Boston Catholics call on archdiocese to end relationship with Obama-backing multi-millionaire

September 2, 2012

LifeSite News has an excellent piece that adds more color to the issues with Jack Connors we brought up in our last post. As readers recall, BCI posted a response by the Boston Archdiocese to an Ethicspoint complaint about Connors’ fund-raising for President Obama (whose policies violate our religious freedoms and work against the Catholic Church), while Connors also serves on the Finance Council with responsibility for Institutional Advancement and raises money for Catholic schools.

As we know, an anonymous critic recently submitted a complaint to the archdiocese over Connors’ Obama fundraising on the whistleblower site, EthicsPoint, and the archdiocese responded that a Finance Council member’s support for a pro-abortion politician who is actively working to violate our religious freedom was not a problem for them.

“Finance Council members are not obligated to make public the rationale behind their decisions to support various organizations, programs, and persons. That a Finance Council member may offer his/her backing to a politician or political candidate who is in support of pro-choice policies does not define or exhaust a Finance Council member’s position on issues pertaining to respect for life. Instead, it objectively speaks to the Finance Council member’s willingness to engage with and find value and merit in the opinions, ideals, and visions of individuals with a wide variety of moral stances, which at various times are more or less in line with the teachings of the Church. Furthermore, though he/she may provide his/her time and support to certain institutions which allow for individuals to elect to participate in activities that do not respect the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life, no current Finance Council member has publicly advocated abortions as suitable moral options for these individuals. To assume that a Finance Council member is pro-choice and actively in support of abortions because of his/her political affiliations and/or institutional support is an unfair assumption and not one the Archdiocese is willing to use in judging candidates for the Council.

…Cardinal O’Malley trusts that the moral convictions of the Finance Council members are firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching and are designed to uphold the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Archdiocese believes that the decisions the Finance Council members make as citizens and as Catholics, although opposed by some, are neither in violation of Catholic teaching nor do they bring about scandal.

In Boston Catholics call on archdiocese to end relationship with Obama-backing multi-millionaire, LifeSite News took this a step further with additional revelations:

Among Connors’ philanthropic projects is the Connors Center for Women’s Health, which The Globe described as his favorite among Connors Family Foundation beneficiaries “closest to the family’s heart”: it was named after Connors’ mother, Mary Horrigan Connors, and is where his eight grandchildren were born.

At the helm of the Connors Center is its co-founder Paula A. Johnson, a former chairman of the board for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, who also served on the board for the Center for Reproductive Rights. When the HHS mandate for free birth control began this month, the Connors Center celebrated the news and Johnson appeared on local media as an expert touting the mandate’s benefits: Johnson herself was a member of the Institutes of Medicine Committee that recommended the contraception mandate to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in 2011.

Among the Connors Centers’ top goals is “training the next generation of leaders in the field of women’s health,” including future abortion providers: its Family Planning Fellowship, led by abortionist and Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) head researcher Alisa Goldberg, partners with PPLM to offer a nationally-recognized two-year program to “improve access to, and the quality of, pregnancy termination services through research and training.” The Center’s only other fellowship, the Global Women’s Health Fellowship, was expected to merge with the Family Planning Fellowship as of 2009.

Jack Connors has not always been a favorite with Boston’s Catholic hierarchy: the two experienced a falling-out involving the 2002 sex abuse scandal. When Cardinal O’Malley sought his help for the schools project three years later, Connors, in the Globe’s words, accepted on condition that he “use his ideas, not the Church’s.” Since then, Connors’ ideas have also surfaced in pastoral decisions: he joined condemnations of a Boston school that removed a third-grade student because his parents were lesbians, something the archdiocese also criticized. “I am disappointed that … this faith that I love seems to find new ways to shoot itself in the foot,” said Connors.

The Archdiocese of Boston declined a request for comment.

Judie Brown of the American Life League said that, whether or not Cardinal O’Malley intended it, keeping up appearances with Connors was a serious scandal for the Catholic faithful.

Brown faulted the archdiocese for overlooking Connors’ connections in favor of his financial prowess. “These things don’t happen in a vacuum. Someone is very aware of his interconectedness with the Culture of Death. There’s no way they could not be,” she said.

“The worst damage always happens to the Church from within.”

Judie Brown is correct.  “Someone” needs to take responsibility for allowing this situation to continue, not just the amorphous “archdiocese.”  The Tenth Crusade has a suggestion and specifically identifies who that someone would be.

Reader, “Angry Parish Council Member” also put it well in a comment on our last post.

The Archdiocese and Cardinal O’Malley are also speaking out of both sides of their mouth. In 2007, Cardinal O’Malley said:

“I think the Democratic Party, which has been in many parts of the country traditionally the party which Catholics have supported, has been extremely insensitive to the church’s position, on the gospel of life in particular, and on other moral issues,” O’Malley said.

Acknowledging that Catholic voters in Massachusetts generally support Democratic candidates who are in favor of abortion rights, O’Malley said, “I think that, at times, it borders on scandal as far as I’m concerned.”

However, when I challenge people about this, they say, ‘Well, bishop, we’re not supporting [abortion rights],’ ” he continued. “I think there’s a need for people to very actively dissociate themselves from those unacceptable positions.”

