Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’

We have read and re-read the statements from the Archdiocese of Boston about the annoying problem of the Catholic bloggers and are miffed–literally beyond words–by the double-speak and deception.

Paul Melanson at La Salette Journey has an outstanding blog post on this topic well worth reading in its entirety.  He opened his blog post with this passage from Isaiah:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and prudent in their own esteem!” (Isaiah 5: 20, 21).

This is what’s happening in Boston.  And what’s most concerning is that it seems to be coming from the top of the hierarchy, not just the underlings.  Here are several examples—with Caritas Christi, the Ted Kennedy funeral, and with this blog.

1) Caritas Christi

In March of 2009, after Caritas Christi announced a joint venture with Centene Corporation and faithful Catholics complained that it included provisions for referring patients to abortion providers, Cardinal O’Malley responded with this comment to  the critics:

To be perfectly clear, Caritas Christi will never do anything to promote abortions, to direct any patients to providers of abortion or in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching and anyone who suggests otherwise is doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church. We are committed to the Gospel of Life and no arrangement will be entered into unless it is completely in accord with Church teaching.

That “great disservice to the Church” pressured the Cardinal to ask the National Catholic Bioethics Center to study the deal, and then after the NCBC’s analysis was done, after several weeks of discussions with the NCBC, Caritas, and Cenetne, the original joint venture was scrapped in late June. Here’s all we heard at the time on the Cardinal’s blog:

Over that time, subsequent discussions involving Caritas Christi, the NCBC and the Archdiocese were held and the Cardinal made his final determination. The Cardinal’s role in reviewing and seeking additional guidance on this proposal is rooted in his responsibility to ensure the Catholic identity and moral character of institutions affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston, including Caritas Christi.

It would seem those people labeled as having done a “disservice to the Church” had actually done a service to the Church.

Fast forward to Friday, August 27, when we learned that Caritas Christi is moving forward with plans to acquire the secular Landmark Hospital in Rhode Island, and to keep it secular, which means they can continue to provide sterilizations and family planning services that contradict Catholic religious and moral directives.  Here’s what the Providence Journal reported:

“…the deal does not require Landmark to become a Catholic hospital or to accept the limitations of Catholic doctrine.  Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer said the hospital intended to remain secular, and Caritas spokesman Chris Murphy confirmed that, saying, “Our intent is to preserve Landmark in its current form, which includes no religious affiliation.”

In June of 2009, when discussions between Caritas and Landmark first were reported, this moral conflict was clear as reported by the Boston Globe.  Thundermist Health Center, the largest primary healthcare provider in northern Rhode Island which has contracts with Landmark expressed their concern that,

“If Landmark converts to a Catholic hospital, Thundermist could no longer provide family planning services or sterilizations there

In case you forget what Cardinal O’Malley said in March of 2009, we repeat his words again.  He said,

“Caritas Christi will never do anything …in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching.”

Is there any question that the acquisition of Landmark announced on Friday will do exactly that?  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light.

2. Ted Kennedy Funeral

We all know the story here.  For purposes of this blog, we will focus on the reaction by Cardinal O’Malley to those who criticized his presiding over the Catholic funeral  for the late Sen. Kennedy.  Here’s the Cardinal’s response, as reported in the Boston Globe on Sept 2, 2009.

One of my greatest satisfactions in my ministry thus far was helping to overturn the abortion laws in Honduras….We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts…

At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other

Let’s see.  So pro-lifers who complained about the scandal of the over-the-top Kennedy funeral were criticized by the Cardinal for their “zeal,” and their “attitudes and practices” that harm the communion of the Church.  Meanwhile the Cardinal gushed with praise for the chorus and the music at the funeral, the celebrity eulogies, and all the great works Ted Kennedy did , merely lamenting the missed opportunity had Kennedy been with us on protecting the unborn.    Fr. Roger Landry at Catholic Preachings described the situation in The Anchor as follows:

We have to add, however, that one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity. It would be very hard for an abortion-supporting Catholic politician to have watched Senator Kennedy’s very public and panegyrical funeral rites and not have concluded that the Church’s teachings on life are, in the end, a very small matter indeed. It would have been even harder for such a politician or others who support the evil of abortion to have been inspired toward conversion.  This leads to one of the most important lessons that pastors in the United States need to draw from the history of the Church’s interactions with Senator Kennedy for its future engagement of other pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Despite the good intentions to try to engage him, teach him, and help bring him to conversion, the strategy failed.”

