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

May 29, 2015

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.


Holy Trinity Church in Boston Being Turned into Boutique Condos

April 29, 2015

For those who have not yet heard, Holy Trinity Church, the former home of the German Catholic Community and the Traditional Latin Mass is being redeveloped into boutique condos.  We posted last June that the property was up for sale, and in November we learned it had been sold, however the identity of the developer was not yet publicly available. Oddly, the archdiocese has not announced the sale price, or what will become of the millions of dollars of proceeds. Now the plans are up for approval by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. A picture of the proposed development can be found below.

Here is what has been written about the proposed plans.  In “You Could Soon Live in This 19th Century South End Church” we learn:

Finegold Alexander + Associates, Inc. is hoping to transform the former Holy Trinity German Catholic Church and Rectory – located at 136 Shawmut Ave. in Boston’s South End – into an eight-story structure boasting 33 residential units. (The firm is acting on behalf of owner 136 Shawmut LLC, formed out of New Boston Ventures, according to the Boston Globe.)

According to a report filed by Finegold Alexander principal-in-charge James G. Alexander with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, this particular housing development will keep the church and rectory’s exterior facade while the interior of the building will be completely demolished and rebuilt – assuming, of course, the project is approved by the BRA.

Atop the building, however, will rise a glass and steel structure that, the report notes, is expected to “blend old and new, creating a bold centerpiece for this developing neighborhood.”

Not counting the basement containing 24 parking spaces, some 57,000-square-feet of residential space could be built, more than 69,000-square-feet in total (counting the basement lot).

The BRA a held public hearing to gather community input on the project on Monday, April 27.

Regarding the “eye-popping design,” the Boston Globe reported:

“You could tear it down and start over, which would be a tragedy — you’d lose the details, the social and religious history,” said architect James Alexander, who led the building’s design team at Finegold Alexander + Associates. “But re-using it as it was, with the shape of the roof and the square footage, it just wouldn’t generate the return.”

Alexander and his team, along with New Boston Ventures, fine-tuned the design over several consultations with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Officials there asked the designers to move the front of the new structure back from the street, so the church’s central tower would remain visually prominent.

As we have said before, BCI thinks the sale and loss of this magnificent church (see pictures here) has been a great tragedy. The conversion to boutique condos would appear to now put the nail in the coffin. Any chances of this great Catholic church ever being a Catholic church and place for Catholic worship again are probably forever gone.


Boston priest puts GLBTQ rainbow flag on Catholic chapel

October 30, 2014

In our last post, we reported on how Boston priest, Fr. Walter Cuenin, promoted a petition to have the gay “rainbow” flag cover the Oval Office in Washington, but we learned hours later that we missed some even more scandalous things this priest has done.

For the month of October, Fr. Cuenin has had what he describes as “an enormous gay pride flag” displayed outside the chapel to “recognize both Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History Month. A photo is below.

flag

Here is what Fr. Cuenin had to say about this in an interview with the Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice:

In an interview with the Justice, Rev. Walter Cuenin, the University’s Catholic chaplain and coordinator of the Interfaith Chaplaincy, explained the chapel’s display and its significance in detail. He described the flag right beside the chapel as an “enormous gay pride flag.” He also mentioned that a pink cloth covers the altar and added that there are also pink candles in the chapel. Cuenin said that he wanted students to be aware of issues regarding discrimination pertaining to the LGBTQ community and breast cancer awareness and research.

Cuenin acknowledged that a priest hanging an LGBTQ pride flag outside of the chapel might be a bit of a surprise, stating that many believe “a priest would never do that,” given the Catholic Church’s stance that homosexuality is morally wrong. He said he feels deeply that there needs to be more focus on how people act outside of the Church as opposed to good deeds and social activism being confined to the Church.

