Archive for the ‘U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)’ Category

Yesterday’s defeat of Bishop Gerald Kicanas is a huge win for those of us who feel the time has come to finish unraveling the late Cardinal Bernadin’s and Fr. Bryan Hehir’s “seamless garment” principles.  This piece from George Neumayr at Catholic World Report said it well:

In the years following Roe v. Wade, the US bishops debated the place of abortion in their agenda. Cardinal John O’Connor of New York argued for giving primacy to the abortion issue, while Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago wanted abortion integrated into a long and dubious list of “threats to life.” The latter view prevailed in the USCCB, and became known as the “Seamless Garment.” The upset election of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the USCCB presidency over Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, the media-described Bernardin “protégé,” is a posthumous victory of sorts for O’Connor.

Not that the Bernardin Left is now powerless in the Church in America. It retains plenty of influence in chanceries and Catholic classrooms across the country, not to mention—as evidenced by the close vote between Dolan and Kicanas—the episcopate itself. But the “Seamless Garment” bishops are running out of steam, stopped not only by their overtly political liberalism, which looks painfully passé in the light of the Democratic Party’s crack-up and the nation’s changing mood, but also by the moral fallout of their doctrinal liberalism.

Historians will likely note that what ultimately silenced and discredited the “Seamless Garment” bishops was not this or that silly political stance, but the sex abuse scandal. Before it erupted, bishops like Roger Mahony could command an audience on topics like amnesty; after it, their moral authority seemed shot. People were in no mood to be lectured on “justice” from bishops who hadn’t provided any to children in their own dioceses.

The irony of Bishop Kicanas’ defeat is that the fingerprints of dissenters are on the weapon that felled him: members of SNAP—who normally wouldn’t object to a politically liberal, doctrinally vague candidate like Kicanas—broadcast to the press his complicity in ordaining a priest who went on to molest minors. Kicanas’ explanation of the ordination to Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register managed to unite liberals and conservatives against him: SNAP found his refusal to apologize offensive, while his admission that he knew of the candidate’s homosexual experiences and ordained him anyway left conservatives dismayed.

The media casts Kicanas’ defeat and Dolan’s win as a “traditionalist” victory. But that is overstating it. For one thing, Dolan—though he sees himself walking in the footsteps of John O’Connor—is far from a confrontational conservative. According to the media’s telling, the “moderate” lost and the “conservative” won. But it is more accurate to say that the moderate won and the liberal lost. In reality, the immediate outcome of the USCCB election has to do primarily with the slow unraveling of the “Seamless Garment” and the aftershocks of the abuse scandal. Bernardin’s dream of the USCCB as a Vatican-resistant body of progressive political opinions was simply overtaken by the nightmare of clerical corruption.

Do re-read our “Seamless Garment”  post that documents Bryan Hehir’s influence on Bernadin’s “seamless garment” if you have forgotten it, including some of the comments like this one from David:

His “seamless garment” approach has not contributed anything positive to the political process. Its’ legacy is that politicians who support abortion might invoke it to rationalize their support of the culture of death.  By rejecting the notion that Catholics should adopt a single-issue approach to politics – even when that issue hapens to be abortion – Bernadin effectively undermined the pro-life movement in the United States.

Frankly, Bryan Hehir really has no meaningful job working for the Archdiocese of Boston any more, and we encourage him to take off to Harvard where he can work free from criticism by this blog.  He was originally brought here by Cardinal O’Malley to be Secretary of Social Services, which meant, running Catholic Charities of Boston.  (That’s what his predecessor, Dr. Joseph Doolin did).  Hehir brought in Tiziana Dearing and now he has Debbie Rambo running Catholic Charities, so there is no job there.  The Caritas Christi hospitals that he served as the liaison to have been sold off, so he has no work there either.  For Hehir to be over the pro-life ministries adds no value and in fact is a scandal.

Fr. Hehir, with all of your speaking engagements around the country, think-tank board memberships, contributions to the left-leaning National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, teaching responsibilities for 3 classes at Harvard, and who knows what else you are doing, why don’t you stop pretending that you are doing work to build the body of Christ for the Archdiocese of Boston, and instead  just head off to Harvard full-time?  With the “seamless garment” unraveling at a national level, now would be a perfect time for you to free yourself from criticism by this blog, keep teaching and doing all the other stuff you do, and keep collecting your six-figure salary and vesting in your Harvard pension as you’re doing anyway.

What would it take for you to leave voluntarily?

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A quick read of this weekend’s edition of The Pilot
and a look at recent news from the Boston Archdiocese confirms the sad state of affairs for Boston Catholics.  The Cardinal Archbishop of Boston seems to have even less backbone than the traces of it we glimpsed earlier in his Boston tenure.  He is continuing to make questionable personnel decisions and let dissident cabinet members and advisors run amuck, and it’s becoming evident that he is failing in his episcopal responsibility to teach, sanctify, and govern.  (Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?)  Here are a handful of examples:

Fr. Bryan Hehir at the Catholic Health Association. Fr. Bryan Hehir spoke at the Catholic Health Association conference on June 13, where he heaped praise on Sr. Carol Keehan for her leadership of the organization, and separately said that “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”  That is yet another Bryan Hehir fabrication. Shortly before Hehir’s talk, a video by President Obama also praised Sr. Keehan for her role in getting the bill passed.  The Pilot reported on Hehir’s talk and the Obama comments, but never covered that about the same time, the President of the U.S.C.C.B, Cardinal George was slamming Sr. Keehan for defying repeated attempts by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to get her to not endorse the abortion-funding Obama healthcare legislation.  We’ll have an in-depth blog post on this in another day or so.  It’s a mystery why The Pilot did not report the full story–do they want to avoid criticizing Fr. Hehir perhaps?  That Cardinal O’Malley keeps Fr. Hehir around has become an embarrassment and scandal to the Church.  The kindest explanation would be that it’s a reflection of Cardinal Sean’s ongoing poor judgment.  Is anyone in the Holy See paying attention to this?

Letters to the Editor of The Pilot. I’ve been reading The Pilot for a lot of years, and never would have imagined that the newspaper had such a strong gay and lesbian readership as the letters of the past 2-3 weeks suggest.  This week all 6 of the letters to the editor published were about Michael Pakaluk’s recent column that talked about the consequences of a Catholic schools admitting children of gay parents. 4 of the 6 were critical of The Pilot or of Pakaluk—one from a Catholic lesbian woman who expressed “hurt and betrayal” by the Pilot’s decision to publish Pakaluk’s column, one was from a gay man who also has a gay sister raising twins, one is from a “devout Roman Catholic” who was “appalled,” and another from someone who felt if children of gay couples were not admitted to Catholic schools, then why not also reject children of soldiers (thou shalt not kill) or a parent who had pre-marital sex.  The absence of good catechesis on the part of these writers is very clear.   Cardinal O’Malley merely issued a short statement in mid-May to placate everyone, and his trusted advisor, Bryan Hehir, forcefully delivered the message  a day later that they are moving forward with creating policies to admit children of gay parents. More than a month has passed, and the Cardinal has done zero teaching on this issue about the reasons why the Church sees homosexual relationships as immoral and disordered.  That lack of any public teaching by him on this issue since 2005 has led to this free-for-all of poorly-informed opinion-spouting.  His own cabinet team and many priests are following a very different direction than the Cardinal’s own 2005 letter.  It’s yet is another clear indication he is failing in his responsibility to teach, sanctify, and govern. He has the time every week to dictate or write the blog of his global travels and his networking with priests, religious, and laity, but apparently no time to teach or govern here in Boston.  Thankfully, two letters were published from lay people who helped set the record straight–one who said that Michael Pakaluk was “absolutely correct about the insidious nature of the gay agenda being implemented in schools with impressionable children,” and another who said, “the truth is, Mr. Pakaluk is just stating what the Bible states…he’s being vilified for accurately representing his religion.”  We are going to ask the Pilot to re-run the Cardinal’s 2005 letter on homosexuality next week.  Let’s see if they do it.

