Holy Week is upon us, Lent has been a bear, and, a baby. - I trust you have been having a blessed and holy Lent. I seem to remember last year as not needing a lot of additional disciplines, as they came pre-pac...
1 year ago
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!
(Recipients of this e-mail are free to copy and forward it as they wish.)
I am sending this to my entire e-mail list, so some of you may not remember who I am. Please feel no qualms of conscience if you delete this message!
I am asking everyone to pray for me tomorrow (Saturday) when I will meet with Cardinal O'Malley to talk over the safe environment programs that the Archdiocese wants me to implement in St. Brendan's parish. If you want to brush up on the controversy then you can visit my parish website: saintbrendansparish.org and look for the tab that says "TAT Dossier". You will find there all that you need to know, and perhaps some things you would rather not know!
I am hopeful that tomorrow's meeting will be successful. It will be so if God's will is done by myself and His Eminence. His goal is that my parish implement a "safe environment" program so that the Archdiocese is 100% compliant with the child protection goals set by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. My goal is to protect the innocence of the children of my parents and respect the rights of their parents (and, of course, not go to Hell at the end of my life because I knowingly did something to the children of my parish that I knew was gravely objectionable). I see no reason why the goals of the eminent ordinary and the country pastor cannot be achieved together.
The best result would be for His Eminence to allow St. Brendan's to implement the program of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, called "Healthy Families: Safe Children". Bp. Robert F. Vasa, the ordinary of Baker, only this evening sent me a very gracious message of personal support (without presuming to tread on the authority of His Eminence in Boston). The program that he has developed in his diocese is derived from the Catholic Medical Association's wonderful report on safe environment programs and child development entitled "To Protect and to Prevent" (2006).
I asked for the meeting with His Eminence and am gratified that he so quickly said "yes". Some are claiming that I said that I was told that if I did not implement a "safe environment" program that I would be dismissed from the parish. I was told no such thing. I came to the conclusion on my own. I have been assured by honorable priests that such a move has not been discussed in the meetings of His Eminence and his advisers. I believe that I have been told the truth in this matter.
Perhaps I have allowed my fears to get to me! The last seven or eight years have been filled with various levels of fear, anger and anxiety. I am not fearful tonight - nor anxious - nor angry. Please pray tomorrow - and tonight! - that my meeting with His Eminence go well tomorrow.
Fr. David J. Mullen
St. Brendan Parish
Pro-lifers were greeted by a glorious sight this morning at Planned Parenthood in Boston. NSTAR Electric trucks were parked on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood: the electric power was out and the abortion mill was out of commission!! [Maybe it's a sign from God?]
The facility's doors remained open for the morning, but security guards turned customers away as soon as they arrived. That gave sidewalk counselors a double opportunity -- coming and going. In addition, abortion-bound women now are compelled to at least delay their abortions. No guarantee they will finally choose Life, of course.
The Rosary vigil was held today as it usually is on the second Saturday. From the clock on the adjacent building, the power had evidently been out since at least 1:50am Saturday, and possibly 1:50pm Friday -- a pro-lifer who was present Friday said NSTAR trucks arrived at about 10:30am. The NSTAR people were still at work when we left. If this goes on into next week, it could cause an epidemic of panic attacks on the Left. 9/11/2001 was awful, but nothing compares with losing "access" to "choice"!!