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Archive for the ‘U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)’ 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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The Boston Catholic Insider blog has launched a Red Alert” campaign asking the U.S. bishops who meet in Baltimore this weekend to NOT elect the lead candidate for the new national leader (current USCCB Vice President Bishop Gerald Kicanas, since he is known to have enabled a priest convicted of child sexual abuse who is now defrocked and jailed.

Boston Catholic Insider asked us for help with quickly staging their campaign, so we shared the approach and Web technology we used in the past.  Here is their blog post. 

In short, the lead candidate, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon, was rector of a seminary in the 1990′s where he approved ordaining a seminarian even after receiving 3 allegations of sexual improprieties, including abuse of a minor.  After that ordained priest went on to abuse as many as 23 boys and was jailed and defrocked, in 2007 Bishop Kicanas looked back in hindsight and was quoted in the Chicago Sun Times as saying “It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained him…There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process…I was more concerned about his drinking.”

Here is the letter they have posted at the website www.usccbelection.com

Your Excellency,

I am writing to respectfully ask that you vote for a candidate other than Bishop Gerald Kicanas for the new president of the USCCB.

Many bishops may not be aware that Bishop Kicanas was rector of Mundelein Seminary in 1992 when he approved ordaining a seminarian, Daniel McCormack, despite knowing about three cases of homosexual “sexual improprieties” including one with a minor. Fr. McCormack went on to abuse 23 children and was defrocked and jailed.

After McCormack’s history of child sexual abuse was known, in 2007 Bishop Kicanas was quoted in the Chicago Sun Times saying, “It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained him. There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he had learned from the experience. I was more concerned about his drinking. We sent him to counseling for that.”

In view of this information, I feel his comments and actions represent a moral, spiritual and pastoral disaster for souls under his care, people affected by sexual abuse, and the whole Catholic Church. Beyond that grave scandal, electing Bishop Kicanas as USCCB president would also seriously harm the credibility and fund-raising ability of the U.S. bishops and Catholic Church.

I respectfully request that you vote for as president a candidate who will be first and foremost a shepherd of souls in imitation of Christ, and that Bishop Kicanas also voluntarily withdraw his name from consideration.

Yours in Christ

According to this article, Bishop Kicanas was aware that McCormack abused 23 children–including the homosexual rape of a boy who he ordered to undress, take a shower and then bend over–and his observation in 2007 when he looked back retrospectively was that this was “part of the developmental process”!    This is scandalous!  If this is the judgment of Bishop Kicanas in 2007, five years into the sexual abuse crisis, then he should not be in charge of even a diocese, or a parish, let alone president of the U.S. Bishops Conference.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know what you have to do.  Click on the graphic to the right to get to the campaign web page, fill in the blanks with your name and contact information, click “send the letter,” confirm your information is correct, and then click submit.  It will take less than one minute.  For more information, see this Boston Catholic Insider post from yesterday or today.

Boston Catholic Insider urges you to also please forward this to friends and relatives, and also contact your local bishop and leave a message saying you want them to NOT vote for Bishop Kicanas. If  you do not know how to reach your local diocese, click here for a map and contact info.

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Yesterday the Massachusetts Bishops announced
members of the search committee to select the new Exec. Director of the Mass Catholic Conference.  They’re looking to replace the previous head, Ed Saunders, who passed away due to cancer–and who had been hired under a search process led by and rigged by Fr. Bryan Hehir (see Fr. Hehir and the Muting of the Church’s Public Policy Voice).  You would think that with all of the blogging underway lately and the controversy over how Fr. Hehir picked Saunders, they’d be a bit more careful this time around.  Nope.  It’s so bad that we are converting our FedUp campaign today to tell the Holy See how the Massachusetts Bishops are flubbing this one already.  One reader already said to us, “The Massachusetts Bishops need basic instruction in how to do a Google search.”  We agree.

The search for the leader of the public policy voice of the Mass Catholic Bishops  is being led by Bishop Coleman of the Fall River Diocese.  But the search committee announced yesterday includes Sr. Annette McDermott, SSJ from the Diocese of Springfield; James Brett, President and CEO of the New England Council; Rev. Michael K. McManus, Chancellor of the  Diocese of Fall River and Msgr. Thomas Sullivan, Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester.  Bryan Hehir Exposed has no comment on the two priests.  But Sr. McDermott and James Brett spell trouble, and suggest the fingerprints of Fr. Hehir are all over this one once again. See Tenth Crusade (formerly ThrowtheBumsOutin2010 for Carol McKinley’s perspective on this).

