Thursday, June 16, 2011


First a quick background. As we in the diocese are aware, the city of Cleveland is experiencing significant difficulties with population drops, dwindling tax dollars, loss of jobs, cut backs in services, abandoned neighborhoods etc, etc, etc. There is an initiative beginning called Greater Cleveland Congregations that is pulling together different faiths to work together to address these issues. The Diocese is officially declining to participate. Here was a letter to the editor written by Sister Mary Hurley, a Catholic nun which appeared in the Plain Dealer on Wednesday, 15 June.

As a Catholic, a native Clevelander and one whose work, social, religious, civic and family activities are primarily in the Greater Cleveland, I was inspired and excited when I read of the formation of the Greater Cleveland Congregations to address our area’s concerns for education, jobs health care, criminal justice and sustainable food (May 28). But I cannot adequately express my profound disappointment and sadness when I subsequently read (June 7) that there had been no response to the invitation to Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to join the coalition and that the diocese had asked one parish to put its GCC involvement “on hold.

“As a former longtime member of the Diocesan Commission on Catholic Community Action, when it worked closely with other faith communities and public officials to serve human needs and bring about systemic change, I am puzzled and distressed that the Catholic community is not officially represented in this current effort to work together on the most pressing problems in our community.”

I am puzzled and distressed myself. I have a profound disappointment that this letter was written to the paper without any research apparently being done on the part of a person who worked in the diocese and should understand why these things happen from time to time.

Why, instead of writing directly to the paper, did sister not try contacting the bishop and ask him why we are not getting involved? It is a rare, rare thing that a parish is told to put any activity they are involved in “on hold.” That should be a sign that something may be going on that we don’t know about.

I want to make it clear that I don’t know anything about the GCC or what they intend to do. But think for a moment: they have a far reach agenda. What if one of their stated goals is something that is in direct contradiction to Catholic teaching yet the bishop is putting his official endorsement on it by stating Catholics are involved? Just for example, let us say that the GCC wants to support more clinics coming into the city that provides abortions for underprivileged people. (Once again, let me be very clear, I have NO idea if they want this or not.) Can the Catholic Church legitimately be involved? Of course not. We may be “on hold” because they have not even come so far as to know exactly what they stand for. It is a wise, wise bishop who doesn’t let his diocese get tangled up in (yet another) embarrassing mess. This scenario is one possibility.

Another one to consider: The Diocese of Cleveland ALREADY pours an ENORMOUS amount of resources combating the very things this initiative is seeking to address. Though we are (I believe) the 11th largest diocese, we have the largest Catholic Charities in the United States. These are long standing established ministries. Would participating in GCC sap energy and resources AWAY from these initiatives?

These are just two ideas to consider. There are more. They may or may not have played a role in our putting our participation on hold. But did sister bother to try to find out first? Granted, it may seem at first that it would have been beneficial for the bishop to state WHY we are not getting involved for the time being, but then he would have to say WHY and that might be damaging to the cause in an area where one out of five people are Catholics.

Now it is an issue in the Plain Dealer (which already does not report well the inner workings of the Church.) The Catholic community looks divided, people are angry, and the real issues are further clouded.


Loretta Roder said...

Sr. Hurley is "puzzled and distressed" so she writes to the Plain Dealer.
I am "puzzled" that she seems to have neglected to contact Bishop Lennon.
She appears to be unwilling to address her puzzlements and distresses in a mature manner.

I dismiss her statements as childish as I trust the good judgement of our bishop.

MJ said...

My husband often complains that people don't look at all the options before they make a decision. They will act on the first option that comes to mind. It seems that Sr. Hurley has only looked at the way the initiative "advertises" or presents itself and not looked at its underlying agenda. Maybe she should be more informed as to exactly what side of the various concerns being addressed the GCC is on.

Anonymous said...

