Pontifications

Pontifications


Another Catholic commencement, another bishop boycott

posted by David Gibson

Hughes.jpgThis time it is Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans who has said he will boycott graduation at Xavier University because they are giving an honorary degree to Donna Brazile, the veteran Democratic political strategist and Catholic and New Orleans native who supports abortion rights. Brazile is also African-American, and Xavier is of course the preeminent historically black Catholic university in the United States.

The Times-Picayune has the story, including the RSVP letter from Hughes to Xavier President Norman Francis. In the letter, Hughes recognizes Brazile’s work on behalf of the poor, and African-Americans in particular, but said her stands are not in keeping with Catholic teaching. “She has also relativized the importance of the fundamental life issues on national television suggesting that there are more important things for the American people to discuss than abortion.”

Donna Brazile.jpgBrazile responded in an email to the newspaper:

“As life long devoted Catholic, I am sorry the archbishop will boycott this celebration of the class of 2009,” Brazile said by email. “I will remain faithful to the Catholic Church and my Christian faith which keeps me grounded.”

Hughes will also miss meeting Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker, who will receive an honorary degree. In fact, three years ago Hughes was in attendance when Xavier awarded an honorary degree to another African-American, a fellow known as Barack Obama. Francis said Obama apparently “flew under the radar” of the archdiocese; he was off most folks screens back then. Francis told the Times-Picayune that Hughes’ decision regarding Brazile still “surprised me a little.”

“I make the best decisions possible. I think we’ve been as Christian and Catholic as we can be,” he said. Francis makes the selection of speakers off a list of preferences prepared by student leaders.

Hughes is color-blind in his policies, as in 2005 he boycotted Loyola’s commencement when they honored the Landrieu family, one of Louisiana’s leading political clans, because some of the pols in the family support abortion rights.

Still, I wonder if the hierarchy realizes the collective damage that this application of principle–and the blistering rhetoric against Obama et al–is doing to the church’s standing in the black community. The Notre Dame uproar combined with the boycott of Brazile and Xavier–it’s worth thinking for a moment at least how this registers in the minds of African-Americans, and whether they will want to listen to Archbishop Hughes in the future.

Hat tip: CWNews



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Gerard Nadal

posted April 24, 2009 at 10:24 am


Hi David,
I hope your Easter was a rich and wonderful time with your family. This commentary of yours is very interesting.
“Still, I wonder if the hierarchy realizes the collective damage that this application of principle–and the blistering rhetoric against Obama et al–is doing to the church’s standing in the black community. The Notre Dame uproar combined with the boycott of Brazile and Xavier–it’s worth thinking for a moment at least how this registers in the minds of African-Americans, and whether they will want to listen to Archbishop Hughes in the future.”
Actually, the numbers on the African American Community are devastating and suggest that if they have been listening to the Church, Catholic or otherwise, they have not been putting the message into practice. Some sobering numbers:
Blacks represent 11% of the US population, but have 37% of all abortions. (The Bishop’s boycott should prompt some soul-searching on this alone)
Planned Parenthood operates almost 80% of its clinics in inner city neighborhoods.
1/4 of all Black males can expect to be dead or in prison by age 25.
Close to 80% of Black children are born to single mothers.
According to CDC, nationally, 25% of all girls by age 19 will have contracted at least one sexually transmitted disease. For African American girls, that number is 48%.
Educationally, African American students at every level lag more than 25 percentage points behind their white counterparts in graduations.
Bishop Hughes is wise to boycott those who support this holocaust engulfing the African American Community. Especially when he boycotts African Americans who support the cultural forces that have wrecked a people who, in my lifetime, were the living embodiment of family and fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus.
You say that this boycott will alienate African Americans from the Catholic Church? The numbers tell a very different story. Even if African Americans are ‘hearing’ the Gospel, as a community, they aren’t translating that into the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The rest of the country isn’t doing too terrific either. But the Black Community is in freefall and frightfully in danger of losing ther viability as a people.
It takes prudence and holiness to make such a difficult call as Bishop Hughes has done. I hope the Black Community ponders his rationale in light of their accelerating disintegration.



