Liberal pundits to the rescue

Liberal pundits to the rescue

The liberal pundits are getting their word processors in gear to defend Fr. Walter Cuenin in the face of his dismissal, and Brian McGrory is first out of the gate.

Let’s see if I have this right. The Catholic Church is facing a severe shortage of priests. Sunday Mass is so empty it’s starting to look like a meeting of the Cambridge Republican Club. The contribution basket has been coming up nearly empty.

So what does Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley do? Here’s exactly what he does: He fires the popular pastor at one of the most successful parishes in the entire state, a rare church constantly filled with communicants, bustling with weddings, brimming with christenings, welcoming to people of all types.

How does one measure the effectiveness and success of a priest? By the number of butts filling the pews? By the amount of money he brings in? The Church doesn’t adapt her message in order to appeal to the widest range of people, like McDonald’s changing its slogan or burger recipe to bring in more customers. The Church presents the truth of the Gospel, always and at all times and should never sacrifice that truth for the sake of a populist priest’s appeal.

But that’s not all. Rather than be up front with parishioners, rather than explain that the Rev. Walter Cuenin is being relieved of his Newton post because his views on hot-button topics such as homosexuality and women differ markedly with those of Catholic leaders, rather than just admit that Cuenin was never a favorite among higher-ups because he was so critical of the church during the sex scandal, O’Malley chose a markedly different path. He chose to smear Cuenin for driving a parish-funded, parish-approved lease car.

Ah see, because Brian McGrory is either a mind reader or he has an inside line to the chancery or … he just knows this must be why they did it. And so the archdiocese “smears” Cuenin. What does it mean to “smear” someone? To damage the reputation of someone through false accusations.

So, Brian, tell me in what way these are false accusations? After all Cuenin himself says that he took the money, that he took the car, and that while he claims he thought it was okay, it was in violation of archdiocesan rules. Not once has Cuenin denied what he is accused of. In fact, he quickly resigned, refused to talk to the press, and hasn’t said a word in his defense apart from his statements at Mass last Sunday.

That’s right: After silently shuffling pedophiles from one town to another to prey on fresh batches of children, the archdiocese is finally cracking down on wayward priests—for driving Hondas.

That’s right: the archdiocese losts its moral authority in the Scandal, so now it’s not allowed to enforce any rule, especially when it affects a popular heterodox priest.

McGrory is so mad that the rest of his column is a series of sputtering unconnected rants flailing about in every direction. He even casts aspersions on Fr. Richard Bradford, a married priest who left the Episcopal Church “in a dispute,” leaving the implication laying there.

Wow, these guys have lost touch with reality. This should get really interesting over the next few days.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • ” No, I think youontinue claim homosexuality is a state of being or condition that one is born into as opposed to a behavioral disorder. The general public continues to be bamboozled. 

    Unfortunately, few individuals in the prevailing cultural climate demand accountability from the APA. Whose professional confreres were also responsible in advising the Church hierarchy that priest abusers should be given a clean bill of health following psychiatric treatment.

    Just when did pyschiatric therapy replace Moral Theology as an effective measure of behavior for the Catholic people? How ironic it is that so much credibility is given to such a soft science that continues to evolve with all fads and errors of our times. I suggest we start critically questioning the APA and the therapeutic culture it has spawned as a source of much of our current struggle.

  • Joe, I didn’t have to look up asceticism but “syncretism” did drive me to the dictionary a couple days ago.

  • It’s funny I was reading about the SSPX seminary in Minnesota where they don’t have heat until after Thanksgiving, the freshmen class chops and splits all the firewood for heat and there is no TV. I can only imagine what other rigors they experience that are unknown to us. And they haven’t had a clergy sex abuse problem. If a priest was found to have homosexual tendencies he was kicked out of the seminary so it never became a pedophilia problem in the parishes. The Church was built on acestism, as unpopular as it is in modern day America.

  • Rob Q makes a good point about the influence of modern psychology in setting (lowering) the standards. If the Church is going to include a psychological opinion, there are good Catholic psychologists like Fr. Benedict Groeshel or Dr. Fitzgibbons down in Philly. Let them write the program.

    Diogenes makes a good overall point. But remember it’s not bullet proof. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Orthodox monk, 1000AD) in his Discourses (homilies at Matins, basically) had to reprimand his monks for sneaking young boys/men into the monastery.

    Although the penalties for breaking the rules in ancient monasteries often included bread n water rations and several beatings. Maybe that’s the answer!