Here’s what we learned about Sr. McDermott within 1 minute of getting the news.  She was a member of the left-wing George-Soros-funded Catholic Alliance for the Common GoodCatholicCulture.org describes Catholic Alliance for the Common Good as follows:

Voting for the Common Good: A Practical Guide for Conscientious Catholics published by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good — which is led by former advisors to Senators John Kerry and Hillary Clinton — is nothing other than a well-funded attempt to try to persuade Catholics that it is morally acceptable to continue to vote for the “personally opposed” pro-choice candidates who have swindled them in the past.

As the Catholic Key Blog (from the staff of the Diocese of Kansas City newspaper) summarized it in 2008,  their purpose was convincing Catholics it was OK to vote for pro-choice Democrats.  They describe how Cardinal George slammed the “fraud” of CACG’s  “common good” approach and banned their materials from parishes.  (Here’s a link to Cardinal George’s letter, critical of their approach, without naming names).  After the 2008 campaign, it came out that CACG was actually an instrument of the Obama presidential campaign, and that the board chair of CACG personally raised $350,000 for the Obama Campaign.  If you are not already FedUp with the prospect that Sr. Annette, a member of CACG, is on the search committee to select the new head of the Mass Catholic Conference, hold onto your seat.  There’s more.

As if Sr. McDermott’s membership in Catholic Alliance for the Common Good wasn’t bad enough, she is also listed as a consultant to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in this 2006 newsletter.  Those are the guys that funded ACORN for years, and you can either check out our post on them, or just do a Google search of “Catholic Campaign for Human Development” and ACORN and you’ll find articles like these:

     US Bishops Anti-Poverty Arm Defunds Accused Group (March 25, 2010)

     CCHD Pushes Pro-Abort Groups in Lent Stations of the Cross (March 2010)

     Green Bay bishop questions Catholic charities (March 2010)

     Time to Start Answering Questions about Catholic Campaign for Human Development (Feb. 2010)

     More Proof the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Should Be Eliminated (Sept 2009)

    The Bigger Scandal: Catholic Church Funding of ACORN (Sept 2009)

     Catholic Campaign for Human Development and ACORN – Rotten to the Core (Oct 2008)

 This combination of items in Sr. Annette’s background should not only have disqualified her from the search committee, but is grounds for her being removed from the board of the Mass Catholic Conference.  Fed up yet?  There’s more.

Let’s look at James Brett.  Carol McKinley over at Tenth Crusade (formerly throwtheBumsOutin2010) weighed in on him and the whole situation saying:

Boston appointed James Brett, President & CEO of The New England Council.  In 2009, James Brett’s New England Council presented “New Englander of the Year” Awards to some folks whose names might ring a bell to readers of Boston Catholic Insider and Bryan Hehir Exposed:  John Kerry of Massachusetts, Jack Connors, Jr., Founding partner and Chairman emeritus of Hill Holliday and John Fish, CEO of Suffolk Construction Company.

The former President and CEO of The New England Council is also Bryan Hehir’s friend and former member of Catholic Charities,  Peter Meade.    Peter resigned Catholic Charities to ‘protest’ the Bishops asking for a religious exemption so that Catholics could continue in the adoption business without disobeying our faith.  Coincidently, James Brett is also a Catholic Charities colleague of Bryan Hehir’s.

These two people must be removed from the search committee for the new Executive Director of the Mass Catholic Conference, and whomever nominated them from each diocese should be removed from their position as well. 

We are working to updated our FedUp campaign petition, but that will take another day, so we are asking all readers to drop a dime today to Bishop George Coleman’s office in Fall River at 508-675-1311 and let him know you think his committee needs to immediately lose Sr. McDermott and Mr. Brett.  You can also try sending email to their Director of Communications, John Kearns (jkearns@fallriverdiocese.org), but we suggest you make the call to Bishop Coleman’s office ASAP.  Check back later today for our updated FedUp campaign.

ps. Beyond the Catholic Conference search, we got an anonymous tip last evening that the Jack Connors’ hand-picked choice for Secretary of Development, Kathleen Driscoll, may have been settled on.  If so, we have a huge crisis on our hands beyond MCC, but we’re just focusing on MCC for now until we learn more).