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Your Name

posted April 24, 2009 at 11:20 am


The bishops need to get a grip on reality and speak to all the needs of their flock. How many are speaking about the American economic situation or to the other issues that people face in their daily lives? The Church is rapidly becomming a one-issue Church and the level of the rhetoric is nasty. I do not believe that Jesus was nasty when he preached.
Mary Frances



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Tom

posted April 24, 2009 at 12:33 pm


“You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires.” Jn 8;44
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.” Mt 23;27
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” Mt 23;33
Christ had no trouble calling a spade a spade (no pun intended). Not sure about the rhetoric, but I think killing prenatal humans through dismemberment is a little worse than whatever ‘rhetoric’ members on the other side of the issue propagate. Isn’t it all the more rhetorical to even attempt to argue or justify such a heinous act (nationally to the tune of seven figures annually no less)?
Speaks to how far we’ve fallen morally as a society (and we’re dense enough to actually be worrying about the economy).



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JAB

posted April 24, 2009 at 1:39 pm


These poor Catholic bishops will never be able to attend a commencement. They’ll always have some supposedly “moral” objection to anybody who is going to speak.



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Gerard Nadal

posted April 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm


“These poor Catholic bishops will never be able to attend a commencement. They’ll always have some supposedly “moral” objection to anybody who is going to speak.”
That is perhaps the most devastating critique on Catholic Colleges and how far they have fallen.



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DML

posted April 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm


I read Bishop Hughes letter and it gets even better. Brazile’s support for contraception is another reason of his to paint her as a heretic and skip out. At least abortion isn’t a single issue for this bishop as some would criticize him for. I suppose he was just sloppy when he attended when Obama came and talked and picked up his honorary degree. He needs to get his act together and check every Catholic’s views on every fundamental moral issue the Church takes a position on. As good defenders of the faith, we (and the bishop) should ask ourselves why only public figures get this scrutiny.
He should go on and excommunicate every Democrat in New Orleans since it is such an evil place anyways. Is it still the Church’s position that Katrina was divine retribution against the city?



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MarcM

posted April 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm


“These poor Catholic bishops will never be able to attend a commencement. They’ll always have some supposedly “moral” objection to anybody who is going to speak.”
Unless the speaker is a Republican. Then they will shine their shoes and sit right up front, applauding all the way. But I think we know quite well just how “moral and upright” this archbishop’s stance is.
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2003_07_12/2003_07_24_Nolan_BostonReport.htm
“The attorney general’s report also recounts Hughes’ previously disclosed involvement in Boston’s employment of the Rev. Robert Burns, an Ohio priest turned out of his Youngstown, Ohio, diocese for molesting a child.
Acting on the 1982 request of then-Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, Hughes, who was then a seminary rector, interviewed Burns to get a sense of his spiritual development after Burns’ release from a psychiatric hospital for treatment of his sexual disorder.
Hughes recommended that Burns be hired but given only limited duty away from children. Years later, Hughes learned to his dismay that his recommendation had not been followed, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New Orleans said last year when the case was first disclosed.
Instead, Burns was placed among children in two parishes, his supervisors there were not told of his past, and Burns molested at least 13 more children, according to the report. He has since been stripped of his priesthood and is serving time in a New Hampshire prison for another sexual offense there.”
A known pedophile was recommended for hire by Hughes. Yes, he cautioned against assigning him near children, but really…if his “morality” was sound, would he even have recommended for hire a known pedophile?
But even then, we might be able to excuse this as an oversight if it were not for the archbishop’s history of protecting abusers. For example:
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/timeline/2003-08-15-Allen-ExplainingCrimen.htm
“Similarly, Bishop (now Archbishop of New Orleans) Alfred Hughes in 1992 rallied to the defense of Fr. John Hanlon, indicted for sex abuse charges, even though Hughes knew of more recent allegations that he did not reveal.”
Defending a pedophile even though he knew of other allegations that he CHOSE NOT TO REVEAL.
My question is this: why isn’t this lying defender of child abusers behind bars where he belongs instead of being the corrupted mouthpiece for the smoke-and-mirrors the Church is using to obscure continued abuse allegations?