As we all know the gay rainbow flag is a symbol of “gay pride”  and LGBT social movements.  This is commonly associated with gay pride parades and gay pride weeks, where the following is typically on display:

  • Sado-masochism
  • Profanity and vulgarity, much of it in an angry tone
  • Homosexual sex; condoms and anal lubricant given out almost everywhere
  • Horrible “gay” diseases and psychological problems
  • The problem of “gay” domestic violence
  • Hatred of traditional religion, particularly Catholicism
  • Perversions such as cross-dressing and transsexual body mutilation
  • An obsession with children and teenagers

This is what Fr. Cuenin promoted outside the church in October.  One article reports that when one enters the church, inside the foyer year-round he also proudly displays a multicolored gay pride flag, while this article says he has the rainbow flag inside the chapel. The article continues, “Father Cuenin is also a official LGBT ally on campus, through his work with Trisk (Brandeis’ GLBTQA student group). He also continuously makes himself available and accessible to struggling students in his role as a confidential resource.  This article says, “Father Cuenin has always displayed a rainbow peace flag inside the chapel, as a statement that the chapel is friendly to people of all sexualities. That will continue to be the case when the pride flag outside is taken down at the end of the month. Cuenin also commented that he takes his role as a confidential resource on campus very seriously, and hopes that more students will feel welcome to talk with him as a result of these displays.”

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.  (The matter of the pink cloth on the altar for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and using the altar to advance his own ideology and agenda is an entirely different issue).

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 then.  Write to the following people and ask for his immediate removal.

Dir. of Campus Minisry, Fr. Richard Clancy: frclancy@mit.edu
Vicar General, Bishop Peter Uglietto: vicar_general@rcab.org
Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications: tdonilon@rcab.org.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley: archbishopsean_o’malley@rcab.org
U.S. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano: nuntiususa@nuntiususa.org

 

 


Boston priest promotes petition for LGBTQ banner over White House

October 30, 2014

This came in to BCI in mid-October and we are just getting to post it.  Fr. Walter Cuenin (call me “Walter”), currently Catholic Chaplain at Brandeis University and formerly pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton sent the following email to members of the Brandeis Catholic Student Organization promoting an initiative to have the gay “rainbow” flag covering the Oval Office in Washington. But there’s more beyond that.  Read on below, and also see our most recent post about how he is displaying the gay pride flag over the Catholic chapel.

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Walter Cuenin
Date: Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:41 PM
Subject: [cso] PETITION for GLBTQ awareness month
To: cso

One of our students is trying to organize an initiative to have the gay flag or banner to cover the Oval Office in Washington.  He is a fine young man and a senior and a friend to me.I am sending you a link so that if you wanted you could lend your voice via email. They need a lot of people to sign up. Thanks
The message:  For the full month of October, we the people respectfully request that LGBTQ History month be honored publicly by hanging a full sized banner – to cover the entire White House oval office exterior – as a  show of solidarity and support from the Executive branch of our government. Men, women and ungendered Americans across the country are often marginalized from their communities due to their personal identification. A strong message of support- by way of visual symbolism- would make hundreds of thousands of Americans feel represented in our Capitol, and has the potential to save the lives of those who are struggling with their  identities.   email https:// petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/drape-full-sized-rainbow-colored-banner-white-house-oval-office-exterior-lgbtq-history-month-october/XQnzH3BN  THANKS

(Thankfully, in the end, the petition failed to get enough signatures). Still, Fr. Cuenin has long been a supporter of the GLBT agenda and other agendas other than what the Catholic Church teaches. In 2002 he provided testimony to the Massachusetts Legislature opposing a ban on same-sex marriage. This piece from the Brandeis Hoot gives more background on him. Here are a few excerpts:

It may be rare to encounter a multicolored gay pride flag upon entering a church. But Brandeis’ Catholic chaplain, the Rev. Walter Cuenin, proudly displays the rainbow flag in the Bethlehem Chapel’s foyer. With the word “Peace” written across the middle, the flag symbolizes a proclamation of acceptance and unity for each person who may walk through the Bethlehem Chapel’s doors.

