A shot across the bow

A shot across the bow

On New Year’s Eve, Archbishop Sean O’Malley will preside at a midnight Mass for the feast of Mary the Mother of God at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton, the parish of the notorious Fr. Walter Cuenin. Fr. Cuenin is outspoken in his rejection of certain of the Church’s teachings, especially on marriage, family, and homosexuality, and was a key organizer of both Voice of the Faithful and the Boston Priests Forum. He was also a prime mover behind the letter of 58 Boston priests that may have been the final straw to force out Cardinal Bernard Law.

This week, Fr. Cuenin fired a shot across Archbishop O’Malley’s bow. We all know that the Church—from the Vatican on down to individual dioceses—has made it a priority to safeguard the sacred definition of family against attempts to open it to all kinds of “innovations,” not the least of which is so-called gay marriage. In his bulletin message this week (go to the parish home page and select “bulletin” from the menu), Fr. Cuenin undermines that.

Today we also see new types of families that were unimaginable years ago. For example, there are households where one parent raises children or where two single parents share together in the raising of two sets of children. There are households with a mother and father together ive as a couple and raise children. On and on goes the list. We should never think that there is a single Biblical model of family life. [Emphasis added.]

If that isn’t a clear contradiction of the Church’s teaching, I don’t know what is. So what should Archbishop O’Malley do with regard to this clear slap in the face? What will he do? Perhaps he will bide his time, waiting for the proper moment to reign in Cuenin. Perhaps he will take direct action. In any case, he must do something eventually about priests who undermine the Church’s teachings, who teach falsehood as truth and lead their people astray.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Oh, PMC, my sweet country mouse. Haven’t you been spongified yet? You *do* realize that Jesus and the 12 “close male friends” were just one big … uh, well … you know. Don’t you?

  • The Pope said, and the CDF repeated in the document on homosexual unions last summer, that the rearing of children by homosexuals “does violence” to the children. Seems like a pretty clear condemnation.  And the same document says that such households are not families as considered by the Church, but some other kind of union of persons.  Cunein’s bringing it up in a talk about family makes it clear he consider it just another kind of family in clear contradiction to the Church’s teachings.

  • Todd, (as if Dom’s explanation were not enough) the big deal is that a pastor cannot be teaching things according to his private beliefs.  He is responsible for the formation of souls in his parish, and to write such nonsense could well be considered sinful-for now others could read that and say “hey, I’m living with my girlfriend/boyfriend (gay or not) and the Catholic pastor as much as said I’m good to go.” when in reality a “Biblical model” IS the only model that is life giving and building up.
    Divorce and death to leave single parents, but this is not a good thing. Ultimately, the BEST family is one dad, one mom and kids as God provides.  The others are simply poor imitations.

    A note to others who live in the Boston Archdiocese, did the Archbishop ever have a way for the faithful to access him? I am quite aware of the “old boy’s network” as I lived and worked there for awhile.  I ask because if he gives you the opportunity, take it, or write him.

    When our Bishop came over from Detroit, one of the first things he did was ask us (at a Church Minister’s gathering with the Bishop Britt) what we wanted from him-and boy did some of the Faithful give him words.  He is a good man and I don’t at all mean to imply that a Bishop, ArchBishop or Cardinal needs to see which way the wind blows before he acts.  However we used it to beg him to hold to the Church’s teachings as our life and salvation depend on the Truth.
    And, as always, praypraypraypraypray.

  • Todd, people do all sorts of bad things and the reality is that there’s not two hoots we can do about them either. Frankly, if that note is not heresy worthy of a defrocking (if continually and obstinately held), then the category “heresy worthy of a defrocking” has ceased to exist.

  • Cathy:

    Amen and can I get a witness!!!

    Look, nobody *denies* that families other than mom, dad and the 2.2 kids exist. Or that people often have to make the best of a tragic situation or a mistake of their own (widows, abandoned spouses, homosexuals who misguidedly tried marriage as a “cure,” unintended single pregnancies). Life happens.

    The matter has always been: what is the best situation or God’s ideal, how can we encourage *that* ideal or at least discourage the bad alternatives to the extent possible. A lesbian who gets artificially inseminated (or even those wealthy actresses who won’t marry their sperm donors) is, excuse my french, a selfish b—-h.

  • Well, Todd, I could probably do better without the basis for my namecalling. I mean, seriously, why is insulting someone who intentionally creates a single-parent situation for no good reason worse than the doing of it in the first place? Is niceness the trumping virtue?

    As for your second point … there’s *no way* to ensure positive examples and practices without at least implicitly denigrating (tearing apart) negative ones. And since the diversity-obsessed cultural situation in which we exist means everybody and his practices *has* to be seen, like the ethnic rainbow in a Benneton ad, even an implicit denigration will have to become explicit before too long (cf. homosexuality).

  • Todd, you did not address my first point, which is why is an insult *worse* than the basis therein? At best, you’ve proven that insults are bad, which isn’t exactly the point.

    As for the second, even a steady diet of “positive” images will be well understood and the implicit offense taken. Surely you’ve heard the pro-abortion crowd’s uproar over “Choose Life” license plates and ads and billboards pushing adoption and Church crisis pregnancy centers. Andrew Sullivan has written about how he can’t go to weddings without feeling anger at his exclusion from the institution. At the end of the “rebuttal” episode of “Murphy Brown,” Candice Bergen looked to the camera and said “we think family comes in more than one form” and proceeded to introduce every manner the scriptwriters could think of.