Cardinal O’Malley names Jack Connors, Jr.
to head Cabinet Secretary search.
While we are in the poor judgment department, here’s another example.  After power-broker, Jack Connors, played a key role in the ouster of Secretary of Institutional Advancement, Scot Landry, and after it was reported that Connors has also given a quarter of a million dollars to pro-abortion political candidates in recent years, who does the Cardinal put in charge of the search for his replacement?  Naturally, Jack Connors. Seems to me  that “like attracts like”  in this world.  So, if you want to build a leadership team that will help you evangelize the truths of the Catholic faith and preach the Gospel in-season and out of season, you’d probably start by having search committees for key roles headed by people who are comfortable with those same truths.  Not around Boston, where our Cardinal continues the pattern of acting in a way like he is unable to understand this–or worse still, he understands it and rejects that as important.  How much do you want to bet that whomever is picked for the position has also supported pro-abortion politicians or has dissented from Church teachings in some way?

Cardinal O’Malley praises Dean Garvey appointment as President of Catholic University. Much has been written about how the outgoing president of CUA helped solidify the Catholic identity of the university during his tenure.  On his blog, Cardinal writes, “Dean Garvey has been an important figure at Boston College and has done so much to strengthen the Catholic identity of Boston College.”  Your Eminence, could you give some examples? Um, as reported previously, how did Dean Garvey’s honoring pro-abortion politician Edward Markey in violation of the USCCB’s guidelines help solidify the Catholic identity of Boston College?  How did Dean Garvey giving $1,750 of his personal money over two years to the pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry help solidify the Catholic identity at BC?  How did his signing a statement touting BC Law School’s being “one of the first law schools in the country to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination pledge…and reaffirming their commitment to being a welcome place…for LGBT students” help solidify the Catholic identity of BC?

Based on what he writes on his blog, the Cardinal seems to relish traveling all over the country and around the world schmoozing with people and networking, while we hear next to nothing about him teaching or governing in Boston. Even when the Cardinal blogs something important, it’s often overshadowed by his failure to lead according to what he writes.  For example, he writes about attending the Mass for the anniversary of married couples, and he wrote:

It’s always a wonderful event and an opportunity for us to showcase the centrality of the Sacrament of Marriage in the life of the Church in today’s world, a world where more people are postponing marriage or foregoing marriage, where marriage is under attack because of the divorce mentality, the prevalence of cohabitation and even attempts to redefine what marriage is. The Church must be a very clear voice in defending traditional marriage and holding this up as an ideal for our people, which for us is a sacrament, a sign of the love and the unity that unites Christ and His Church, His bride.

Sounds great, but HELLO!?!  How can the Church have a clear voice defending traditional marriage and hold that up as an ideal for our people in the face of attempts to redefine marriage, while you, Mary Grassa O’Neill, Jack Connors, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and the rest of your administration are holding-up “gay marriages” or gay partnerships as an ideal for Catholic school children making them look equivalent to traditional marriage?

Folks, stay tuned for our detailed post about Bryan Hehir’s CHA talk.  Also, keep reading for additional news from the archdiocese this coming week, including sad news word due any day now about significant Pastoral Center staff layoffs and the naming of new auxiliary bishops.

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Many of you have probably seen the news that Catholic
University of America has appointed Boston College Law School Dean, John Garvey, to be the new president.  Fortunately, sources like Catholic Culture and Pewsitter came out quickly letting everyone know about Dean Garvey’s troubling record on failing to defend Catholic teachings. But every report we have seen still is missing a few things, so we’d like to fill in the rest of the story.  Even though this is slightly off-topic, when someone from Boston has a history of failure to uphold Church teachings, you can predict that Fr. Bryan Hehir and probably Cardinal Sean O’Malley are also involved, and this story is no exception.

Catholic Culture’s piece “Catholic U’s new president: Law school dean who awarded honorary degree to abortion proponent” describes how Dean Garvey defied USCCB recommendations and honored the pro-abortion Rep. Edward Markey with an honorary degree in 2007, incurring the public criticism of the Cardinal Newman Society.  It also cites his $1,750 in personal contributions to pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry:

According to federal election records, Mr. Garvey made three donations to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, whose support for abortion led 14 bishops to state during the 2004 presidential campaign that they would deny him Holy Communion. In June 2002, Mr. Garvey donated $250 to the Kerry Committee; in March 2003, he donated $1,000 to John Kerry for President, Inc.; and in April 2004, he donated $500 to John Kerry for President, Inc

Maybe Dean Garvey’s history filled all of the available space in the article, but there are several things they missed.

First, Dean Garvey muddled the Church’s teachings on marriage to the Law School in September of 2009 by his lackluster defense of law school professor, Scott Fitzgibbon, who appeared in an ad promoting traditional marriage in Maine.  Initially Garvey said the prof had the right to represent himself personally but then, as reported in LifeSite News, after faculty complained he welcomed faculty opposition to Church teachings, resulting in “Boston College Law School in Disarray Over Prof’s Defense of Marriage“:

Rather than praising Fitzgibbon’s public defense of a Catholic teaching, Dean Garvey wrote that Fitzgibbon’s “public statements represent his own opinions … and do not state any official position of Boston College Law School.”

We also have faculty members who hold a contrary view, which they too are free to express publicly,” he wrote. “Many have done so while referring to themselves as BC Law professors. One of them has publicly led the fight to oppose the Solomon Amendment on the grounds that it is an affront to gay and lesbian students and prospective members of the U.S. military. Others have taken controversial positions on such subjects as abortion, euthanasia, and the treatment of detainees.”

Three days after Fitzgibbon’s pro-traditional marriage ad aired, a group of 76 “Individual Faculty and Administrators at Boston College Law School,” including Dean Garvey, issued the following statement : “The undersigned members of the faculty and administration at Boston College Law School feel that it is important to reaffirm our belief in the equality of all of our students. We are proud of the fact that Boston College Law School was one of the first law schools in the country to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination pledge, and we reaffirm our commitment to making our institution a welcome and safe place for all students, including LGBT students.”

This blogger asked, “Are They Going To Rename the Law School After Judas Iscariot? “He is basically saying that a law school at what presents itself as a Catholic College does not uphold Church teachings as it is supposed to according to Ex Corde Ecclesia and has denied them. In other words, it has betrayed its mission to be an authentically Catholic college.”

Here’s at least one connection to Fr. Bryan Hehir.   In 2005, Fr. Hehir chaired the search committee that selected the new Executive Director of the Mass Catholic Conference, Ed Saunders, despite the fact that Saunders had given personal contributions to politicians that opposed the Church on abortion and gay marriage.  The Catholic Conference is the legislative lobbying arm representing the 4 bishops in Massachusetts, and it has reported functionally under Fr. Hehir  since late 2004.  Dean Garvey was also on the search committee.  Here’s what was reported initially when the Saunders appointment was first announced:

Over the last several years, the bishops have faced increasing difficulty influencing public policy, with their credibility tarnished by the clergy sexual abuse scandal and their legislative agenda dominated by high-profile failures: the church’s unsuccessful efforts to stop passage of the same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research bills.

In the process of hiring Saunders, the bishops have made it clear that they expect the church’s legislative agenda to be broader, reflecting the church’s longstanding interest in social policy.