Cuenin bases his decision to exhibit a gay pride flag on a tale about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. According to Christian tradition, when Mary and Joseph arrived at a Bethlehem inn, Mary was forced to have her baby in an outside stable since there were no rooms left at the inn. Cuenin connects this story to Brandeis’ Bethlehem Chapel by using the multicolored flag to portray that “in this Bethlehem, there’s always room for everyone in the inn.”

Cuenin is currently an ally of Brandeis’ LGBT group, Triskelion. He claims that while the Catholic Church does not support gay marriage, it does welcome gay people to its churches. In fact, when he was a pastor for a larger church nearby, Cuenin had even performed a baptism for the baby of a gay couple.

“The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage, so I cannot directly say I support it, but I have seen from my experience that for many people it creates a much healthier environment … For example, if you were to go to Provincetown in the summer time, where a lot of gay people go, it’s a radically different place today than it was 20 years ago,” Cuenin said. “They are there with children and married, raising kids, so they go home at night. In other words, it has transformed the whole gay scene … it hasn’t led to total debauchery. In some ways, it has pulled people back together,” Cuenin said.

“When I was a pastor of a large church … I would always say I welcome everybody to this church, whether you’re gay or straight, divorced or remarried. Sometimes people in authority can take that the wrong way, but my understanding of being Christian is someone who welcomes everybody.”

No, Fr. Cuenin, your understanding is missing something important. Jesus commanded his disciples to go out into the world and preach the gospel. The mission is to save souls by carrying out the saving ministry of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15 (1-4) says: “Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”  You as a priest are to be a shepherd and help save lost souls. You will be held accountable for that before God. It is fine to welcome people, but you need to let them know about sin, discipleship, taking up the cross, confession, conversion, and how the path to salvation of souls comes by rejecting sin.

Beyond that, it is heresy and scandalous to equate the birth of Jesus Christ by the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem with welcoming gay people committing grave sins. That Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese allows Cuenin to continue leading souls astray like this is also scandalous. What does it say about Cardinal O’Malley?

It is obvious that Fr. Cuenin should not be in any position of teaching or public ministry. We ask readers to send a message to the Director of the Boston Archdiocese’s Campus Ministry, Fr. Richard Clancy <frclancy@mit.edu> and the Archdiocese of Boston Vicar General, Bishop Peter Uglietto <vicar_general@rcab.org>. Forward this blog post and ask them to take action to remove Cuenin from a position of public ministry. Please let us know what kind of response you get.


Boston’s Holy Trinity Church Up for Sale

August 27, 2014

We are sad to report (belatedly) that Boston’s beautiful Holy Trinity (German) Church is up for sale. For decades, it was home to the German Catholic community and Traditional Latin Mass.  We wrote about the relegation to profane use of the neo-gothic style 1877 church building back in 2011.  The property went on the market in June, but we never got the chance to report it at the time. Here is the For Sale listing. The Boston Archdiocese believes it could sell for up to $4M to a residential developer.

An anonymous BCI reader submitted the following piece about the fate of Holy Trinity, and we are publishing it unedited.

The Stripping of Holy Trinity Has Begun

The appearance at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross of several items that had belonged to Holy Trinity Church in the South End has signaled the beginning of the stripping of Boston’s historic German church.  When this winter the Archdiocese learned that the Apostolic Signatura had upheld the relegation of Holy Trinity to profane use with no further possibility of appeal, the Rector of the Cathedral, to which all Holy Trinity property now belongs, began to bring items to the Cathedral, most notably the baptismal font, which was used at this year’s Easter Vigil.  Holy Trinity’s former parishioners appreciate the pastoral care they have received from the Rector of the Cathedral and his concern to find suitable homes for the religious items.

Overall, however, the Archdiocese is the poorer – much poorer – both spiritually and financially for the closure.

Is There Room for God in the New South End?

In the increasing spiritual vacuum that is the South End – at least three other churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have been converted to housing there within the last five years – Holy Trinity had a unique draw on young adults who appeared to not be practicing any faith.

