Monday, September 20, 2010

Fr. Mullen's Statement About the Meeting with the Cardinal

My commentary follows Father's Statement...

My Meeting with the Cardinal

I had a very positive meeting with His Eminence Cardinal O’Malley last Saturday, September 18th. We spoke for over an hour regarding St. Brendan Parish and the “safe environment programs” offered by the Archdiocese of Boston. He was open to all of my comments and observations and allowed me to express fully all my concerns. At the same time he responded to many of my points, which meant he was truly engaged in the discussion. Also involved was Fr. Bryan Parrish, Special Assistant to the Vicar General, who helped to prepare His Eminence and myself for this very productive meeting.
The meeting had originally been scheduled for Saturday morning at 10:00 A.M., but was changed to 2:00 P.M. I did not inform people of this change because a Holy Hour had already been planned for 10:00 to 11:00 A.M. and I did not want people to think that they would have to come back at 2:00! I am thankful to all who attended the Mass; I understand that the church was “packed”. I am thankful to Fr. Bill Scanlon for celebrating the Mass and for hearing confessions for two hours! I am also thankful to Deacon Hackett for conducting the Holy Hour. I was able to inform His Eminence that there were many people praying for the meeting.
I first shared with the Cardinal my vocation story and a short description of my parish experiences. Then I pleaded with him that he would not ask me to do anything against my conscience. He said that he would never ask anyone to do anything against his conscience. I spoke of the value of a program like that of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, entitled “Healthy Families: Safe Children”. Bishop Vasa, ordinary of the Diocese of Baker, is also Episcopal Advisor to the Catholic Medical Association. Their report of a few years ago, entitled “To Protect and to Prevent” is one of the main sources for “Healthy Families: Safe Children”. His Eminence pointed out that this program was not approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), which indeed it is not. I encouraged His Eminence to think about how the bishops of the United States should re-visit the issue of “safe environment” programs and the report of the Catholic Medical Association so that they could approve Bishop Vasa’s program.
His Eminence holds it as a great responsibility of his to abide by all the standards put forth by the NCCB for the protection of children in all parishes and archdiocesan institutions. He wants all Catholics to know that he is very diligent in pursuing this matter. My concerns have always been threefold: 1) to do all things in a straight-forward manner; 2) to protect the innocence of the children of St. Brendan’s in their “latency period”; and 3) to respect the rights of parents regarding their position as primary teachers in the matters of life and love. I believe that he and I were able to come to an agreement so that his concerns and mine were both shared and met. I am happy to submit the Cardinal’s wishes in this way.
It was the Cardinal who pointed out that parents can always withdraw their children from a program they don’t like. This shows that he is certainly in accord with the rights of parents as the primary teachers of their children. Granted that, it was his wish that an approved program be presented at St. Brendan’s.
I asked the Cardinal if he would allow me to present a program from Ireland entitled “Stay Safe” according to the innocence of the children of St. Brendan’s parish, the rights of their parents, and my conscience as a pastor. With the suggestion of Fr. Parrish, this would include supplementations that I thought were necessary. I mentioned that what is really needed is that parents be aware of the sensitive time of a child’s “latency period” and the affirmation that the church has consistently made regarding parents’ duties to give their children sexual information in a time, method, and manner that they judge to be appropriate. I said that such matters would certainly be part of the supplementations I would make. His Eminence said that he would be happy if I would present the “Stay Safe” program in this way. He knew that I thought that there were some difficulties with that program and so that I would present it in a way that would seem to solve those difficulties. It was clear that we were in agreement.
I had been told beforehand by some in the know that my concerns that my tenure as pastor was in danger were exaggerated. The Cardinal certainly did not want me to think that I was a problem priest! He was very gracious and complimentary to me regarding the vibrancy of the life at St. Brendan Parish. And I bragged about some of the good things going on here.
I am grateful to His Eminence for his kindness to me and for his concern for the children and families of the Archdiocese of Boston. I am also grateful to Fr. Parrish for facilitating this meeting and to others – you know who you are! – for helping me to put my thoughts in order prior to the meeting. I am uplifted by the prayer that was offered and the notes of encouragement that were sent. And for those who might have a question, these are my words, approved only by me.
Thanks to all!


Fr. Mullen can be trusted implicitly and we can be confident that the arrangement worked out will keep the children safe from harm and explotation while still not violating the agreements the bishops made to keep them from the scandal of prosecution and possibly jail.

This priest spent eight years refusing to put the children entrusted to his care into a situation whereby a pedophile in the community would know that down at the local parish they are looking for volunteers to tell stories to children about what it feels like to have somebody put their hands down your pants and use the situation to eventually give Catholic kids personal lessons.

The presentation of materials is not going to put a kindergarten child into the position of having their psyche damaged by being told that their childhood is about defending themselves from pedophiles because what is inside of their pants is a magnet for criminals and rapist.

There are a lot of good things that come from Father's suffering, witness and positive outcome for his parish.