Cardinal O’Malley, do you agree that your strategy failed and is continuing to fail?   If you agree proclaiming the Truth is important and we will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, why are you allowing an archdiocesan conference to take place featuring a speaker who backed the pro-abortion politician, Kathleen Sebelius, for Health and Human Services Secretary who has been propagating national healthcare legislation opposed by the U.S. bishops because it permits federal funding of abortion? Why are you allowing Fr. Bryan Hehir to speak given what we have exposed here on this blog about his comments that undermined Catholic conscience exemptions and unity in the Church?  Where is the proclaiming of the Truth by the archbishop of Boston about the dignity of each and every life from conception to natural death?

George Weigel, in “The Courage to Be Catholic” said in his chapter about “Why Bishops Failed” that most Catholics want bishops who will effectively exercise the authority that is theirs, and do so in a way that challenges everyone in the Church to a holier way of life.

I think the episcopal failures of recent decades have been similar to the failures of priests: It’s fundamentally a failure in self-understanding. If a priest thinks of himself as simply another “minister,” facilitating the “ministry” of others, he isn’t going to think of himself as what the Church teaches he is — an icon, a living re-presentation of the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ. And if he doesn’t think of himself as an icon of Christ, he’s going to be tempted to act in ways that contradict the commitment he’s made to Christ and the Church.

The same dynamic applies with bishops. Bishops who think of themselves primarily as managers — or worse, bishops who think of themselves as discussion-group moderators whose primary responsibility is to keep everyone “in play” — are going to be unlikely to act like apostles when the crunch comes.

Cardinal Sean, do you see yourself as a discussion group moderator whose main job is to travel, make appearances at events, blog, and keep everyone happy and “in play” or are you an icon of Jesus Christ capable of the sort of boldness seen in Matthew 21:12? Do you even want to be our day-to-day, hands-on, fully-engaged Archbishop of Boston, with the awesome responsibility for teaching, sanctifying, and governing that responsibility brings?

3) This blog

As regular readers of this blog know, the statement from the archdiocese about reaching out to the bloggers is about ¼ true and ¾ deceptive.  The part that’s true is that the Vicar General reached out and invited a conversation. But as we shared previously and in our last post, the conversation’s purpose was positioned as a one-way lecture by the Archdiocese about how we should blog in a less critical way, with nobody present from a position of authority to address the concerns and with a track record of having addressed such concerns.  Frankly, the Cardinal’s blog post of late April supportive of Fr. Hehir along with the speaker agenda for the upcoming Social Justice Conference  sends us a message the Archdiocese is not looking to act on the concerns we have raised—rather they are thumbing their noses at us.

Paul Melanson said it so well in his post that we will close with an except from his post.

The Archdiocese of Boston has engaged in dishonesty. Responding to bloggers who have raised a multitude of legitimate and very serious concerns, including the promotion of dissent from Church teaching and various scandals such as the Kennedy funeral and an event honoring Mayor Thomas Menino, who is also pro-abortion and supportive of same-sex “marriage,” the Archdiocese said in a statement that, “Cardinal O’Malley and his staff are dedicated to building unity in Christ and Christian community within the Archdiocese. Toward that end, we have reached out to bloggers on numerous occasions to ask them to enter into a professional and Christ-centered conversation with us. We are concerned about the harm caused to individuals and to the community by anonymous and unfounded claims on blogs.”