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MarcM

posted April 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm


From the Boston Globe
Law’s lieutenants scorned in report
Information said to be concealed from authorities
By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff, 7/24/2003
“Two months after the Rev. John R. Hanlon was arraigned in 1992 on charges that he raped an altar boy years before at a summer cottage in Scituate, one of Cardinal Bernard F. Law’s top lieutenants learned something critical about the case that even police did not know.
And when police appealed directly to Bishop Alfred C. Hughes for help on the case, Hughes withheld the crucial information — about another, more recent sexual allegation against the priest, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said in a report released yesterday.
Hughes, then Law’s vicar for administration, ”became personally aware of another credible, but uncharged allegation of recent sexual abuse against Father Hanlon,” Reilly said in the report.
”Moreover, as the case moved through the court system and Father Hanlon vigorously and publicly denied the allegation, Bishop Hughes authorized tens of thousands of dollars in church loans to finance Father Hanlon’s defense — a defense which fueled widespread, and ultimately misplaced, public support for Father Hanlon,” the report states.
Hanlon’s second accuser ultimately contacted authorities. But the information came too late to be used in the priest’s first trial in 1993, which ended in a mistrial with a deadlocked jury. In a retrial five months later, at which the second victim testified, Hanlon, the former pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Hingham, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
While Reilly reserved particular scorn for Law’s role in the mushrooming scandal that forced the cardinal’s resignation late last year, his report was nearly as tough yesterday on Law’s top lieutenants, prelates who now preside at other US dioceses of their own.
The bishops, while under no legal obligation to report clergy sexual abuse, withheld or minimized or hedged critical information they had about priests’ assaults on children even after police and prosecutors made direct appeals to them for help, Reilly said. ”Top archdiocesan officials, in response to reports of sexual abuse of children and aware of the magnitude of the sexual abuse problem, decided that they should conceal — from the parishes, the laity, law enforcement, and the public — their knowledge of individual complaints of abuse and the long history of such complaints within the archdiocese,” Reilly said.
Hughes, now archbishop of New Orleans, declined to comment yesterday through his spokesman, the Rev. William F. Maestri. He said Hughes and his staff were still reviewing Reilly’s report.”
Here’s the important line in that story: “…Bishop Hughes authorized tens of thousands of dollars in church loans to finance Father Hanlon’s defense…”
Defending a pedophile. That is the kind of sound moral judgment that one would expect from a “defender of life,” right? And you wonder why the Catholic Church in Boston had to close so many parishes.
The archbishop said “She has also relativized the importance of the fundamental life issues on national television suggesting that there are more important things for the American people to discuss than abortion.”
I wonder…does he consider his own position to be relativizing the importance of his own culpability in a crime?



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MarcM

posted April 24, 2009 at 4:23 pm


“He should go on and excommunicate every Democrat in New Orleans since it is such an evil place anyways.”
Given his judgment in the past I would have to question whether he is qualified to make ANY moral/canon law decision within the church. The fact that he is STILL exercising a position of power within the church speaks volumes about what this latest push by the Bishops is really about.
Obfuscation.
Distraction.
Opinion control.
Politics.



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c.c. duline

posted April 24, 2009 at 4:50 pm


I’m beginning to believe that our Church is NOT color blind. Suddenly the bishops are against BLACK Catholics being honored. What an insult, first to Notre Dame, Pres. Obama and now Ms. Brazile. Gentlemen, you are beginning to look stupid! Stop it!



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Mareczku

posted April 24, 2009 at 6:00 pm


MarcM – All I can say is WOW! These bishops never cease to amaze me. They take care of their own that is for sure. I wonder if Robert Burns is the priest that Cardinal Law wrote the kind and touching letter to on his “retirement.” I read one of Law’s letters to one of these guys, showing appreciation for his many years of service and telling him that he surely touched many lives. Isn’t it wonderful that Law could be so considerate and thoughtful to a pedophile? Too bad the vicitms didn’t get the “kid gloves” treatment from him. SIGH!



