to represent the millions of lay faithful,” continued Neuhaus. “In response to this concern, it is said that the Boisi group is only taking the initiative in a restructuring of the governance of the Catholic church that will, in its successive phases, expand to include democratically elected representation at every level of the church’s life.”

Practical assistance is just what the Roundtable offered the Tucson, Ariz., diocese, which is undergoing significant management challenges in the wake of bankruptcy proceedings that led to separate incorporation of the church’s 74 parishes.

Hehir Connection to Bernardin

As we told you in “Fr. Hehir and the Seamless Garment,”  Fr. Hehir and the late Cardinal Bernardin were close collaborators and friends.  From the 2001 book, “Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics” we hear:

Shortly after the pastoral on war and peace had been issued. and no doubt trying to take advantage of the momentum it bad generated within the hierarchy. Cardinal Bernardin undertook another major initiative intended to broaden the bishops’ pro-life agenda beyond abortion.

As one would expect, in undertaking this initiative Bernardin received the invaluable assistance of Bryan Hehir. Indeed it is fair to say that this initiative was chiefly the product of their long collaboration. After working together over the years, the two men had become close friends.

Bernardin Connection to Gay Agenda and Sub-Culture in the Catholic Church

If what’s documented in these various books and articles is accurate, our calling this Cardinal Bernardin’s “connection to gay agenda and sub-culture” is an understatement already. 

  • From Paul Melanson at Lasalette Journey, excerpting from Paul Likoudis’s “AmChurch Comes Out: The U.S. Bishops, Pedophile Scandals and the Homosexual Agenda”:

If the problem of a homosexual network in the Church is viewed in this larger perspective, one can understand more fully the remarkable role of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin in creating an ‘American Church’ that has become a trusted ally of all those various social, political and cultural forces promoting sexual libertinism…Bernardin, it must be recalled, at least briefly, was sponsored, tutored and promoted by a number of dubious characters, not only his clerical godfather and mentor, Archbishop Paul Hallinan of Atlanta, who served as a bishop in Bernardin’s hometown, Charleston. Bernardin’s other ‘godfather’ was Archbishop (later Cardinal) John Dearden, who would be responsible for the appointment of such notorious pro-homosexual bishops as Detroit Auxiliary Tom Gumbleton, Ken Untener of Saginaw, Joseph Imesch, of Joliet, and Springfield’s Daniel Ryan….His closest friend from his South Carolina days, Monsignor Frederick Hopwood, had been accused of abusing hundreds of boys dating back to the early 1950s, when he and Bernardin shared a residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston – where some of the alleged abuse took place….

To do real justice to Cardinal Bernardin and his entourage of clerical homosexuals and pederasts and ancillary hangers-on who made up the Chicago-Washington, D. C. Homosexual/Pederast Axis would require more than one full size book.

That Bernardin’s alleged sexual penchant for young men still remains an open issue even today, ten years after the cardinal’s death, is reflected in the remarks made by writer A. W. Richard Sipe in his keynote address, “View From the Eye of the Storm,” given on February 23, 2003 to the Linkup National Conference in Louisville, Ky.

According to Sipe, years before Bernardin was charged with sexual abuse by Steven Cook in 1993, “several priests who were associates of Bernardin prior to his move to Chicago revealed that they had ‘partied’ together; they talked about their visits to the Josephinum to socialize with seminarians.”

It is a fact that Bernardin’s accuser (Cook) did not ever retract his allegations of abuse by anyone’s account other than Bernardin’s,” said Sipe. He also told the audience that the Chicago Archdiocese’s pay off to Cook before he died of AIDS was in the $3 million range.

The massive reorganization of the old National Catholic Welfare Conference into the super bureaucracy of the NCCB/USCC proved to be an unbelievable boon to the Homosexual Collective within and without of the Church. It accelerated the rate of wholesale infiltration and colonization of dioceses throughout the United States and reached its zenith under the reign of Pope Paul VI.

One of Bishop Bernardin’s closest friends at the NCCB/USCC was fellow homosexual Father James S. Rausch whose background has been thoroughly covered in Chapter 11. In 1970, Bishop Bernardin appointed Father Rausch, Assistant General Secretary of the NCCB/USCC. After Bernardin was made Archbishop of Cincinnati in November 1972, Rausch succeeded him as General Secretary.

