The rehab of Walter Cuenin

The rehab of Walter Cuenin

Independent and trusted sources in the Archdiocese of Boston tell me that Father Walter Cuenin, the disgraced pastor who openly has spouted dissent from Church teaching on sexuality for years and who resigned last year after admitting he took parish money he wasn’t entitled to, is getting a new assignment.

I’ve been told that he’s going to be named as a campus minister at Brandeis University, a Jewish institution. Among other things, Cuenin has been known for his interfaith activities.

So why is he getting a new assignment? Should the archbishop be putting an openly heterodox priest back into circulation, especially among 18-22 year-olds who are often already confused about morality and sexuality? Don’t forget that it was only a few weeks ago that Cunein was in upstate New York at a schismatic Catholic group being encouraged to begin his own schism here in Boston.

This smells of pragmatism, i.e. let’s throw a bone to the people at Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton so they will stop protesting. He won’t be given a parish, so let’s give him a little assignment where he won’t do (too much) harm. Unfortunately, he will still retain the status of a priest in good standing with the archdiocese, a pulpit from which to spread his errors, and influence over a malleable audience of young people. If I were the parent of a Catholic student at Brandeis, I’d be very unhappy with the decision.

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  • Dom, I’ve never been under the impression that “campus minister” assignments were at the top of the priest-personnel food chain. And short of having “Walter” hanging around pool halls (or worse, bath houses), he had to stick him somewhere.

    Any of the Padres got anything to add?

  • Why is the archbishop under any obligation to put a known heterodox priest in any position of care of souls? If the guy is a problem tell him to sit in his apartment and wait for his monthly checks.

  • That’s what you and I would do, Dom. (Except for me, I’d tell him he’d have to get a real job bagging groceries or something. Honest labor for a change. That oughta clean up his act!) But we’re not the ones whining about a priest shortage and having to come up with excuses. This is the inevitable result of a much larger modus operandi.

    “Status quo suprema lex,” one might say.

  • Cuenin’s a public thief and a public promoter of perversion.  If the news of his being shuffled is true, great shame on the Archbishop.

  • Dom,
    And where do these monthly checks come from? A Walter Cuenin sitting around and waiting for checks is a Walter Cuenin enjoying a free vacation at the expense of someone else in the Archdiocese somewhere.

    Indeed, the falsely accused priests who can no longer practice their ministry are also paid in the same manner; the money has to come from somewhere. People forget that part of the equation in the issue of the “unemployed priests”.

    Further, you don’t think he would use it to his advantage? “Hear Walter Cuenin, Hearst Argyle Television’s and the Boston Globe’s favorite priest barred from ministry by the Archbishop of Boston.”

    More so how about an annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Walter Cuenin Retreat Center brought to you by a priest with too much time on his hands funded by checks from the Archdiocese of Boston.

  • So it’s better to have him working in a campus ministry? What’s the alternative?

    It’s my understanding that unless a priest is laicized, the archdiocese is obligated to pay him his salary? Do you think they could laicize him? I don’t think there’s enough there.

  • Dom,
    Again good point, but laicize means canonical lawsuit if Cuenin chooses to fight it (and you know that he will along with his entourage and the Cuenin fan club.) What happens if the Archdiocese loses? I was told by one canon lawyer that canon law gives the benefit to the priests generally.

    This is why the Cardinal was so concerned with Canon Law in the abuse cases, he knew, having been sued and lost in a non-abuse case, what would happen if he lost in such a case over a dubious accusation.

    In the case he lost, he was forced to ordain a priest whom he chose not to ordain. As far as I know about the priest, his service was fine and unfortunately he died of a heart attack five years after his ordination. (After winning a five year canonical lawsuit by the way.)

    None of that was reported by the WBZ-TV I-Team if you remember, when they mocked the cardinal for his attention to Canon Law.

  • A few points.
    Perhaps the diocese must continue to pay him but they could certainly find a job for him elsewhere – perhaps in the diocesan archives?
    As someone who will shortly enter into campus ministry, I want to point out that this ministry is crucial for the future of the Church. These are the years when young people make vocational choices and are open to learning about the faith and making it their own.  Why should such an important ministry become the dumping ground for these adolescent minded priests?  We just hurt ourselves, reduce the number of vocations to the priesthood and fail to form the future Catholic leaders of our world.

  • So Fr. Carr, what should they do with him? Can we make him a receptionist in the chancery? Fine, let’s do it.

    My larger point is that he shouldn’t be working in any kind of pastoral ministry.

  • Dom, that is the question that I cannot answer. Can they make him a receptionist in the Chancery? I don’t know, you’d have to talk to personnel for that answer. But remember, Even the Bishop could not stop Arias one of the Church’s greatest heretics. If you remember, the Bishop did not want Arias to receive communion as scheduled the day after he recited the then new Nicene creed. The Bishop knew that Arias was lying, when he said he believed in the tenets of the creed.

    All he could do was to pray that somehow Arias would not recieve communion the following day. That is what he did. However, barring Divine intervention there was nothing he could do stop one of the Church’s greatest heretics from receiving communion.

    (For those who do not know, there was Divine intervention and Arias did not receive communion the following day.)

  • Infanted, As I understand the story, a transitional deacon, which is a deacon on his way to becoming a priest, was called into Cardinal Law’s office. He was told that based on information he had received the Cardinal did not feel the Deacon could become a priest. He then set the Deacon up for laicization.

    The Deacon protested and sued the Cardinal in Canonical court. The case took five years but he won. The Deacon became a priest. He was ordained a priest by the Cardinal. However, five years later he died suddenly of a heart attack.

    In fairness to the case, I will not give out the name of the deacon/priest. I will only say that the whole five years of the lawsuit transpired during my time at St. John’s Seminary college and theology school. (late 1980’s early 1990’s)

    When Viacom’s CBS-4 did the story on the Cardinal being what they thought overly attentative to Canon Law they failed to report that side of the story.

    May I also add, that I do believe in the Washington, DC case, in which 7 priests publically denounced Humanae Vitae and lost their faculties. They also sued and won against Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington, DC. This was in 1967.

  • Is everyone quite sure that Archbishop O’Malley has made a default appointment rather than an appointment of choice?

    Fr. Steven makes an important point in that Fr. Cuenin is being set loose on the next generation who are vulnerable, being away from home and learning to make their own choices without guidance for the first time. Additionally, these Catholic youth are in an environment that might be hostile to their Catholic faith.  Are there any similarities between Fr. Cuenin’s heterodoxy and the teaching or philosophy at Brandeis?

    The youth are targets of those who would change society.  It is hard to ignore the implications here.