One mild Saturday afternoon in December 2005, when parishioners were cleaning the church in preparation for Christmas, a young man and woman passing by gaped through the open doors.  The parishioners cleaning the glass doors in the vestibule – doors etched with the phrase “This is the House of God and Gate of Heaven” – invited the couple inside, but only the young man accepted the invitation.  He walked about the nave in astonishment – he had no idea this church in his neighborhood was so beautiful – and was incredulous at the parishioners’ explanation that the Archdiocese planned to close the church. 

Years later, at the closing Mass in June 2008, a clump of young adults (both men and women) watched the service from folding chairs in the choir loft.  They lived in the neighborhood and “always wanted to see the church.”

More like them are coming to the South End.  According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority web site, the South End will soon hold almost 1900 new condominiums and apartments, including 62 condominiums in the former Immaculate Conception Church, the Jesuit church across from Boston City Hospital.

Shortly after the closure of Holy Trinity, its adjacent neighborhood was re-zoned as an “Economic Development Area.”  The acceptable height of buildings neighboring buildings may now be as high as 150 feet, and the ratio of building size to lot size increased as much as 63%.  An example of this is the 11-story office and retail building that has been approved for development a few hundred feet away from Holy Trinity.  The building’s developer, Ron Druker, also owns the 1-story warehouse immediately to the left of Holy Trinity and the parking lot immediately behind it.  In an area to be transformed into an extension of downtown, is it unreasonable to speculate that he might want to purchase the church and demolish it to build another glass and steel tower on the combined lot?

As things stand now, however, these new residents and office workers will not have the opportunity to worship at Holy Trinity as did generations of South End residents (even those who were not German) before them.

The Costs of Closure

While Holy Trinity Church was open, parishioners paid all expenses, including maintenance and repairs, without any subsidy from the Archdiocese of Boston.  Holy Trinity has since incurred well over $350,000 in expenses merely because it is closed.  The largest of these are property taxes assessed by the City of Boston beginning in 2011, which have totaled $246,708.99 through June 2014.  Maintenance fees, including contracted property management fees with the Newmark Grubb Knight Frank firm and the erection of a barbed-wire fence and other minor repairs due to break-ins by vagrants, are estimated at $125,000 at this time.  (The total was $88,000 as of May 2012.)

Now, the cost of stripping the church can be added to the total.  The removal of some items before they have a buyer, especially the rare stained glass windows, could cost thousands of dollars.  (The high altar and pews have been sold to another Catholic church that will remove them at its own expense.)

Who has paid these expenses?  As announced by the rector in May 2012 parish council meeting, the Cathedral Parish, one of Boston’s poorest, has been forced to assume them by taking a loan, which at the time totaled over $212,000.  The loan would be repaid from proceeds of the sale of Holy Trinity.  In the interim, the debt has been a great strain on the Cathedral Parish.  Note that the Cathedral Grammar School closed in June, 2013; this strain may have been one factor in its closure.

Thus, no one has benefitted financially from the closure of Holy Trinity.  Expenses have been incurred, not eliminated.  Even the City of Boston may not have benefitted; if 15 or more former Cathedral Grammar School students transferred to the Boston Public Schools, the cost of educating them ($17,000 per student according to 2010 figures) would exceed the tax revenues collected from Holy Trinity to date.

The Costs Were Avoidable

Unknown to Holy Trinity parishioners fighting its closure, a vigorous church preservation movement was saving churches around the country, especially in the Midwest.  Over 50 of these groups have been at work since as early as the 1920’s, preserving churches that are in some cases the only building remaining in their now-abandoned town.  One of the most well-known of these, Saint Joseph Shrine in Saint Louis, Missouri, once so dilapidated that the droppings of nesting birds covered pews and statuary, has been completely restored by a preservation group that has raised over $4 million since 1979.  Mass is held there weekly.