Rausch was consecrated an Auxiliary Bishop of St. Cloud, Minn. by Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia on April 26, 1973. In January 1977, having served out his term of office at the NCCB/USCC, Rausch was made Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix.

An up and coming prelate to whom Bernardin was especially attached was Auxiliary Bishop John Roach who later became the Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Roach served as President of the NCCB/USCC from 1980 to 1983.

Bernardin and Roach, who some AmChurch observers characterized as “conjoined twins,” dominated political life at the NCCB/USCC for decades, first directly, and later through the clerics they advanced to bishoprics and key positions within the American bishops’ bureaucracy. The two men were frequent traveling companions and cooperated on a number of important NCCB documents including the 1983 Pastoral Letter “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response” that challenged the morality of nuclear deterrence.

“The Boys Club” Murder

On May 30, 1984, Frank Pellegrini, the organist and choir director for All Saints — St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southside was found brutally murdered in his apartment. His hands had been tied with barbed wire and he had been stabbed more than 20 times. There was no sign of forced entry. Police officials investigating the case believed that the murder was committed either by a woman or a homosexual.

According to his girlfriend, Pellegrini had had a homosexual relationship with a Chicago priest and was part of a secret clerical “Boys Club” that not only included homosexual assignations, but also ritualistic, occult worship and the sexual abuse of young boys garnered from low income ethnic families in the city. Pellegrini’s girlfriend told the police that Frank had told her that he wanted out of the Club and had scheduled a meeting with Chancery officials on the matter shortly before his death.

Two young private Chicago investigators, Bill Callaghan and Hank Adema, were hired to look into the Pellegrini murder. They were able to confirm the existence of a clerical homosexual/pederast ring operating out of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It appeared that the alleged homosexual ring they had uncovered was the same one mentioned by Father Andrew Greeley in the paperback version of Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest written in 1999.

One of the puzzling mysteries surrounding the murder involved Cardinal Bernardin. According to the police who were present at the crime scene, shortly after Pellegrini’s body was discovered, Cardinal Bernardin arrived at the murdered man’s home to quiz the officers about the killing. The cardinal told police that he did not know the murdered man. This raises the obvious question of how he learned of the killing so quickly and of what special interest was Pellegrini to him since he did not know the victim. The Pellegrini case was reopened in the early 1990s, but to date, the crime remains unsolved and Father Greeley remains silent.

Bernardin and the Winona Seminary Scandal

Although the homosexual scandal at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minn. has already been covered in the previous chapter in connection with Bishop Brom of San Diego, it may be helpful to recall the case again briefly as Archbishop Bernardin was implicated in both the scandal and the subsequent payoff, and because it ties into the well-publicized Cook Affair.

As reported earlier, the details of the Winona scandal did not come to public attention until 2002. However, it had its genesis in the 1980s when a small group of homosexual prelates decided to scout out fresh meat from candidates for the priesthood at Immaculate Heart Seminary in the Diocese of Winona.

According to reports based on an investigation by Roman Catholic Faithful, the bishops involved in the sordid affair were alleged to be Joseph Bernardin, John Roach, Robert Brom, and a fourth bishop whose identity is not known. (The Boston Globe briefly mentioned the scandal here)

At least two of the seminarians who were assaulted at Immaculate Heart Seminary took legal action, and it was through them that the existence of the predatory homosexual ring of bishops in Winona came to light.

One of the seminarians indicated that some of the homosexual activities at the seminary were connected to occult and Satanic rituals. He and other seminarians also mentioned that on occasion Archbishop Bernardin arrived at the seminary with a young traveling companion, Steven Cook. Years later, Cook gained worldwide notoriety as the man who accused Cardinal Bernardin of sex abuse in the late 1970s when Bernardin was Archbishop of Cincinnati.

Endnote 26:

Cardinal Bernardin’s “Seamless Garment” later renamed the “Consistent Life Ethic,” like “The Many Faces of AIDS,” is another illustration of how Bernardin helped to advance the agenda of the Homosexual Collective. The Seamless Garment strategy set out by Bernardin in the 1980s sought to broaden the pro-life tent by expanding the movement’s opposition to abortion, euthanasia, population control and school sex instruction to include other “social justice” issues such as war and peace, opposition to the death penalty, welfare reform and civil liberties. One of the immediate effects of the Seamless Garment ethic was the increase of power and financial resources of Social Justice offices at the diocesan level where the Homosexual Collective has always been strongly represented.