    Moral: There is no getting around the fact we are in a culture war. Just “being positive” won’t be taken charitably, so offense is not a reason not to say something “negative.” Plus, even Jesus said plenty of “negative” things.

  • PMC:

    “Any of you Hub Catholics considered forwarding a copy of the bulletin to the Chancery before Wednesday’s Mass, so there is no doubt as to what the Abp. is walking into? “

    I bleepin’ hand delivered it to his room at the rectory yesterday, AND to his secretary, AND to my rector at the Cathedral, AND e-mailed the .pdf to Marianne Lunin, the Archdiocesan Pro Life Office head. My main concern was, and remains, that this trash is not only available to those people innocently seeking driving directions to the Newton Church—as was suggested in the flyer I refused to post—but that these bulletins will be readily available to those faithful who only wish to pray for respect for human life on New Year’s Eve. (What some of us, incredibly enough, call the “Vigil of the Solemnity of Mary.” Silly us.)

    Oh by the way…the only one who seems to be appalled by the bulletin is the Pro Life head, who’s written me at least twice since she’s read it. There’s nothing she can do, and I told her that. It’s all in the hands of the Archbishop.

    Rotsa ruck.

    Parenthetically, since that’s all the following deserves:

    (Todd offers:

    “He does not approve of gay unions nor does he denounce them. “

    I don’t give a rat’s tush whether Cuenin appears to you, Todd, to not “denounce” them or not.

    The point is, the Church does. Cuenin is flatly and unambiguously disobeying not only his Archbishop—whom he SWORE to obey—but also the teachings of the Church. How can I put this nicely? I guess I can’t. Todd: you don’t know what in the hell you’re talking about. Pax, though.)

    The sad thing is that the Archdiocesan Pro Life Office put a lot of work and prayer into this vigil. But, given its location, people are demurring, or, in my case, flat out refusing to go, or worse, to bring fellow parishioners to it. And I’m not the only one, as Ms. Lunin is learning. She says:

    “These are certainly troubled times when committed Catholics feel uncomfortable going to a Catholic church to pray at a pro-life vigil.”

    I agree with her. I also agree with what she wrote yesterday:

    “I completely agree with you that the juxtaposition of the announcement of the New Year’s Eve Pro-Life Vigil with a re-writing of Catholic teaching on the role of the family causes confusion and disunity within the Church. That kind of disunity is the last thing we need right now. I do not have any kind of explanation or defense for it. I also agree with your concluding comments that prayers are needed for the parish. We cannot build a culture of life while diminishing the role of the nuclear family.”

    Nope. We can’t.


  • Todd,

    Straight from the Vatican web site: Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons and the quote: “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.”

    Signed by Ratzinger, approved by the Pope.

    And Kelly has told you why Cuenin is obliged by both obedience and the requirements of the truth to teach his people that two gay people raising kids is not a family in the image of the Holy Family. It may be an assemblage of persons in a type of community, but it is not a family.

    “I can testify that trouble always finds me. Even when I don’t open my big mouth.” And when exactly is that?

  • Todd,

    Don’t be an ass. I conceded nothing. And I don’t care whether you think two gay people raising a child is a family or not. You’re not an authority and not one I look to to reveal the Truth. The document clearly says that homosexuals raising a child are by definition unfit and not a family.

    You know what I really don’t like about you? It’s your smarmy way of saying one thing, then when you are refuted, to claim that the other person’s point proves your own; that you suddenly drop arguments when you are proved wrong and without conceding the point; and that you claim innocence of starting controversies and contradicting Church teaching, pretending that you’re really just following them all along.

    Planks and motes, Todd.

  • “Jesus limited his namecalling to religious leaders and Peter.”

    Wrong, again, Todd. See Luke 13:32.


    Laura Garcia is scheduled to speak after Mass. I understand that she is a very good speaker and totally faithful to the Magesterium.

    PMC, and Cathy:

    No, I’m not indulging in any reverse schism. It’s hard to explain, but I guess I’m just not quite big enough, or holy enough, to be able to concentrate on the sublime privilege of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary, and participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass without being aware of my surroundings. Then, too, I’d probably find myself anticipating the homily in a not-very-holy manner. As in, “come on, Bishop, give ‘em heck!”

    Not an easy thing to admit, but there you are.

    (That said, there are opportunitiess, of course, for Adoration and Mass here in Boston. Please don’t think I’m ignoring the Holy Day.)

    I ask for your prayers. You are, all of you, in mine.

  • I don’t know that Archbishop O’Malley uses email and any public email address would almost certainly go through someone else first.

    The other options are to hand it to him personally at some event or mail it to him, marked “personal and confidential.”

  • You might have missed this in Our Lady’s Help of Christian’s bulletin for the Feast of the Holy Family.

    In it, you’ll also find an article inviting parishioners to participate in “Reiki: The Art of Healing.” Calling the practice “sacred,” the bulletin announcement claims the practice “heals on all levels: spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically…”

    Now, I’ve used yoga positions myself for a number of reasons. I sure as hell wouldn’t call them “sacred.” If my pastor intimated to me that they were “sacred,” and would “heal me spiritually,” I’d expect him to be at least reprimanded by his superior.

    In a 3-page, publicly available document, we see the Archbishop, the Archdiocese, and its pro-life efforts linked with “gay families,” and for good measure, an “ancient practice” awarded qualities Catholics normally associate with the Sacraments.

    It’s in Archbishop O’Malley’s court. If he doesn’t “know about it” then I’m Queen Elizabeth.