Stop the Scandal: Part 2

The scandal over Archdioese’s Financial Council Institutional Advancement Committee chair, Jack Connors, having run a $2M fund-raising extravaganza at his Brookline home for President Obama continues, and if you have not yet signed the “Stop the Scandal” petition, we urge all readers to do so. (click the graphic to the right).  Please also pass this on to your like-minded friends and family members.

As one commenter put it, “Advancing the most powerful supporter of abortion in this country is NOT what the chair of the Boston Archdiocese Finance Council Institutional Advancement Committee should be advancing.”  That is not all that is at stake here. Although BCI has approached this in the area of our key focus, governance of the archdiocese, as “Objective Observer” objectively observed in comments today, there is much more to the story where Jack Connors, Cardinal O’Malley, and others could do better.

Here is the comment from “Objective Observer” (with minor BCI edits) which merits reading by Cardinal O’Malley, his cabinet, the Papal Nuncio, the Congregation of Bishops, and a lot more.

Abortion stops a beating heart. Period. Cardinal Sean O’Malley would come to tears telling you how passionately he feels about this. Real tears.

The question is, what does he DO about it?

The only point I would disagree with in this BCI posting is that there is a long list of action and inaction by Cardinal O’Malley that is inconsistent with promoting a culture of life — not just his pitiful obeisance to Jack Connors and Bryan Hehir. The cardinal archbishop of Boston demonstrates a pattern of lip service followed by a hollow fog, fading to darkness, in lieu of action.

My own view is not that Randall Terry is the answer, nor even legislative effort. Changing the way we understand abortion and the women who seek it, and changing the way we behave toward them and their children, will lead to an answer.

If indeed Sean Patrick is the “pastor” (think Latin) of his flock, he is called to consistently and frequently behave as if he believes that abortion stops a beating heart. He must publicly teach that the fragile women who seek abortions, and their children, not yet born, at risk of death, need everyone’s support. He needs to privately call out Jack Connors, and publicly ask him what he’s done lately to help the most vulnerable among us — women who can see no other solution than abortion, and their children who deserve life (and a good one at that). Are these not as worthy as those who receive face transplants, and “miracle” cancer cures at Jack Connors’ hospitals? Where’s the Partners Healthcare PR about supporting women at risk of abortion and their babies who need to breathe life?

But we need to change, too. We need to understand that the woman who is sufficiently desperate to seek an abortion will tell you that her primary “problem” is not that she is pregnant. It is homelessness, or violent physical abuse, or substance use, or some very real and desperate fear of the responsibility for this child, that takes her to an abortion provider. But once the abortion is over, the problems she took into the clinic with her remain. The only difference is that she isn’t pregnant. And she has a new problem… the day she eventually wakes up — and it is inevitable — and realizes that her child died. All in all, a messier conversation than, “Abortion is wrong.” Takes a lot more thought and work.

But Sean doesn’t want to do the work… to speak up. He doesn’t want to demand that his well-heeled friends support these women and their fragile, unborn children. Why? Because Bryan Hehir won’t LET him. Hehir will let him walk in the Boston Life Walk in October (though note Hehir, who oversees “Life” from his cabinet position, does not appear), and he will let him “march” in DC in January. But that’s about it. No point “offending” people and “marginalizing” himself by stirring up the conversation that Hehir proclaims (and I heard him say this) “will never be solved in our lifetime.” If that’s the most rigorous intellectual argument Hehir can raise for the cardinal’s cowering at a public discourse on alternatives to abortion, the Kennedy School of Government is not getting its money’s worth letting Hehir occupy an endowed chair.

To Bryan Hehir: Among problems that will not be solved in your (or my) lifetime: Homelessness, cancer, and not even baldness. But WE will be judged — not on some progress measured by the arbitrary yardstick of our lifetime — but by the quality and effectiveness of our efforts to provide another way for these women and their children.

Sean flunks the test because he demonstrates a consistent and longstanding pattern of mere lip service to an abortion conversation, and utterly fails to rally the likes of Jack Connors in the support of abortion alternatives in Boston. Why? He fails to act solely in deference to Bryan Hehir’s undue influence and insatiable addiction for political expediency. Sean doesn’t flunk merely by bowing down to Jack Connors, and failing to send him packing from the Finance Council. He fails utterly because he has a longstanding pattern of failing to act to find another way for these women and their children. FACTA NON VERBA, Sean.

And that’s why you who read BCI should write to the nuncio.

With that, here is how to do something about this situation.  Click on the “Stop the Scandal” graphic to the right, fill out the form with your name and whatever other information you feel comfortable entering, click “Send the Letter”, verify your information is correct, and click “Submit.”  An email or fax will then be sent to the Holy Father, Cardinal O’Malley, the U.S. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Sambi, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Congregation for Clergy.

For BCI readers who like the typical fare of excessive salaries, deception and corruption, we will get back to that shortly.

4 Responses to Stop the Scandal: Part 2

  1. DBP says:

    IMHO, here’s the problem, in a nutshell:

    J. Bryan Hehir is one of the last of the “liberal lions,” fully and permanently contaminated by his association with the church and civic leaders of his era (think Robert Drinan, Teddy Kennedy et al). The possibility of his sixties’ mindset – in which the Kennedys and their fellow-travelers were the “good guys” using government and its institutions for the betterment of society – being open to gradual development was permanently denied him when he was posted to the NCCB/USCC (now the USCCB). At the height of his “career” there, he became a power-broker among the “career public servants” (read: Democrats). His conscience appears to have been cryogenically frozen at some point because he was unable to distinguish between possible good and absolute evil.