Since the Homosexual Collective has been extremely successful at framing the homosexual question in terms of a “civil rights” issue, the Bernardin strategy opened the NCCB/USCC and diocesan Social Justice Departments (and their considerable resources and manpower) to further exploitation by the Collective. At the same time the Collective benefited from the neutering effect the Seamless Garment strategy had on pro-life/pro-family forces within the Church that had become the backbone of public opposition to the political and social agenda of the Homosexual Collective. The Bernardin strategy served to breathe new life into the languishing Democratic Party and its pro-homosexual platform as well as promote the “big tent” inclusive policies of the Republican Party that sought to capitalize and exploit the political talents and financial wealth of the Homosexual Collective in America.

You may remember the name of Joseph Kellenyi. He figured in Michael S. Rose’s book Goodbye, Good Men, and in two of Rose’s articles in the NOR (Dec. 2002 and June 2003). Kellenyi, who was once a seminarian at Mundelein in the Chicago area, makes the following statement about a conversation he had with the Rev. John F. Canary, the Rector of Mundelein Seminary, in August 1999: “I told Rev. Canary that I had some problems with the Chicago Diocese. I told him that I perceived that while Cardinal Bernardin had probably lived a celibate life, and may not have abused Steven Cook, that he also was flamingly gay. I said that I perceived that under Bernardin’s regime, Chicago had become like Santa Rosa under Bishop Ziemann. I said that in Santa Rosa, those priests and seminarians not in the bishop’s gay clique were treated unjustly, and that the same was true of Chicago under Bernardin. I said that I perceived that Bernardin fostered and promoted a network of gay priests and bishops, and that they protected each other, covered up each other’s ‘mistakes,’ and promoted one another to positions of responsibility in Chicago and the church at large. I alluded to the fact that Bernardin had appointed Rev. Canary, and that he in turn had appointed the formation faculty. Rev. Canary’s response was ‘Your perception is accurate. The question is what are you going to do about it.’”

Do we have a smoking gun here? Kellenyi thinks so. In the same issue of AMDG, Kellenyi has an article detailing his story. Says he: “The polygraph results show that I discovered in 1999 that Cardinal Bernardin had fostered a network of gay priests and bishops who were covering up one another’s sexual indiscretions. The rector of Mundelein Seminary confirmed this fact.…Andrew Greeley has insinuated that Bernardin was gay. Will he now come out and simply admit that he knew it all along?”

In Paul Likoudis’s book Amchurch Comes Out: The U.S. Bishops, Pedophile Scandals and the Homosexual Agenda, Likoudis fingers Cardinal Berdanin as the “bishop-maker who…gave the American hierarchy its pronounced pro-gay orientation.…Bernardin acquired power rapidly. As his friends back in Charleston continued buggering little boys, Bernardin used his influence, starting in 1968, as General Secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference, to select bishops (many of whom are still ordinaries) who would, to put it charitably, condone and promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle and tolerate the sexual abuse of children by priests.”

A telling aside: James Hitchcock reported that “the Windy City Gay Men’s Chorus was asked [by Bernardin, who knew he was dying] to sing at his wake in the Cathedral. The chorus’s director said that they regarded the invitation as a sign of approval by the Church…” (The Catholic World Report, Feb, 1997). Approval indeed! At least by Bernardin. The Gay Chorus performed six songs – in the sanctuary to the right of the altar.

Back to Kellenyi’s article. Says he: “I would urge the reader to search The New York Times archives for an article entitled ‘Can this Man Save the Catholic Church?’ The article is about Wilton Gregory [President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops], and in it he describes in detail how Bernardin mentored and handpicked him, grooming him from early on for a leadership position….One can reasonably presume that Bishop Gregory is well aware of the fact that he is where he is today because a gay Cardinal took a special interest in him at a young age. Bishop Gregory has benefited directly from the combination of homosexuality and power in the Church. This alone would explain his waffling over the gay priest problem.”

Well, yes it would. Meanwhile, we wait and wait to see if Rome will intervene and clean up the mess. (We’re not holding our breath.)

[Update: we have removed a link to an article from a source which we just learnd has been discredited.]