Whenever we hear “broadening the interest to include social policy” and Fr. Bryan Hehir, we can predict what that means.  Shortly thereafter, the proverbial doo-doo hit the fan after it became known (“Conservative Catholics question past donations by bishops’ lobbyist“) that Saunders had given the maximum contribution allowed by law to a number of politicians who supported abortion and gay marriage–including voting against the Church on the then-active constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Those darned “conservative Catholics” always have to muck things up for the Archdiocese of Boston by airing their dirty laundry in public.  Yes, folks, Dean John Garvey was one of the members of the search committee who approved Saunders’ appointment, along with Bryan Hehir who led the search.  Several conservative Catholics reported at the time that they applied for the position but were not granted an interview.

Speaking of committees that approve appointments of people for key leadership roles, we should not overlook the role of Boston’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley in the naming of Dean Garvey to head Catholic University.  As the Cardinal reported in his most recent blog (filled with pictures and stories of his travels, networking and activities everywhere else but Boston), he is on the board of directors at Catholic University and voted on selection of the new president:

As I mentioned earlier, following the celebration at the cathedral my hope had been to be able to travel to Rome to be with the Holy Father for the closing of the Year for Priests. However, I was needed in Washington because the board of directors at Catholic University had to come together to select a new president. We are very pleased with the wonderful caliber of the candidates who applied for the position and we look forward to the announcement of the new president in the near future.

Today, Cardinal O’Malley came out with his own statement about Dean Garvey’s appointment:

His commitment to the mission of Catholic education and dedication to exceptional academic achievement will be of great benefit to the University and its students and faculty.”

So Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley continues his own well-established track record of hiring or supporting the hiring of heterodox Catholics to key roles in the Church.

We’ll end with a post on this same topic from the wonderfully outspoken Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida of Corpus Christi, who wrote yesterday, the “Boston virus continues to spread.”

Beginning with the scandal of the funeral liturgy for Sen. Edward Kennedy, I have posted quite a few posts pointing out the sad state of affairs in Massachusetts, especially in Boston.

For years now, it has been apparent that the state of the Catholic Faith as it is lived and manifested in the public activity of prominent Catholics in Boston is truly deplorable.

Ordinarily I would not be commenting on the Catholicism of Bostonians any more than I would comment on the Catholicism of any other diocese or archdiocese in the United States, except that a significant number of national leaders hail from Boston and when they bring their heterodox religious to the Nation’s Capitol their influence is magnified far out of proportion to what it should normally be. The most recent case in point is the appointment of Dean John H. Garvey of Boston College Law School as the new President of the Catholic University of America in Washington.

His appointment was only announced today and already it has begun to produce negative reactions from Catholics, clergy and lay, who love and value the role the University has played in the history of the Church in the United States.

It is beyond my understanding to know how the appointment could have been decided upon  by the bishops and cardinals who constitute the Board of Trustees of the University.

Surely the writings, speeches and actions of Dean Garvey were researched by the Selection Committee and eventually by the full Board.

How is it possible that the Board could have chosen a man whose views on the nature of the relationship between a Catholic university and the Church were so questionable.

His views seem to be opposed to the spirit of all that Pope Benedict XVI has said and written about secularism and relativism.

So many of his views seem to be opposed to so many of the public declarations of the NCCB and the USCC.

It would almost seem that the approval was given by the Secretary of State or by the Congregation for Christian Education without the knowledge of the Holy Father.

What is particularly baffling is how the assent to the appointment by the Holy See could have been obtained in view of the fact that the University if a Pontifical University under the jurisdiction of the Holy See.

I can only hope and pray that before Dean Garvey is actually installed as President of The Catholic University of America pressure from loyal, faithful and concerned Catholics, especially alumni of the University, will have persuaded either Dean Garvey to decline to be installed, the Board to withdraw appointment, or the Holy See to withdraw its approval.

Yes folks, the Boston virus continues to spread. Apologies for the side-trip off our main topic, but no one else seems to be sharing the “big picture” and we thought our faithful readers should know it.

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Faithful readers, this is now the final version of the"Your problem is that you don't see the big picture."
“Big Picture” essay.  In view of the conflicting messages and lack of recent communications from officials in the Boston Archdiocese over the matter of letting gay couples’ children attend Catholic schools, this essay outlines all of the issues to be considered in the big picture of this topic. Everyone commenting on this topic from the Boston Archdiocese seems to be covering just a narrow slice or two of the problem, and it appears that even the Cardinal and his advisors may have forgotten some of the outstanding things he said earlier in his tenure here in Boston on the issue of homosexuality.  Hopefully, if all of the concerns and arguments are in one place, then people on all sides of this issue who care about Catholic school education can see the big picture holistically and better chart the course ahead for the benefit of children, schools, and the Catholic Church as a whole.  The reason this essay is at this blog is because Fr. Bryan Hehir was the last voice heard (and literally the only voice audibly heard) from the Archdiocese of Boston on this issue–and he has made some of the most controversial and confusing statements on the issue which merit clarification.

Well-known individuals including Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Fr. Roger Landry of Fall River, and Dale O’Leary have already written outstanding pieces on this subject, and this essay is intended merely to extend their enlightening work and help all concerned to more easily and thoroughly understand the issue.

1. Identity and Purpose of Catholic Education
The main mission of Catholic schools is educate children of Catholics with an education shaped by Catholic faith and moral tradition.  When Catholic schools accept children from non-Catholic families, the religious focus remains, and although Catholic schools welcome and teach many children who are not Catholic, this is not the primary mission.  It is unclear where the Boston Archdiocese got the idea that serving “unconventional households” is the central mission of Catholic education.  That is what a public school is for.

2. Partnering with Parents
Archbishop Chaput, Dale O’Leary, Fr. Roger Landry and Vatican documents including Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis) have said it well.  The school  needs to partner with parents to develop children in the faith.  That means the parents have to accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and help reinforce them in the home and family life.  Archbishop Chaput wrote, “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.” There is an inherent conflict here with gay parents  who are happily living a relationship that is considered immoral, which permanently deprives children of their natural law right to both a mother and father, and which can never ever be considered valid by the church.  This is uniquely different than situations where parents are divorced, single parents, or co-habitating heterosexual couples, where those parents themselves may hope for the potential of a valid marriage, and where the relationship can indeed hopefully become valid in the eyes of the Church some day.

3. Excluding People from Catholic Schools
For various reasons, including the need to maintain that Catholic identity and partnership with parents, Catholic schools have indeed excluded “categories of people” in the past.  This is contrary to what Cardinal O’Malley said in his May 19 message.  Though it has changed now, in years past, parish-based Catholic schools used to admit only Catholics, and required the family live in the parish’s geographic region and be a member of the parish.  Blogger Paul Melanson reports that he was excluded from Catholic schools because he was from a military family, and the Catholic school required that the family be living in the same area for 5 years.  Children are excluded from schools on an individual basis because of behavioral problems.  The Vatican has declared that active homosexuals should be excluded from seminaries. For Catholic schools to exclude children might not be optimal in terms of the new mantra of “welcoming everyone,” but everyone needs to remember it’s a private school, and as such someone will inevitably be excluded.

Fr. Roger Landry at CatholicPreaching observed the similarity to the situation of baptizing children, where the Church wants all children to be baptized but the priest has the duty to determine that there is a “well-founded” or “realistic” hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith (Canon 868 in the Code of Canon Law). “If there is no realistic hope that the parents are going to raise the child in the faith…the pastor…must reluctantly delay the baptism in view of the good of the child, who assumes rights and responsibilities upon being baptized. If the child is not going to be nourished in the faith to know and live by those privileges and duties, then the Church defers the baptism, hoping that either the parents will have a change of heart or the child, upon maturity, will freely request baptism as a catechumen.”

Fr. Landry notes that it’s similar for Catholic school
admissions decisions. “There is a requirement, for the good of the child, that the parents commit to raise the child in a situation that at least does not contradict the values and formation given at the school. If the child’s education will not be coupled to a way of life consistent with it, the parents and school would be placing the child in a spiritually and morally schizophrenic situation — which is obviously harmful.”