I don’t get it. If Mr. Connors is tied to the Democratic party, which has been extremely insensitive to the Catholic church’s position on the gospel of life, and he’s raising money to support Obama’s reelection, when Obama has been very insensitive to the Catholic church’s position on life, why should Cardinal O’Malley trust Mr. Connor’s moral convictions?

If it “borders on scandal” for Catholics to vote for Democratic candidates who are in favor of abortion rights, how can a Finance Council member raise money for Obama, who favors abortion rights, and not bring about scandal? Is he bringing about something that “borders on scandal” but is not real scandal?

I guess it all depends on what the definition of “is” is.

BCI thinks it is time for Cardinal O’Malley and/or Vicar General Msgr. Deeley to have a private sit-down with Jack Connors. The purpose of this discussion is to thank Jack for his help with fundraising for the Catholic schools, and to educate him about the truths of abortion, the reality of how the Obama HHS mandate violates our religious freedoms and will harm Catholic institutions (including those Connors claims he supports), and the consequences of Connor’s actions on his own mortal soul, on the unborn, on the Catholic Church, and on society for generations to come. If there is no change of heart, conversion or commitment on the part of Jack to disassociate himself from the unacceptable positions his political fundraising and philanthropy are advancing, then BCI believes it is necessary for Cardinal O’Malley to disassociate the Boston Archdiocese from Jack.  If you agree, then hit Share and send a copy of this email to Vicar_General(at)

Doubts About Dolan’s Defense of Dinner

August 15, 2012

Cardinal Dolan has come out with a blog post explaining the decision to invite President Obama to the Al Smith dinner .  We are glad that Cardinal Dolan has at last given an explanation in his own words.  But, his defense still leaves us, along with many Catholics, shaking our heads with doubts about the decision. Below are excerpts from the blog post by Cardinal Dolan, with our commentary inline. We would like to give Cardinal Dolan the benefit of the doubt, but we remain skeptical.

Last week I was out in Anaheim for the annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus. It was, as usual, a most uplifting and inspirational event.

In his rousing address to the thousands of delegates, representing 1.8 million knights, Dr. Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight, exhorted us to a renewed sense of faithful citizenship, encouraging us not to be shy about bringing the values of faith to the public square…

He then went on to announce a promising initiative of the Knights of Columbus to foster civility in politics…

[BCI] Where has the civility displayed in recent years by the Knights toward pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage politicians who are also members of the K of C gotten them? Has it changed any hearts, minds or votes of these so-called “Catholic” Knights in elected office who consistently act in defiance of our moral principles? If it was producing some impact, then great–by all means keep at it. But if it is not producing any change, maybe displaying yet more civility towards them is not a winning approach. If the “carrot” approach does not motivate change, then try the stick instead.

For seven decades, the Al Smith Dinner here in New York has been an acclaimed example of such civility in political life. As you may know, every four years, during the presidential election campaign, the Al Smith Dinner is the venue of history, as it is the only time outside of the presidential debates that the two presidential candidates come together, at the invitation of the Al Smith Foundation, through the archbishop of New York, for an evening of positive, upbeat, patriotic, enjoyable civil discourse.  This year, both President Obama and Governor Romney have accepted our invitation. I am grateful to them.

[BCI] With all due respect, so what if the dinner has been an example of civility in political life for seven decades? What became of the civil discourse with candidate Obama 4 years ago at this same dinner? Now his policies that violate our religious freedom and mandate contraceptive coverage could result in the shut-down of Catholic Charities, a beneficiary of the dinner.  We have never had as anti-Catholic a President as we have today, who is working as actively and in as un-civil a manner as Obama to oppose all of our moral principles and religious freedoms. If the dinner now causes scandal by the invitation and presence of Obama or other pro-abortion anti-Catholic politicians, should it continue this way just because it has been held for a while?  

…I am receiving stacks of mail protesting the invitation to President Obama (and by the way, even some objecting to the invitation to Governor Romney).

[BCI] Glad to hear the mail is getting through. In Boston, our mail to the Cardinal does not get through to him at all.

The objections are somewhat heightened this year, since the Catholic community in the United States has rightly expressed vigorous criticism of the President’s support of the abortion license, and his approval of mandates which radically intruded upon Freedom of Religion. We bishops, including yours truly, have been unrelenting in our opposition to these issues, and will continue to be.

[BCI] The objections have been massively heightened this year. We appreciate your vigorous criticism of the President’s support of the abortion license and your criticism of his mandates that radically intrude upon our Freedom of Religion.  Do you plan to be unrelenting in your vigorous criticism of the President’s support for abortion and intrusion on our Freedom of Religion in your public comments at the Al Smith dinner?

So, my correspondents ask, how can you justify inviting the President? Let me try to explain.

For one, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner is not an award, or the provision of a platform to expound views at odds with the Church. It is an occasion of conversation; it is personal, not partisan.