Bryan Hehir Exposed thought this would probaby be enough about all these guys for one post. Even beyond the issues of Kicanas’ judgment about seminarian Daniel McCormack documented in this post, since Bernardin was a mentor for Kicanas, and Kicanas was endorsed by the militant “Catholic” GLBT Rainbow Sash organization that disrupts Catholic Masses and thought Kicanas would be open and understanding to their views, we’re pretty pleased that Kicanas was defeated.

Lest we lose sight of the namesake of this blog in the midst of all of the Bernardin material, we remind you that this generally flattering chapter about Fr. Hehir in the book “Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics”–whose content drew from interviews with Fr. Hehir and many of his friends and collaborators–said about Hehir and Bernardin, “After working together over the years, the two men had become close friends.” (p. 214)

Hehir and Bernardin were long-time collaborators and close friends.  Hehir is viewed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley as a highly trusted “strategic advisor.”  Need we say more about the questionable judgement of the key people highlighted in this post when it comes to choosing their friends, collaborators, mentors, and advisors?

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Feedback on our last post, “Fr. Bryan Hehir: Early Influences and “Private Morality” has been so positive–one commenter said it was “one of the best and most informative posts this blog has ever had”–that we’d like to build on it by today covering the infamous “consistent ethic of life” (aka “seamless garment”) ideology that Fr. Hehir helped establish.  It occurs to us now that perhaps we should have started the blog in March with even more of the historical context, but as they say, “better late than never.”  You will see the close tie-in with the effects of John Courtney Murray’s writings and the “consistent ethic of life” that has given air-cover to a generation of pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians in just a few paragraphs.

We’ll start with another excerpt from the chapter on Fr. Hehir from the 2001 book, “Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics” where Fr. Hehir and other observers of his work were interviewed, but we’ll end with something more recent from Cardinal O’Malley.

The chapter mentions Hehir’s “considerable” role played while at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in changing the public policy focus for U.S. bishops starting in 1983.  Fr. Hehir’s influence moved the bishops from an almost exclusive focus on opposing abortion to a broader “consistent ethic of life” approach where abortion was dealt with in conjunction with other threats to life and human well-being like poverty and nuclear war:

Shortly after Roe v Wade a major rift developed within the U.S. [Catholic] hierarchy.  It was split over whether the fight against abortion ought to serve as the principal overarching focal point of its agenda or whether the issue should be addressed in conjunction with other threats to life and human well-being such as poverty and nuclear war.  This disagreement continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with “conservative” bishops like Cardinal Law, Cardinal O’Connor, and bishop James McHugh of Camden supporting the former approach and progressives like Cardinal Bernadin embracing the latter posture.  As one would expect, Hehir sided with the progressive camp…

Shortly after the pastoral on war and peace had been issued. and no doubt trying to take advantage of the momentum it bad generated within the hierarchy. Cardinal Bernardin undertook another major initiative intended to broaden the bishops’ pro-life agenda beyond abortion. On 6 December 1983. he delivered a lecture at Fordham University entitled “The Consistent Ethic of Life: An American-Catholic Dialogue.” In it, he argued that the contemporary world confronts us with a whole range of threats to human life and well-being for which it is necessary to formulate a consistent and comprehensive response, By way of illustration, he linked the bishops’ opposition to abortion to their recent statement on nuclear weapons and went on to draw a further connection with their rejection of capital punishment.  Without equating them,  he suggested that the bishops’ stands on all three issues reflected a commitment to the support and defense of human life-what he called “a consistent ethic of life:’ Bernardin would deliver several more addresses in this vein over the course of the next few years, expanding the range of issues encompassed  within this “consistent life ethic”. He included opposition to euthanasia and pornography as well as support for greater governmental efforts to fight poverty and provide health care to the poor. The result of his effort was quite novel: an expansive vision of what it means to be truly pro-life and a broad social agenda that cuts across the dominant ideolological stances of the Right and the Left on the U.S. political spectrum.

As one would expect, in undertaking this initiative Bernardin received the invaluable assistance of Bryan Hehir. Indeed it is fair to say that this initiative was chiefly the product of their long collaboration. After working together over the years, the two men had become close friends. According to John Langan, who knew both men well, it is impossible to say which of them actually came up with the idea of the consistent ethic, though the basic substance of the idea was something they had long shared. What is clear. however, is that it was Hehir who was responsible for developing the idea in a systematic fashion.  The addresses that Bernardin gave on the subject were thus largely Hehir’s work and heavily reflect his thinking . For although it is true that abortion, war, the death penalty, and so on are life-related issues, the logical connection among them is far from strict. For example, according to Church teaching, abortion entails the taking of an innocent human life: the death penalty, on the other hand involves the execution by the state of someone guilty of a capital crime. It is not self-evident that opposition to the one should automatically demand opposition to the other. Accordingly. it was necessary that Bernardin receive assistance in order to formulate his conception of the consistent ethic in a rigorous and systematic fashion. Hehir supplied this.