4. Inherent Contradiction: Catholic School Education for Kids of Gay Parents
Pope John Paul II taught in Veritatis Splendor (No. 113) that the “right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected.” As most readers know and others have written, there simply is an inherent contradiction associated with trying to educate children of gay parents in Catholic schools. Archbishop Chaput wrote the Church teaches that “marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.  These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society.”  When the Church teaches that gay marriage is against the will of God at the same time the parents live a lifestyle that rejects those beliefs, then the child will hear the Church saying their parents (upon whom they rely for sustenance) are bad.  The burden and stress is borne by the child, who is caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.

As Dale O’Leary put it, “Persons in same-sex relationships who have children naturally want to protect their children’s feelings. They aren’t going to want their children to be exposed to the truth. A Catholic school cannot agree to hide the truth.  What is in the best interest of the children of same-sex couples and the other children? If they accept the children in the school, the children will either be alienated from their parents on whom they rely or alienated from God who would be seen as condemning their parents’ choices. While older children might be able to understand and even appreciate the Church’s teaching, younger children certainly will not. To them it will just seem mean. It will put the teachers in an untenable position and confuse the children’s classmates. Therefore, it is reasonable for Catholic elementary schools to explain to same-sex couples that this is not the place for their children.”  This is the same thing that the Denver Archdiocese concluded.

This essay could stop here with the arguments aired by most of people who have written on this topic, as clearly  more than enough reasons are out on the table to make the same decision in Boston as was made in Denver.  However, the comments by Boston Archdiocesean officials including Cardinal O’Malley, the secretary for social services, the superintendent of schools,  and others suggest there will be some  new “Big Tent” policy that makes an attempt at keeping everyone happy by formally approving the admission of gay couples’ children, but which will in reality water-down teachings for everyone while it also compromises the identity of Catholic school education.  But even beyond the very legitimate arguments above, there are many other important issues associated with this situation that very few people are discussing which need to also be laid out and considered.

5. Important Facts About the Hingham Situation
Several facts should be noted about the Hingham situationYour Eminence, I would have concentrated on the facts, but they weren't in my favor!
which are relevant to Fr. Rafferty’s decision and to the discussion about a policy going forward.  The parents in this case have publicly stated they are not Catholic.  They are Christian but do not attend church regularly, and wanted a Catholic school education because of the emphasis on Christian values such as compassion and empathy–values not at all unique to a Catholic school, and which could no doubt be readily gained in a loving home, the Boy Scouts, or any other Christian school.  They told the media they filled out the school’s application form which merely asked for names of “parents,” but in reality the form asks for the names of the “mother” and “father” on separate lines, and multiple sources indicate the parents misrepresented themselves on the form by completing only a last name and first initial where mother’s and father’s names were requested.  When the Archdiocese offered to help find another Catholic school, the lesbian mother said she was uncertain she would enroll her son in another Catholic school because she needed to learn more about their educational programs. She said, “I will be a little bit more guarded in my questioning so I’ll be able to have a real clear picture where they stand.”  This gives additional validation to the decision by Fr. Rafferty to deny admission, and strongly suggests that these parents do not welcome the Church’s teaching, nor are they prepared to partner with the Church for the good of the child’s overall and integral education. No statements of comments from the Archdiocese have yet acknowledged this reality of the Hingham situation or the likelihood of encountering a similar situation with most other gay couples. The Archdiocese needs to publicly acknowledge this.

6. The Slippery Slope
So, what might the consequences be of a Boston policyslippery slope
that welcomes children of gay parents as long as the parents agree that the child will be taught the truths of the Catholic faith on sexuality and sexual morality?   Will school application forms ask for the names of “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” instead of the names of the mother and father? What happens if the parents agree to their children being educated in Catholic sexual morality at school, but then go out and publicly celebrate their homosexual lifestyle with their child at the annual Gay Pride parade?  Once a child is admitted, what if they come home crying and distraught because they learned in school that God views the parents’ relationship or “marriage” as invalid and immoral?  What if the parents later complain about the teacher for saying something about the truths of the faith they felt was offensive, troublesome, and discriminatory to their child and their family?  How can teachers be totally comfortable teachings the truths of Catholic teachings on marriage and sexuality when they know it’s likely to make a sensitive child feel hurt or uncomfortable and could result in an accusation of hate-speech?  How should the school deal with a teenage boy with two daddies who questions his normal friendship with another boy, may feel his parental situation makes it OK to sexually experiment and hit on the friend, or decides he must be gay (or a teenage girl who sees her lesbian mother as a role model and thinks her close friendship with another girl means she’s probably a lesbian?  Should a 14-year-old boy who identifies himself as “gay” and applies as an “out” gay teen to a Catholic high school be admitted?  Beyond this, if the policy says children of gay couples are OK, then how do you defend not having openly gay teachers, and then insurance benefits for them?

As has been written previously, for those who  think there is not a slippery slope, just look at how Employment Non-Discrimination Acts (ENDA) that were positioned as absolutely never to result in “same-sex marriages” led to exactly that over time.  In A Gay-Protection Forum, (Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 1989) the Globe denied that Massachusetts new sexual orientation nondiscrimination law put Massachusetts on a slippery slope to same-sex marriage or domestic partnership benefits.  4 years later it was legal for gay couples to adopt children.  14 years later in the SJC’s 2003 Goodridge decision that the law banning gay couples from marrying was unconstitutional, part of the court’s reasoning rested on the legislature’s previous decision to ban sexual orientation discrimination.  There is simply no denying the slippery slope is a reality.

7. The Scandal of Giving Implicit Recognition to Gay Partnerships
As The Boston Pilot explained in their editorial, the
Catechism says that “scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.’  There is no doubt that giving recognition to same-sex unions by virtue of their children being in Catholic school will have consequences, but no one from the Archdiocesan hierarchy has said a peep about this concern or seems to realize it is part of the gay agenda and they have apparently fallen for it hook-line-and-sinker.

If you have not yet read two landmark pieces about the gay agenda to normalize homosexuality, please do read them–they deserve a whole post and wide circulation amongst the Church hierarchy themselves.   “The Overhauling of Straight America” appeared in Guide Magazine, a homosexual publication, in November 1987—over two decades ago.  This landmark article has become a “bible” of the homosexual movement.  It outlines strategies and techniques for a successful widespread propaganda campaign to confuse and deceive the American people and demonize opponents.

This isn’t really about the child, although the child is affected also. It’s about caving in to the homosexual agenda. The agenda is part of a spiritual battle, and the reaction from Fr. Bryan Hehir, Michael Reardon, Jack Connors, Mary Grassa O’Neill, and Cardinal O’Malley suggests we may have already lost the battle.  Yes, the Church does often let different “categories” of people go to its schools. But unlike the other “categories” of people, the homosexual movement is out to weaken and destroy the Church. Because the lesbian couple in this incident have said in the media they were concerned about the religious education taught in Catholic schools, it appears that the purpose of the parents was ultimately to paint Catholic belief about human sexuality as wrong and force others at the school to adjust to homosexual “parents.”  Here are a few passages from the article:


The first order of business is desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights. Ideally, we would have straights register differences in sexual preference the way they register different tastes for ice cream or sports games: she likes strawberry and I like vanilla; he follows baseball and I follow football. No big deal.

The principle behind this advice is simple: almost any behavior begins to look normal if you are exposed to enough of it at close quarters and among your acquaintances. ..In the early stages of any campaign to reach straight America, the masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself. Instead, the imagery of sex should be downplayed and gay rights should be reduced to an abstract social question as much as possible.

…we can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology. Against the mighty pull of institutional Religion one must set the mightier draw of Science & Public Opinion (the shield and sword of that accursed “secular humanism”). Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before, on such topics as divorce and abortion. With enough open talk about the prevalence and acceptability of homosexuality, that alliance can work again here.


