Cardinal O’Malley Prays for Courage

November 6, 2011

The “ad limina” visit to the Vatican by the northeastern regional bishops is off and running, and BCI finds it interesting and ironic that Cardinal O’Malley started things out by saying he hoped that being together at the tomb of Peter would renew him and his fellow bishops “in our generosity, courage and faith.”

Sounds good at first and BCI would encourage all of our readers to also pray for generosity, courage and faith for our bishops.  But BCI and our readers are wondering how that courage thing is going in recent years for Cardinal O’Malley, since a lot of faithful Catholics in Boston have been looking for more in that particular department.  As St. Anthony of Padua said, “Actions speak louder than words, let your words teach and your actions speak.”

Here is most of the CNS story reporting on this:

Bishops from northeastern US begin ‘ad limina’ visits with prayer

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Praying together at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and meeting Pope Benedict XVI should be a moment for bishops to reconfirm and strengthen their faith, said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

The cardinal was the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass Nov. 4 in the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica in a chapel before the saint’s tomb.

In his homily, the cardinal told his fellow bishops that after Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, “Peter flees. He’s trying to follow the Lord at a safe distance, something we all try to do at one time or another. But Peter discovers it’s impossible; you can only follow the Lord up close.”

After the Resurrection, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him, because love is the measure of faith, the cardinal said.

“Jesus doesn’t ask Peter if he’s excelled in his intellectual prowess or his organization skills or his fundraising capacity or his Myers-Briggs score. Jesus only asks, ‘Do you love me?'” he said.

Cardinal O’Malley said love of the Lord was a prerequisite for Peter’s ministry and is a prerequisite for the ministry of bishops today.

Peter’s love for the Lord brought him to Rome, the cardinal said, but — according to legend — as persecution grew Peter decided to flee again. Leaving the city, he saw the risen Lord and asked him, “Quo vadis?” (“Where are you going?”), and Jesus replied he was going to Rome to be crucified again. Peter renewed his faith and returned to the city where he met a martyr’s death.

“Each of us has gone through a ‘quo vadis’ moment or two in our vocation as bishops,” the cardinal said. “Hopefully, our being together at the tomb of Peter and close to Benedict will renew us in our generosity, courage and faith in following Jesus up close so that we can say with all our hearts what Peter said, ‘Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.'”

If we bring this back to Boston for a moment, it is impossible to not observe that the words of Cardinal O’Malley a few days ago in Rome are not particularly well matched to his actual actions and leadership over recent years.  Perhaps it is that he has had a lot more than just one or two “quo vadis” moments.  When has our Cardinal Archbishop “fled” or not demonstrated courage?  Here are a few examples:
  1. Not forcing vigil protesters to leave the church buildings they have been occupying over the past seven years, at a cost of millions of dollars to the Catholic faithful–and never publicly stating the protesters who miss regular weekly Sunday Mass are placing the salvation of their souls at risk.
  2. Selling St. John’s Seminary land and buildings to Boston College, against the recommendation of the Vatican’s Apostolic Visitation committee which said no more land was to be sold.
  3. Failing to repay St. John’s Seminary for the land and buildings sold to Boston College and failing to put a plan in place that will provide for repayment
  4. Allowing a widespread deception to take place in 2010 over the hiring of a new Secretary of Institutional Advancement, by announcing an open search and installing a search committee, when the person slotted for the job had already been identified and no open search ever was intended or occurred
  5. Cutting promised pension benefits to lay employees by tens of millions of dollars, while not collecting what was due in pension contributions from participating employers
  6. Continuing to pay millions in excessive six-figure salaries to lay archdiocesan executives (i.e. $325K to schools superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill), when the standard paid by other diocese for these same roles is much lower than Boston is paying.
  7. Refusing to acknowledge that the Boston Archdiocese mistreated the Daughters of St. Paul when the Daughters tried to recover millions in pension contributions for their lay employees, and then denying that his intervention with the Superior General in Italy was related to the removal of the U.S. provincial leadership team.
  8. Presiding over the nationally-televised Ted Kennedy rite of Christian burial–including the three eulogies, politicized prayers of the faithful, and celebrity musicians–and criticizing pro-life Catholics who complained about his role in the public coronation of Kennedy.
  9. Continuing to allow Jack Connors to serve on the Finance Council and chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee, despite Connors a) being front-and-center in the deception over the search for the new Institutional Advancement Secretary, b) serving as Chair of Partners Healthcare, one of the largest abortion providers in Massachuetts and c) publicly creating scandal by raising money for pro-abortion political figures such as President Obama and Attorney General Martha Coakley
  10. Failing to clearly articulate Church teachings in the recent situation of St. Cecilia’s in Boston (where the pastor planned to celebrate a Mass commemorating Boston’s Gay Pride Month) and allowing a local and national scandal to erupt as a consequence.

