A direct challenge for Boston's archbishop

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Dec 29, 2003

On the feast of the Holy Family, Father Walter Cuenin told his parishioners: "We should never think that there is a single Biblical model of family life."

In his parish bulletin Father Cuenin-- one of Boston's most outspoken radical priests, who testified against a proposed state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage-- argued that the traditional picture of the Holy Family is an unrealistic model for contemporary marriage. We should, he said, welcome the gay couples, the divorced and remarried couples, etc.

Now here's where things get interesting: No doubt Boston's Archbishop O'Malley has already heard about Father Cuenin's latest statement. (It's right there in black and white; there's no doubt about what was said.) On Wednesday of this week, the archbishop is due for a visit at Father Cuenin's parish.

What kind of a priest would go out of his way to challenge Church teachings, just a few days before a visit from his archbishop? Probably one who feels supremely confident that the archbishop either can't or won't discipline him.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: islander - Jan. 03, 2004 3:31 PM ET USA

    Here, indeed, is a challenge to Archbishop O'Malley's ability to publicly defend our Church's teachings as well as his ability to flex his position's power so that, once and for all, clergy and parish leaders who blatantly contradict, oppose or challenge the Church teachings (publicly or privately) clearly get the message that disciplinary action will be swift and immediate!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 03, 2004 2:49 PM ET USA

    I agree with venco. Where are the parishoners? On the other hand it may just be possible that this parish is the "home parish" of Senator Kennedy which would explain the loud silence from that parish. Peace of the Holy Family to all. José.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 03, 2004 1:34 PM ET USA

    It would be great to have someone follow up with Archbishop O'Malley to see what came of his visit - it can't hurt to let him know we are all interested in how he is going to handle this.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 03, 2004 12:41 PM ET USA

    It seems to me, that this Parish should be speaking load and clear to the Archbishop, that the Priest should be moved/dealt with. If the parish sounds off it would make a difference.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 02, 2004 11:50 PM ET USA

    The only thing worse than a sodomite pedophile heretic bishop is a "nice" bishop without a spine. Every single saint and Father of the Church serves as the appropriate example for the Archbishop of Boston. If he fails to publicly rebuke this wretch and laicise him, he (the Archbishop) will only be his accomplice. My prayers that this man and every other bishop will someday come to do his duty.

  • Posted by: Deacon Bart - Jan. 02, 2004 12:31 PM ET USA

    I second Fr. Ethan. I am tired of being told to not be "more Catholic than the Bishops" when I preach pro-life, or on civic responsiblity, or on morals. I am told that a "Catholic" lawyer told our pastor I was "dangerous" for preaching from the Catachism! I pray Archbishop O'Malley will join other brave bishops and help turn things around. God Bless all.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2003 8:36 PM ET USA

    Prediction: Archbishop O'Malley will do nothing publicly that would demonstrate leadership. A leader would already have removed Cuenin. No need for discussions or meetings. Cuenin is a known dissenter who flaunts it to the embarrassment and scandal of most Catholics. He will get far more "consideration" from O'Malley than the abused children or their families ever do. Nothing is going to really change in our Church until we have strong, moral men as bishops.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2003 6:54 PM ET USA

    Does anyone really think that the United States Conference of Cowardly Bishops {USCCB} will uphold the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church? "Their actions are so loud that I can't hear what they are saying!".

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2003 6:49 PM ET USA

    Does anyone really think that any members of the United States Conference of Cowardly Bishops {USCCB} will use their authority to uphold the Doctrine of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 30, 2003 6:46 PM ET USA

    In the same bulletin an article invites parishioners to participate in “Reiki: The Art of Healing.” Calling the practice “sacred,” the bulletin claims the practice “heals on all levels: spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically...” In a 3-page, publicly available document, we see our Archbishop, the Archdiocese, and its pro-life efforts linked with “gay families,” and for good measure, an “ancient practice” awarded qualities normally associated with the sacraments.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 30, 2003 9:27 AM ET USA

    Absp O'Malley has my prayers to steel himself to do what anyone in a secular position of authority would not hesitate to do: Rid himself (and us) of this turbulent priest. The soundest approach would be to demand a recantation, and failing that, place him in a position Cuenin's apparently towering ego will not permit him to accept. Then, with God's grace, he will go the way of Thomas Fox (who remembers him?) and drift off to well-deserved obscurity. Cuenin, my enemy, also has my prayers.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 29, 2003 3:21 PM ET USA

    In the Archdiocese of St. John's, Newfoundland, Fr. Lundrigan preached with approval on same-sex marriage to the applause of the congregations. The Abp. (Brendan O'Brien) went to the priest's parishes and contradicted him. The priest then asserted that he had not changed his mind but would refrain from publicly commenting on the matter. Fr. Lundrigan continues in his parishes. The Abp. is the president of the CCCB. God help us.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 29, 2003 1:40 PM ET USA

    I think Archbishop O'Malley should remove him from ministry. I'm tired of dealing with these guys. There would be an uproar, but O'Malley would win in the end. We don't need this non-sense. It's already hard enough trying to teach my parishoners the faith, especially Christian morals. When you have pastors who publicly go against the faith, it is even harder. O'Malley is an old friend, I testify to his orthodoxy and commitment to the Church's teachings.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 29, 2003 1:20 PM ET USA

    A priest that would challenge the Archbishop is supremely sure that he will not be repremanded or silenced in any way, shape or form. The Shepherds of the flock are so stained by their own words and failings that to challenge a man such as Fr.Cuenin would probably open a whole new can of worms. Instead of leading the flocks, it seems that the Bishop's are afraid of their own shadows and even more afraid to uphold the moral teaachings of our Church.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 29, 2003 1:13 PM ET USA

    I'm glad the homily I heard on Sunday was about the anti-family cultural problems of a lack of sticking to commitments, desire for "personal fulfillment," and a lack of a willingness to sacrifice. The solution: opening our hearts to Jesus and the Holy Family. This homily was by a 40-year-old priest in rural Ohio.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 29, 2003 12:50 PM ET USA

    Time for Fr Cuenin to experience what the phrase "no room at the inn" meant for the Holy Family.