[BCI] No one has said the invitation to the dinner is an award. But the USCCB, of which Cardinal Dolan is President, has also said we should not honor or give platforms to those who act in defiance of our moral principles, which Obama clearly does. How is it not an honor to be the keynote featured speaker at a nationally-known fundraiser?  How is it not an honor to be the dinner guest of the Cardinal Archbishop of New York and President of the USCCB? And even if Obama does not use this specific dinner as an occasion to expound views at odds with the Church, the dinner by this Catholic organization and hosted by the Catholic Archbishop of NY is still is giving Obama a public platform that suggests support for his actions. The Foundation website says, “Indeed, the occasion has evolved into something of an opportunity for speakers – particularly ones whose mien is typically quite serious – to show, through quips and slightly irreverent humor, that they can poke fun at a political issue, an opponent, or themselves.” This sounds like a platform.  To honor or give a platform to those who act in defiance of our moral principles is contrary to the direction from the USCCB in their 2004 document, Catholics in Political Life.

Two, the purpose of the Al Smith Dinner is to show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate. Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.

[BCI] Interesting how the spin about the purpose of the Al Smith dinner keeps changing. The Foundation says the dinner is “a living memorial to an uncommon public figure.”  The Foundation also says, in the days before Saturday Night Live, the Al Smith dinner served as a kind of “proving ground for the candidate as entertainer,” as one reporter described it.

Three, the teaching of the Church, so radiant in the Second Vatican Council, is that the posture of the Church towards culture, society, and government is that of engagement and dialogue. In other words, it’s better to invite than to ignore, more effective to talk together than to yell from a distance, more productive to open a door than to shut one. Our recent popes have been examples of this principle, receiving dozens of leaders with whom on some points they have serious disagreements. Thus did our present Holy Father graciously receive our current President of the United States.  And, in the current climate, we bishops have maintained that we are open to dialogue with the administration to try and resolve our differences.  What message would I send if I refused to meet with the President?

[BCI] With all due respect, this seems to be comparing apples and bananas. Recent popes have received leaders who visited the Vatican and asked to meet with the Holy Father.  These one-on-one meetings have taken place in a private audience behind closed doors and are an opportunity to engage in dialogue. Sometimes photos have not been allowed (e.g. with Nancy Pelosi).  The very public Al Smith fundraiser dinner is hardly an opportunity to engage in discourse and dialogue to try and resolve differences with the administration.  Furthermore, by not exercising the option to invite Obama, that does not say you are “refusing to meet with the President.” If the President invites you to the White House to meet with him to discuss how to resolve our serious disagreements, by all means you should accept the invitation and meet with him.

Finally, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner in no way indicates a slackening in our vigorous promotion of values we Catholic bishops believe to be at the heart of both gospel and American values, particularly the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom. In fact, one could make the case that anyone attending the dinner, even the two candidates, would, by the vibrant solidarity of the evening, be reminded that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion, assemble on behalf of poor women and their babies, born and unborn, in a spirit of civility and respect.

[BCI] So the dinner will include Cardinal Dolan vigorously promoting values including the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom? Does anyone really believe that Obama will come away believing that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion in ways that the President is actively taking away from us, assemble on behalf of poor women and their unborn babies that Obama uses taxpayer dollars to kill in the womb? Did attending the dinner in 2008 as a presidential candidate change Obama and make him more supportive of Catholic moral principles? If what we have seen since then from Obama is a reflection of what he got from the 2008 dinner, can we take any more?

Some have told me the invitation is a scandal. That charge weighs on me, as it would on any person of faith, but especially a pastor, who longs to give good example, never bad. So, I apologize if I have given such scandal. I suppose it’s a case of prudential judgment: would I give more scandal by inviting the two candidates, or by not inviting them?

[BCI] We appreciate that you have come to see that the invitation is seen by many faithful Catholics as a scandal, and we also appreciate your apology.   There was not scandal in past years when pro-abortion candidates were not invited to the dinner, so it seems that you have indeed given more scandal by inviting the two candidates. The question now is, what do you plan to do since you have given such scandal to the country?

No matter what you might think of this particular decision, might I ask your prayers for me and my brother bishops and priests who are faced with making these decisions, so that we will be wise and faithful shepherds as God calls us to be?

[BCI] You have our prayers.

In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.

[BCI] With all due respect, this example of Jesus, who dined with sinners in private to try to convert them is being used once again to compare apples and oranges. Judie Brown, of the American Life League, put it well in this column, What Would Jesus Do?

While it is true that Jesus dined with sinners, it was for the purpose of converting their hearts, of teaching them His laws, and of inspiring them to change sinful behaviors. President Obama has been invited to dine with Cardinal Dolan and others, but the goals of this dinner are not the same goals Jesus held. Today’s commentary addresses this and explains why we are beseeching the cardinal to have his own change of heart. 

Immediately after we launched the No Dinner for Obama campaign, a concerned Catholic wrote to us and said:

      Did not Jesus Himself dine with, seek the company of, and take audience with sinners, tax collectors, rabbis, and Pharisees who all believed and preached falsities? Who are we to stray from His example? Who are we to discriminate against a leader of many instead of dining with him, and trying to convince him of the true word of Jesus Christ?

My initial reaction was to feel sorrow for this fellow because he was sincerely trying to excuse the public embrace by members of the hierarchy of a man who has done nothing to advance any precept of the natural law. Obama is not confused about what he is doing to the Church. His actions are, and have been, intentional.