Do read the entire article, as well as this summary of the book,  “After the Ball — How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 1990’s.”   The reactions from Boston Archdiocese in this situation–especially by Fr. Hehir, Mary Grassa O’Neill, and Michael Reardon, but also Cardinal O’Malley–have gone exactly as was outlined and predicted by homosexual authors more than two decades ago.

Pope John Paul II’s Letter to the Bishops on Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons also warned about this problem.  The Church “is also aware that the view that homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love has a direct impact on society’s understanding of the nature and rights of the family and puts them in jeopardy.”

Canon Law may also give some guidance.  Canon 22, prohibits the canonization of civil laws that are “contrary to divine law.” Because same-sex “marriages” or civil unions and mutatis mutandis adoptions are contrary to divine law; it is arguable that the civil law allowing them cannot be regarded by the Church as valid. Admission of the children to Catholic schools would certainly give the impression that the status of the parents is comparable to parents united in the bonds of Holy Matrimony.

Fortunately, one source from the Boston Archdiocese, The Pilot, acknowledged this problem, saying, “it can be argued that the appearance of normalcy and acceptance of homosexual behavior that would follow from accepting gay parents into the life of a Catholic school — at parish functions, fundraisers, as chaperones for field trips, etc. — could lead other children to grave confusion about the nature of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.”

8. False Compassion on the Sinner
Cardinal Sean wrote in May 19, 2010 blog post on the schools issue, “We need to present the Church’s teachings courageously and yet in a way that is compassionate and persuasive.”  Yet in his post, for some reason he didn’t present the Church’s teachings or say anything about the immoral homosexual relationship that precipitated this whole situation.

The Cardinal had a strong voice on this same topic just a few short years ago, but sadly now he seems to have lost it. On November 23, 2005, in his own letter on homosexuality, he called on Catholics to show true love to persons with homosexual tendencies by telling them that homosexual acts are sinful.  Otherwise, we are dangerously “deceiving people.”  He reminded Catholics that although Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he did however – after saving her life – tell her “Go and sin no more.”  We were told that some Catholics are misled into false kindness towards those with homosexual tendencies. “If we tell people that sex outside of marriage is not a sin, we are deceiving people.”  The pastor of souls, whose first priority is the spiritual wellbeing of his flock, warned that spiritual wellbeing may be threatened by such false kindness.  “If they believe this untruth, a life of virtue becomes all but impossible.”

It is never easy to deliver a message that calls people to make sacrifices or to do difficult things. Sometimes people want to punish the messenger. For this reason we priests at times find it difficult to articulate the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.

Yes indeed it is difficult.  Fortunately, Fr. Rafferty found the courage to do it.  But a few years later when the rubber hit the road in this situation, the Cardinal and others from the Archdiocese including Fr. Hehir and Dr. Grassa O’Neill seem to have followed the all-too-familiar approach of false compassion which ignores the sins and wrong way of living that many people engage in, and does exactly what the Cardinal himself warned against.  St. Thomas Aquinas has written about this issue and Archbishop Fulton Sheen has an outstanding video on the problem of false compassion that all should watch.  False compassion can blind us from actually being motivated to help the sinner amend their ways.  We excerpt from what apologist/blogger Paul Melanson at LaSalette Journey recently wrote on this topic:

..while it is true that everything must be done to help sinners, this cannot include helping them to sin or to remain in sin. Because of human frailty, every sinner deserves both pity and compassion. However, vice and sin must be excluded from this compassion.”  As St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, this because sin can never be the proper object of compassion. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.1, ad 1).

It is a false compassion which supplies the sinner with the means to remain attached to sin. Such ‘compassion’ provides an assistance (whether material or moral) which actually enables the sinner to remain firmly attached to his evil ways. By contrast, true compassion leads the sinner away from vice and back to virtue. As Thomas Aquinas explains:

“We love sinners out of charity, not so as to will what they will, or to rejoice in what gives them joy, but so as to make them will what we will, and rejoice in what rejoices us. Hence it is written: ‘They shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not be turned to them.'” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.6, ad 4, citing Jeremiah 15:19).

True compassion is an effect of charity (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.3, ad 3). But it must be remembered that the object of this virtue is God, whose love extends to His creatures. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.3). Therefore, the virtue of compassion seeks to bring God to the one who suffers so that he may thereby participate in the infinite love of God.

9. Contradictions in Fr. Bryan Hehir’s WBUR Interview about Catholic Schools
Several key contradictions and points of confusion emanating from the Archdiocese were covered in this  May 21 blog post.  (That included the claim that the purpose of Catholic education in Boston was to educate everyone, including “unconventional households.  It also included the disconnect between Cardinal Sean, who said on May 19 that the Archdiocese was going to study this matter and “seriously consider” the Denver Archdiocese’s positions and rationale, and Fr. Hehir, who directly contradicted his boss a day later on WBUR saying Cardinal O’Malley is not going to talk about what other bishops do, Boston does not exclude anyone, Boston Catholic schools are accepting children of gay parents  already, and “we intend to do it… with formal policies.”)  We are still awaiting an statement from the Archdiocese to resolve this contradiction.

But the self-contradictions in what Fr. Hehir said
bryan hehir double-speakare actually worse than many people originally realized.  First of all, he said, “At times, the Catholic bishops conference as a whole makes policy decisions that bind the  whole conference. ”  If Fr. Hehir really believes and accepts this, and if he is to be trusted in the future,  then why did he proceed as President of Catholic Charities with honoring the pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage Mayor Menino at their 2005 fundraiser–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.

Even more disturbing is Fr. Hehir’s apparent failure to learn from public recognition of his past mistakes and wrong positions on issues like sexual morality and public policy over time. On WBUR (listen at 13:00), he  was asked, “How is the church going to be able to balance this policy of openness and inclusion, at the same time adhering to some teachings of the church that tell people their families are living in sinful ways?”  In his response Fr. Hehir reaffirmed comments made earlier on the program by a lesbian mother whose son attended a Brookline Catholic school for a year, saying:

Ms Gonzales very eloquently made the point that Catholic moral teachings include sexuality, but it goes to a much broader range of questions about character, social justice, regard for the poor, human rights, and that’s an extraordinarily important point to mention. That’s precisely what I meant when I talked about the full range of our moral teaching, this includes teaching about sexuality but is not confined to that.

Fr. Hehir said nothing about the homosexual couple living in a sinful way, and instead commends the woman–a perfect example of the false compassion mentioned earlier.  Furthermore, in his response, he seems to be saying essentially the same thing in 2010 which he advised the Catholic bishops to do 27 years ago–broaden the focus from one important moral issue to a broader range of lesser issues–which history shows failed to work. In the book “Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics”  (published in 2001), the chapter dedicated to Fr. Hehir (which drew on personal interviews with Fr. Hehir and with longtime observers of his work) mentions his “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” (also known as “seamless garment”) approach where abortion was dealt with in conjunction with other threats to life and human well-being like poverty and nuclear war.  Fr. Hehir’s rationale cited in this particular book was that he believed:

First, that the abortion issue did not exhaust the richest of Church social teaching…Second, 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.”

Though Hehir’s motivation was described several years earlier by a different author as a “concern that strict application of Catholic sexual mores in public policy would cost the Church valuable allies” (Changing Witness: Catholic Bishops and Public Policy, Warner: 1996; foreward by George Weigel), regardless of Fr. Hehir’s rationale, history would show that he was still wrong.  The 2001 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.  Furthermore, leading opponents of abortion within the hierarchy such as Cardinal O’Connor 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.”

So, Fr. Hehir’s influence which broadened the bishops’ focus from abortion to a range of other lesser  issues did NOT enhance the effectiveness of the Church’s teaching on abortion at all, as we are told he believed and recommended at the time.  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.”