And are we to assume that Sister did not contact (or try to) the Bishop? Maybe I missed something in the Plain Dealer statement attributed to Sr. Hurley. Once again, the Father seems to be so very defensive as regards the Church and public perception. To me, Father seems to be guilty of what he criticizes Sister: getting his facts right ("research' as he puts it) before he passes judgment.

Fr. V said...

Anonymous -


OF COURSE I am defensive of something that I love. I freely admit it. When the Church is wrong I also admit it - but when she is wronged you bet I am defensive and I hope that all happy Catholics (for whom this blog is written) would be too.

Actually I would accuse myself more of making this a public thing that makes me stoop to the same level as sister. However if you have seen ANY evidence whatsoever of sister having made any inquiry (even being ignored) in her letter I would appreciate hearing it. If it is not there, she is in an equally gross position for not having mentioned it and letting the reputation of the Church suffer all the more. I stand by my post.

Pat said...


Remember the problems the Church has had with the "Catholic Campaign for Human Development???" In many dioceses across the US, it was discovered that the CCHD was sponsoring (knowingly? unknowingly?) some agencies that held positions in direct contradiction to Church teaching (such as abortions for "poor women" or "gay marriage").

Some of these causes were buried in the fine print of the umbrella organizations to which CCHD was donating money.

Remember "ACORN?" They were one of the organizations benefitting from CCHD funds until someone "blew the whistle."

So, you are correct, Father, that our diocese has to be very careful before involving ourselves in some intiative where the diocese cedes responsibility to an umbrella organizaton.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that Father would not stoop to the level of answering my comment with a childish, ridiculing 'duh'. I was merely trying to say that I saw no evidence in the attributed statement that Sister made no such inquiry. I will not make further comments since Father does not seem interested in divergent opinions and observations. I stand by my post as well.

Silverstride said...

If she had made an inquiry and still decided to write this letter, it would be worse!
I understand that you (anonymous) are trying to defend the Sister, but she should be defending the decisions of the diocese in which she belongs instead of attempting to shame it into changing it's mind.
All Catholics are called to support the Church and her ministers.

Anonymous said...

I get apprehensive when someone (Sr Hurley) says, in effect, how important he or she is.


Kevin Hammer said...

If you go to the GCC website, you will see that it is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which has its own agenda.

I'd say the bishop made a prudent decision.

Fr. V said...


Not interested!? Indeed yours is the only one that caught my attention! Though I deeply dissagree with you I am glad you posted AND stuck to your guns (though anonymously.) Because I don't agree with you does not mean that I am not interested. I am sad that you will no longer be posting.

You are correct however about the purile "duh.". It should only be used with people who know me well and understand from where it is coming. My fault. I was laughing when I wrote it. It was like being accused of being loyal to my wife "All you want to do is defend your wife!" The irony does not come across on the typed statement. My apologies.

Fr. V said...


I meant puerile!

Elena LaVictoire said...

Anonymous, if Sister Hurley had contacted the bishop's office, she probably would have said so. Then she could've complained about being put on hold, or not getting an immediate response or a hundred other little things (unless of course they immediately agreed with her and followed her instructions to a T!).

Napoleon said...

Why anonymous remain anonymous? If you are going to disagree feel free to do so as Father gladly welcomes divergent opinions. Thanks to Kevin Hammer for posting the real agenda here. This appears to be another left wing agenda at play here. Just like the notorious Sister Carol Kegan and her helping the Obama administration pass health care "reform" looks like we have another liberal nun disappointed that the Church will not participate in something that will undermine Tradition. the bishop is showing his wisdom with the decision. Kudos to Pat for pointing out the problems with CCHD.

Steve S said...

Eve continues to disobey. The same story -different characters

Catholic Momma said...

Umm Steve, lets not be so unjust to Eve as to leave out Adam - he was right there and left her to deal with the Devil, when he'd been commanded to protect her ;-)

Fr. V said...

C. M.

Very Theology of the Body of you!

GOod job.