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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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Joe is off on a much deserved break, so I’m helping out along with our web/video crew to continue documenting things Fr. Bryan Hehir has said that we here at the blog see as objectively problematic.  No one in an official capacity from the archdiocese has responded to us about the last post and video of Fr. Hehir saying the doctrinal questions around women priests need to be worked through by the Church—a contradiction of the infallible teachings of the Catholic Church.  So today we move to the topic of Catholic conscience protections and abortion.

We considered reporting on this back in April after Fr. Hehir spoke at Boston College on “A Matter of Conscience,” though Diogenes, the long-term anonymous blogger at CatholicCulture, and Throwthe BumsOutin2010 covered it very nicely at the time. But since abortion is a key issue of our time—especially in light of the healthcare debate and pending sale of Caritas Christi—we are revisiting it.  And since this blog has come under criticism by the Archdiocese of Boston for saying things they feel are untrue, degrading, and defamatory about Fr. Hehir which we feel are in fact accurate, we hope that the video footage documenting exactly what was said will make it easy to find common ground with our critics with the objective truth.

If you feel you know everything you need to know about conscience clauses, skip down to the video.  For anyone who wants a refresher on the Catholic teaching regarding conscience clauses, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.

Here’s the USCCB’s resource page on conscience protection.  Here’s an excerpt from a 2009 letter from the USCCB that lays out the case very nicely:

The first recorded claim of conscience rights for medical personnel is the 4th Century B.C. Hippocratic Oath: “I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients. … I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.”

The right of conscience is recognized in the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the World Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics, and in 47 states, laws protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers.

Here are statements by various U.S. bishops on the same issue.

So Fr. Hehir participated in a panel discussion at BC on April 10, 2010 called “A Matter of Conscience: Religious Exemptions and the Healthcare Debate.”  You can watch the whole event here.   (Fr. Hehir’s comments are between about 6:45 and 25:00)

Below is about 5 minutes of video footage, including opening comments excerpted from the moderator (Eric) where he defines a conscience excemption, excerpts from what Fr. Hehir said, and brief commentary from a representative of the “Catholic militants of Boston.”  (Video credit to BHE team member LastCatholicinBoston).  The most controversial part of Fr. Hehir’s comments starts at around 2:40 and runs to around 4:30. 

Before we review Fr. Hehir’s comments, we should note that next to him on the panel was Mass General Hospital Director of Obstetrics, Dr. Michael Greene, who is on the record as working around the legal ban on partial-birth abortions by “injecting fetuses with lethal drugs before procedures” to avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus. The Boston Globe quoted Dr. Greene in “Shots Assist in Aborting Fetuses: Lethal Injections Offer Legal Shield” saying “No physician even wants to be accused of stumbling into accidentally doing one of these procedures…in the experienced hands of hospital staff, the injections add no risk and are “trivially simple.” To avoid partially delivering a live fetus, then intentionally causing its death and violating the law, now for abortions done after 18-20 weeks gestation, a lethal injection of digoxin or potassium chloride (a potentially poisonous salt also used in state executions) is done beforehand and is carefully documented so as to preclude an accusation and prosecution. Patients “all are appreciative of what we do for them and understand the circumstances under which we work,” Greene said in the Globe.  But I digress–this was never mentioned during the panel and Fr. Hehir did not mention “abortion” by name, so allow me to get back on topic. 

As Joe said in the last post, what Fr. Hehir did not say is almost as important as what he did say. To be fair, Fr. Hehir started out by paraphrasing what the moderator, Eric, said in defining what a Catholic conscience exemption is—namely a “standard of civil law which protects the right of a professional or institution from performing a legal act because of either personal, moral , or religious conviction.”   He said it was fair to argue there are deep cultural moral fragmentations in American society. 

At about 2:40, Fr. Hehir says,

“There are tensions when you try to provide public service but don’t always live under laws you necessarily agree with.  In terms of choosing our future, we need to ask the question what could be lost if we can’t find a fair adjudication of this issue?  The issue by definition is shot through with tension.  If you think of the conscience clause protecting the professional, then you have to think about access to service on the part of clients of various kinds, patients, or clients of social service agencies.

