Saturday, June 09, 2012

Father Jonathan Joseph Slavinskas: My vocation began with Bishop Timothy J. Harrington

We've seen how Father Jonathan Joseph Slavinskas, newly ordained for the Diocese of Worcester, has had high praise for Father Joseph Coonan.  For him, Father Coonan was a "great influence" who "nourished" his vocation.  Fr. Slavinskas has also said that his vocation began with Bishop Timothy J. Harrington.  One can only hope that he doesn't share the late Bishop's attitude toward dissent from the Church's authoritative teaching.  For Bishop Timothy J. Harrington did tolerate dissent while he served as Bishop of Worcester.

In a letter to Catholic apologist Richard Blanchard dated March 25, 1986, Bishop Harrington, responding to a petition signed by Mr. Blanchard and members of his orthodox Catholic group TACM (The Active Church Militant) which requested that Sister Anna Marie Kane, S.S.J. be asked to resign from the Office for Women, Bishop Harrington responded:

"Dear Mr. Blanchard,

The petition, signed by twenty-seven individuals, requesting that Sister Anna Marie Kane, S.S.J. be asked to resign as soon as possible from the Office for Women of this Diocese has arrived.

This response is to inform you, and through you, the other twenty-six signators, that I shall not accede to your request.

In September, 1984, I appointed Sister Anna Marie Kane to her position as Vicar for Religious and Director of the Office for Women.  At that time, I also invited her to be a member of my administrative cabinet.  Sister has fulfilled her responsibilities with competence and sensitivity.

I ask you and the other petitioners to ponder your witness to the sacredness of the human person, as you threaten to denounce a person publicly, if your will is not done.."

A copy of this letter was cycled to Sister Anna Marie Kane. 

Bishop Harrington was concerned with "the sacredness of the human person"?  Really?  Then how could he honestly say that Sister Anna Marie Kane had been fulfilling her responsibilities with "competence and sensitivity" when she had stated publicly that, "Abortion is a delicate and complex reality. We must continue our struggle of respecting other's choices even if we don't agree with them."

Sacredness of the human person?  Pope John Paul II, in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) would refute the ethical relativism behind the radical view "that in a modern and pluralistic society people should be allowed complete freedom to dispose of their own lives as well as of the lives of the unborn.." (Evangelium Vitae, No. 68).

Sister Kane was also a member of the executive board of the National Assembly of Women Religious and S.I.G.M.A. - Sisters in Gay Ministry Associated.  Both the N.A.R.W. and S.I.G.M.A. were radical feminist groups which supported advocacy of the homosexual and lesbian lifestyle, abortion and contraception.  Sister Kane was also supportive of women's ordination.

Richard Blanchard and the other petitioners  were not threatening Sister Anna Marie Kane.  Nor were they insisting that their will be done.  They were asking for her resignation because she was opposing the will of Christ Jesus as made known by His Church through the teaching office of the Magisterium.  In his Encyclical Letter Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII said that, "...God has given to His Church a living Teaching Authority to elucidate and explain what is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely and implicitly.  This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church."

This is why Richard Blanchard and others were asking for Sister Kane's resignation.  They were not insisting that their will be done.  They were objecting to the fact that Sister Kane had taken this attitude with regard to Church teaching; that she was insisting that her will be done.

Bishop Harrington was not only dissent-friendly.  He was routinely sarcastic toward those who had the audacity to question his toleration of dissent and his refusal to use his authority to uphold Catholic teaching, especially in the area of sexual morality.

If Bishop Harrington was the inspiration for Jonathan Slavinskas' vocation, we must keep Fr. Slavinskas in our prayers.


Stewart said...

"The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts." - St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Doctor of the Church, generally considered the most prominent doctor of the Greek Church and the greatest preacher ever heard in a Christian pulpit.

Michael Cole said...