As soon as they learned about this movement, Holy Trinity parishioners formed a preservation group in October 2013.  Their plan, modeled on the plans of other preservation groups, was to assume all the maintenance costs of Holy Trinity Church in return for the Archdiocese authorizing one Mass there per year.  When the offer was made by telephone to Fr. Paul Soper, Director of the Office of Pastoral Planning, he rejected it, saying that parishioners needed to “move on.”

Had the plan been implemented at the time of closure, the Cathedral Parish would have incurred no expenses on account of Holy Trinity.  An annual Mass would have eliminated taxation by the City of Boston, as the church would still be in religious use.  A group that was able to gather annually would have collected enough money to pay the property management and maintenance fees.

Although the Holy Trinity’s relegation to profane use was upheld despite the founding of the preservation group, another group has had its church’s relegation to profane use overturned by the Vatican.  The fact that parishioners of Saint Ann’s Church in Buffalo, New York had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for its preservation was cited by the Congregation for the Clergy (the first appeal step) as evidence that the bishop did NOT have a grave reason to relegate the church to profane use.  Money talks at the Vatican.

Is It Too Late For Holy Trinity?

The best hope for Holy Trinity Church to continue evangelizing in the twenty-first century and for the waste of closure expenses to end is to sell it to a religious order.  They would staff the church and, with the help of the Holy Trinity Restoration Society, bear the maintenance and repair costs of a 135-year-old building.  Proceeds from the sale would repay the loan taken by the Cathedral Parish with the surplus to be used as the rector sees fit.

Anyone interested in this effort is invited to visit Holy Trinity Boston Restoration Society on Facebook and to pray to Our Lady Undoer of Knots:  Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots


Archdiocese of Boston uses parish funds to repay sexual abuse settlement costs

August 5, 2014

The stories about St. Francis of Cabrini continuing to protest their closing and occupy the church  ten years after it was ordered closed and comments by Communications Secretary Terry Donilon merit a response.  In particular, the deception by Donilon about how the Archdiocese of Boston uses parish funds just cannot sit uncontested. Donilon said a fund of resources of parishes cannot be tapped by the archdiocese for any purpose the archdiocese chooses. Maybe that is true. But if so, then how exactly does Donilon explain how closed Brighton parish properties were recently transferred from the archdiocese to another related entity to help pay off sexual abuse claims?  Later in this post, we also show how little progress the Boston Archdiocese has made with these church squatters.

First, regarding the Scituate situation, here is an excerpt from one article with the Donilon quote:

Canon law consultant Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes, who’s been helping diehard parishioners of deconsecrated Mount Carmel Church in East Boston stave off a wrecking ball, told several dozen supporters — some openly weeping — “the whole rationale for turning this church into condos” is contradicted by the Archdiocese of Boston’s latest public annual report, which he said shows the nonprofit reaped $41 million in surplus revenues in Fiscal Year 2013.

Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon responded, Mr. Borre is misleading people. The $41 million is mostly money raised by parishes for the parishes. So even though it shows up on the combined statements of the archdiocese’s books, it can not be tapped by the archdiocese for any purpose it chooses (i.e., their suggestion to reopen St. Frances). These are the resources of the parishes.

BCI agrees that Borre is misleading people–the Boston Archdiocese has no operating surplus. And we are not supporters of him or the Scituate squatters. But Terry Donilon is also apparently misleading people.  Terry, if what you said is really the case, then how do you explain the recent transfer of the closed Our Lady of Presentation and St Gabriel parish properties in Brighton to St. John’s Seminary to pay off $3.9M worth of a promissory note to the seminary–a note which is repaying money the Boston Archdiocese got from selling off St. John’s Seminary property in order to pay sexual abuse claims?