 Just to be clear, this “access to service” described by Fr. Hehir means abortion, but for some reason, he never states that.  The Catechism, Pope, and teaching authority of the Catholic Church are clear that the Catholic Church opposes killing the unborn. So, it’s troubling to this writer and others faithful Catholic who watched the video to hear from a senior Archdiocesan official that Catholics should “have to think” about how the woman will get access to abortion services.

Fr. Hehir continued saying,

My sense is what could be lost is on one hand is damage to profession involved, what also could be lost is this characteristic of social system where it is pervaded by non-profits, using a pluralism of actors in the system. Unless we choose well on this, we could harm the profession, the social system. And clearly, if we don’t choose well, we could harm the individual who needs precisely the service.

Not to be redundant, but once again, “service “means abortions.  Was Fr. Hehir concerned about harming the woman who needs the abortion service to have her unborn baby killed?  Or was he concerned about harming the baby who needs the service to be aborted?  He emphasizes the possible harm to the profession, the pluralism of actors in the social system and the individual who needs the abortion service, but says nothing about the risk to the individual conscience of the medical professional.

Near the conclusion we get Fr. Hehir’s own redefinition of the conscience clause, which is objectively nothing like what Eric the moderator or Fr. Hehir said earlier.  A conclusion of a talk is usually what the speaker wants to drive home, to have the audience remember most.  The takeaway.  The “whole Enchliada” as it were, summed up in the bottom line:

My basic position is, conscience clauses provide an essential political legal component to adjudicate deeply held convictions and positions in this pluralistic society.  I think the resolution requires defining the issues broadly.  You’ve got to pay attention to all the actors, their beliefs, their interests, and the duties involved and recognize that conscience clauses will limit the rights of others to some degree.

After hearing Fr. Hehir’s comments, a listener does not come away with the conclusion that Catholics should focus our attention and efforts in public policy on lobbying to limit the availability of abortion, to limit government funding of abortion or to ensure Catholic healthcare professionals can be exempt from taking part in the moral evil of abortion.  Instead, the average listener will likely come away hearing that we should pay attention to ALL the actors and our duties to provide these services,  lest we compromise the social service system.

In Fr. Hehir’s final conclusion, he asked: 

How do you deal with that tension. Conscience clauses should be claimed only for essential issues – not capaciously.  If conscience clauses were eroded, the effect could be that you use the power of the law to drive a wedge between professionals deepest convictions  and their ability to provide effective public service on the other.

 After listening several times, our team found it difficult to understand what Fr. Hehir believes, what he wanted the audience to conclude, or what he wanted the Church, citizens and the government to do.  Carol McKinley at ThrowtheBumsOutin2010 raised a similar question.  “You have the State take away the rights of the individual person to make a judgment about a moral evil and assert their  constitutional rights themselves–and replace it with public policies that make decisions for the individual about what moral evils are protected with conscience clauses and which ones are not.  But then you can’t have it both ways, can you?   Either every person whose conscience is formed has the right to make a judgment on their own and assert their rights to make decisions about their salvation, or they have a society that takes those judgments away. What form of governance takes away individual rights to make decisions about your salvation?  It isn’t democracy.”

As fraternal correction, I would offer that Fr. Hehir should have mentioned the word “abortion” and said clearly that it was considered a gravely moral evil by the Church.   Fr. Hehir said nothing about how an erosion in conscience clauses would result in many medical professionals abandoning their profession, thus limiting the quality of medical care for everyone.   As the Cardinal’s Cabinet Secretary responsible for pro-life programs, he should have offered a strong pro-life voice.  The USCCB has posted on their website, comments from bishops including Archbishop Hughes of New Orleans who said, “It is imperative that the rights of doctors, nurses and all medical professionals be protected and free from discrimination based upon their religious beliefs, morals and ethics.” Or, he could have cited Archbishop O’Brien of Baltimore who said healthcare professionals must exercise their consciences regularly in matters of life and death. “They are called to be guardians and servants of human life. This noble vocation invites moral, cultural, and legal pressures into its everyday practice. Freedom of conscience is essential to facing these pressures and responding to them “with an impassioned and unflinching affirmation of life,” as Pope John Paul II called for in The Gospel of Life.”