Predictably, Bernardin’s initiative proved controversial. Leading opponents of abortion within the hierarchy such as O’Connor and Law feared it would weaken the bishops’ commitment to fight abortion. They also feared that pro-choice Catholic politicians would point to their support for other elements of the Church’s social agenda as a way of deflecting criticism of their pro-choice position — a fear that, as it turned out, proved well founded.

Beyond that problem, part of Hehir’s rationale for the “seamless garment” approach—namely his belief that the credibility and effectiveness of the Church’s teaching on abortion would actually be “enhanced rather than diminished by placing it in the context of a broader social agenda”—was also proven wrong.  The book acknowledges (p. 215) that the effect of Fr. Hehir’s recommendations on public policy had “proved quite minimal,”  and as of the time of the book’s publishing, the ‘consistent ethic of life’ had not yet succeeded in diminishing public support for abortion.   Moreover, this chapter also notes Fr. Hehir’s “crucially important” and “principal influence” roles in the Bishops’ peace and economic pastorals.  Both of them were intended to make a significant impact on public policy.  In the end, the impact is described as “utterly negligible.”

So we got no positive impact from the “seamless garment” and instead it gave decades of pro-abortion politicians air-cover for their positions.  Thanks a lot.  Fortunately, the “seamless garment” went underground for a decade from 1998 to 2008, but then it was dusted off in the 2008 presidential campaign, and in 2009 when President Obama spoke at Notre Dame, as George Weigel described in this National Review piece Obama and the ‘Real’ Catholics last year:

What was surprising, and ought to be disturbing to anyone who cares about religious freedom in these United States, was the president’s decision to insert himself into the ongoing Catholic debate over the boundaries of Catholic identity and the applicability of settled Catholic conviction in the public square. Obama did this by suggesting, not altogether subtly, who the real Catholics in America are. The real Catholics, you see, are those like the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who are “congenial and gentle” in persuasion, men and women who are “always trying to bring people together,” Catholics who are “always trying to find the common ground.” The fact that Cardinal Bernardin’s undoubted geniality and gentility in bringing people together to find the common ground invariably ended with a “consensus” that matched the liberal or progressive position of the moment went unremarked — because, for a good postmodern liberal like President Obama, that progressive “consensus” is so self-evidently true that one can afford to be generous in acknowledging that others, less enlightened but arguably sincere, have different views.

And whatever Bernardin’s intentions in formulating what came to be known popularly as the “seamless garment” approach to public policy, the net effect of the consistent ethic of life was to validate politically the intellectual mischief of Mario Cuomo’s notorious 1984 Notre Dame speech (“I’m personally opposed, but I can’t impose my views on a pluralistic society”), and to give two generations of Catholic politicians a virtual pass on the abortion question by allowing them to argue that, hey, I’m batting .667 on the consistent ethic of life.

Hold that thought.  Now fast-forward just a few months after that Notre Dame speech to the fracas over the funeral for Sen. Ted Kennedy to see traces of the “consistent ethic of life” resurrected. We have already covered what Fr. Bryan Hehir said about the Kennedy funeral in our post Fr. Hehir and Ted Kennedy: False Teaching ‘Emboldens’ Greater Evil. Here is a short quote from him once again in the Boston Globe on August 28, 2009.

If you look back over his long career, most of his life was taken up with domestic social policy and social welfare issues, and on those issues the church had a lot of overlap with him,’’

And from Cardinal Sean O’Malley about the funeral:

Needless to say, the Senator’s wake and Catholic funeral were controversial because of the fact that he did not publicly support Catholic teaching and advocacy on behalf of the unborn. ­­­Given the profound effect of Catholic social teaching on so many of the programs and policies espoused by Senator Kennedy and the millions who benefitted from them, there is a tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn. To me and many Catholics it was a great disappointment because, had he placed the issue of life at the centerpiece of the Social Gospel where it belongs, he could have multiplied the immensely valuable work he accomplished.

