Fr Helmut Schüller opened his US tour with an overflow crowd at a Unitarian Church. The archbishop pulled the plug on his appearance at a Catholic parish because …
It is the policy of the Archdiocese of Boston … not to permit individuals to conduct speaking engagements in Catholic parishes or at church events when those individuals promote positions that are contrary to Catholic teachings.
St Susanna’s parishioner Mary Scanlon:
I think [Cardinal O'Malley's decision was] so foolish. I think any effort to silence people or to cut off dialogue is, as Father Schüller said, so disrespectful. We’re citizens of this church. How could talking to one another be a bad thing? It’s like a family. If a family refuses to talk to one another, that’s a sign of real dysfunction.
It strikes me the directive not to host didn’t silence anyone or even cut off the dialogue. It strikes me that the upper hierarchy has cut itself off from dialogue, and the discussion is happening in a lot of places without their blessing or approval.
I do agree with Ms Scanlon’s point about dysfunction. It reminds me of a great homily I once heard on the Sunday after Christmas. The difference, the preacher explained, between families holy and dysfunctional are not that the former have no disagreements and the latter do. All families have points of conflict. Holy families address them head-on. Dysfunctional ones pretend.
Tonight’s appearance in Philadelphia has also drawn the seal of disapproval of the archbishop there. A local Catholic college is hosting, but otherwise not sponsoring the talk:
Chestnut Hill College is not affiliated with the archdiocese, nor is it an official sponsor of the Schüller appearance. Nonetheless, allowing a campus venue to be used in this manner is regrettable and inevitably damages the unity of the local Church.
The “damage to unity” complaint strikes me as about as flimsy as “cutting off dialogue” argument. Controversial topics will always challenge believers. Unity goes a lot deeper than uniformity. And serenity. And as for letting the man have a podium … that’s going to happen almost anywhere today.