Furthermore, as author and columnist Phil Lawler wrote recently,

      When Jesus sat with tax collectors, the dinners were private. They were not “photo ops” for political candidates. The Lord could speak directly to the hearts of his dining companions, and convert them. Remember, St. Matthew left the tax-collecting business to follow Christ. Does anyone believe that after the Al Smith Dinner, Obama will decide to rescind the contraceptive mandate?

Following the dinner, America will see front-page photos and stories that feature Cardinal Dolan sitting with Obama, laughing and having a great time. Such images send a message to America that all is well between the leader of the United States of America and the leader of the American Catholic Church.

I am not sure who will be the most gravely scandalized by the photo op, but the point is that Obama is a danger to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and all that we hold dear as Christians in America. Our campaign is not a campaign of discrimination or negativity, it is an effort to follow Christ’s admonition to his disciples (Luke 17: 1-2): “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”

We are all called to be faithful, and sometimes that means making difficult decisions or taking unpopular actions in order to defend Christ and His Church. This is not a time for squeamishness or half-hearted attempts to uphold a tradition which, in the case of the Al Smith Dinner, needs to be broken.

[BCI] BCI thinks Cardinal Dolan faces any of several choices to eliminate the scandal created by the 2012 Al Smith Dinner:

  1. Uninvite President Obama
  2. Cancel the dinner
  3. Continue with the dinner as planned, but Cardinal Dolan mitigates the damage and scandal by not personally attending–and the media is banned from the dinner, with no photo opps or cameras permitted

What do you think?

“The Church of Nice” – NY Archdiocese Explanation of Obama Invitation

August 11, 2012

The flap over Cardinal Dolan inviting President Obama to the Al Smith dinner continues, and the explanation by a senior official with the Archdiocese of New York for inviting President Obama to the dinner left much to be desired. The last part of their explanation sounds like it is straight out of the Boston Archdiocese playbook:

The message is also that we can set aside our deeply-held differences and leave the partisan politics at the door for an evening, speak nicely and politely to each other, and work together for a common cause in the service of the poor.

Sound famliar?  The key principle of the “Church of Nice” is to be nice and polite to each other and work for a common cause. To paraphrase what several commenters have said elsewhere, if we were in Germany during the Holocaust, would we “set aside our differences” and invite Adolf Hitler to such a dinner where we have nice, polite conversation, despite his role in the slaughter of millions of innocent people?  Is being “nice and polite” to work for the common good why Cardinal O’Malley keeps Jack Connors around despite his support for pro-abortion political figures whose policies work against the mission of the Catholic Church?  Is this why Cardinal O’Malley did not criticize Mayor Menino for his position that Chick-fil-A should not be in Boston because their leadership supports traditional marriage?  The list goes on and on.

Play the ChurchMilitant.TV video below, or read excerpts below:

Here are some of the key points you should note from this video and a prior one:

The high-ranking NY archdiocesean official who responded said: “people need to take a deep breath, relax a second, and think carefully about this.” The tone is condescending and the implication is that anyone who disagrees with the archdiocese hasn’t thought carefully enough.

The archdiocese, through this official, is saying the “dinner is not a religious event in any way” because it’s administered by the Al Smith Foundation, not the archdiocese. Also wrong or at best, misleading. To suggest it is not a Catholic Church event is a lot of baloney. What this official fails to tell us is that ON the board of the foundation itself and head of the board is Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Auxiliary bishop Dennis Sullivan, Vicar General of the New York Archdiocese, is also on the Board. It has their seal of approval. To try and suggest there is some healthy separation between the Foundation and the Archdiocese is insulting. The money raised by the dinner goes to support the Archdiocese of NY Catholic Charities. The primary figure at the dinner is the Cardinal archbishop of New York. The Foundation’s board of directors has seats occupied by the two highest ranking clerics from the archdiocese, and the archdiocese heavily promotes the dinner and benefits from greatly from it.  While it’s technically true is isn’t a religious event such as the Mass, it most certainly is a Catholic event. Catholicism is celebrated at the dinner, right down to the very reason for the dinner–that Al Smith was the first Catholic to run for president on his party’s ticket in 1928. So, it’s disingenuous to try and paint this as merely a civic event.

The NY archdiocesan official said “politicians who speak at the dinner are not getting any award or honor by the Church.”  Though Obama is not being given an “award,” it most certainly is an honor to be invited to keynote a prominent dinner.   Exactly what situation arises where someone is invited to speak at a fundraiser – as THE headliner – and it is not considered an honor? Do the organizers not consider it an honor when they extend the invitation?  What is it to honor someone?  It’s to call them out, set them above others, and call them out as someone worthy to listen to, follow, or emulate.

If the archdiocese doesn’t REALLY have that much to do with the event, then why did Cardinal Dolan extend invitations to the keynote speakers. Why is an employee of the archdiocese writing on the official archdiocesan page about it? Is the archdiocese in the habit of paying employees to write their own personal opinions on its page about things with only a passing relation to the archdiocese?

The official said, “When everyone wakes up the morning after, the struggle will resume.”  This comment is perhaps the most grating of all, as well as the most telling. It says plainly and implies that the struggle can be broken from. Show us anywhere where the Blessed Lord, the saints, doctors of the church, fathers of the Church, and martyrs suggested you could break from the struggle.  Why are we taking a break from the struggle? To hob-nob with the man who wants to strangle the Church?  Do we really suppose his administration at the White House is taking a break from enforcing the wicked  HHS mandate on the Church?

