Mallon's Media Watch

Mallon's Media Watch

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Dispatch From Deal

Hardly a Martyr

CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter

December 5, 2002


Dear Friend,

I'll have to make this letter short -- I'm meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon to discuss the Catholic vote, so I'm on my way out of the office very soon. Let's hope I can make it through all this snow!

Before I leave, though, there were a few news items that I wanted to share with you. First, I just read in the Boston Globe this morning that Cardinal Law has banned archdiocesan activities and meetings from taking place at Our Lady Hope of Christians Church in Newton, MA, under the direction of Rev. Walter Cuenin.

The article paints Father Cuenin as a successful and dynamic pastor who is a martyr to Law's campaign of secrecy and deception, blaming the Cardinal for offering no explanation for his silencing of Cuenin.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For one thing, Father Cuenin's "success" -- at least in the eyes of the Boston Globe -- has come about largely as a result of his wildly dissident positions. Take, for example, the following statements made by Cuenin in an article for The New Yorker entitled "The Reformer: A Priest's Battle For a More Open Church":

"Priests have been forced to remain silent about the supposedly unassailable prohibitions on birth control, second marriages, the ordination of married men and women."

"The divorced should be allowed a front row seat, and not be told they are unworthy to approach the communion banquet."

"Gays and lesbians should be in the other front row, and not told that their lives are 'basically disordered.'"

Cuenin has complained that no official reasons were given for placing this ban on him or his church, but given the context of his comments, it's no wonder that Law has intervened. Of course, the Globe would have you believe that Law is the one who's completely out of line.

It also shouldn't be surprising that Cuenin's parish is one of the flagship members of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) and that Cuenin himself has been a loud and active supporter of the group. He has even distributed ashes at a "Healing Mass" to pray for healing between VOTF and the Church.

Yet another indication that VOTF might be a bit more dissident than it claims. You might also remember that last week I told you I was going to meet with leaders of VOTF in February. Some people were very enthusiastic and wanted to know what they could do to help.

Well, if you live in the DC area, you can help by attending one of their meetings this weekend. Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown will be hosting a VOTF meeting on Saturday, ostensibly to discuss their first goal, to support the abused. One of Holy Trinity's parishioners wrote a glowing report of the July VOTF Convention in the parish's newsletter where she highlighted members' enthusiasm about such issues as a "power to the people" approach to the Church hierarchy and the ordination of married and women priests.

I have a feeling this meeting will be revealing, I encourage you to go see VOTF in action for yourself. We'll be sending one of the CRISIS staff there to report back on the situation, so I'll be sure to let you know what we find.

In other news, our friends at Planned Parenthood are doing their bit to spread the good news of Christmas by issuing greeting cards with the words "Choice on Earth" on the cover. As you can guess, the card came under fire by several Christian groups recently for using the sacred Christian holiday to promote such an anti-Christian message.

Wendy Wright of the Concerned Women of America says, "The group twists a well-known Scripture in which God offers peace on earth -- not abortion -- through the birth of his son, Jesus Christ."

It takes a real marketing mastermind to use the ultimate unplanned pregnancy to promote the message of Planned Parenthood. But at least one religious official doesn't see the problem. Rev. Mark Bigelow, pastor of the Congregational Church of Huntington in Centerport, NY, and a member of Planned Parenthood's Clergy Advisory Board, has quite a different take on the proper Christian response to abortion.

In a letter to Bill O'Reilly of Fox's O'Reilly Factor regarding the Christmas card, Bigelow said, "[O]ne thing I know from the Bible is that Jesus was not against women having a choice in continuing a pregnancy.... Jesus was for peace on earth, justice on earth, compassion on earth, mercy on earth, and choice on earth."

I'd certainly like to ask Mr. Bigelow where one might find this passage in the Bible, but something tells me I probably shouldn't waste my time.

Planned Parenthood seems perfectly comfortable with these kinds of contradictions. Right now, your kids can enter a contest where they design a poster to "celebrate" 30 years of Roe v. Wade. But before they can submit their entry, kids under the age of 18 need their parents' permission.

Apparently, Planned Parenthood is blind to the dramatic irony of mandating supervision of a girl's poster-drawing but allowing that same girl to kill her own child without her parents' knowledge.

I'm off to the meeting.

Talk to you soon,



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Sunday, December 01, 2002