Loans that Funded Sexual Abuse Settlement Paid for with Parish Property

Most people know how the Archdiocese of Boston took out a number of loans between 2002-2003 to stay afloat and pay off sexual abuse claims, including $37M from the Knights of Columbus and $97M from a combination of commercial banks, the Clergy Fund and the Cemetery trust. The lion’s share of the funds to repay the archdiocesan debts came from the sale of the former Chancery property and St. John’s Seminary property. As we reported here at BCI in this 2010 post:

“… in 2004, the Boston Archdiocese was under heavy pressure to pay additional sex abuse claims, and was without the resources to do so….Assets of approximately $56 million were transferred from the seminary to RCAB so that it could pay its claimants, and at that time, the Cardinal pledged that $30 million would be given to the seminary so that an endowment could be begun. RCAB received a smaller payment from its insurance companies than it expected, such that it could give the seminary only $21 million and a promissory note for $4.8 million (that came due in 2011).”

In 2007, almost all of the remainder of the St. Johns Seminary property was sold to BC for $65 million, and the proceeds of the sale went not to the seminary but instead to the Boston Archdiocese to be applied “where it is needed.”   In the end after the two sales of Seminary property valued at a total of $111 million and repayment of $21 million, what was promised to St. Johns Seminary as future repayment were two notes: one for $4.8 million (due in 2011) and another for $36.4 million (due in 2017).

To repay the $4.8 million note, in 2013 the Boston Archdiocese transferred property from the closed Our Lady of Presentation and St. Gabriel’s parishes to the Seminary.  Here are the references in the 2013 Annual Report (p. 21):

Corporation Sole agreed to canonically transfer all of its rights, title and interest in Our Lady of Presentation
Church, Rectory and parking lots and the St. Gabriel rectory and school to the Seminary. The properties have a
collective appraised value of approximately $6,070,000 and a book value of $566,000.

During the year ended June 30, 2013, Corporation Sole transferred the Our Lady of Presentation property with an
appraised value of $2,850000 to the Seminary to discharge a portion of the note. In accordance with the MOU, the
Seminary agreed to forgive the remaining note balance of $1,038,000 which is included in gain on settlement of note
payable in the statement of activities.

So, despite Cardinal O’Malley’s comment in the National Catholic Register in a 2012 interview that the financial transparency implemented early in his tenure in Boston was intended to help “demonstrate that we were not using parish funds, parishes were not being closed to pay for the sex-abuse crisis,” in 2013, parish property was indeed used to pay for some costs of the sexual abuse crisis, by means of parish property repaying a sexual abuse settlement loan.  And there are precedents for the Archdiocese of Boston taking funds or property canonically intended for one purpose and using it for another purpose (e.g. St. Johns Seminary property sold to fund the RCAB and sexual abuse settlements; St. Gabriel and Our Lady of the Presentation property transferred to the Seminary to repay a loan, diocesan Revolving Loan funds used to finance construction of a Catholic school in Dorchester).

So, Terry, back to you.  How do you explain this apparent contradiction?  When exactly was it that the policy changed and it became OK to use parishes to pay off sexual abuse settlement costs, such as loans used to pay the claims? Why should anyone believe the $41M in parish funds referred to above is safe from being used for purposes other than the parishes, when the precedent is already set for that happening elsewhere?

The Insanity Over the Scituate Squatters

Beyond the matter above, both Terry Donilon and the Scituate squatters continue to propagate some level of insanity over the situation.  Donilon should look back on his previous quotes in the press over the past few years:

  • In December 2008, Terry Donilon was quoted in the Boston Globe saying: “These vigils have to end at some point. It’s an issue of fairness to the parishes that are open and struggling to serve people.”
  • In July 2011,  Donilon was quoted in the Globe saying: “We’re not looking for a confrontation, but at some point, the vigils are going to have to end.”
  • On August 2, 2014, Donilon was quoted in the Boston Herald saying, ““We’re going to work for a peaceful and prayerful resolution, but this is not going to go on forever. It can’t go on forever.”

Terry, the vigil has been going on for almost ten years, and you have been saying the same thing about the situation for nearly six years. When are you guys going to end it?

