Monday, August 07, 2006

All Crazy On the Boston Front

It was a very full weekend, but its highlight came yesterday morning over brunch with one of my favorite much-loved (and long-suffering) readers from Boston.

Let me just take this moment to say "thanks" to the Beantown crowd for its exceptional goodness and support over the course of this ride; it's fair to say that Boston is quite possibly these pages' biggest market.... Plans are in the works for a Boston visit sometime in the fall. It's come to be known as my "ad limina," and I'll be bringing the body armor with me.

Over brunch, we discussed something that's been made public today: two more Boston priests -- the dean of the faculty (and moral theology prof) at St John's Seminary, and the newly-appointed co-pastor of the beleaguered Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton -- have taken leaves of absence.
In a posting on the Our Lady’s Web site Keil wrote: “After several months of intense discernment, prayer and consultation with family and friends, I have decided to take a leave of absence from the priesthood. . . . This was not an easy decision to make.”

The Rev. Walter H. Cuenin resigned from the parish in October. Parishioners claimed the archdiocese forced him out because of he criticized the church hierarchy.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne replaced Cuenin, only to leave six months later. Keil and the Rev. John Sassani were part of a two-member team ministry the archdiocese brought in to lead the parish. Keil was a member of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s Presbyteral Council, an important advisory body.

Sassani said parishioners were happy with Keil and that his decision was personal.

“It has nothing to do with the parish,” he said yesterday.
...and, so we're told, everything to do with caritas -- not the hospitals, in case you're confused.

The latest departures leave something like 12 active priests in the archdiocese of Boston. And God love them for the work they do, in the face of daunting circumstances.

Speaking of Walter Cuenin -- a media force in his own right -- the renegade cleric, now Newman Chaplain at Brandeis University, fired off his own L'Affaire Mel commentary to the Boston Globe:

When you put his words alongside his movie ``The Passion of the Christ" and his membership in a right-wing Catholic group, it is clear where he stands.

This is especially troubling now when we are witnessing an increase in attacks against the Jewish people.

It is also disturbing to know that many months ago Gibson reportedly was asked to stage the Stations of the Cross for pilgrims who will be attending the 2008 World Youth Day with the pope in Sydney. Now would be a good time for the church to withdraw the invitation.

Or, in the interests of balance -- i.e. making the Sydney Harbour Stations open to everyone who, like Gibson, is gung-ho on building their own "Catholic" churches -- have Jesus meet at the Eighth Station with the "Womenpriests of Jerusalem" or something of the kind.

I wonder what Cuenin would make of it.... And if that happened (like it ever would), it'd be wise to keep the camera at that point not on the action, but squarely on Big George's face.

And, lastly but not leastly, Cardinal Sean O'Malley met with the Voice of the Faithful leadership on Friday:

O'Malley and the Rev. Richard Erikson, vicar general and moderator of the curia, met with four representatives of the Voice of the Faithful, including Dorothy Kennedy, the group's spokeswoman.

``It was a good meeting," said Kennedy, who was reached by telephone moments after the meeting, which lasted an hour and a half. Kennedy declined to comment on what was discussed and whether future meetings were planned.

Does that statement reek of openness and accountability to you?