Hopefully, this trip down “memory lane” is enlightening for you, as we have lots more to come there.  In the meantime, we are clearly still suffering from the effects of Fr. Bryan Hehir’s “seamless garment” in 2010, and are not sure how making the issue of life the “centerpiece of the Social Gospel” is fulfilled by the Archdiocese of Boston continuing to feature a speaker at Bryan Hehir’s upcoming Social Justice Conference who publicly backed the pro-abortion politician, Kathleen Sebelius, for Health and Human Services Secretary.  We have not said our last on that topic.

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During his address on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, the
feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Father asserted that the “greatest danger” to the Church is not external persecution, but the “negative attitudes” of the world that can pollute and “infect the Christian community” from within.  This idea of internal pollution brings to mind the situation of Fr. Bryan Hehir and his actions and words here in Boston. This will be the first of several posts, culminating in our final response to Fr. Richard Erikson, Vicar General, regarding the prospect of meeting to discuss the blog.  Read on for one of several jaw-dropping examples that could meet Pope Benedict’s definition of “internal pollution,” but you can be the judge.

First, here are some passages from Pope Benedict’s homily, given to 38 metropolitan archbishops upon whom he bestowed the pallium after delivering his homily

Speaking on Christ’s promise in the Gospel that the “powers of hell shall not prevail” on the Church, the Pontiff explained that this not only “includes the historical experience of persecution suffered by Peter and Paul and other witnesses of the Gospel, but it goes further, wanting to protect especially against threats of a spiritual order.”

Indeed, if we think of the two millennia of Church history, we can see that – as the Lord Jesus had announced, Christians have never been lacking in trials, which in some periods and places have assumed the character of real persecution. “These, however, despite the suffering they cause, are not the greatest danger for the Church. In fact, it suffers greatest damage from what pollutes the Christian faith and life of its members and its communities, eroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening its ability to prophesy and witness, tarnishing the beauty of its face.”

Reflecting on the Scripture readings, the Pope explained that the “Second Letter to Timothy – of which we heard an excerpt – speaks about the dangers of the ‘last days,’ identifying them with negative attitudes that belong to the world and can infect the Christian community: selfishness, vanity, pride, love of money, etc.”

Now, the Bryan Hehir connection.  Back in December of 2005, Fr. Bryan Hehir and Catholic Charities of Boston under his leadership honored Boston Mayor Tom Menino (who backs gay marriage and abortion)  at Catholic Charities’ holiday fundraiser dinner.  This scandal may seem like ancient history, but almost no one is aware of Fr. Hehir’s almost incredulous explanation for why this scandal occurred.  And his actions in 2005 are very relevant to what we have been seeing and exposing in 2010.

By 2005, Mayor Menino’s public record of advocacy for gay rights and other issues opposed to Church teachings was well known by most people in society—Catholic or non-Catholics. He led the Gay Pride parade every year, sponsored a gay prom for teenagers at Boston’s City Hall, flew the gay rainbow flag over City Hall, maintained at public expense a gay/lesbian liaison office at Boston City Hall, appointed pro-abortion members of the Boston school committee, and much more you can read here. Most importantly, he was a highly visible advocate for gay marriage in 2004-2005 in the heat of the Church’s battle against same-sex marriage.  The issue made headlines on almost a daily basis in the mainstream media. (We’ll share some examples in subsequent updates to this post).  At one point, Menino planned to authorize marrying couples from out-of-state in defiance of the governor, and Menino welcomed 99 gay couples to City Hall for champagne and a wedding cake reception on May 17, 2004, the first day that gays were able to get marriage certificates for these so-called “marriages.” Here are some articles that describe the whole affair. About a year later, Menino declared June 3, 2005 to be Queer Eye Day in the City of Boston.  One would have had to essentially live on another planet to miss this.

Fast forward.  In November 2005, Bryan Hehir’s Catholic Charities announced plans to honor Menino, in direct opposition to the USCCB’s Catholics in Political Life, which states:

The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

A massive outcry by Boston-area Catholics immediately followed, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley pulled out, however Catholic Charities proceeded with honoring Menino at the event.  Here’s the kicker.  At the December 1, 2005 meeting of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, then-Archbishop Sean O’Malley commented on why this situation occurred in the first place.  Are you sitting down?  Here is what the Archbishop of Boston said, as documented in the minutes of that Dec. 1 meeting (p.6):

Re: the Catholic Charities Dinner: Honoring a special public figure can be advantageous to the fund-raising event. He met with Bryan Hehir,  The people at Catholic Charities were not away [sic, aware] of the statements against Church policy from the mayor.  Generally, the USCCB guideline is to not honor politicians as a prudent move.  The Archbishop decided to respect the office of the Mayor and not cancel the event, but he [the Archbishop] wouldn’t go. 