Readers of this blog know full well that when Archdiocesan officials were asked – repeatedly – to cite just one example of a post which is “inaccurate” they lapsed into silence. Harm to individuals and the community? Such harm is a result of dissent from Church teaching, not the defense of the same. It is most significant that Bishop Rene Henry Gracida has been posting articles from Catholic bloggers exposing the leaven of infidelity within the Boston Archdiocese at his wonderful Blog in a series entitled “The Boston Virus.”

Does the Archdiocese of Boston consider His Excellency to be advancing “unfounded claims” as well? Would Mr. Leccese consider Bishop Gracida to be a “dissident” as well? And how can the Archdiocese honestly claim to be dedicated to “building unity in Christ” when it is really advancing a false irenicism?

God preserve us from such nonsense!

And so while Mayor Thomas Menino, who supports abortion and same-sex “marriage” has been honored by the Archdiocese of Boston, while Father Bryan Hehir has “respect” for the Democratic National Committee (which also advances these evils), Catholic bloggers who promote and defend the Magisterial teaching of the Church are accused of harming individuals and the community.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.
Two final notes.  We offer our condolences to the family of Edward Saunders, Exec. Director of the Mass Catholic Conference on his death after a short illness.

Lastly, Wordpress has experienced some technical problems with their blog subscription system that removed some of our blog subscribers.  If you previously subscribed to get automatic emails from this blog and have not been receiving them, please re-subscribe.  We apologize for the inconvenience.


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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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About 3 weeks ago, we wrote criticizing how Fr. Bryan Hehir helped reinforce a “wound to Catholic unity” by praising the Catholic Health Association’s leadership as they celebrated the passage of CHA-backed “Obamacare.”  Now we see the first federal funding of abortion, and the concerns of the Catholic bishops and millions of other Catholics and pro-lifers alike have proven true. We hope Fr. Hehir and his supporters in the Archdiocese like Vicar General Erikson and Cardinal O’Malley are pleased with the result.

As you will recall, the CHA backed Obamacare in direct opposition to the Catholic bishops, and Bryan Hehir  later commended the head of the CHA, Sr. Carol Keehan for her “intelligent and courageous leadership of this organization.  Hehir also said there “multiple voices” in the debate (the CHA, the U.S. bishops, and others) as though all of the voices had equal merit and the teaching authority of the Church had no more weight than any other voice.  And amidst those multiple voices, “there was foundation for the different judgments made on the bill in the Catholic moral tradition.”  Multiple readers excoriated Hehir for his statements, and our post prompted a response from the Vicar General, who said our blog posts were disrepectful, inappropriate, and inaccurate in criticizing Fr. Hehir.

Now we hear that the first $160 million in taxpayer  money is going to support insurance plans that cover abortions.  That would further validate that our posts were respectful of life, appropriate in reinforcing Church teachings and need for unity with the bishops, and accurate in the criticism  of Fr. Hehir for backing the CHA.   Here are exceprts from the  Lifenews report in “Obama Administration OKs First Tax-Funded Abortions Under Health Care Law

The Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health care program. This is the kind of abortion funding the pro-life movement warned about when Congress considered the bill. The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March.  It has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of pro-abortion Governor Edward Rendell under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.

 The law authorizes $5 billion in federal funds for the program, which will cover as many as 400,000 people when it is implemented nationwide.

The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we’ve discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. Johnson told LifeNews.com: “This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama’s assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion — but it will not be the last.

President Obama successfully opposed including language in the bill to prevent federal subsidies for abortions, and now the Administration is quietly advancing its abortion-expanding agenda through administrative decisions such as this, which they hope will escape broad public attention,” Johnson said.

The abortion funding comes despite language in the bill that some pro-abortion Democrats and Obama himself claimed would prevent abortion funding and despite a controversial executive order Obama signed supposedly stopping abortion funding.

The pro-life community strongly opposed the executive order and said Rep. Bart Stupak and other House Democrats who voted for the pro-abortion health care bill in exchange for it were selling out their pro-life principles. This first case of forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions under the new law appears to prove them right that the bill language and executive order were ineffective.

