On the strange situation of Fr. Walter Cuenin and the Brandeis Univ. Chaplaincy

A number of readers have been asking us to share news and commentary about the strange situation of Fr. Walter (“Call me Walter”) Cuenin and what is currently going on with the Catholic chaplaincy at Brandeis University. Cuenin left Brandeis in January on short notice for undisclosed health reasons, and Brandeis is balking at having the Boston Archdiocese appoint a replacement.  To paraphrase Shakespeare, something smells rotten in Denmark.

As BCI readers may recall, last October we called Fr. Cuenin out for flying a GLBTQ banner over the Catholic chapel at Brandeis.   We wrote:

There are so many things wrong with what is going on there, it is tough to express in words. How can a Catholic priest be allowed to promote “gay pride” and gravely sinful, immoral behavior and remain in active ministry?  Imagine a 17 or 18-year-old child away from home for the first time who might be confused about their sexual identity going to talk to Fr. Cuenin for a Catholic perspective–and instead of hearing about how Christ calls them to chastity and holiness, they see the gay pride flag there with a Catholic priest advocating for the gay lifestyle and the sinful, disordered, medically unsafe behaviors that are a part of it.  This crap from Fr. Cuenin has been going on for at least 12-15 years, if not longer. His public testimony to the Mass Legislature in 2002 opposing a ban on “gay marriage” should have gotten him permanently removed from ministry.

We also urged readers to write to various archdiocesan officials to call for his removal. Well, by and by, about 2 months later, in January Fr. Cuenin left Brandeis on short notice for undisclosed health reasons. All that Cuenin has said is he is “in a clinic in Michigan for treatment.”  Cuenin previously left Brandeis temporarily in 2012 to undergo treatment for cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. In the October 9, 2012 issue of the Brandeis Justice, he described the treatment program as a Church-sponsored course for priests “to get them in better shape” and said he hoped to address not only his cancer but also “other psychological and spiritual issues.”  It is unclear whether this year’s permanent departure is related to the health issues of 2012.

This brings us to what Brandeis has been doing to block the filling of the vacant Catholic chaplaincy role with a faithful Catholic priest.

In the original announcement of Fr. Cuenin’s January departure, Brandeis said that Sr. Marie Labolitta would be helping ensure “Services are available this weekend…there will be transportation provided to attend Service in Newton.”  Beside their failure to properly refer to the Catholic Mass, Sr. Marie Labolitta, formerly at Our Lady Help of Christians when Fr. Cuenin was pastor there, is bad news. She is a founder of a non-denominational womens’ spirituality group called “Sacred Threads.”  One look at their website, which promotes a local talk by dissident Joan Chittister, and you know she is problematic. BCI heard that since Cuenin’s departure they have been transporting students to Our Ladys in Newton, even though St. Marys in Waltham and other more orthodox Catholic Churches are much closer to the Brandeis Campus.

Sources tell BCI that in leaving Brandeis, Fr. Cuenin  organized a student “initiative” to change the nature of Chaplaincy. Initially, Brandeis said they would be working with the Boston Archdiocese to fill the role. Fr. Dan Moloney was proposed by the Boston Archdiocese and started saying Masses at Brandeis in early February. But Brandeis said they wanted to consider a new vision for the chaplaincy. We are told that Fr. Moloney was found by the “Cuenin acolytes” to be “inadequately liberal, aka Cuenine” and rejected. He is not longer there, sources also tell us there is no regular Catholic Mass on campus, and students are still being directed to “progressive” Churches that may not be anywhere near Waltham.  We have also heard that Cuenin is still “advising”, aka undermining, the Brandeis Catholic students, even sending them to WomenPriests for Mass. The person coordinating Mass arrangements is Allison Cornelisse, described as “a member of the Brandeis Catholic community.”  A Google search on her name reveals nothing whatsoever about her background, but if she is the one bypassing nearby Catholic churches in Waltham and Newton (St. Marys, St. Charles Borromeo, Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes) that are true to the Catholic faith in favor of churches farther away where the tenor is not so true to the Catholic faith, then we see her as problematic.

