Of Big Houses and Hondas
I spoke with a priest of that long-suffering archdiocese last night who told me of what he called the "massive demoralization" of the presbyterate, compounded in recent days by the departure of the loose cannon Father Walter Cuenin as pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton.
One of my ex-girlfriends was from Newton, but she's an atheist. Oh well.
Back to Cuenin -- who, I must remind some of you, is a Catholic. The story is headlining in Beantown yet again today due to the report that Fr. Chris Coyne, best known as the archdiocesan spokesman of the late 2002 period, has been named to take Walter's place.
As Michael Paulson writes in today's Globe
Cuenin was a frequent target of the most conservative elements of the church locally, who wrote on blogs and in e-mails of their views that he was a heretic who should be ousted from the priesthood. One of the blogs used the headline ''this is fun" on a link to a newspaper story about Cuenin's resignation.Hmm... But the award-winning entry of the day comes from Globe columnist Brian McGrory
''This is a witch-hunt, not more, not less," said Gisela Morales-Barreto of Newton, a parishioner at Our Lady's for 20 years. ''They were trying to find something against him, and it took them all this time to make it happen. This is their way to punish him and punish us for how outspoken he has been. And now the one thing we have feared all along is happening -- that if Walter will leave us, they will send someone from the other extreme to put the brakes on what this community is all about. Chris Coyne is in the opposite end of what Walter is all about."
Coyne, in a brief telephone interview yesterday, said he understood the concerns of parishioners. ''I think the most important thing, given the present situation, is just to try and listen to people and also to be available to people," he said. ''Over time, I hope to work with them, to continue to build the good faith life and community that is already present at Our Lady's."
Then, McGrory uncovers this best nugget of all
That's right: After silently shuffling pedophiles from one town to another to prey on fresh batches of children, the archdiocese is finally cracking down on wayward priests -- for driving Hondas.
Honestly, I want to think nice things about the Catholic Church and its leaders. I want to report that the Boston Archdiocese has turned the proverbial corner, that it understands the horror of its recent past and is looking to make amends with the people who need its ministry most.
I want to write nice things about the hundreds of achingly selfless nuns and priests who feed the hungry and shelter the indigent and guide so many poor souls who inevitably get lost along the way. They do this every single day.
But O'Malley and his insipid advisers, leftovers from Cardinal Bernard F. Law's long reign of incompetence and malevolence, make this somewhere beyond hard.
Quietly, archdiocesan leaders have warned Catholic Charities not to expect any church contribution to the upcoming budget. That amounts to a million dollars that now goes toward food pantries, homeless shelters, immigrant programs, and the like. Gone.
Still, it comes to my attention that the archdiocese was able to find $687,000 recently to buy a house in West Roxbury on behalf of Richard Bradford, a former Episcopal priest who left his church in a dispute and was ordained as a Catholic priest under Cardinal Law in 1998, despite being married.
Bradford and his wife were apparently displaced when church property was sold to Boston College. One logical option would have been to assign them to one of the little-used rectories in the area. But Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, said, ''Since he's married, you can't do that."
Why not? Because that's the way it is. Walter Cuenin gets canned for driving a Honda while the church buys a favored priest an expensive new place to live. Any real estate agent will tell you that $687,000 still gets an awful lot of house in West Roxbury.
OK, triple idiocy... Dare anyone say "quadruple"? I guess as long as this Bradford tows the line from the pulpit, it's all good and money is no object.