This author suggests that Cardinal O’Malley, Fr. Hehir himself, and others involved in making the decision on the future of Catholic education for the Archdiocese keep Fr. Hehir’s well-established track record of publicly-acknowledged wrong ideas in mind as they proceed in this critical matter.

10. Flaws in Cardinal O’Malley’s plans going forward
The Cardinal wrote, “Going forward, we will be consulting on these issues with a wide-range of people including the Presbyteral Council and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.”  Though this approach sounds well-intentioned, based on what is already known about the people the Cardinal typically consults with, all should question the composition and judgment of those tapped for input and advice on such an important decision. As noted in this March 31 blog post, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council apparently had no problem with Fr. Hehir’s first social justice conference in 2006, for which the promotional flyer to council members (p.14-15) listed support by the Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which has funded ACORN, pro-abortion and pro-gay organizations,  and a range of Saul Allinsky-modeled radical, left-wing political organizations. A speaker who had led Our Lady Help of Christians parish participation in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade was also featured, talking about how to model those efforts in local parish social justice programs. At the APC’s most recent meeting for which minutes are (Sept. 10, 2009),  Sr. Terry Rickard from RENEW International was there to present, and the council  talked about the fall 2009 social justice conference which featured her as a speaker. As noted previously on this blog, Sr. Terry’s order, the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt, is associated with the liberal social justice group, NETWORK (who the  USCCB recently criticized for their position on the abortion-funding national healthcare legislation), and the sisters’ website  links of interest have nothing going to the Vatican or USCCB, but instead to organizations such the American Friends Service Committee and  United for Peace and Justice that back gay rights and gay “marriage.” If  no one on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council raised questions about the troubling aspects of these two conferences or Sr. Terry’s background, why should their judgment and insights be trusted on something as important as the future of Catholic school education?

As for the Presbyteral Council, we all owe the utmost respect for the many fine priests in Boston, but the Council’s orthodoxy has been somewhat mixed.  Anyone who cares about this issue should know that meeting minutes of several years ago reflect comments including a request by a priest to get Voice of the Faithful items on their meeting agendaobjections to orthodoxy at St. John’s seminary (“the seminary seems to be tipped in an ultra-orthodox direction…as if Mt St. Mary’s in Maryland is the model”), and concerns about “the poor language and pastoral insensitivity of the Roman document on homosexuality and the seminary.”  Cardinal O’Malley himself once raised concerns the council risked turning into a “Kangaroo Court.”

The Cardinal should change his plan immediately to instead consult with the Vatican–and not with these two organizations, or any of the people like Mary Grassa O’Neill, Michael Reardon, Fr. Hehir, or Jack Connors who have already come out critical of Fr. Rafferty’s decision, or any advisors who have given money to pro-abortion, pro-gay politicians that might be part of the unspecified “wide range of people.”

So, many faithful Catholics are asking the question, “Where to from here?”

First, the Archdiocese should refine its definition of the mission of Catholic education to focus primarily on teaching the truths of the faith to children of Catholics parents and those committed to raising their children with Catholic moral values. If the Archdiocese ends up with fewer donors and a smaller number of schools, so be it.

Second, the Archdiocese needs to clarify the current status and plans–either the Cardinal’s May 19 statement is correct that the Denver precedent and rational are being carefully studied and considered (and Fr. Hehir was wrong), or Fr. Hehir’s May 20 comments are correct that this is already a done deal and Denver’s precedent doesn’t matter. The least that faithful Catholics can expect is clarity and honesty from our Church leaders, and this contradiction has yet to be cleared up.

Third, participants in any committee or decision-making process regarding this issue need to be selected based on their proven commitment and backing for the truths of the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality and marriage. As discussed in Section 10, any people who have demonstrated a lack of commitment to these teachings should be excluded from decision-making.

Fourth, whatever policy is developed needs to take into account all of the principles described in Sections 1-8.  Using criteria of what is best for the child sounds noble and compassionate in principle, but looking at the situation through only that lens  fails to take into account other important considerations and consequences.

Lastly, Cardinal O’Malley’s own words on Catholic education and homosexuality should be recalled in whatever policy emerges.

The only two reasons to justify having Catholic schools” are to ensure it is “truly Catholic and truly be one of excellence.”

It is important to express the moral teachings of the Church with clarity and fidelity. The Church must be Church. We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. These recent times seem to us like it is “out of season”, but for that very reason it is even more urgent to teach the hard words of the Gospel today.

Calling people to embrace the cross of discipleship, to live the commandments and at the same time assuring them that we love them as brothers and sisters can be difficult. Sometimes we are told: “If you do not accept my behavior, you do not love me.” In reality we must communicate the exact opposite: “Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.”

“We need courage to be faithful disciples of the Lord. Faithful discipleship is not a cheap grace. It is a costly grace. Following the Lord and embracing his teachings in this secularized society telling us to do something else takes great courage.”

Isaiah 5:20 teaches us “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness.”  Now is the time for courage to teach the truths of the faith in season and out of season, even though it may be difficult.  Few can question that Archbishop Chaput was indeed “compassionate and persuasive” when he wrote, “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible. It also places unfair stress on the children…and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church.”

False compassion and failing to communicate when certain behavior is unacceptable is not the Gospel message of love for either the child or the parents.  Those living a homosexual lifestyle who know their lifestyle is inconsistent with the Church teachings on sexual morality and marriage (without the hope of gaining validity as with divorced or single parents) should accept that enrollment in a Catholic school would place the child in a “spiritually and morally schizophrenic situation” which will be confusing and not in the best interests of the child.  Fundraisers engaged in the much-needed efforts to raise money that will ensure the future of Catholic education must realize that this situation will be harmful to the children.  It will also dilute the effectiveness of Catholic moral teachings and compromise the unique identity of Catholic schools whose very future the fundraisers–along with administrators, teachers, and parents–are working hard to preserve.

The Denver Archdiocese concluded that sincere, good-willed persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life that is sharply different from Catholic belief have other excellent options for education that would be a better course for their children.  For the sake of the children, it seems clear that is the same conclusion which Boston and other dioceses should reach.

(Catholics concerned about this issue should visit our Take Action page and send a free fax immediately to the people listed)

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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.


*      *      *      *

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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At long last, here’s the final installment on Fr. Bryan
Hehir’s next speaking gig on April 30 in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida.  In Part 1 we talked about Fr. Hehir keynoting along with another speaker who advocates for gay priests and gay culture, and in Part 2 we talked about him also sharing the podium with a priest who changed the liturgy and communion rite in his diocese in ways that had been previously rejected by the Vatican and USCCB and were outside of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). Now we’ll finally look at Bishop Robert Lynch’s leadership of the Diocese of St. Petersburg where the talk and conference are taking place.

First a little background on Bishop Robert Lynch.  He worked at the National Council of Catholic Bishops starting in the early 1970’s and was associate and general secretary of the NCCB from 1984 until 1995.  So, he and Fr. Hehir go way back. There is much that seems wrong happening under his leadership: ending Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, taking no action to prevent the starvation death of Terri Schiavo in 2005, allowing Schiavo’s former husband to have a Catholic wedding after the premeditated murder of his wife, sexual harassment accusations from a male employee (known for his “muscular physique”) settled for $100K and steering $30 million in no-bid church construction contracts to another “muscular triathlete.”  So given all that in addition to what we reported in Parts 1 and 2, of course one might just ask the question, does it make  sense for a senior archdiocesan official like Fr. Hehir to implicitly endorse all of the above by speaking at his conference?  Here are the details:

1. St. Petersburg  Diocese ends Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration: Ignoring all of Pope John Paul II’s repeated pleas for the promotion of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, the Diocese of St. Petersburg issued new guidelines which on September 1, 2000 ended the practice of perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in parishes, and only allows worship of the Eucharist reserved in tabernacles.