    During his time in Washington, Hehir, who did his doctoral dissertation on the Just War Theory, fervently put forward his personal animus against nuclear weaponry in policy statements from the NCCB/USCC. And it is certainly possible, I think, for one to argue within the bounds of Catholic social doctrine that the use of nuclear weapons cannot be justified (I may not necessarily agree, but I accept that there is a foundation for the argument).

    However – and here’s where it gets dicey – the same Senators and Representatives that Hehir lobbied regularly to vote against nuclear initiatives were very likely to be those who were on the pro-abortion side of that divide. And as Fr. Hehir has reminded all of us who have spoken with him personally at one time or another, the business of living in the real world involves making compromises (his words, not mine).

    Thus, Hehir has proven the old saw that politics makes strange bedfellows. In order to get through his pet positions (anti-nuke), no doubt he occasionally had to let go of positions about which the Catholic Church felt equally strongly (abortion). And after a loooooooong period of making those compromises, his conscience now actually allows him not to see his actions as inconsistent with our faith.

    I really think he’s one with the likes of Drinan and Kennedy, two men who started off with great intentions and found themselves selling off their birthright for what turned out to be a mass of pottage.

    Drinan and Kennedy have reached the end of their days here among us, and one can only surmise the reaction of the Just Judge as each faced the Particular Judgement. The real question now is whether Hehir will follow them into the grave without radical reconsideration of the harm he’s done (and continues to do), and whether Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, knowing the critical condition of Fr. Hehir’s conscience (and, presumably, soul) will truly act as Hehir’s shepherd, or whether he will continue to follow his advice and accept Hehir as his.

    • Joe Sacerdo says:

      IMHO, Objective Observer tells a compelling version of a sad but true story.
      DBP, Interesting perspective on Fr. Hehir.

      For those wondering how Bryan Hehir manages to influence the Cardinal as described above, here’s a couple examples of books and article that describe this phenomenon in more detail.

      In the book “Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics“ (2001), the chapter dedicated to Fr. Hehir (which drew on personal interviews with Fr. Hehir and longtime observers of his work) mentions his “considerable” role played while at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in changing the public policy focus for U.S. bishops starting in 1983. Fr. Hehir’s influence moved the bishops from an almost exclusive focus on opposing abortion to a broader “consistent ethic of life” (also known as “seamless garment”) approach where abortion was dealt with in conjunction with other threats to life and human well-being like poverty and nuclear war. Fr. Hehir’s rationale cited in this particular book was that he believed:

      “First, that the abortion issue did not exhaust the richest of Church social teaching…Second, that the credibility and effectiveness of the Church’s teaching on abortion would actually be enhanced rather than diminished by placing it in the context of a broader social agenda.”

      How does Hehir influence these outcomes? See here on p.212:

      “he supplied the conceptual framework, in terms of which the discussion takes place. This enabled him to define the relevant issues for the rest of the committee members. And of course, to define the issues is to define the outcome.”

      Though Hehir’s motivation was described several years earlier by a different author as a “concern that strict application of Catholic sexual mores in public policy would cost the Church valuable allies” (Changing Witness: Catholic Bishops and Public Policy, Warner: 1996; foreward by George Weigel), regardless of Fr. Hehir’s rationale, history would show that he was still wrong. The 2001 book acknowledges (p. 215) that the effect of Hehir’s recommendations on public policy had “proved quite minimal,” and as of the time of the book’s publishing, the ‘consistent ethic of life’ had not yet succeeded in diminishing public support for abortion. Besides that, leading opponents of abortion within the hierarchy such as Cardinal O’Connor feared:

      “that pro-choice Catholic politicians would point to their support for other elements of the Church’s social agenda as a way of deflecting criticism of their pro-choice position–a fear, that, as it turned out, proved well-founded.”

      So, Fr. Hehir’s influence which broadened the bishops’ focus from abortion to a range of other lesser issues did NOT enhance the effectiveness of the Church’s teaching on abortion at all, as we’re told in one book he believed and recommended at the time. The chapter in the 2001 book also notes Fr. Hehir’s “crucially important” and “principal influence” roles in the Bishops’ peace and economic pastorals. Both of them were intended to make a significant impact on public policy. In the end, the impact is described as “utterly negligible.”

      What Bryan will do is gum everything up like he did at the USCCB saying we need to embrace the “full range of Catholic social teaching,” we have to compromise, we can’t alienate our allies on Beacon Hill (of whom we have few if any remaining anyway), and we can’t solve the problem of abortion in our lifetime, so don’t bother trying. Sean capitulates.

      And they keep Jack Connors because he raises money, would create negative PR for the Chancery if cast off, and Bryan Hehir points to Connors’ support for Catholic schools and other elements of the Church’s social agenda as a way to deflect criticism from his support for pro-abort pols like Obama and Martha. Meanwhile, the babies keep getting killed and the women continue to suffer from the root causes described by OO.

      • BCI realizes that our original post opened the door to comments about Fr. Bryan Hehir But since our main topic at hand is the situation of Jack Connors’ continuing involvement with governance of the archdiocese and the abdication of leadership by the Cardinal, we would ask that further comments on this thread focus on those fundamental issues.

        We will return to our main fare of deception, corruption and failed governance at 66 Brooks next post.

      • Former Employee says:

        When mentioning the Liberals you forgot Ted Hesbergh former head of Notre Dame and the Rockefeller Insitute (think Eugenics through Abortion) who just happens to be being honor by Catholic Charities…I bet we see a picture of him with O’Malley on the Blog and in the Pilot.

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