  • Things are fairly grounded around here, at this particular Benedictine seminary. TV’s are available, but only in a community setting. Alcohol is highly regulated. There is no air conditioning in living areas (save common rooms; the point here is to promote community via niceties). Rooms are fairly cold throughout the winter. The only unfettered luxuries we’re allowed is a computer with Internet access (and this is justifiably monitored) along with the ability to leave campus at will.

    The point of it all is to stress the simplicity of life one needs to live a successful priesthood. But note that simplicity does not equal asceticism, which – as Diogenes rightfully notes – isn’t a charism common to the diocesan priesthood. As a matter of fact, our charisms sometimes create tension (in albeit minor ways) between student and seminary, which is unabashedly Benedictine in approach. Just as monks in general are called to a different rule of life, so too are diocesan priests. As Fr. Ethan says, I don’t plan on living with a community after my remaining four years as a seminarian. I don’t plan on leading a solitary life of contemplation; while it’s true that I myself have been called to contemplation (and not every seminarian is!), I am also called to pursue it within the venue of public ministry.

  • Perhaps not only priests, but the laity would benefit too from adding a little ascetism to one’s life.

    Our TV broke one month ago and I discovered a much quieter house as a result and the kids do not seem to miss it either.

  • Honestly, I want to think nice things about the Catholic Church and its leaders.

    Uh huh.  I’m convinced.  Honestly.  And I guess that’s why Mr. McGrory unblinkingly accepts whatever Fr. C and his supporters put out there. 

  • Assenting Catholics (including yours truly) often get irritated at the fact that the bishops seemingly don’t want to discipline heterodox priests.  But one can see how the media and the priest’s misguided supporters react when the right action is taken; they attempt to make the dissident priest out to be a martyr.


  • Do VOTF’s shrill, over-the-top press releases persuade anyone to take to the streets?  I mean, really—Fr. Cuenin’s resignation is an “assault” on him and every last Catholic in the RCAB?  An assault?  Didn’t VOTF pop up in response to the sex abuse scandals, which involved some real-and-true “assaults”?  These people really need to sit down, take some deep breaths and pray for a little perspective.

  • “This coming Sunday”?

    Darn. Does this mean that we can’t count on VOTF and Our Lady, Help of Christians parishioners to participate in the “Walk for Life” on the Boston Common this coming Sunday?

  • While I think the basic idea is good, I don’t think we should overdo it. The minute it becomes a scandal for a priest to have a beer, we’ve officially lost sight of what’s going on here.

    While it would also probably do wonders for us to require radical poverty of every clergy member, as well—hey, how about abstention from meat?—I think we need to step back and consider what we’re doing before we attempt to legislate holiness. Augustine’s Rule wisely, I think, says that the rigors of poverty and sacrifice need to be tempered by consideration for the individual.

    By the way, I know some very orthodox priests who are not what we’d call poor. As to their holiness, that isn’t my call.

  • But remember priests do not have some of the same privations in their lives that parents have thanks to our vocation. The same level of sacrifice and personal inconvenience is not “required” of them by the demands of childrearing, working and struggling to take care of the physical needs of children and provide for them financially. This used to be accomplished by the fasting and demands made upon the time of the priest- no more. All of the physical comforts of a priest are supplied- guaranteed income, comfortable homes, car, housekeeping, yard service, and depending upon their aspirations an easy work schedule, largely controlled by them. I’m not saying that there are not good, holy, ascetic priests but aren’t they rare? Don’t they stand out in this day and age? Shouldn’t we be advocating more of this? Remember St. John Vianney and his personal holiness that came from heroic sacrifice that resulted in the conversions of 1000s?

  • “Ratzinger shed the revisionist ideology of his callow youth…”
    I don’t see any evidence of his shedding any such thing.

  • Dissent has had time to become entrenched.  The Council ended and the dissent began in 1965.  It would not have been nearly as difficult to weed out if the effort had been made a long time ago.

    Was John Paul II so focused on outreach to non-Catholics that he was blinded to what was happening in his own Church, or is there another explanation for his failure to lead?

  • Aplman wrote:
    “and chaste gay men in contemplative orders,easure if this man had been turned away. 

    There must be a better way to deal with this problem.

  • I think we are going to find out how far the tentacles of gay subculture reach in this country…in the mainstream media, in the priesthood. 