Diogenes at CatholicCulture sounded similar criticism of Fr. Hehir when he commented on a Boston College Magazine article about the event, saying: “…we put at risk the health-care profession, the patient requesting the services, and the role of non-profits in the social welfare system,… What’s missing from that list of endangered values? The individual conscience: which was, you may recall, the subject of the evening’s panel discussion. Father Hehir’s concern about health-care institutions and non-profit agencies was expressed clearly enough to make an impression on the Boston College Magazine reporter. His concern for individual Catholics who might be compelled by law to perform immoral actions wasn’t so memorable.”

We know we sound like a broken record on this but we have to keep coming back to the comment by Cardinal O’Malley on his blog back on April 30.  Fr. Hehir “has brought a vast understanding of the important place our Church has in society and inspires us with his compassion, vision and fidelity to the work of the Church. His voice brings clarity to our message and mission in serving the Catholic community here in Boston.”

Does someone else objectively see  and hear in this Boston College video (or in Fr. Hehir’s other public comments or actions) what Cardinal said he sees?

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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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As you all probably know by now, at a June 15 meeting
of the U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops  President Cardinal Francis George condemned Catholic Health Association President Sr. Carol Keehan for her role in helping pass President Obama’s abortion-funding national healthcare legislation. The USCCB called the CHA’s actions a “wound to Catholic unity.” At about the same time, the CHA was meeting for their annual conference (June 13-15), where President Obama offered his praise via video to Sr. Keehan and the CHA for their role in passing the legislation.  Who was at the CHA’s conference to praise Sr. Keehan in-person right after Obama’s video, give her air-cover, and reinforce that fissure or “wound”? Naturally, Fr. Bryan Hehir. What is the Archdiocese of Boston doing about his ongoing comments that bring division and scandal to the Church?  As usual, nothing.  You can listen to some of Hehir’s comments via the YouTube clip linked to below.

Here are excerpts of the article by Catholic News Agency, “Cardinal George: Sr. Keehan chose Obama over Catholic bishops“:

The bill which was passed is fundamentally flawed. The Executive Order is meaningless. Sr. Carol is mistaken in thinking that this is pro-life legislation.
The cardinal also expressed disappointment with CHA “and other so-called Catholic groups” because, “in the end, they have weakened the moral voice of the bishops in the U.S.”
the USCCB and CHA’s positions on Obama’s health care are not just “two equally valid conclusions inspired in the same Catholic teaching,”
“As Bishops, we disagree that the divergence between the Catholic Conference and Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association, represents merely a difference of analysis or strategy. Rather, for whatever good will was intended, it represented a fundamental disagreement, not just with our staff as some maintain, but with the Bishops themselves.
As such it has resulted in confusion and a wound to Catholic unity.

The problem is a serious one. What did Fr. Bryan Hehir say about all this? First, he praised Sister Carol’s “experienced, hands-on care for the poor and ministry to all, and her intelligent and courageous leadership of this organization,” which was followed by thunderous applause. But the worst came later when he said there were “multiple voices” in the debate, the CHA, the U.S. bishops, and others. Amidst those multiple voices, he said “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”

What?!! So, Fr. Hehir is saying that the U.S. bishops have no more authority to speak on this important issue than other “voices,” like the woman dubbed the “million dollar sister” for her eye-popping near seven-figure salary leading the $16M CHA. Reader LastCatholicinBoston commented:

Duh, Catholics through history have been proven to be right and wrong. What Hehir always leaves out is that the Church and Magisterium are never wrong.  They are the authority.

A reader attending the conference sent us her audio recording  of Hehir’s talk at the conference, and here are short selected clips:

Fr. Hehir’s undermining of the bishops and obfuscating the real concerns is obvious when you look carefully at the Catholic News article about his talk, reprinted in The Pilot. Thanks to blog readers Chantel and LastCatholicinBoston for their insights and comments of rebuttal, which we have expanded on below.

Time to move forward after differences on health reform, priest says

By Catholic News Service (posted June 16 in Rochester Catholic Courier)

DENVER (CNS) — Differences within the Catholic community during the health reform debate were not about the objectives to be accomplished but about the “degree of assurance” provided by the bill on those objectives, Father J. Bryan Hehir told the annual convention of the Catholic Health Association June 13.
That’s massively downplaying and sanitizing what happened, as it became clear toward the later part of the debate, and certainly with the final bill, that there wasn’t really any assurance on federal funding of abortion and conscience protection

“It is time to face the future, not replay the past continually,” said Father Hehir, secretary for health and social services for the Archdiocese of Boston, in a keynote talk on the opening day of the June 13-15 convention in Denver.
How? Hehir gave no answers.  Not once did Hehir give a specific suggestion on how to move forward, especially toward the goals of defending life and conscience protections.