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, said that: "As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, responsibility for the faith and the life of faith of the People of God is particularly incumbent upon the Church's Pastors: "Among the principal tasks of Bishops the preaching of the Gospel is pre-eminent. For the Bishops are the heralds of the faith who bring new disciples to Christ. They are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people entrusted to them the faith to be believed and put into practice; they illustrate this faith in the light of the Holy Spirit, drawing out of the treasury of Revelation things old and new (cf. Mt 13:52); they make it bear fruit and they vigilantly ward off errors that are threatening their flock (cf. 2 Tim 4:1-4)".178

It is our common duty, and even before that our common grace, as Pastors and Bishops of the Church, to teach the faithful the things which lead them to God, just as the Lord Jesus did with the young man in the Gospel. Replying to the question: "What good must I do to have eternal life?", Jesus referred the young man to God, the Lord of creation and of the Covenant. He reminded him of the moral commandments already revealed in the Old Testament and he indicated their spirit and deepest meaning by inviting the young man to follow him in poverty, humility and love: "Come, follow me! ". The truth of this teaching was sealed on the Cross in the Blood of Christ: in the Holy Spirit, it has become the new law of the Church and of every Christian.

This "answer" to the question about morality has been entrusted by Jesus Christ in a particular way to us, the Pastors of the Church; we have been called to make it the object of our preaching, in the fulfilment of our munus propheticum. At the same time, our responsibility as Pastors with regard to Christian moral teaching must also be exercised as part of the munus sacerdotale: this happens when we dispense to the faithful the gifts of grace and sanctification as an effective means for obeying God's holy law, and when with our constant and confident prayers we support believers in their efforts to be faithful to the demands of the faith and to live in accordance with the Gospel (cf. Col 1:9-12). Especially today, Christian moral teaching must be one of the chief areas in which we exercise our pastoral vigilance, in carrying out our munus regale." (VS, 114).

Too bad Bishop Harrington didn't take his duty seriously.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

July 10,1997
From The Mail
The Wanderer

Some Had Fun

"I think we can all have fun.... We can look forward to a great big good time."
With those words at his swearing in as the third bishop of Worcester in October, 1983, Timothy J. Harrington began his 12-year reign over the one-county diocese in northwest Massachusetts with its 128 parishes and 330,000 Catholics.
A lot of people did have fun; and a lot of people did not.
Harrington, the heir-apparent of his predecessor, Bishop Bernard Joseph Flanagan (1959-1983), whom he consistently referred to as "my father," ended his term in a dramatic confrontation with the parishioners of St. Joseph's in Worcester. Those parishioners occupied their historic church for nearly a year as they fought in the courts both secular and Church to prevent Harrington from closing it, demolishing it, and selling the land to a group of real estate investors.
But that dramatic and fitting conclusion to his reign was only a minor event in his dozen years as chief deconstructionist of the Diocese of Worcester, as demonstrated in a two-volume set of documentation prepared by a committed Catholic layman, Richard R. Blanchard of Athol , Mass.

No Recourse

The first thing to understand about Harrington, who was educated at the Grand Seminary in Montreal, and who was appointed an auxilary bishop of Worcester in July, 1968, is that he was present throughout the postconcilar period while Bishop Flanagan thoroughly radicalized in Rome during the council waged his relentless campaign to "modernize" the diocese and institutionalize dissent in all the diocesan structures.
When Harrington was appointed bishop in 1983, the dissenters were in place, the education of Worcester's Catholics was left to the heretics at Holy Cross, and he was not inclined to disturb the status quo.
The documentation prepared by Blanchard under the title Spiritual Malpractice is a remarkable illustration of the extent to which a bishop will claim ignorance of a problem for as long as he possible can. Then, when he can no longer ignore it, he will publicly endorse it.
Blanchard's two volumes of documents --newspaper clippings from both the secular and diocesan press, correspondence to and from Bishop Harrington, diocesan newsletters and bulletins, as well as the newsletter of Blanchard's The Active Church Militant (TACM), Just The Facts, transcripts of meetings between TACM members and Harrington, transcripts of seminars and workshops at which major Amchurch "theologians" and sexperts promoted dissent from Church teaching ---powerfully illustrate his thesis that Harrington is guilty of "spiritual malpractice," and that the Catholic faithful of the diocese have been intentionally misled and deceived about Catholic teaching on a variety of subjects.
More important --- the documentation also shows that faithful Catholics have no recourse when a malpracticing bishop is imposed on them

1921Diner said...

Someone posted a comment to the effect that the diocese is trying to "rehabilitate" certain individuals who were not faithful to the Church's teaching.

I agree with that statement. This is revisionist history pure and simple.

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