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Raychel

posted April 24, 2009 at 6:01 pm


There is a person in there. This means that an abortion is a murder. Everything should be done to help and support women. I wish every penny that went to Iraq went to pregnant women. Abortion is still murder, it is legal, and it is occurring at a staggering and alarming rate. It is the issue of our times. Catholic Bishops should lead the way, unpopular or not.
People who are Catholic and support legal abortion are in direct conflict with the Church. Politicians and others who have a public platform have a large impact. Bishops should speak out against them. Not attending the Commencement is an appropriate action.
I am wondering if the anger that I read in these posts are because Church leaders aren’t doing what you want them to do. The question isn’t what we (you or I) want them to do. The question is, “Is his actions in-line with the teachings and disciplines of our Church?”. In this case the answer is yes. We may not like it because we like Donna Brazile (I really enjoyed watching her on CNN). If the Bishop were passive and did not speak out or take action he could be in danger of not doing his job, which in the case of a Bishop has huge consequences.
I suggest prayer for those we love e.g. Donna Brazile to be in full Communion with the Church and for our enemies which for some may mean prayer for the Bishop (who, friend or enemy needs our prayers).



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Mareczku

posted April 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm


Yes, I wonder to how much the Church is doing to their relations with the black community. I feel bad for black Catholics because the attitude that many Catholics have towards Obama borders on racism.



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Frank Clyburn

posted April 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm


Today the story is about unborn babies being killed/murdered in the womb….. We all know this is an abomination…. We need to take a stand on this issue….the bishop has done so…hurray!



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DML

posted April 24, 2009 at 7:02 pm


I think what MarcM had to contribute is very interesting. The good Bishop could continue his crusade against the Catholics of New Orleans from behind bars considering what he has done. Does RICO apply to him?



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pagansister

posted April 24, 2009 at 7:29 pm


My question is…does the graduation class and the audience (mostly made up of happy parents!) really give a hoot if these fellows don’t show up? No. Those folks are there to get their degrees and the families are there to watch the graduate finish 4-5 years of hard work getting that degree. One bishop/archbishop not attending is no big deal.



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Cindy

posted April 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm


Tom-
You wrote: “”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.” Mt 23;27″
I hope you realize that Jesus was speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees … ie the hierarchy of his own religious group and not to the sinners such as the adulterers and tax collectors with whom he ate, spoke and upon whom he showered his mercy and forgiveness.
Surely you cannot be considering the people, especially non-Catholics, who support abortion rights to be those who are considered hypocrites. Rather it is the higher ups IN THE CHURCH who fail to tend to the flocks, who spend too much energy and political outrage on public outcries and hypocritical stances.
I am not a supporter of Pro-Choice or abortion. It is an evil that must be eradicated. But if we follow our Bishops we will be spending far more of our time figuring out all the ins and outs of who thinks and says what, and which politician we should hate the most and judging our neighbors’ behavior rather than doing the work of God in our communities where it is needed.
And, I find your “calling a spade a spade” comment inappropriate and insulting. Since you knew it could be a slur against blacks and you chose to use it anyway, I can safely assume you meant the subtext despite your parenthetical aside. Talk about hypocritical.



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Your Name

posted April 24, 2009 at 8:51 pm


What is this bishop boycott thing? When a priest is ordained doesn’t he swear obedience to the bishop? All the bishop has to do is say “don’t do that” and it’s a done deal. What am I missing?



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Douglas Ainsworth

posted April 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm


I totally agree with the Bishop…Come on now..Are we for the Lord or against him..All over the world today people wants to distort truth, but believe me this will lead to disaster, we are not talking about the colour of skin here, we are talking about the Sacredness of the God given Human Live…Are we felling free to distort TRUTH.
A piece of advice…TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE…BUT AT FIRST IT WILL MAKE YOU VERY UNCOMFORTABLE…



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ed

posted April 25, 2009 at 4:48 pm


These ‘over the hill’ bishops,[past 75 retirement age] Hughes and D’Darcy and their failing tactics are messing with the Faith on their way out. The radical right is playing their last harrah More competent bishops will hopfully emerge as these anti-democrats retire. Their allies, radical right Catholics are losing big time. the radical right’s race prejudice is showing and their banning tactics are fizzeling. The Smaller leaner, meaner Church they hope for, is heresy..