As for the search for a new Catholic chaplain, Brandeis said there is a committee working on it–in the context of looking at campus Chaplaincy across religions and faiths.  The faculty chair of that committee is Prof. Wendy Cadge. A brief look at her CV shows a number of articles she has about Buddhism and in support of the gay agenda in churches. (e.g. her chapters in a book Gay Religion, entitled ““Reconciling Congregations Bridging Gay and Straight Communities” and “Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Buddhist Practitioners”).  BCI cannot fathom how a secular college committee of any sort–let alone one set-up like this–would be in a position to set the requirements for a Catholic priest/chaplain. Given this is the way Brandeis seems to be operating, BCI thinks the only thing that could be done for the Catholic students on campus would be for the Boston Archdiocese to appoint an orthodox Catholic student to help coordinate transportation to Masses at nearby parishes faithful to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

10 Responses to On the strange situation of Fr. Walter Cuenin and the Brandeis Univ. Chaplaincy

  1. jbq2 says:

    Within the last several days, there was a news blurb on St. Louis University removing a statue of the Jesuit Father DeSmet from the campus. A radical group on campus in coordination with the new lay president (Pestello) demanded more inclusivity. There were two Indians in the statue group with the priest holding the cross above them. I am a graduate of SLU in 1970. While attending, a lay theology professor attempted to seduce me in his office. It was told that a number of the Jesuit priests were doing the same. What is going on at Brandeis has been going on for quite some time. It is just becoming more acceptable.

  2. Warren Goddard says:

    Why do Catholics attend Brandeis?

    • TLMCatholicandBrandeisAlum says:

      Money. Their financial aid was astounding. Also, I went to a parish off campus in Newton that offered the Latin Mass.

  3. Miss Sally says:

    My son actually won a free ride to Brandeis. Before final acceptance, he paid one last visit to the campus. Even on campus during tours, Brandeis could not rein in (and actually celebrates) its radical secularism and pro-sex-ploitation culture. Between the lesbian lovers necking in the compound to the ever-present materials promoting gay relationships, this turned out to be a bad fit for our family. Thankfully he ended up with a free ride some place else, which was totally unexpected and came after he agreed to attend. God seemed well pleased with his decision to avoid Brandeis, though I do hear they have a good Cardinal Newman Society. Saying this, all secular (and some allegedly Catholic) campuses are leftist and seem to have heavy promotion for alternative lifestyles, which is kind of a predatory thing on behalf of administrations run by adults when you think about it. Studies now indicate that young people’s minds are not fully developed until approx. 26 years of age. So why the intense push to influence a young person’s sexual psyche? Academics are dwarfed at Brandeis, and many other schools, in favor of seeing how far administrations can influence vulnerable students.

  4. Jack Davenport says:

    Remember, this is the same place that cancelled plans to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a woman who has had the courage to speak out against such things as genital mutilation and radical Islam. The horror. It didn’t even matter that she was an atheist. Bet Walter was a bit confused on that one.

  5. Trad Catholic says:

    Well, all this news seems consistent the the shenanigans in Rome with respect to the upcoming synod for the “theology of love”.

    Furthermore, readers of BCI know who resides in of Pope Frank I’s circle of trust, our very own Cardinal Sean.

    Is any of this surprising at this point?

    Our Lady of Fatima pray for us.

  6. This is the priest that denied the doctrine of transubstantiation on public radio a few years ago. When questioned by the Rabbi on same program he said THERE NEVER WAS such a doctrine of the Church. Why does the Bishop allow the priests to do this? See above from Trad Catholic why.

  7. Alice Slattery says:

    Cheryl Wetzstein, a Washington Times staff writer, has had the courage to bring to light the amazing work of Fr. Paul Check who has followed in the footsteps of Fr. John Harvey in addressing the needs of those who seek pastoral help and support to leave the attraction that had ensnared them into homosexual sexual activity. Thousands of people are now be able to enjoy the freedom to live successfully and celibately in a very fulfilling way. The article by Cheryl Wetzstein is : “Ministry offers ‘Courage’ for same-sex attracted,celibate Catholics”(Washington Times,Monday, March 23,2015). She reports that this Catholic apostolic group named Courage is preparing to join the conversation about homosexuality in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family which will be held in Vatican City Oct. 4-Oct. 25.
    Maybe, by some miracle, there will be a newspaper staff writer in our Boston area, maybe even in our Archdiocesan newspaper,The Pilot, who will have the courage to write about the amazing work being done by those involved in the Courage organization. It is the only outreach organization that is approved by the Catholic Church. New Ways Ministry and Dignity have pretended that they have the endorsement of the Catholic Church but that is a complete falsehood. Their supporters are doing everything they can to suppress information about Courage and undermine the teaching of the Catholic Church on chastity. And, very sad to say, there are many people working in the inner circle of the Boston Archdiocese who have been promoting the New Ways Ministry and Dignity that endorse the lure of same-sex sex attraction and are trying to destroy Courage. Hopefully the work of Courage will become known in the Boston Archdiocese. Needless to say,this is definitely NOT the desire of Fr. Walter Cuenin and his cohorts who support the New Ways Ministry and Dignity.

  8. The Archlaic says:

    Shh… don’t speak too loudly about this lest you wake His Humility (i.e. the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston)!

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