The official said, “we can still show respect for his office, and for him as a person, and treat him with civility.  It gives us an opportunity to act as Christians, and show some love to our adversaries.”  Again, a very telling comment.  The implication is that to oppose him (Obama), is to somehow not show him respect. That to call him out for his death-dealing policies is to not treat him with civility. And that is showing love for our adversaries.

THAT, in one short phrase sums up EVERYTHING that has gone wrong in the Church in the past 50 years  To speak the truth boldly and plainly is  somehow not love. Love has been absolutely confused with the concept of being nice and politically correct. This distortion has allowed the leaders of Church to totally abdicate their roles as fathers who love and die for their children. Fathers say the tough things.

You want to talk about love and true charity? The most perfect way to demonstrate true charity would be to set an example for not only Barack Obama, who is trapped in his own evil and needs rescuing as well, but to lift up the spirits of tens of thousands, if not millions of Catholics dismayed and shocked over this and un-invite Obama. That would be a true statement of authentic charity.

In the “Church of Nice,” what else is there to see other than this weak-kneed statement by the NY archdiocesan official, “The message is also that we can set aside our deeply-held differences and leave the partisan politics at the door for an evening, speaking nicely and politely to each other.”  There it is–at the end of the day, it all boils down to just being nice. The Church of Nice. Sacrificing our Lord to be nice.

Here is the petition to have Obama disinvited. Please sign it. For the sake of true charity, we ask Cardinal Dolan to rescind the invitation or, as one writer put it at RenewAmerica, “Cancel the Dinner.”

The Roman Missal Changes

January 15, 2012

BCI thought we would take a break from controversy on our usual topics to touch on something less controversial, such as how people are doing with implementing and learning the new Roman Missal.

Now that the changes have been rolled out, how is it going in your parish?

In recent weeks, the BCI team, along with people who follow BCI, have been observing how parishes in Boston and elsewhere in New England are doing with the changes.  As would be expected, some parishes are doing well (ie. After the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” most people in the pews respond, “And with your spirit.”)  Elsewhere, the people in the pews seem to be struggling (ie. the response is a garbled combination of the old “And also with you” along with the new, “And with your spirit.”)

Old habits die hard. We know this will take a long time for everyone to get as familiar with the new translation as we all were with the old.  BCI and our readers regress from time to time.  Still, we tried to see if there were any best practices or trends to be shared.

At the parishes where the faithful in the pews are doing well and the changes sound like they have good traction, BCI learned that the priests have regularly reminded people during Masses since the beginning of Advent to be mindful of the changes and to use the cards in the pews. They say the words to the Confiteor every Sunday. In addition, when the priests were asked in casual conversation how it was going with the new Roman Missal, they were generally positive on the changes. In contrast, in the parishes where the people in the pews are not doing so well with mastering the changes, there were no verbal reminders, or few reminders in at least the past month. And by coincidence, where the people are not doing well with the changes, at those same parishes there is also some sense that the priest has not been enthusiastic about the changes himself.  Several readers report that their pastors had been somewhat begrudging in their style of communicating the changes and appeared displeased or unenthusiastic about them.

Beyond that, we digress for a moment to mention one case we know of where priests are already making changes to the new words.  This blog post from Concord pastor, Fr. Austin Fleming, about some passages in the new book he was finding difficult to use, opened a small Pandora’s box in the comments.  Fr. Fleming wrote about new text included in the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for the Dead which he found difficult and thus changed slightly. Then he said:

“That I consciously made a change in the text leads me to wonder what changes other priests are making and where that will lead us.”

This prompted one reader to respond, “I would hope that priests do have the ‘freedom; to change wording particularly in the example you just showed us in your funeral liturgy,” and then other priests who had issues with the new translations further piled on the discussion.

BCI does not see where the Vox Clara Committee (which advises the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on English translations) or the International Commission on English in the Liturgy were intending a “Have it your way” approach to the new translations; however, perhaps we missed something.  (But we digress…)

Anyway, BCI has 3 small suggestions for priests that we hope might make it easier for faithful Catholics in the pews to master the new translations:

  1. Continue the reminders: If the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass finds people are still struggling to master the changes, perhaps he might give a short reminder at selected times during the Mass (ie. before the greeting, Confiteor, recited Gloria, Preface Dialogue, spoken Sanctus, or Mystery of Faith) that the people be attentive or mindful to the new words from the cards in the pew.
  2. A little extra catechesis never hurts.  For example, most people may still not realize that the old “and also with you” translation from Latin  et cum spiritu tuo was an error.  That translation was inaccurate and misled people into believing that when the priest said, “The Lord be with you,” the people were basically saying in response, “same to you, Father.”  As described here, the expression et cum spiritu tuo (accurately translated: “and with your spirit”) is an acknowledgment by the congregation of the grace and presence of Christ who is present and operative in the spirit or soul of the  celebrant.  Christ’s Spirit is present in the priest  in a unique way in virtue of his ordination. What the dialogue means is:
    The Lord be with you.
     We do in fact acknowledge the grace, presence and Spirit of Christ in your spirit.
    It can be found in the New Testament letters of St. Paul: “The Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tm 4:22) and “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Phil 4:23).
    This piece, “And with Your Spirit,” republished by Our Sunday Visitor gives even more commentary, including this quote from St. John Chrysostom, who held that the congregation’s response, “And with your spirit,” is an implicit profession of faith in the power of the sacrament of holy orders:

    “If the Holy Spirit were not in this your common father and teacher, you would not, just now, when he ascended this holy chair and wished you all peace, have cried out with one accord, ‘And with your spirit.’

