Catholic Heroes and Villains

Judie Brown
August 4, 2010
Reproduced with Permission

We are heartened to read of the most recent statements by Father Michael Rodriguez, parish priest at El Paso, Texas, San Juan Bautista Catholic Church. Reminding parishioners that Catholics have an "absolute duty" to oppose abortion, Father Rodriguez warned readers of the El Paso Times that "There is such a thing as a corrupt democracy," and added, "Frighteningly, if the majority chooses to deny the objective moral order, then we will all suffer the pestiferous consequences."

Rodriguez is not a newcomer to controversy regarding the absolute truth that an act of abortion is an act of murder - a heinous crime that must be opposed by all who identify themselves as Catholics. Earlier this year, Father Rodriguez was cited by Catholic commentator Brian Kelly for his fortitude in setting forth Catholic teaching. Father Rodriguez has also outlined Catholic teaching on marriage in a six part series that has been subsequently shared with Mexican American Catholics from one end of Texas all the way to New Mexico. In other words, Father Rodriguez is proud of what the Church teaches and is not afraid of taking Catholic truth into the public square.

Contrast this remarkably bold priest's public witness with the recent Archdiocese of Boston negotiations regarding the Caritas Christi Catholic hospital debacle. Just this past week the Coalition to Save Catholic Health Care hosted a press conference. During the event John O'Gorman, a member of the Coalition, pointed out, "People want to go to Catholic hospitals, to Christian hospitals." He emphasized that, if a proposed agreement is approved between Cerberus and Caritas Christi, patient choices will be greatly curtailed. The reason is that the proposal stipulates "if Cerberus deems it is materially burdensome to maintain a Catholic identity, it can terminate the religious affiliation by making a $25 million payment to a charity of the Archdiocese of Boston's choosing."

In other words, what were once identifiably Catholic health care institutions could become totally secularized for thirty pieces of silver, which in today's market is worth $25 million! Some would define the exchange of Catholic identity for money as cooperation with the devil; others would defend it as good business practice.

The entire scenario is most disturbing. In addition, we find the underhanded tactics of Caritas representatives like Chris Murphy, which cannot be unknown to Cardinal Sean O'Malley. The Boston Globe interviewed Murphy, who slammed the Coalition to Save Catholic Health Care, saying "The wild speculation engaged in today is absurd."

Oh really? Not so fast.

R. T. Neary, speaking for the Coalition, states:

Murphy has flagrantly mischaracterized the Coalition, but this is far from the end of the story.

What was particularly egregious is that Mr. Murphy had signed in by using a false identity, under a pseudonym. And worse still, when greeted by Coalition leaders at the start of the event, he identified himself as a Catholic layman who worked for the Bank of America, and he had come because of his interest in the subject. Mr. Murphy, under his alias, was welcomed.

To make matters even worse than that, with regard to his accusatory quote in the Boston Globe, he never asked a single question nor did he challenge any part of our presentation during the one-hour event. … Handouts included letters of strong objection to the Caritas negotiations with Cerberus Capital Management L.P. and its subsidiary Steward, which have been sent to Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Archdiocese, through this Cerberus connection, has embarked on a misguided course, but also it is causing further serious damage to its reputation.

This sort of skullduggery doesn't sit well among faithful Catholics. But it proves once again that, when Catholic identity is diluted or denied for any reason, including a few measly dollars, nothing good can come of it. Judas Iscariot found that out the hard way.

Shame on the Archdiocese of Boston! Thank God for Catholic heroes like John O'Gorman, R. T. Neary and El Paso's own Father Rodriguez!