Was Fr. Bryan Hehir really asking the Archbishop and Catholics of Boston to believe that he was not aware of the statements against Church policy from the mayor?  Is this the same Fr. Bryan Hehir, who received a “genius” MacArthur fellowship?  Is this the same Fr. Bryan Hehir who was called “a brilliant, brilliant student of politics–especially the geopolitical scene” by the former general secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference ?  Is this the same Fr. Hehir who Cardinal Sean recently recognized as highly trusted “strategic advisor” who brings “fidelity to the work of the Church” and ”clarity to our message and mission”?  Fr. Hehir’s claim that he and his staff were unaware of Menino’s history is troubling and difficult to believe.  If Bryan Hehir was somehow naively unaware of Mayor Menino’s opposition to the Catholic Church on a host of issues, then Fr. Hehir bears responsibility for his own negligence and has no business being Cabinet Secretary of anything in this archdiocese.  And if he was aware but lied to the archbishop and presbyterate of Boston, then he should have been fired then and should still be fired now because this strongly suggests that what he says and does simply cannot be trusted–let alone trusted to align with Church teachings.

Fr. Hehir’s action honoring a political figure who rabidly opposed the Catholic Church on one of the core teachings of the Church and biggest social/moral issues of our time—marriage between a man and woman, and the foundation of how we order family and society—is but one example of his long history of dissent and undermining the teachings of the Church.   

Do you believe that Fr. Hehir is an example of an “internal pollutant”?   With this as just one example in a long history of similar situations, we must ask Cardinal Sean and Vicar General Fr. Erikson a simple question: Why is Fr. Hehir still in a position of decision-making authority over any public policy, staffing, education, or social issue in this Archdiocese? 

Authors and readers of this blog remain open to the possibility of a face-to-face dialogue with the Vicar General and Cardinal under appropriate conditions.  However, if the archdiocese does not agree that Fr. Bryan Hehir’s behavior and actions in this situation were objectively wrong, in conflict with the USCCB’s guidelines, scandalous, and damaging to the Catholic Church, then it seems we may not have any basis for conversation with the Vicar General or anyone in the archdiocesan hierarchy.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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Today’s post comes from a guest contributor, Chantel, who has been reading our blog since the beginning.  She submitted this editorial that she came across from The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly newspaper.   The editorial is from 1978, and is reprinted with the permission of the author and publisher. Many thanks to Chantal and Al Matt!

Fr. Hehir Should be Fired

by A.J. Matt, Jr.
March 16, 1978

Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, the USCC’s associate general secretary for international justice and peace, is one of the key men who constitute the inner circle’s think tank at the Washington headquarters of the United States Catholic Conference. Fr. Hehir has been instrumental in the increasing politicization of the USCC and came into prominence and influence during the term of Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin as president of the NCCB-USCC.

Among the “credits” Fr. Hehir can claim are key roles in developing the “Call to Action”; persuading the Bishops to pull back from a firm anti-abortion stance during the 1976 presidential elections; recommending to the Bishops that they approve the turnover of the Panama Canal; blunting any episcopal resistance to the return of St. Stephen’s crown to the Hungarian Communists.

It has become increasingly apparent that the USCC’s inner circle of policy-makers, within which Bryan Hehir is not the least, has become an echo chamber for Carter administration policies in a number of areas.

The secularization of the USCC policy (and therefore the U.S. Bishops’ policy) is now proceeding under Fr. Hehir’s guidance into the area of demographics. According to a recent NC News report, Fr. Hehir has now “proposed a human rights strategy to bridge the gap between the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion and artificial means of birth control and its belief that overpopulation can be a real social problem.” Into the “gap” steps Bryan Hehir with a three point approach which would, in effect, “Carterize” the Church’s position on abortion, contraception and related population matters. Here’s what NC News describes as Fr. Hehir’s proposal:

First, he said, the Church believes that social justice is the key factor in controlling population growth. The Church believes that parents will reduce their family’s size when they are assured of “minimum dignity” and satisfaction of human needs, Fr. Hehir said.