And as for the squatters, their having volunteers leading lay services, and the idea of operating St. Frances X. Cabrini as an “independent Catholic church” outside the archdiocese and the church hierarchy as a breakaway, progressive “American Catholic Church” are silly and just not Catholic. Are these folks attending their own lay services and committing a mortal sin every week by missing Sunday Mass? Terry Donilon and Cardinal O’Malley should remind these folks that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is where Catholics encounter our Eucharistic Lord. Here’s a passage from a great work by St. Leonard-Port Maurice, The Hidden Treasure of the Holy Mass:

The principal excellence of the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass consists in being essentially, and in the very highest degree, identical with that which was offered on the Cross of Calvary: with this sole difference, that the Sacrifice on the Cross was bloody, and made once for all, and did on that one occasion satisfy fully for all the sins of the world; while the Sacrifice of the Altar is an unbloody sacrifice, which can be repeated an infinite number of times, and was instituted in order to apply in detail that universal ransom which Jesus paid for us on Calvary.

We worship God at Mass. We receive graces from God by being nourished by the Word of God—God’s eternal truth revealed to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We remember and profess our faith in the mystery of our salvation, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. The saving actions of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday come together in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says, “For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished,’ and it is through the liturgy, especially that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true church”  If we we are in a state of grace, we can receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. As Catholics, we believe that our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist, and that we receive His body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion. Not only does the Holy Eucharist unite us intimately with the Lord, but also unites us in communion with our brothers and sisters throughout the universal Church.

Do the squatters realize this is what they are missing?  Terry, do you realize this is what they are missing?

Furthermore, does anyone realize that the Rogers’ who lead this vigil/occupation and other occupation leaders are folks who were not regular Mass-goers at St. Francis before it was ordered to close?  The Mass-going couple who filed the original appeal in Scituate went to the receiving parish. They have had nothing to do with the Rogers’ and the occupation.  BCI is told that the Rogers’ are abutters and appear to want control over who was or is allowed to buy the property and how it would be developed.  BCI is also told that when the first appeal that was filed by the faithful parishioners failed, Peter Borre asked the Rogers’ to take it over.  Then there is the matter of abuses of the Blessed Sacrament that have taken place there: we are told that the Blessed Sacrament has been present during social gatherings and sleepovers on or around the altar; dinners have been held with pizza on the altar set out like a buffet.  But Terry, Fr. Bryan Hehir and the PR folks at Rasky Baerlein don’t know know how to talk about these topics either.

Bottom line: the Boston Archdiocese set a precedent in 2013 for using parishes to fund repayment of a sexual abuse settlement loan. This is clearly described in their 2013 Annual Report. If they will redirect funds in that manner and have done so in other situations, there is nothing to stop them from doing similar again. And the Scituate occupancy should be ended–for the sake of the souls of those occupying the church and because this thing has more than run its course through all canonical appeals.

This is what BCI thinks. What do you think?

 


Cardinal O’Malley: housing illegals more important than protecting unborn

July 19, 2014

Cardinal Sean O’Malley appeared with liberal Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday to voice support for Patrick’s proposal to house illegal immigrants and offer Catholic social service assistance for illegals, while the Cardinal said nothing all week about a heinous law advancing in the Mass legislature to penalize those who try to prevent women from aborting their children. In our opinion, the Cardinal is yet more clearly showing his stripes as being a tool of the liberal Democratic pro-abortion establishment, and a hypocrite when it comes to protection of life.

On June 27,  Cardinal O’Malley came out in support of the Supreme Court decision that unanimously struck down the previous Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone law as unconstitutional. Never had Cardinal O’Malley been seen praying in front of an abortion clinic, but still, his statement was welcome and appreciated when he said that pro-life Americans who “peacefully pray for and offer alternatives to pregnant women approaching abortion clinics” have the same constitutional protections as anyone else  “This discriminatory law barred these citizens from gathering on nearby public sidewalks, while exempting ‘clinic escorts’ trained to expedite women into (abortion clinics),” he said. “Clearly this was an attack on pro-life Americans’ freedom of speech, and we welcome the Court’s decision to overturn the law.”