Proving the point further that the abortion funding comes from federal taxpayer dollars, Johnson explained that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has emphasized that the high-risk pool program is a federal program and that the states will not incur any cost.”On May 11, 2010, in a letter to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on implementation of the new law, DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that “states may choose whether and how they participate in the program, which is funded entirely by the federal government.”

Under the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection,” said NRLC’s Johnson. “The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection — and the Obama Administration has now approved this.”

There you have it folks.  Fr. Hehir, the trusted “strategic advisor” to Cardinal O’Malley who brings “fidelity to the work of the Church” and ”clarity to our message and mission” backed the organization that was critical to passing this abortion-funding healthcare overhaul legislation, and the bloggers who expose and complain about this and are the ones who are criticized by the Archdiocese.   Go figure.

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To call the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine’s piece,
What I Believe”  anything more than a poorly-written wretched Anti-Catholic screed would be a compliment.  It is so bad it is literally unbelievable, and as usual, the response by the Archdiocese–that these days, is mostly run by Chancellor Jim McDonough, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and Jack Connors–has been nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

Naturally, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson, who was quick to condemn us for exposing the truth of Fr. Bryan Hehir’s public dissent and undermining of Church teachings, has issued a strongly worded public statement condemning the Globe for their anti-Catholic screed.  (NOT!) And of course, Cardinal O’Malley, who personally countered us by posting gushing praise for Bryan Hehir on his blog (after we exposed all of Bryan Hehir’s speaking engagements alongside gay activists) has been quick to exercise his role as bishop by responding with a teaching message that corrects all of the Globe essay’s misstatements. (NOT!)  If you missed that, then of course there’s  been the theologically rich statement issued by the $166K/year communications secretary, Terry Donilon, criticizing the Globe in the most politically correct of terms possible for offending Catholics who “love the Church.”  (NOT!) Last but not least, all guns are firing about the Globe essay over at the newly launched Catholic Media group, who said upon their launch that “embracing new and state-of-the-art forms of digital communication to reach the faithful has been a top priority of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.”  (NOT!)  Yes, readers, the full communications machine of the Boston Archdiocese that costs about $5 million a year to operate (PR, website, The Pilot, CatholicTV, and  production/admin staff) is all over it, immediately correcting the scandalous piece and proclaiming the truth in-season and out-of-season so that hundreds of thousands Catholics who might have read it are not confused.  Do us a favor–when someone finds just one comment from the Archdiocese on this, would you send it our way?  And they wonder why people read our blog.  Maybe we’ll send the Pastoral Center a bill for doing their jobs.

Almost every paragraph in this senseless drivel has something wrong with it, so I will just share a few of the most egregious problems with it. Our comments are in italics.

For starters, the author, Charles Pierce, describes himself as an “anti-Catholic Catholic.”  His current religious “orientation” is based largely on some kind of attraction to the color purple (“I like my faith in purple”) and he says an “awful lot of my early theology was architectural.”  Yet Pierce is quick to preempt any accusation that he is no longer Catholic.  “Nobody gets to tell me that I’m not a Catholic.”
Readers with a weak stomach or high blood pressure might want to stop here.

The article cites the Pew Research study that one in ten Catholics have left the Catholic Church after being raised Catholic.  And about half of those who departed and now identify themselves as “unaffiliated” left the church because of its views on abortion, homosexuality, and birth control.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.  But ya know, if the other 9 in 10 of us have a smaller Catholic Church of people who actually believe what the Church teaches,  that would be fine.  As Cardinal Ratzinger said in an interview published in “Salt of the Earth” in 1997

Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world – that let God in.”