    Thus you cry out to him, not only when he ascends his throne and when he speaks to you and prays for you, but also when he stands at this holy altar to offer the sacrifice. He does not touch that which lies on the altar before wishing you the grace of our Lord, and before you have replied to him, ‘And with your spirit.’

    By this cry, you are reminded that he who stands at the altar does nothing, and that the gifts that repose there are not the merits of a man; but that the grace of the Holy Spirit is present and, descending on all, accomplishes this mysterious sacrifice. We indeed see a man, but it is God who acts through him. Nothing human takes place at this holy altar.”

    …our Catholic priests speak and act with the power of the Holy Spirit. They do so when they repeat that five-time epiclesis, “The Lord be with you.” Indeed, only a man who has been ordained may pronounce those words in the liturgy. A layman leading a prayer service may not.

  3. Practice makes perfect: Repetition has a powerful impact on learning. Athletes use repetition to perfect their skills, musicians use it to learn music and students of foreign languages use repetition to learn a new language.  Yet ironically, few parishes are using any form of practice or repetition to get the people to break old habits and learn the new words more quickly.  In the same way that leaders of song will take a few minutes to review new music or Mass parts with the congregation before Mass, if people are struggling with the Roman Missal changes, it may be worthwhile for priests to take a few minutes before Mass to speak through the new words together with the people  (ie. recite the new Gloria together with the people, or simply get the people saying together some of the responses aloud).This may sound a little simplistic, but when the people are struggling to master “and with your spirit” as a response, imagine the priest taking 1 minute before Mass to do a short practice repetition 3-5 times: Priest says “The Lord be with you,” and the people respond “and with your spirit.”  Do this 3-5 times before Mass over a couple of Sundays and the people will have it nailed!  A similar approach might be tried for the Gloria or Sanctus.  In the absence of this, we may find many people still stumbling through the translations a year or more from now.

These are just a few observations and thoughts from BCI on the Roman Missal changes.  How is it going in your parish?

Tone-Deaf Cardinal?

January 4, 2011

We have no other way to start this post than with that title.

The following email was sent out yesterday by Catholic Schools superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill, inviting pastors, school principals, and heads of schools to their annual Catholic Schools convocation.  For the single annual convocation of the leaders of the Catholic Schools in the archdiocese, Cardinal O’Malley chose as the speaker none other than Fr. Bryan Hehir.  His topic: ““Catholic Identity: Its Roots and Realization in our Schools.”  The Cardinal might just as well have chosen Jack Connors.  Maybe Jack was invited and was busy, so they went with Fr. Hehir instead.

High-order message to you–we suggest priests stay away, we suggest school principals stay away, and we suggest parents of school children ask their pastors and school principals to stay away.

The archdiocese has thousands of experienced school leaders (whose retirement pensions are frozen), auxiliary bishops, seminary rectors, hundreds of priests, and an archbishop.  Most of these people know a fair amount if not a huge amount about Catholic elementary school and high school education.  Yet the one person Cardinal O’Malley wants to lecture the leaders of Catholic schools is Fr. Bryan Hehir–who has no experience with elementary school or high school Catholic education and whose record of clarity with respect to “Catholic identities” is extremely murky.

Last we checked, Fr. Hehir was the one behind the fiasco back on 2005 of honoring the pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage Mayor Menino of Boston at a Catholic Charities fund-raiser, in violation of USCCB guidelines that said very clearly that Catholic politicians who oppose the church were not to be honored publicly. How does this qualify him to talk about “Catholic identity”?  If anything, it should DIS-QUALIFY him.  Fr. Hehir’s far-fetched explanation was that despite dozens and dozens of articles in the mainstream media that made it clear that Menino opposed the Church on these key matters (including his leading the Gay Pride parade and welcoming 99 gay couples to City Hall on the first day when they could “marry”), Hehir and the Catholic Charities staff were somehow obliviously unaware Menino opposed the Church on abortion and gay marriage. Here is what the Bryan Hehir Exposed blog had to say about the matter last year:

Was Fr. Bryan Hehir really asking the Archbishop and Catholics of Boston to believe that he was not aware of the statements against Church policy from the mayor?  Is this the same Fr. Bryan Hehir, who received a “genius” MacArthur fellowship?  Is this the same Fr. Bryan Hehir who was called “a brilliant, brilliant student of politics–especially the geopolitical scene” by the former general secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference ?  Is this the same Fr. Hehir who Cardinal Sean recently recognized as highly trusted “strategic advisor” who brings “fidelity to the work of the Church” and ”clarity to our message and mission”?  Fr. Hehir’s claim that he and his staff were unaware of Menino’s history is troubling and difficult to believe.  If Bryan Hehir was somehow naively unaware of Mayor Menino’s opposition to the Catholic Church on a host of issues, then Fr. Hehir bears responsibility for his own negligence and has no business being Cabinet Secretary of anything in this archdiocese.  And if he was aware but lied to the archbishop and presbyterate of Boston, then he should have been fired then and should still be fired now because this strongly suggests that what he says and does simply cannot be trusted–let alone trusted to align with Church teachings.