He has raised awareness that children in other parishes are in danger of being sexually exploited and mentally and emotionally abused in any parish who is following the orders of the Chancery on these programs. He told the Cardinal that something should be done by the Bishops to review and get rid of these dangerous programs, follow the advice of the CMA and rational and lucid people and replace these programs with Bishop Vasa's program or other programs that operate similarly. (There of course is nothing stopping putting this on the agenda and acting on it because everyone who is sane knows it is damaging to children and had nothing at all to do with fixing the problem: The hostile internal environment to report shenanigans and problems we have getting anybody in the heirarchy to do something about corruption inside of a diocese.)

Fr. Mullen showed great courage in refusing to hand children over to the dangers and he worked out a solution that was agreeable to everyone.

Father did a perfect job and everyone here in the truth is pleased with this outcome for him and the children Christ placed into his care. I hope many other priests follow his lead.

Every time I think of how the bishops bartered away the innocence and safety of our children to save their backsides from jail, I wonder what they think of themselves when they look in the mirror after reading St. Paul's letters from prison.

There is one thing in Fr. Mullen's statement that I feel strongly needs a clarification.

It was the Cardinal who pointed out that parents can always withdraw their children from a program they don’t like. This shows that he is certainly in accord with the rights of parents as the primary teachers of their children. Granted that, it was his wish that an approved program be presented at St. Brendan’s.

While I believe the context of this statement to be characterizing the specific situation at St. Brendan's, it does not apply in any other context.

The Cardinal is not and never has been in accord with the rights of parents as the primary teachers of their children when he institutes programs diocesan wide that are mandatory that take those rights away -- and excuses himself with the notion that parents who find they are damaging to their child can always withdraw their children.

He is fully aware these programs are damaging and dangerous to children.

It is intellectually dishonest to imply parents can guage the danger and harm because they are not present in the room and therefore have no way of knowing what is being said and done to their child that may be damaging them. Some of the damage may not present itself until long after a woman is married and the years spent characterizing sex as a violent act to defend herself from manifests itself in her relationship with her husband.

Further, that the Cardinal holds it as a great responsibility of his to abide by all the standards put forth by the NCCB for the protection of children in all parishes and archdiocesan institutions has everything to do with keeping bishops out of jail and nothing at all to do with the safety of children. You'll forgive me if I don't hold his eminence's great responsibility a virtue.

I want to repeat this warning for the record and I will be sending a copy of this post to the Archdiocescan lawyers for the paper trail.

The Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children (or whatever they are calling it now) is mandating programs that invite predators to every classroom to teach children what it feels like to have hands down their pants which may lead to a personal demonstration. This is how predators work. These are the opportunities they look for. The Cardinal, the Cardinal's men and women ramming this down the throats of priests have been informed numerous times of this danger.

A person or persons who would hand out this book to grade school children was training people how to administer the programs. You see this invitation?

This will lead children to resources to be sexually exploited.

The Cardinal instituted a program they were told would wind up leading children to be sexually exploited to save yhemselves.


I am putting it on you publicly so that when the day comes when this all blows up, and it may take decades, people can be held criminally and civilly responsible. There isn't going to be any room to throw our children under the bus to save yourselves.

In case I'm not being clear - pick up the phone, put reviewing these programs on the agenda, get the report of the Catholic Medical Association and pull experts together who know what it is doing to children and make the changes to the programs. Even if it means spending a few years in jail. You have no right to continue to do this to a generation of children.


Jack B said...

One grand fallacy about children is buried in these discussions - the assumption that children come in neat sizes like shoes. Most parents and teachers consider it obvious that two children of the same age can differ enormously in mental, emotional, and moral maturity and, therefore, in their readiness to absorb and appreciate information about complicated subjects like sex. This fact of life is one of the reasons for a strong role for parents in shaping program content, presentation, and participation. Ignoring the reality serves no one well.

Anonymous said...

That this should take "decades" to blow up is the saddest commentary yet on the state of the present day Church and the Catholics in Her pews. There was a time when the Church Militant was just that...militant! Sadly, the EWTN/Catholic Answers crowd has taken care of that and snuffed out any lingering militancy left in the faithful.


Anonymous said...

Carol, you may be interested in the discussion at Tom Peter's website. It regards Bishop Vasa, who has spoken frankly about the limitation of the US bishops' conference, and reaffirmed the duties of the local ordinary (in our case Cardinal Sean). After reading about the Fr. Mullen case, I fear lawyers are in charge of these programs.


Anonymous said...

They are free to take their children out of the also, if they do not put the children in the classes, we will hold you hostage by with holding the sacraments from them. Yes, this is how it works in some places, you either comply or you cannot be confirmed.

Carol McKinley said...

Any priest in any parish in any diocese that is denying Holy Sacraments -- this we have the power to stop. We have done so before.

To my knowlwdge this is not happening in Boston.

You can either post it here or contact me via email and we will put the kibosh on that tyranny.

Carol McKinley said...

Thanks M, I'll check it out.

Jack - you are absolutely right on. I know 50 year olds who couldn't sit through the readings in the program. In fact, one of them was a Bishop!

Anonymous said...

Thank God for priests like Fr. Mullen.
I have had the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance with the good people of St. Brendan Parish.I have experienced what a faith community can be when pastored by a priest of stability and courage.
I pray that other pastors and parishes will take delight and encouragement in this Belligham Victory.
Fr. Bill

Carol McKinley said...


That two hour line for Confession was really something to experience.

He's truly a priest who knows how to raise a penitent's conscience.

You fit right in!