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Jim McCrea

posted April 25, 2009 at 7:35 pm


Bunch of old well-fed white guys stormin’ agin black folk.
Kewwwwwwwl.



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Robert

posted April 25, 2009 at 11:28 pm


If only those who are against abortion were also opposed to other sins, notably their own (or mine, for that matter).



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Your Name

posted April 26, 2009 at 2:01 am


it’s all about race… the radical right is raging that a Black has taken over ‘their America’.. even Texas governor Perry suggests secession.. their America is changing…. too bad so sad.They have 8 years to get over it..[less 100 days]



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Lauren

posted April 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm


Raychel,
The anger appears to be over the hypocrisy of bishops and their claim that they defend innocence lives when they aid and cover up molestation and sexual violations against children. Unless the defense of innocent lives ends at birth?



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Rebecca in Tucson, AZ

posted April 26, 2009 at 2:27 pm


WOW! ALL Good comments so far, diverse & covering a large #”s of ideas!!
I’m particularly fond of Robert’s!!!#%********* !!! Mine is just that no one should realize that as American’s we are for GOD 1st, America second and Catholic 3rd. Normally, we don’t think of it like that, but tis how I see it! As American’s we naturally have our own opinions! Not all of them fit with the church teachings; that doesn’t make them wrong, just different; like abortion, gay marriage, all ‘tudes of compassion, understanding and love! Now those are God’s teachings. Best wishes and Happy Landings!



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Rebecca in Tucson, AZ

posted April 26, 2009 at 2:31 pm


OOPS! SNAFU, I meant one should realize that AS Americas **********God, etc



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Steve

posted April 27, 2009 at 1:51 am


It has nothing to do with race. He’s a socialist, who is shredding the constitution, and our rights with it. You can’t condemn the whole church for the actions of a few priests & bishops. Abortion is murder of the most innocent/defenseless, and I don’t want my tax money paying for them in this country, let alone as he’s doing paying for them around the world!!!! He wants to force all doctors to perform them no matter the doctor’s beliefs. Talk about hypocrisy!!!! Where’s their CHOICE????? I don’t think you’ll win a debate with God. I’m not sure, but I don’t think He sees gray areas, or cares much about your opinions. Last I looked, they’re not called the 10 suggestions.



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MarcM

posted April 27, 2009 at 11:06 am


Steve: “You can’t condemn the whole church for the actions of a few priests & bishops.”
Sure you can, to the extent that the leadership of the organization enabled and protected those monsters within their ranks. And now we have the Church running behind the skirts of the secular judges to protect their precious assets.
Hughes is one of these enablers. Ignoring that is defending pedophiles and their enablers. If you cannot handle that, I am sorry.



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Tochukwu Ukwu

posted April 27, 2009 at 12:59 pm


Thank God that’s using the Catholic Church and other truly men and women of God to curtailed the activities of this ungoldly people that hijack our political systems, that claims to be a human right and equal right crusaders.They told us they are fighting for human right equality, at the same time propagating for abortion which is highest crime against humanity by taminating a child that can’t stand up for his or her right,what a hipocrisy? Could have they be alive saying all this nonsense if the same system applied to them in their infancy periods? What could have be the fate of the world if this elements have their way? They told us is legally and rightful for the same sex marriage, as if that is not enough they went a head to obtain a court back up.Is this the end of the road for the civilised world?If history holds any truth,this the beginning of the end.At a time in the past some group of people deny the existence of God and another kills those that prophess his name,now the same kind of people are using all the resources at their disposal to neutralize the gospel to their own selfish end.If they are truly convinced that what they are propagating is morraly, why do they need Church saction to support their heinous activities.Europe and other western countries has been credited for spreading the gospel to every corner of the planet but their offspring have err.Spain has gone homosexual and others are warming up to join.They(westerners)need to be re-vangelize according to late Pope John Paul the



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