This is not just a one-off. Fr. Hehir was also right up there keynoting the Catholic Healthcare Association’s annual conference praising their leadership after the CHA opposed the USCCB and Catholic bishops on Obamacare.  Fr. Hehir is now the person to speak about Catholic identity in Catholic Schools?  Puleeze!

One can only surmise one of two things about this situation:

  1. Cardinal O’Malley genuinely wants to take the archdicoese in a direction aligned with the ideologies of Jack Connors (who chairs Partners Healthcare, a large abortion provider in the state) and Fr. Bryan Hehir (who has no problem honoring people who publicly work against Church teachings), or
  2. Cardinal O’Malley is remarkably tone-deaf to the concerns of the laity and priests of the archdiocese

Either scenario is not encouraging.

Below is the letter from the schools superintendent:

From the Desk of Mary Grassa O’Neill

January 3, 2010

Dear Principals, Pastors, and Heads of Schools:

Cardinal Seán O’Malley and I look forward to seeing you at our Convocation and Celebration of Education.  The event will take place at the Pastoral Center on Thursday, January 6th, 2011 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. This annual celebration always has drawn together nearly all our school leaders. We hope that you will take the opportunity to join your fellow Catholic school leaders on Thursday.

We will open with a prayer and remarks from Cardinal Seán.   Our featured speaker will be Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, who will discuss “Catholic Identity: Its Roots and Realization in our Schools.”  Lastly, I will provide a multi-media overview of our shared achievements and challenges this past year and our priorities for the future.  We will close with a reception and refreshment.

We would like to continue our tradition of honoring those schools that are celebrating landmark anniversaries. If you would like your school to be recognized, please share your information with Christina Sorgi (617-779-3614 or  so that we can recognize you on Thursday.

We look forward to this celebration of our school community and your unflagging spirit, strength, and leadership that make it all possible.  If you have not yet RSVP’d for Thursday, please let Christina Sorgi know as soon as possible (617-779-3614 or

Happy New Year!

Mary Grassa O’Neill

Time: Tuesday January 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

If you are the parent of Catholic school children, please tell your pastor and school principal you want them to at minimum intentionally miss Fr. Hehir’s talk. If you are a priest, we suggest reading your breviary or making phone calls during this time.

We do not want to open a debate on doctrine here.  Objectively, Fr. Hehir has no experience with Catholic elementary and high school education while other vastly more qualified have been passed over for the speaking slot, and his track record when it comes to Catholic identity is sufficiently controversial that he clearly is not the model speaker on the topic.

Many signs of modest encouragement we saw about potential progress in this archdiocese have now gone out the window. So has our patience.

ps. Mary, while you’ve got everyone together, will you, Fr. Hehir, or the Cardinal specifically be talking about your efforts to restore Catholic identity at Sacred Heart High School in Kingston, in the face of the articles about atheism and gay students “coming out” in the school newspaper?  Concerned parents down there have been waiting 4 months for action.

Cardinal Burke in Boston, Sat. December 4

November 27, 2010

Today we take a break from our series on Boston archdiocesan corruption (“Systemic Corruption“, “Finance Council: Conflicted, Contradictory, Corrupt?and “ Top Ethical Concerns: #3: Conflicts of Interest“)  to let you know about an upcoming event Boston-area readers may want to attend and an associated cause  that any reader can contribute to.

On Saturday, December 4, the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, located in Merrimac, NH, will host its annual President’s Council Dinner in downtown Boston, featuring newly-installed Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of St. Louis and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as its keynote speaker.In addition to his keynote address, Cardinal Burke will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the evening’s Vigil Mass at 5pm at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine.

Here is an excerpt from the October 11 press release announcing the event.

“The President’s Council Dinner and Symposium are important events held each year in support of Thomas More College’s scholarship funds,” said Dr. William Fahey, President of Thomas More College. Thomas More College is a unique liberal arts college in the Boston area – ardently Catholic and academically rigorous,” said Fahey. “We are dedicated to offering the young people of Boston and the larger region an education that is deeply rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and completely faithful to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church. We have moved this annual dinner to Boston to make it clear that we are committed to the region, and wish to play our part in re-evangelizing New England.”

Fahey referenced the College’s commitment to the Church by noting that this weekend the College will renew its consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, its faculty and teaching staff will make a public Profession of Faith, and that he will take the Oath of Fidelity, as requested by Canon Law.  Not all Catholic-affiliated colleges in the region observe these requirements. 

[Speaking of a public Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church, Boston Catholic Insider is wondering what would happen if this were required of all Boston Archdiocesan Finance Council members, Archdiocesan Cabinet members and director-level staff. Is it possible that perhaps some of the corruption we are blogging about might never have occurred, or could be prevented in the future?).

Anyway, the President’s Council events will be held at the Harvard Club in Boston.  A symposium begins at 2 pm, the Mass is at 5pm at St. Clements Eucharistic Shrine, followed by a 6 pm reception and a 7 pm dinner.