Second, he said, the Church should oppose certain means of population control on human rights grounds. “We would oppose abortion on human rights grounds … and we would oppose sterilization as a tool that is too dangerous to place in the hands of government.”

Third, Fr. Hehir said, he would offer a strictly personal opinion that ‘We could, on the basis of living in a pluralistic society, remain silent on the contraception question’ in the public policy area while upholding the Church’s teachings internally.

He said such an approach was consistent with Catholic tradition because ‘Catholic tradition doesn’t always try to translate internal policy into public policy.'” (St. Louis Review, 3/3/78).

Stripping away the jargon, what the Hehir proposal amounts to is: (1) that an increase in material well being will move Catholic married couples to selfishly limit the size of their families; (2) that abortion and sterilization should be opposed more from a pragmatic perspective than from any absolute moral reprobation; (3) that the Catholic Church should institutionalize what has become known as the Kennedy, Drinan, Carter syndrome of schizophrenic morality: “personally I am opposed, but …”

That Fr. Hehir can use an official position within the Church to propagate such sophistries is an affront to every Catholic whose generosity makes it possible for our Bishops to have a USCC in the first place.

Contrast Fr. Hehir’s narrow and mean view of Catholic parents as selfish materialists with this vision of the love and generosity which motivates truly Catholic couples:

May the Second Vatican Council increase in Christian spouses this spirit of generosity for the expansion of the new People of God. May it also arouse in them the desire for children whom they can offer to God in the priesthood and in religious life for the salvation and service of their brethren and for the greater glory of God. Let them always remember that the expansion of God’s kingdom and the possibility of the Church’s penetration among men for their eternal and earthly salvation is dependent on their generosity.” (Pope Paul VI alloction of 2/16/66).

Fr. Hehir’s proposal to “remain silent on the contraception question” is nothing short of  a cowardly moral cop-out covered up by the excuse of our “living in a pluralistic society.”

To suggest, as Bryan Hehir does, that to “remain silent” while our government formulates and imposes laws promoting contraception and other immoral practices is “consistent with Catholic tradition” is simply false.

Catholic tradition as embodied in countless episcopal declarations, papal allocutions and encyclicals  has denounced contraceptive propaganda and programs in whatever context they might appear – even in “pluralistic societies”!

In stark contrast to Fr. Hehir’s accomodationist position, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expresses genuine Catholic tradition with respect to law which violates morality. Addressing itself to the limits of human law in par. 21 of its “Declaration on Procured Abortion,” the Congregation declares:

The law is not obliged to sanction everything, but it cannot act contrary to a law which is deeper and more majestic than any human law: the natural law engraved in men’s hearts by the Creator as a norm which reason clarifies and strives to formulate properly, and which one must always struggle to understand better, but which is always wrong to contradict. Human law can abstain from punishment, but it cannot declare to be right what would be opposed to the natural law, for this opposition suffices to give the assurance that a law is not a law at all.”

For too long Catholics in this Country have endured the clamor and posturing of various and sundry experts who presume to inform their consciences while the real teachers and shepherds, the Bishops, too often remain silent. The time is long overdue for our Bishops, joining in communion with Christ’s Vicar in Rome, to assert themselves, as instructors of the Catholic conscience. Firing Bryan Hehir would be a good beginning.


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Readers, just to note–this was written 32 years ago!  The ideology you heard above about Catholic teachings being for private moralityinside the Church and not public morality has served as the justification for decades of dissent by so-called “Catholic” pro-abortion and pro-gay politicians.

Even more important, Fr. Hehir’s and others’ ideas like this were able to advance and take hold over the intervening 32 years because people did not understand the Church’s moral teaching to begin with.  For example, Hehir based part of his argument on the “need” for population control. Now, history has obviously proven that perceived “need” wrong since we’re facing something more like a demographic winter. But to even consider that population needed to be controlled was wrong.

We can blame it on the priests and bishops for not teaching, or for teaching incorrectly in some cases, and certainly we have big problems there.  But at the same time, when we get to our judgment day, can we say to the Lord in asking forgiveness for our sins and failings, “I’m sorry, Father never taught me this?”  Unless we are all prepared from the get-go with true moral teaching and proactively seek that out ourselves, we’ll fall on our faces every time.

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