Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

First they came for Father Moloney...

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 19, 2020

Father Dan Moloney, the Catholic chaplain at MIT, was forced to resign within 48 hours after making a public statement that both the university and the Boston archdiocese found unacceptable. What was that statement? You can find it all here.

In an email message to Catholic students—his only way to communicate with his flock, since the campus is closed—Father Moloney condemned racism. He voiced opposition to the death penalty. He argued that Christians should cultivate an attitude of mercy rather than hostility. He cited two statements by Cardinal Sean O’Malley denouncing the killing of George Floyd. As for his own reaction to Floyd’s death, he wrote:

The police officer who knelt on his neck until he died acted wrongly. I do not know what he was thinking. The charges filed against him allege dangerous negligence, but say nothing about his state of mind. He might have killed George Floyd intentionally, or not. He hasn’t told us. But he showed disregard for his life, and we cannot accept that in our law enforcement officers. It is right that he has been arrested and will be prosecuted.

Why was this email message so controversial, then? Because Father Moloney questioned the popular narrative:

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that.

Notice: The chaplain didn’t say that Floyd’s death was not prompted by racism. He simply remarked that the evidence is not conclusive. For that he was banished from the campus. For that he was given a public reprimand by his own archdiocese, which announced to the world that his statements “were wrong.”

Please, read the whole email message from Father Moloney. You might find some statements that are debatable, some statements with which you may disagree, some ideas that are not well explained. But do you find anything that you can confidently say is wrong? Anything that is inherently offensive? Anything that conflicts with the teaching of the Catholic Church?

Now imagine that a Catholic chaplain on some other campus had issued a statement questioning the Real Presence or the Virgin Birth. Or—this will be a good deal easier—imagine a chaplain who welcomed the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Would he be forced to resign? Within 48 hours? Would the archdiocese issue an immediate public correction?

In another context, David Horowitz has observed that if there’s a war in which one side is using live ammunition while the other shoots blanks, you don’t need to know anything else about military strategy to predict the outcome.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 23, 2020 11:21 PM ET USA

    His whereabouts should be kept secret less the mob physically attacks him.

  • Posted by: grateful1 - Jun. 23, 2020 5:55 PM ET USA

    To poster nix898049: I think Fr. Moloney knew exactly what he was in for from the mob -- and that makes him even braver. What I'm not sure he expected was that his own archbishop would be such a craven excuse for a cleric. I join you (we all should) in asking that God bless him for being such an inspiration to the rest of us.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Jun. 22, 2020 9:29 PM ET USA

    Fr. Moloney’s right; even now, no one appears to have reported any direct evidence that ex-officer Chauvin acted out of racist animus. And can anyone doubt that if there were such audio or video evidence, it would’ve been publicized everywhere, 24/7? But the revolution doesn’t need evidence, Fr. Moloney has learned. He cast a tiny, reasonable doubt upon the approved narrative, and that’s not allowed.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Jun. 20, 2020 11:09 AM ET USA

    Father Moloney found out too late he was walking a tightrope without a net. Those who understand that simply remain silent. God bless Fr. Moloney.

  • Posted by: anne.adamczyk - Jun. 20, 2020 10:25 AM ET USA

    I am heartbroken over this. As an alumna of MIT who was nourished by the Tech Catholic Community during my time as a student, I was pleased to hear of Fr Maloney when he became chaplain. His intellectual and spiritual credentials make him a perfect fit, and as I read his writings, I wished there had been that sort of chaplain when I was a student. And now he's gone, thrown under the bus by his archbishop to appease the outrage of the mob over...nothing. I am disappointed in MIT and the diocese.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jun. 20, 2020 8:47 AM ET USA

    Recall what happened to the Dominican Sister in 2014 who was pushed into silence for simply stating some ideas about sex addiction and homosexuality. The gays have been way ahead of the curve on using stalinist threats and public shaming.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 20, 2020 2:42 AM ET USA

    He should be re-assigned as Archbishop of Washington, D.C.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Jun. 19, 2020 8:20 PM ET USA

    Yet another example of the Church sacrificing an individual for the sake of PCedness. What a shadow of itself it has become!

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Jun. 19, 2020 3:36 PM ET USA

    So where is he now? Will he be reassigned anywhere?