There are the requiste quotes from Richard McBrien, the dissident church critic and Notre Dame theologian whose writings have been condemned by the U.S.C.C.B. (and who also preached at Fr. Bryan Hehir’s first Mass after his ordination). McBrien says, “And the spiritual authority… of the hierarchy, up to and including the papacy, was diminishing in the minds of millions of Catholics long before the sexual-abuse crisis brought that issue to a conspicuous boil. “The hierarchy is largely irrelevant to any intelligent, educated Catholic.”
No, Fr. McBrien, for any intelligent, educated Catholic, it’s actually the case that YOU are irrelevant.

Pierce got input from his “friend,” Fr. Walter Cuenin, who he says was forced to leave his Newton parish because the archdiocese “didn’t approve of the way finances were being handled.”  Cuenin also told Pierce that he preaches in homilies that the Buddhist and the Lutheran faiths are comparable to Catholicism as a means to salvation and heaven.
Um, I think it was actually misuse of parish funds by Walter to pay for his monthly car and alcohol bills, when those expenses should have been paid from out-of-pocket instead of from the parish donations.  And never mind that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, following historic Christian theology since the time of the early Church Fathers, refers to the Catholic Church as “the universal sacrament of salvation” (CCC 774–776), and states: “The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation.”

In the Church according to Pierce, the “teaching authority is dependent wholly on the primacy of my individual conscience.”
This is flat out false.  As Catholics, we do have an obligation to inform our consciences by the teachings of the Church, and if we reject those teachings, that is considered a sin.  To say any “teaching authority” is dependent on a person’s “individual conscience” not only makes no sense logically, but it’s totally wrong.  This means you make up whatever you want to believe in, right?   I don’t think there is an organized religion that operates that way, except for maybe the Unitarians, but then again, maybe they are not an organized religion anyway.

Pierce says “ I simply don’t want what they call a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. …I do not need a personal Lord and Savior.”
If you don’t care about a relationship with Jesus Christ or about salvation, then why do you want to be Catholic?

No Globe piece critical of the Catholic Church would be complete without the requisite quote by the dissidents over at Voice of the Faithful.  VOTF trustee Ron DuBois  said, “I have my own theology. I do have a doctorate in philosophy and I’ve done a lot of my own reading. I think it’s an ongoing process by anyone who really thinks, especially in our country, with our emphasis on political democracy and a tradition of questioning authority.”
If he has his own theology, let him practice it and write about its core tenets in “Ron’s Church.”   I thought VOTF  had faded into complete oblivion
, but apparently the liquidation sale for their remaining assets has not occurred yet. We’ll keep you posted when they have the yard sale.

The author quotes Garry Wills as though he is an authoritative source, when instead, every comment from Wills is wrong or misguided.  “Wills points out how Vatican II defined the church as the entire ‘people of God.’ That being the case, one can find a way to remain a Catholic while not only distancing oneself from the hierarchy of the institutional church but also subverting it, in a kind of internal Reformation.  Wills has said “The pope is a freak of history. . . . Peter was not a pope, or a bishop, or a priest – offices that did not exist in his lifetime.”
Pierce and Wills are simply wrong. At ThrowtheBumsOutin2010, they said it well–Pierce encourages people to ignore the Pope, the encyclicals, and the teaching authority of the Church since nobody can tell you these rejections are not Catholic.

There’s more, but that’s all we have time to pick apart today.  Usually the Globe sends stuff like this over to Terry Donilon and the Communications office before publishing it.  We wonder if that happened in this case.  As if we have not had enough years of seeing the teachings of the Church distorted, now we have the Globe’s equivalent of a circus contortionist, Charles Pierce, an “anti-Catholic” wolf in “Catholic” sheep’s clothing who is twisting and bending the teachings beyond recognition to encourage “Cafeteria Catholicism” (best case) or further discourage Catholics from sticking with the true teachings of Christ’s One Holy and Apostolic Church. If the people responsible for public policy, communications, evangelization, and teaching in this Archdiocese do not respond to this essay from the Globe on Monday–and if the person charged with teaching, sanctifying, and governing doesn’t lead his team to respond promptly with some statement to correct everything wrong about the essay–then heads should roll.  We’re serious.


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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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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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