That was June 27.  Then this week, the Mass Legislature introduced legislation that is far worse for pro-lifers than the previous law struck down by the Supreme Court. Details of the legislation are posted here by MassResistance:

  1. Creates a new “buffer zone.” The bill creates a 25-foot buffer zone substantially similar to the one which the US Supreme Court recently struck down.
  2. Has a “Dispersal” clause. The bill allows police to define any two or more people standing near an abortion clinic as a “gathering.” Any law enforcement official may arbitrarily decide that this “gathering” is in some way impeding access, and may order them to “disperse” and to stay outside of the buffer zone for at least eight hours. This can be done with no legal hearing or due process, threatening them withunusually severe penalties of arrest, prosecution, criminal fines, and jail time for not complying. In addition, a court can later impose civil fines, large punitive damages, attorney’s fees and “expert witness fees”. [First time who “impede a person’s access to or departure from a reproductive health care facility with the intent to interfere with that person’s ability to provide, support the provision of or obtain services at the reproductive health care facility” face a fine of $1,000 or six months in jail]
  3. Harsher punishments for one group over another. The bill places unusually high punishments for anyone threatening, intimidating, assaulting, blocking, or otherwise impeding people entering or leaving abortion clinics. But these high punishments do not apply to people entering or leaving the clinics (or anyone else) who are perpetrators of assaults of intimidation against pro-life advocates.

A hearing was held on Wednesday, and the measure quickly passed the Mass Senate. What did Cardinal O’Malley say or do about this publicly? Nothing. On short notice, Mass Citizens for Life had erected billboards and asked people to call legislators and to attend and speak at the hearing. Other organizations including FRC and MassResistance rallied pro-lifers.  What did O’Malley, the Mass Catholic Conference and Massachusetts bishops do? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. The last legislative alert sent out by the do-nothing MCC was six months ago. It is truly pathetic.  It is clear that the Cardinal’s rhetoric of June 27 was empty, and Cardinal O’Malley simply does not care about this issue–or whether pro-lifers wanting to help prevent women from taking the lives of their unborn children are fine, arrested or jailed.

Instead, O’Malley cares more about the photo opp and chance to get federal or state funding to have Catholic Charities help with housing illegal immigrants.  He also basically lied at the Friday press conference about the reasons for the illegal immigration border crisis.

Here’s the photo and Boston Herald article. Cardinal O’Malley said the Catholic church has long assisted “immigrants and refugees often fleeing from danger.” “We are willing to enter a collaborative relationship with the government to met this urgent need,” O’Malley said. “We do not have church facilities that are appropriate but we do have social service agencies in the Archdiocese with skilled resources to provide programs of assistance and support within a framework of a larger state and federal program.”

Cardinal O’Malley, please don’t lie to us. A new intelligence assessment concludes that misperceptions about U.S. immigration policy – and not Central American violence – are fueling the surge of thousands of children illegally crossing the Mexican border. Here are more details:

The 10-page July 7 report was issued by the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), which according to the Justice Department website is led by the DEA and incorporates Homeland Security. Its focus is on the collection and distribution of tactical intelligence, information which can immediately be acted on by law enforcement.

“Of the 230 migrants interviewed, 219 cited the primary reason for migrating to the United States was the perception of U.S. immigration laws granting free passes or permisos to UAC (unaccompanied children) and adult females OTMs (other than Mexicans) traveling with minors,” the report said.

Cardinal O’Malley took the time to appear with Gov. Deval Patrick to voice support for housing illegals in Massachusetts in the same week where he did not take even a moment to voice opposition to the heinous bill moving swiftly through the Mass Legislature that will penalize pro-lifers for the “crime” of trying to prevent women from aborting their babies. The Boston Pilot had an article about the situation on Friday, but there was no quote or statement from O’Malley.

We hope and pray he changes his mind over the weekend and mobilizes the Catholic bishops, Mass Catholic Conference and laity to contact House Reps and the Governor and try to still stop this evil measure from passing.


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