It is good that the Cardinal is praying for more courage, and we would urge readers to join with him in that prayer!  At the same time, it is not clear to us if he understands and acknowledges his actions have often not been matched with his words and where he has fallen short so he can do better in the future.

This is just a quickly drafted list BCI came up with of ten areas where the Cardinal could have demonstrated stronger courage and faith, where faithful Catholics may have wanted to see him demonstrate greater courage. What else do you think we have missed?

Ad Limina Announcements

November 6, 2011

As BCI readers know, a contingent from Boston is in Rome for the quinquennial “ad limina” visit where they discuss the state of the Boston Archdiocese.  We see a few different stories about the visit in several different publications which talk about the visit, while offering no insights as to how Cardinal O’Malley is characterizing the actual situation and state of the Boston Archdiocese today. We suppose that leaves it to BCI and our readers to cover.

Here are three articles that give you a sense of what is going on.

Background on the Ad Limina

On Friday, Whispers in the Loggia offered the following commentary about the ad limina:

Seven years since the American hierarchy last made its required Quinquennial Visit to the Holy See, the bench’s first ad limina of B16’s pontificate began earlier today — three days ahead of schedule — as the Pope received 13 prelates of New England’s Region I in private audience.

While Benedict will meet with each of the bishops over the next week, this morning’s Apartment-bound group was led by the area’s top cleric, Boston’s Cardinal Séan O’Malley OFM Cap., joined by his five active auxiliaries.

BCI agrees with most of what was said above, except for the word “active” to describe all of the 5 Boston auxiliaries.  Yes they are all currently serving as auxiliary bishops; however, to call them all “active” could be subject to some dispute. (But we digress…)

Who is Attending

According to the Vatican Information Service, thirteen bishops from New England are there for the “ad limina.”:

VATICAN CITY, 4 NOV 2011 (VIS) – The Holy Father today received in audience thirteen prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their “ad limina” visit:

– Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M. Cap. of Boston accompanied, by Auxiliary Bishops Walter James Edyvean, John Anthony Dooher, Robert Francis Hennessey, Arthur L. Kennedy, and Peter J. Uglietto.

In addition, Bishop Salvatore Ronald Matano of Burlington, Bishop George William Coleman of Fall River, Bishop Richard Joseph Malone of Portland, Bishop Timothy Anthony McDonnell of Springfield, Bishop Robert Joseph McManus of Worcester, Bishop Francis J. Christian, auxiliary of Manchester, accompanied by Bishop emeritus John B. McCormack.

Of noteworthiness is that Vicar General Msgr. Robert Deeley did not go.  Apparently, he is staying in Braintree trying to prevent the inmates from taking over the asylum. (Though based on comments from the diocesan spokesperson this past week, that strategy may not be working so well).

The Agenda

This article in The Boston Pilot gives highlights of what will be done during the visit:

The greatest amount of time is taken up with the spiritual side of the visit: celebration of Mass, prayer, and visiting the various offices of the Roman Curia, who daily assist the pope in the government of the universal Church. Among those offices that the New England Bishops are slated to visit between Nov. 3-9 are those that deal with bishops, clergy, education, liturgy or Divine Worship, and consecrated life.

The newest agency created by Pope Benedict himself, the Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, is also on the list. This council and its mandate are especially close to the pope’s own agenda; and as he gives a series of addresses to the bishops, there is wide speculation that this will be the unifying theme woven through the five or so talks the pope will deliver to the various groups of American bishops over the next several months.

Prior to their arrival in Rome the diocesan bishops were asked for a report on the condition of their respective dioceses. These reports are usually due to Rome about six months before the visit itself. They are called “quinquennial” reports because traditionally they had to be submitted every five years. This time frame allows the report to be separated into sections and distributed to the offices of the curia that would be responsible for its particular activities. For example, the report on Catholic Education with its statistics and narrative section would be given to the Congregation for Catholic Education; the bishops will meet there on Nov. 7.

This is not a case of the central office checking up on the local branches. Rather as the reports are compiled, they can be seen as a kind of self evaluation of the diocesan bishop’s ministry and also of the diocese itself.

The bishop likely involves many of his staff and diocesan officials in the compilation of the report, so it can also help the various offices see how effectively they are performing their tasks and assisting the bishop.

In our next post, later today, we will update you on what Cardinal Sean O’Malley has said publicly so far during his time in Rome for the visit.

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