Tickets to Thomas More College’s President’s Council Dinner are $150 each, and tickets to the symposium are $15 each.  Details and a registration form may be found on the College’s web site at Rumor has it that the dinner event may sell-out, so if you are interested in attending, buy your tickets soon.

Disclaimer: Boston Catholic Insider has not been asked by the college or by anyone to promote this event–we simply heard about it and thought Catholics who read this blog might find it to be of interest. If you have questions about the event, contact Charlie McKinney at (603) 880-8308, ext. 21 or (603) 913-5939, or by email at cmckinney(at)

We will return to our regular fare next time.


September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

Today we take a break from our standard editorial content to let you know about something that all readers might wish to support–an upcoming event that Boston-area readers may want to attend and a worthy cause associated with the event which readers from any part of the country can contribute to.

The Daughters of St. Paul , based locally here in Jamaica Plain, are honoring Harvard Professor and former Vatican ambassador, Mary Ann Glendon on Sunday, September 12 at 3pm.  Here on the blog, we are anonymous fans of the Daughters of St. Paul and of Prof. Glendon.  The Daughters were founded by Blessed James Alberione, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in April of 2003.  The Daughters live in community, and as described on their website, “are women consecrated like Paul the Apostle to be apostles of Christ to the world of today, announcing the message of reconciliation using the means of communication.”  The Daughters do fantastic work and operate 12 Pauline Book and Media stores across the U.S.  Funds raised from the event will benefit the Daughters of Saint Paul’s efforts to use new media for evangelization.

Here are some excerpts from the article in The Boston Pilot announcing the event. (Coincidentally, the article was from the same edition where they reported on the archdiocese blocking this blog).   If you want to skip the details and jump right to the page where you can either register or make a contribution, click here.

BRAINTREE — As they further equip their sisters to be more effective evangelizers in a digital age, the Daughters of St. Paul are inaugurating an award by honoring a former Vatican ambassador who garnered national attention when she refused an award from a well-known Catholic university.

On Sunday, Sept. 12, the Daughters of St. Paul will honor Professor Mary Ann Glendon at an Afternoon Tea at 3 p.m. at the Daughters of St. Paul’s convent in Jamaica Plain with the sisters’ first-ever Cordero Award.

The award will be presented annually to a Catholic person or organization who has “striven to uplift the human spirit and to recognize the dignity of the human person in or through the media.”

Funds raised from the event will benefit the Daughters of Saint Paul’s new media initiatives by further educating the sisters to be more effective users of new media to evangelize in modern times.

“When we think of education, we immediately think of children or teenagers. But if today’s educators aren’t keeping up with the times, then how can we be effective teachers and evangelizers?” asked Sister Christine Setticase, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul. “As our culture dives deeper into the age of digital media, we want to present the Gospel message in a way that is interesting and relevant. But to do this we need to specialize and know the language of today’s youth.”

Glendon is currently a professor at Harvard Law School and president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and former Vatican ambassador. She has taught and written on subjects such as bioethics, constitutional law, comparative law and human rights. She is a longtime consultant to the USCCB and is on the editorial and advisory board of the journal First Things.

During the afternoon, Glendon will also give a talk entitled “The Lay Vocation in a Media Culture: New Challenges.”

“As a prominent Catholic and as a former ambassador, she has always spoken up for the Catholic faith and the defense of human life,” Sister Setticase said. “She’s certainly an example of someone who has mirrored the Holy Father’s teachings.”

For more information about the event please contact Sister Christine at 617-921-0228 or

Note:  No one from the archdiocese or the Daughters of St. Paul has asked us to promote this cause, and we hope that the archdiocese does not feel the anonymous bloggers are doing “harm to the community” by our promotion of this worthy cause and the evangelization work of a religious community that is faithful to the teachings of the Church.  Individual seats for the event  are $100 and you will find other options for various levels of sponsorship from $500 up to $5,000 here.  Even if you cannot attend, we invite readers to consider supporting the cause.

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Ps. We also pause from the normal listing of the archdiocesan “Silence Meter”–that cites the amount of time which has passed since we first alerted archdiocesan officials about problems with conflicts of interest, cronyism, and unethical practices–to reference the first reading from today’s lectionary, a reading from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:1-8).  “It is widely reported that there is immorality among you…Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough…Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”


July 12, 2010

We were just copied on a post from another blog that picks apart the essay in yesterday’s Boston Globe Magazine entitled, “What I Believe.”  We are not yet in the practice of endorsing other blogs, but the  Globe’s essay is a distortion of the Catholic faith and this particular blog post makes some valid points.  Any of a number of entities in the Archdiocese could respond to the Globe’s piece, starting with Cardinal O’Malley on his blog, and on down to Terry Donilon in PR, The Pilot, the website, or Catholic TV.  It cost $3.4 million to operate CatholicTV last year, around $1 million to publish The Pilot,  they spent a quarter of a million dollars to build a new website, and the salaries and PR fees across the Catholic Media group and PR teams (separate budget and funding sources) are easily another $1 million.  For $5.5 million a year, you’d think somone could crank out a response within 24 hours. If they cannot do something this basic, then maybe some of that money should be redirected to the Clergy Retirement Fund deficit.

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