For parishes that wish to inaugurate adoration of the Blessed Sacrament the Bishop says they should “reflect on… their commitment of time and money to social services.” Among other reflections, they should ask, “Does the eucharistic bread look like bread?”

2. Bishop Lynch took no action to help save the life of Terri Schiavo in 2005 and instead issued bizarre statements undermining efforts to save her.   A must-read is this article from LifeSite News

The Florida Catholic Bishops’ conference has stated plainly that Terri’s means of receiving food and water does not constitute ‘extraordinary’ means of preserving her life, and is a simple requirement of ordinary care. ..Bishop Lynch’s comments are bizarre and shocking given the fact that Michael Schiavo has abandoned his wife and has taken up an adulterous liaison with another woman with whom he has sired two children and has campaigned to end Terri’s life by starving her to death.

Bishop Lynch moves from the bizarre and shocking to the outrageous when he implies that this lack of “peace,” is the fault of her parents for being determined to save her life. ..Lynch goes on to say that the decision to starve Terri to death is one that will be made by ‘a family’ which, incomprehensibly, he identifies as Michael Schiavo alone.

Inexplicable also is the apparent unconcern of the Bishop for saving Terri’s life, an indifference that will outrage Catholics since he also took no action when Michael refused to allow Terri visits from a priest and to receive the sacraments.

According to a report in LifeSite news published after Terri’s death,  Fr. Gerard Murphy of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida actually helped Judge Greer make the decision to dehydrate and starve Terri to death. Turns out that Fr. Murphy testified on behalf of Michael Schiavo, and Bishop Lynch supported Father Murphy’s seriously flawed position. Heres more:

The Catholic Media Coalition called Bishop Lynch’s behavior “baffling.”

COMMENTARY – Catholic Bishops Send Conflicting Message On Respecting Life

A Revolutionary to the Core

Bobby Schindler Reveals Shocking Support by Catholic Clergy for Sister’s Euthanasia Killing

Cardinal (Renato) Martino issued a stirring appeal from Rome shortly before Terri’s death when he said,

Whoever stands idly by without trying to prevent the death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo becomes an accomplice to murder.

Bishop Lynch did nothing.

Fr. Hehir, just curious, did you ever drop a dime to your pal Bishop Lynch when poor Terri was being starved to death and ask him to use the full influence of his episcopal position to speak out in favor of saving her life?

3.  To add insult to injury, Bishop Lynch allowed a Catholic wedding for Michael Schiavo and the mother of his two children after Michael had Terri starved to death. This is in opposition to Canon 1090 which states , “One who, with a view to entering marriage with a certain person, brings about the death of one’s own spouse or of the other person’s spouse, invalidly attempts that marriage.”  See:

Neither Shalt Thou Kill Thy Spouse

Schiavo-Centonze Marriage At Risk

Then there’s the matter of the St. Petersburg Diocese’s law firm (Divito and Higham) having contributed the maximum amount possible to the reelection campaign of Judge George Greer, the judge at the core of the Schiavo case who supported efforts of Michael Schiavo and his attorney, euthanasia advocate George Felos to end Terri’s life. They made this contribution at about the same time that the late Pope John Paul II issued his statement disallowing death by starvation and dehydration. How can a diocese be pro-life when the Bishop’s own general counsel is giving money to support a judge who agreed to starve an innocent person to death?

4. The story of Bishop Lynch wouldn’t be complete without a few more tawdry incidents. For example, theres the allegation of sexual harrassment against him from a male staff member and friend that was settled for $100,000

William Urbanski, diocese spokesman and former Lynch aide, filed a complaint with the diocese alleging that Lynch had made sexual advances towards him.

He initially appreciated Bishop Lynch’s lavish gifts–stereos, cameras, upscale clothes. But he began to feel increasingly uncomfortable when Bishop Lynch would touch and massage him.  He said that Lynch forced him to share a hotel room when they traveled on business together, pressured him to photograph his muscular physique in a speedo bathing suit, and that Lynch had grabbed his thigh as the two drove in a car. He also claimed that on one trip, Lynch had come out of the shower nude to show Urbanski how much weight he had lost. Lynch admitted he may have may have crossed the line between friendship and work and described the matter as a misunderstanding: “I did not intend anything. We were close friends.”  A diocesan investigation, led by three close Lynch aides, found no evidence to back Urbanski’s allegations of advances. Mr. Urbanski said investigators never interviewed him.

Nonetheless, the diocese paid $100K as severance under the condition that Urbanski not sue.  Is anyone else wondering why a diocese would fork over $100,000 from donations to support the Church if the allegations has zero substance?  Here’s some additional reading on that tawdry situation:

The story of Bishop Robert Lynch (a “must read”)

Church paid $100K to Lynch aide

Despite Anger, Urbanski not shunning religion

Oh by the way, then we also have Bishop Lynch steering $30 million in no-bid construction contracts to another friend, David Herman, who like Urbanski, is a muscular triathlete. Lynch and Herman had vacationed together to places including Hawaii, Israel, and Rome.  The St. Petersburg Times reports:

Lynch had given every construction contract over which he exercised sole control to a friend, David S. Herman, without seeking competitive bids or interviewing other established contractors in the area.  According to diocesan figures, Herman Construction Services was awarded contracts totaling $30.3-million since 1996, when Lynch became bishop.

Contractor for diocese jobs calls Lynch ‘good friend’

Diocese projects go to Bishop’s friend

So to summarize, we have a Cabinet secretary of the Archdiocese of Boston going to keynote at a Eucharistic Conference in Florida along with a priest who advocates for gay priests and the gay culture (including gay movies and books) and along with another priest who ordered his diocese to adopt new rules for the sacrament of Communion that had been previously rejected by the Vatican and U.S. bishops.  And he’s speaking in a diocese where the bishop banned perpetual Eucharistic adoration, slammed pro-lifers for objecting to the most rabid pro-abortion president in history being honored at Notre Dame, was described by a Vatican official as an accomplice to the premeditated murder of an innocent disabled woman, settled a case of sexual harassment against one male employee for $100,000 and steered $30 million in no-bid contracts to another male friend.  This blogger commented, “Would Bishop Lynch chase the money lenders out of the temple or would he have ATMs installed?”

Any readers in the Diocese of St. Petersburg or elsewhere, I urge you to contact the papal nuncio and Congregation of Bishops and ask to have this trainwreck of a conference with its scandal-mired speakers cancelled.  (Contact info is here). And if the judgment of a Cabinet secretary like Fr. Bryan Hehir after 44 years in the priesthood is that this conference is where he wants to speak and hang out with his friends, this is yet another reason why his opinions should be ignored.

Should the conference proceed intact, they will no doubt have a lovely time together April 30-May 1.

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These social justice conferences are really the gift archdiocese of boston bryan hehir
that just keeps giving!  If you have not yet read 2009 Social Justice Conference: Part 1 posted yesterday, please do check that out, as well as last weeks post on the 2006 Social Justice Conference.  Now, on to our next speaker, Sr. Terry Rickard of RENEW International.

RENEW’s 3-year “ARISE:  Together in Christ” program was brought to the Boston Archdiocese to help “enliven parishes and build small Christian communities. ”  RENEW International, based in New Jersey, was founded by a group of Call to Action people who wanted to remake the Church, but lets talk about Sr. Terry first, and we’ll get to RENEW in a few moments.  You may want to grab a strong cup of coffee before continuing.

