Cardinal Bernard Law has barred church agencies from meeting at a parish led by a priest who has criticized his leadership and questioned church teachings on gays and the ordination of women. The ban, which Law did not explain, prohibits all "archdiocesan-sponsored and/or archdiocesan-related meetings" at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton, Mass., led by the Reverend Walter Cuenin. The move comes after Cuenin invited more than 100 priests to a meeting Friday to discuss concerns about the archdiocese's fund-raising drive, The Boston Globe reported. The priests planned to discuss concerns about raising money while the archdiocese considers bankruptcy amid continued revelations about criminal actions by priests.
The ban was announced in an E-mail sent Tuesday by the archdiocese secretary for pastoral services, the Reverend Arthur M. Coyle, to the heads of archdiocesan agencies, according to the Globe, which obtained a copy. It says Law made his decision because of "some past issues as well as current issues now being addressed." Law's spokeswoman, Donna Morrissey, confirmed the meeting ban but declined further comment.
Cuenin called Law's move "a slap at the parish, but also a slap at me.... I've never heard of anything like this, where the archdiocese would single out a parish. On the one hand, you want to laugh about it, but on the other hand, it's sad." Cuenin said he believes the planned meeting triggered the ban and that the archdiocese may have been angered further when he declined to allow its fund-raisers to attend because he thought it should be a conversation among parish priests.
Cuenin, ordained in 1970, has occasionally been summoned to the archdiocese for comments that were perceived as too liberal. He urged the Massachusetts legislature to reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, though the state's Catholic bishops supported it. He has also said the church should not describe gays as "disordered." Regarding church leadership, Cuenin said, "We have exceptional women who are waiting to serve. We have married men who would make wonderful priests."