“Understanding that debate — its process and its product — is a necessary task, but far more urgent is the need to answer the question of moving forward from where we are to where we need to go to provide health care which is morally grounded, legally protected and provided with compassion and competence,” he said.
Sounds nice in principle, but no specific suggestions were given. (And Fr. Hehir, how exactly can you have morally grounded legislation that funds abortion?)

Father Hehir, said the debate was complicated by “a disturbing characteristic of the American political process — polarization that is both intellectual and political.”
Yes, the debate over killing the unborn is polarizing. We’re sorry that you find it “disturbing” that Catholics are standing up to protect life. Maybe you should not have oversight over the Archdiocese’s Pro-Life Office or Catholic healthcare in Boston if you have a problem with this.

But he said the end result of the debate “has the proportions and the potential” of such legislative landmarks as the Social Security Act of the 1930s, the civil rights reforms of the 1960s and welfare reform in the 1990s.
Sure does, and it’s scary….

As the debate began, there was widespread agreement in the Catholic community about four objectives to be accomplished by the legislation, Father Hehir said. Those objectives were basic health care for all; no federal funding of abortion; expanded access to health care for immigrants; and conscience clause protections for religiously based health care, he said.
With passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, “the four objectives are partially met,” Father Hehir said. “It will take continuing work on each (objective) to meet the potential of a just health care system protective of human life and human dignity from life’s inception along the spectrum to its natural end.”
How do you “partially meet” a goal of not killing the unborn? Either it’s met and the unborn are protected, or it’s not met and the unborn are aborted with federal funds. (When Obama signed the legislation on March 24, Lifesitenews reported: “The executive order claims “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services,” but adds it is to “ensure that exchange plan funds are segregated by insurance companies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.”That’s merely a restatement of the Nelson language in the Senate bill that allows some taxpayers to be forced to pay for abortions as long as an accounting scheme is used to cover up the funding.”)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops insisted, however, that the final bill and the executive order did not adequately guarantee conscience rights or guard against expanded federal abortion funding.

Father Hehir said debate over the “meaning, status and significance” of the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life, “became one of the primary fault lines in the secular and Catholic debates” about the health reform bill. “The final judgment on this bill is not about Catholics inside and outside the permissible range of Catholic moral teachings.”

LCIB: Apparently Fr. Hehir is an authority speaking when he makes declarative statements about the essence of the bill. Perhaps he should speak to Fr. Frank Pavone about the permissible range of Catholic moral teaching on abortion.

Father Hehir quoted the late Jesuit Father John Courtney Murray in distinguishing between mistakes and errors. Father Murray said mistakes are “deficiencies of intelligence,” while errors are based on a “deficiency of good will…His point was not to assume mistakes are errors. His conclusion was that the Christian community is not in error, no matter how many mistakes are made.”
What the heck does that mean? If multiple voices are babbling with radically different conclusions, somebody has to be wrong, and in the Catholic Church, there is an authoritative voice.  Are the U.S. Bishops and the CHA just both equally right? Is there somehow a Bryan Hehir version of the Magisterium?
LCIB: What Murray described and I suspect Hehir knows is what is known as Hanlon’s Razor…and I summarize – never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.  Or, the Christian Community (as defined by Hehir) never acts maliciously (as an enemy of the Church) they are only prone to mistakes. Hehir’s conclusion on Murray’s conclusion is a complete bluff.
What Hehir is saying is that the Christian Community (as defined by him) is never motivated by malice. That is, the wolf in sheep’s clothing does not exist.  We know differently.

Do check out Fr. Z’s blog post, “Who Speaks for the Catholic Church in the U.S.” for more insights into the controversy.

If the history this blog has exposed on Fr. Hehir isn’t enough to get him silenced, one would think his public disagreement with the U.S. Conference of Bishops (where he worked for 15 years) and his endorsement for the CHA and the abortion-funding Obamacare legislation would do it. But not here in Boston under Cardinal O’Malley.

ps. Guess who presided over the opening Mass at the CHA conference?  Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can read our posts about Bishop Lynch and his recent Eucharistic Conference where Bryan Hehir spoke here and here.

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