Sister Terry Rickard, OP, is a Dominican sister who doesn’t wear a habit from the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt.  I assume of course that Bryan Hehir first invited the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Sisters of Life, the Missionaries of Charity, and the Daughters of St. Paul but they were all busy that day so thats why they ended up with a representative from an order associated with both the liberal Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the liberal social justice group, NETWORK (who the  USCCB’s head, Cardinal Francis George just slammed for their position on the abortion-funding national healthcare legislation).   The website of the Dominican Sisters talks about their social justice work and “Creation of a Blauvelt Dominican Land Ethic based on the belief that the earth is the primary sustainer of life.”  Their links of interest have nothing going to the Vatican or USCCB or a diocese, but instead go to organizations like American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization with an extensive  LGBT rights and recognitation program who opposed the Federal marriage amendment and supports gay marriage), and United for Peace and Justice, (which has a working group focused on attacks on human/civil rights including those of women, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered [LGBT] people, people of color, and ethnic and religious minorities).  But I digress…

Sr. Terry earned a Masters of Divinity at the multi-denominiational Union Theological Seminary (“with roots firmly planted in the Protestant, Reformed tradition, the Seminary continues to reform itself in response to the changing needs of the world and an evolving understanding of what it means to be faithful”).  She also is a graduate of Aquinas Institute of St. Louis, which, according to CatholicCulture.org is “a hotbed of Dominican dissidents in America, whose previous president openly defended ‘gay’ priests and seminarians. The Aquinas Institute is affiliated with St. Louis University, a ‘Jesuit University’ which was one of the first to abdicate itself to lay leadership in the “spirit of Vatican II” in 1967.”  Nice.

To Cardinal Sean (who opened the conference with morning prayer and opening comments) and officials of the Archdiocese and the Vatican, is this really the kind of background for a speaker want at an official Catholic archdiocesen-sponsored event?

But thats just Sr. Terry.  Lets talk about RENEW.  When I heard Cardinal Sean was bringing RENEW’s program to Boston, I wanted to believe this was a different RENEW than the one I knew of back in the late ’70s and ’80s, and I assumed the Cardinal had thoroughly checked them out, and they had cleaned-up their act.  Maybe they have, as some reports would indicate, but I am just not so sure so we’ll share the information out their for you to digest yourselves as educated readers and observers.  In the interest of time, I will simply offer some references, and you can reach your own conclusions about them.

What’s Wrong With RENEW?

Renew International was founded by a coalition of Call to Action AmChurch types bent on remaking the Church in their own image. This can be seen from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Critique of the Original Renew Program (the original Renew Program was produced in 1986), as well as from the background check of Renew 2000 contributors that came out with the subsequent program: Background Check of Renew 2000 Contributors Reveals Renew 2000 Texts Laced with Call to Action Names. An index of links critical of the heterodoxy of Renew 2000 can be found at Revealing the Truth about Renew 2000, and Dr. Regis Martin, S.T.D., Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (who was one of this year’s speakers at Lenoir-Rhyne College’s annual Aquinas-Luther Conference), in a review of one of the leader’s manuals, concludes that it is “seriously impaired in its content, and in its tone or spirit, alien to the ancient and Catholic faith we profess in the Creed.” First, he says, it fastidiously avoids mention of the Fatherhood of God. Second, there is a persistent tendency to divorce the Christological significance from the historical Jesus, so that the ‘Christ of faith’ has nothing to do with the ‘Jesus of history.’ Third, there is no mention of Original Sin and its treatment of the whole subject of human sinfulness is woefully inadequate. And much more (see Renew 2000 Commentary by Regis Martin, S.T.D.).

About RENEW’s Why Catholic? Program

designed by revisionists whose devious aim is to use their small group approach to refract ecclesial focus, to undermine magisterial authority, to democratize the Catholic message, to continue the AmChurch decentralization of Catholic Church in America, to continue the process of protestantizing and revising the Church and detaching her from the only moorings she has in her own traditions…

But one could argue that “ARISE: Together in Christ” is different.  Its roots are in small group faith-sharing around scripture, and it was pioneered by people from our own Boston Archdiocese’s Office for Spiritual Development.  So, what could possibly be wrong with small group faith-sharing and small Christian communities?   I don’t honestly know if ARISE is good or bad.  Read on and reach your own conclusions…

A New Experience of the Church?

What is to be made of Small Christian Communities? Do they serve or threaten the Church?  Their history presents cause for concern. Small Christian Communities (SCCs) are known, among Latin American Marxists, as “base” or “basic” communities: comunidades des base. They were fostered as vehicles of “conscientization” in liberation theology. In their book, Dangerous Memories, Bernard Lee and Michael Cowan write: “The strongest support for this movement [of SCCs] came from the Medellín conference of Latin American bishops in 1968, which faced the Church in the direction of liberation theology and basic Christian communities.”

Programs such as RENEW were also designed to be seedbeds of SCCs. The original RENEW program was developed a generation ago under the auspices of Archbishop Peter Gerety of Newark, New Jersey, one of the initial Call to Action organizers. Implemented in 1978 (soon after the initial 1976 Call to Action Conference in Detroit) it called for formation of “small communities in worship, prayer, study, evangelization and apostolic service.”

The US bishops conference examined the RENEW program in 1986 and found several areas in which the program gave cause for concern. The bishops’ report said it contained, “a definite bias toward the community model of Church,” resulting in “an imbalance which can be doctrinally misleading.”

Although the program was revamped, many of its echoes of liberation theology remained. Social action and evangelization are deliberately confused with one another. “Truth” is understood as a product of a “conscientized” people. Judgments are derived, according to RENEW’s literature, “from the collective wisdom of the group as consensus emerges from their sharing. This wisdom obviously involves the wisdom of the Spirit, alive in the community members.”

Liberationism for North America

The first step is to form base communities, which is simply the regrouping of a larger structure into smaller sections. While such restructuring may serve many useful and legitimate purposes (bible study, fellowship, prayer support, etc.), such base communities encouraged by Alinskyian organizing isolate its Catholic members from their parishes, replacing their loyalties with loyalties to the group. The group can be led toward a preset conclusion by the discussion leader/organizer. There are dangers for any such group that severs itself from the full and unequivocal teaching of the Church — as is frequently, though subtly, encouraged in the various facilitator manuals made available to small Christian communities through USCCB publications (such as RENEW) or USCCB associated organizations (such as CCHD or MACC). If the members are not well educated in their faith, they can easily be led to misinterpretations of Catholic teaching.

Compilation on Small Christian Communities

That tightly structured training and implementation of a program closely identified with notable dissidents sparked a brushfire of concern. Parish leaders conversant with national “We Are Church” demands and methodologies were alert to those same dissident themes and tactics embedded in RENEW 2000 materials. It has been pointed out that “small faith communities” (SFCs) are the strategic hallmark of Call to Action and its satellite groups, which adapted the format from socialist political agitator Saul Alinsky and his liberation-theology-style “ecclesial base communities” (see “Inside Call to Action”). The small faith community format was also used by Marxists to subvert the Church in Latin America.

Paulists RENEW 2000 is just a front for Call to Action

RENEW provides additional resources

RENEW International discussion on Catholic Answers forum

So folks there it is for now on Sr. Terry Rickard and RENEW.  I have never met her or attended a RENEW program so Sr. Terry may be a very nice and competent person.  ARISE: Together in Christ might be fine program, though I know pastors who have decided to not offer it in their parishes for some reason.  (If any pastors/priests are reading this and want to comments on RENEW, feel free to).  I am sure I will get flack from supporters of RENEW and if I am wrong, I’ll come out and admit it.  All I can say is that Sr. Terry’s own background, that of her religious order and of RENEW just don’t feel all that solid to me.  Can’t a Catholic archdiocese responsible for sharing the gospel and evangelizing society find speakers with less controversial background for a conference they officially sponsor?  Or, is this just another example of the kind of folks and organizations attracted to the “light” of Fr. Bryan hehir?  Stay tuned for more on the third speaker tomorrow.

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