taking money under false premises

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 25, 2005

Father Walter Cuenin has been forced to resign his parish assignment, but he has not lost his public-relations capacity. Both the Boston Globe and the rival Herald offer entirely sympathetic coverage for a pastor who was evidently caught taking thousands of dollars from his parish.

(Ah, but what's a few grand, in a very wealthy parish? This guy was bringing in tens of thousands in extra donations, from the gay couples and feminists and all those other people who want to be caught up on fussy old Church "rules." He was big, big, big!)

We only have Cuenin's side of the story, so we don't know-- yet-- how deep the alleged "financial improprieties" go. But many parishioners clearly don't believe that the money problems were the real reason for forcing his resignation. "This is clearly such a pretextural reason for getting rid of him," one angry man told the Herald.

I wish that I could believe the same thing.

Father Cuenin apparently was taking money to which he wasn't entitled: a monthly stipend and a cary payment from the parish-- over and above his regular salary and car allowance from the archdiocese. That's bad. And maybe there's more.

But for the past two decades or so, Cuenin has also been taking money under false premises: by accepting a salary to act as a Catholic pastor, when he was a consistent critic and at times an outright opponent of the Church he claimed to serve. For years it has been abundantly clear-- in black+white in his parish bulletin-- that he dissents from Catholic doctrine. But that didn't get him ousted; the money problems did.

The Cuenin case, alas, is one more in the long series of incidents suggesting that bishops are more likely to act against fiscal shenanigans than doctrinal or pastoral malfeasance-- more apt to protect the parishioners' wallets than their souls.

T.S. Eliot:

The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

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  • Posted by: - Sep. 29, 2005 8:05 PM ET USA

    How about the millions of dollars in presto "forgiven" loans from Catholic Charities of Boston to the Archdiocese of Boston? With regard to faith vs. good-works, Cardinal Law knew where the real cash flowed, The defense-lawyers and the PR wizards had to make a living too. There's a thin line between appropriations and looting and it's called "discretion".

  • Posted by: Sterling - Sep. 26, 2005 11:56 PM ET USA

    This only inflames me about the Chancery's own shenanigans! What about the YEARS of Christmas collections taken up for "the priests' pension fund"? Now, it seems those millions were collected fraudulently. The chancery that should be hanged for a sheep (the misappropriation of millions) instead hangs Fr. C. for a lamb (naughty car payments). Can the chancery make itself look any worse? (I guess if it made kindergarteners graduate in the street - that was pretty bad too, wouldn't you say?)

  • Posted by: - Sep. 25, 2005 9:04 AM ET USA

    And to think: Cuenin used also to teach Jesuits in formation at Weston School of Theology!