    The MSM’s shrill, dishonest, incessant squawking is distressing to me…one reason we don’t watch tv in our house…and I’m thinking they are going to holler long and loud on this one.  And on the gay seminarian “witch hunt”, too.  (they like that word don’t they)   

    While it is good and desirable to make people welcome in our churches, which Fr. Cuenin obviously did, is it not a grave wrong to misinform any person regarding the (eternal) consequences of their lifestyle choices?  When I was younger and needed to mend some waywardness in my behavior, I was charitably informed.  I changed it.  That was what I needed; not to be told I could do whatever I wanted to.  It was a blessing that someone cared enough to guide me.

    I Corinthians 6:9-11

    “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived;  neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor boy prostitutes, nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.  That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

    Isn’t this kind of saying, “go and sin no more”?

    How can a priest tell gays that homosexual relations are OK?  St. Paul spelled it out rather clearly, didn’t he?  Aren’t priests like Fr. Cuenin even a little afraid of the millstone around the neck thing?

    I would be, but that’s just me.  Eternity is a long time.

    But I’m just a simple housewife, what do I know?       


  • As sophomoric as McGrory can be pretty much whenever he touches upon the Church, his most current effort being yet one more example, it would seem to be a specious suggestion that there’s not more to the heretic Fr. Cuenin’s dismissal than the archdiocese is admitting to, such as, for instance, his public embrace of codified sodomy.

    As worthy of punishment as financial improprieties are, the outspoken contradiction of moral doctrine is all the more so, and it behooves the archdiocese to forthrightly and unapologetically say so.  Anything less than that not only raises questions of integrity at a time when benefit-of-the-doubt chits are in terribly short supply, but simply perpetuates the terrible confusion that is rife within the pews.       

  • I’d like to know why Fr. Cuenin is even being allowed to say Mass this coming Sunday at Our Lady Help of Christians.  You suppose Fr. “Just call me Walter” Cuenin will try to get in a few last licks?  Nah, he wouldn’t do that, would he?

  • “But that month.” He wrote it after he’d been asked to resign and he’d submitted his resignation. The way Paulson writes it makes it seem like Cuenin’s removal was retaliation, when in fact it’s more likely to be Cuenin’s attempt to take one last public swipe at the Church’s teachings.

    Also notice that he never mentions the groups behind these protests. It’s the same old crowd: Voice of the Faithful, Boston Priests Forum, Council of Parishes, and the like. Check out the following email sent out by Steve Krueger, executive director of Voice of the Faithful:


    2005-09-27 16:55:37
    2005-09-27 20:55:37

    2005-09-27 18:45:42
    2005-09-27 22:45:42
    I’m all for priests like Fr. Cuenin getting sacked, but why did the AB have to wait for some funny money stuff to come up to get him?  I think that teaching lies and calling them the Gospel is a lot worse than the petty graft they got him for.  It seems that in most diocese in this country, a pastor can deny the Resurrection and laugh at transubstantiation as long as he doesn’t get caught with his hands in the till!

  • You might be interested in knowing that yesterday (27th) Kung had a five minute slot on the BBC Radio 4 flagship news programme ‘Today’(back-to-back with an article on the ‘Gay witchhunt’ in the Catholic Church).

    Of his meeting with HH Kung would have you believe that Benedict is more than a little interested in Kung’s ‘Global Ethic’ project and will implement it any day soon. And more of the same. I admit, all I heard was the clashing sound of Herr Kung’s enormous Ego – ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’. No humility there then, therefore, no change either.

  • Kelly,

    ““This coming Sundaywp:comment_date_gmt>2005-09-27 02:34:18
    No, I think you’ve missed the point. Diogenes’ thesis seems to include the idea that chaste men with same-sex attraction who can withstand the rigors of asceticism will have proven they can live the life self-denial required.

    Perhaps Diogenes’ suggestion needs to go further and the life of asceticism needs to be extended into active priesthood. I’ve been in a few rectories. Some showed men living a simple life and these were the holy and orthodox priests. Others showed men living the good life.

  • Deacon Mike wrote:

    “Thatmental consistency to his thought over time – he didn’t change, everyone else changed. Kueng especially.

  • It’s funny how this development with Fr Kung happens at the same time that rumors are flying of a possible reconciliation of the Society of St Pius X with the Church and a universal indult for anyone to attend and say the Tridentine Mass.

    In both cases, we have a learned and humble Pope reaching out to heretics (Kung) and schismatics (SSPX) to try to reconcile them with the Church…as did his great predecessor John Paul II.  This is what a priest and Pope should do.  It also sets the example for true ecumenism: proclaim the fullness of the truth in and out of season, and try to bring the erring back into the embrace of Holy Mother Church.

    God bless the Pope!  Let’s also pray for the likes of Fr Kung and the SSPX that they may humbly bend their stiff necks in submission to truth.