Fr. Bryan Hehir and Call to Action: Part 2

Before we continue this next installment discussing Fr. Bryan Hehir’s “substantiv

e contributions” to the U.S. bishops’ 1976 Bicentennial “Liberty and Justice for All” program and notorious “Call to Action” Conference, we’d like to share this contribution from a reader for your amusement.  He said the picture to the right should be titled, “The Pope Learns about Fr. Bryan Hehir.”

OK, now back to serious stuff.  In our last post we gave some fairly heavy food for thought about Marxism and flawed theology in the discussion book that Fr. Hehir played a key role creating for the U.S. bishops when he was Director of the U.S.C.C’s Division of Justice and Peace.  That discussion program was rolled out across the country as a tool for Catholics to prepare for the U.S. bicentennial in 1776 and provide input back to the U.S. bishops.  Rather than get you bogged down with heavy theology this time, we thought we would just give you a few selected excerpts of the high-level theological, moral, and social drivel you will find in the discussion book.

Note, the first name recognized in the Acknowledgments on page 7 is Fr. Bryan Hehir. “The substantive contribution of Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, Director of the USCC Division of Justice and Peace deserves particular thanks.”  That means he played a significant role in the program.

In the Liberty and Justice for All Introduction by Fr. Hehir (p. 7), he writes

work to transform the world toward a more just Society” has “a place of equal standing with the preaching of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments in the Church.”

That’s simply wrong.  The theology is so bad, it is almost painful.

Hehir writes:

Pope Paul VI in his letter, A Call to Action recognized the limitations of social teaching taken by itself.”

He got the name of the apostolic letter wrong–“A Call to Action” was merely the name of the 4th chapter in Pope Paul’s apostolic letter “Octogesima Adveniens, on the eightieth  anniversary of Rerum Novarum

Hehir writes:

The process of forming a community with a conscience is not accomplished by a “top-down”approach to the complex issues which make up the agenda of the bicentennial observance program. While initiative and leadership on the part of the Episcopal magisterium are essential and imperative, the equallyessential role of dialogue between the bishops and the wider Catholic community must be given its necessaryscope and weight.”

So, in forming conscience, dialogue between the bishops and the people is of equal importance to the Episcopal magisterium?!  That is flat out wrong.

Then we get into Part 2, Discussion Series. It was authored by Dr. Dale Olen and Sr. Francis Borgia Rothleubber, O.S.F., but remember, Fr. Hehir made “substantive contributions” to the whole program and he authored the Introduction to the whole guide, which means he would have approved of the entire contents.

They say:

As we know the United States is considered a democratic government and a capitalist economic structure; the Soviet Union is considered a totalitarian state and a socialist economic structure; Chile before the coup in 1973 was considered a democratic government and a socialist economic structure. Assuming that all of these concrete systems as lived out have strengths and weaknesses.

  • What kind of political and economic theories do you feel fit best the principle of liberty and justice for all?
  • Why?

Oh, so Fr. Hehir and his collaborators consider democracy to be on par with a socialist economic structure?

They write:

Every year about 200 billion dollars are spent on military weapons by nations around the world. Most evenings we view nations fighting against nation on television.  Would you yourself support a violent revolution to attain a higher level of freedom or social justice?

  • In light of this discussion, what specific issues would you like the 1976 Bicentennial Conference to consider?

Naturally, I’d like the U.S. Bishops’s Bicentennial Conference and  the Catholic Church to support a violent revolution  to bring about more freedom.  Wouldn’t you  have answered  that way?

They write:

The Catholic Church has spoken out strongly on many concerns, abortion to name one. The Church has even imposed the sanction of excommunication for those participating in an abortion.

  • Do you feel the Church should speak and act as strongly in opposing prejudice and discrimination against ethnic and racial groups?
  • What would be your feelings and response if the Church excommunicated people for their expressed prejudicial and discriminatory actions?

So the authors are using the questions to suggest that prejudice and discrimination against ethnic and racial groups are on equal footing with taking the lives of the unborn.

They write:

Imagine that the term “woman” is the generic term for humanity. Imagine that “man” is obviously included when mention is made of “women.” When we use the word “women” in this imaginary scene we often mean men also. Imagine that everything you have ever read and heard all your life uses female pronouns — she, her — meaning both women and men. You have no men senators in Washington. Women are the leaders of the nation and of its institutions. The man’s place is in the home and the woman’s place is to be the bread winner, provider and protector of the family.

  • How do you feel about this imaginary scene?
  • Do you think the language we use in relation to women and men makes any difference. If so, how?
  • How have traditional roles promoted personal growth for men and women?
  • How have those roles blocked that growth?

I’m imagining it now. Even at the time when the Equal Rights Amendment was a hot topic, it is astonishing that Fr. Hehir and the U.S. bishops would publish this.

They write:

In the last seven years two issues have dominated our thinking about the respect for life movement.They are the Vietnam War and abortion. Many people have supported or opposed both.

  • What are the similarities between these two issues? What are the differences?
  • Are there other issues besides Vietnam and abortion that should be considered part of respect for life? What are they?
  • They were already thinking about “seamless garment” back in 1976.

    They write:

    Given the high cost of health-care today, many people cannot receive the kind of health attention they need.

  • Do you believe that health-care is a right that can be demanded or a service that should be paid for?
  • Education is a right Americans have. For much of it the government pays. Is health as much a right as education? Should the government pay for health as it does for education?
  • Socialized healthcare.  How prophetic.  Now we have Obama-care with federal funds for abortion, backed by the Catholic Health Association whose leadership Fr. Hehir recently praised for their efforts.

    The document was “intended to help the leadership of the Church to listen to the voices of people expressing their ideas about freedom and justice in American life, and to plan an effective response to those voices.”

    Good Lord.  If Bryan Hehir’s document really served that purpose, one can only imagine what kinds of voices would have been listened to?   Actually, those voices were heard in their national input sessions, and they came through loudly and clearly at the 1976 Call to Action Conference asking for 1) Divorced, remarried couples to receive Holy Communion while still living in adulterous unions. 2) Ordained women priests and bishops. 3) Women given the power to preach the Gospel with authority. 4) A reversal on the doctrine of artificial birth control. 5) A mitigation of the doctrine on abortion. 6) A teaching approving Marxism, Socialism and pacifism as doctrinally true and morally good practice. 7) A denial of the right to property and to reasonable profit. 8) The creation of a new Church, democratic, non-hierarchical in structure, a classless church.

    Frankly, many of these themes and voices are still coming through today from Fr. Hehir, as we have documented on this blog. We understand there is a meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council this coming week with Cardinal O’Malley.  Maybe a few members should print this out, hand it to Cardinal O’Malley and ask him why the person responsible for publishing the drivel above is still his Secretary for Healthcare and Social Services and “highly trusted advisor.”  What more would the Cardinal need to see about Fr. Hehir in order to relieve him of his archdiocesan responsibilities and let him just work full-time at Harvard with the other intellectual elites there?

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    I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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