Friday, September 30, 2005


OK, so a good bit has been made about the recent actions of Robert "It's Bishop" McManus of Worcester. The Metrowest Daily News reported yesterday that McManus commandeered the pulpit of a parish where the pastor and parochial vicar made noises about not soliciting signatures for the gay marriage referendum in Massachusetts, and basically harangued.

A couple days ago, a friend tipped me off to Carol McKinley's blog. McKinley is one of the "Faithful Voice" people -- VOTF's just-as-wacky, just as off-kilter cousin on the right cliff of Planet Catholic. A commentor there seems to indicate that McManus' record on life issues has been more Bob Lynch than anything else.

Maybe Bishop McManus's views have kind of evolved over the years though that sounds sort of modernist to me, since he advised the Bishop of Providence where he used to be a Chancery official that it would be OK to TERMINATE HYDRATION and NUTRITION of a terminally ill patient named Mrs. Marcia Gray.

Right-to-Lifers aren't nearly as aware of this Bishop's background as they should be. You'd have to check out the Providence Journal Bulletin for the story. But some of it has made the rounds with supporters of Terri and her parents who met the Pope and who want legislation to protect people like her.

I got this on a flyer and checked it out on line. Providence Journal Bulletin, Jan. 11, 1988 front page: "Father McManus, who serves as the diocese's vicar for education, repeated yesterday his judgment that withdrawing hydration and nutrition from Mrs. Gray would not be, as some critics have contended, an act of killing, but the withdrawing of a "medical treatment" that has served thus far only to "circumvent" the dying process."

Right-to-Life groups went nuts so the very next day also on the front page the Bishop McManus worked for had to defend the whole thing: "One opinion would be that nutrition and hydration can be considered an extraordinary means under certain circumstances," Bishop Gelineau said. "This opinion would be in accord with the traditional teachings of the Church. At a news conference called to defend and explain the diocese's stand (put together by now Bishop then Father McManus), Bishop Gelineau said the opinion was offered "not as direction to the family, but as guidance,"

The next day people were wondering if the other Bishops were going to just let McManus's opinion go by so the same newspaper still on the first page said: "As a matter of protocol, the aides said, it is highly unlikely that any U.S. cardinal or bishop will take public issue with Providence Bishop Louis E. Gelineau, who said Monday (using McManus's opinion) that the Church's moral teaching permits the withdrawing of food and water from Marcia Gray, the wife of a University of Rhode Island professor, who has been in a coma since suffering a stroke".

Cardinal Ratzinger was in the USA at the time for some kind of meetings and was asked about this obviously wrong teaching (see the Journal Bulletin for January 30, 1988, page 9).

The Providence Bishop was STILL defending Father McManus's opinion as of March 1, 1988 (page 15 of the Journal): "Bishop Louis Gelineau recently endorsed the opinion of the Rev. Robert McManus that removing food and water from comatose Marcia Gray would not be immoral and is in harmony with classical Catholic medical-ethical teachings. Those Catholic bishops who have faced such cases in recent years have unanimously called for feeding and have rejected the opinion espoused by Bishop Gelineau as being morally equivalent to euthanasia."

So that's your idea of a "valiant shepherd"?




Blogger patrick said...

Carol McKinley is an extremist. Her commentor is very unfair to Bishop McManus because, at the time, the licity of this procedure was both highly disputed and the Pope had not made any public comments on it. That has since changed, of course.

30/9/05 10:48  
Blogger Barry Manilow said...


I'll say!

But not to Bishop McManus.

How would you like to be Mrs. What's Her Name in the coma?

What do you tell the family later, ooops, we made a slight mistake???

And by the way, when exactly did "that" change?

I mean how disputed at any time was the withdrawing of food and water from anyone? I believe St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe and his fellow prisoners under Nazism were familiar with the practice. It may have been proposed by some liberal "moral theologians," the future bishop among them apparently, but not by any traditional or conservative Catholics that I'm aware of. And certainly the bishops were appalled at this opinion at the time and at the publicity given to it. Especially, I imagine, with Ratzinger in the country at that very time.

It's always interesting to watch liberals morph into conservatives when the possibility of a mitre is looming and, or so it seems to me, to see dramatic public gestures on hot-button issues when a pallium comes into view.

30/9/05 11:11  
Blogger John Hearn said...

Hey Rock, are you going to diss Mark Shea for saying the same thing as Carol? Carol is not an "extremist" but a faithful Catholic who sometimes goes over the top (sound familiar Rocco?)

I wish that each and every bishop in this land would do exactly the same with their wayward priests as the Bishop McManus did with this one. After all, a bishop's main office is to teach the faith not push papers or except dinner invites from the beautiful people.

30/9/05 13:03  

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