and the Absurdity
that is Boston
the dismal and often sordid history of the Archdiocese
of Boston over the past 50 years, some — perhaps many
—are inclined to believe that God has either forgotten or
forsaken Boston. The lack of theological and catechetical
oversight by the Episcopacy — that is to say, Cardinal O'Malley
— does not, as many have long concluded, verge upon irresponsibility.
It exceeds it. We have witnessed and suffered the aftermath
of that indifference from our seminaries that had largely
become domains of homosexuality (to our shame, civil
authorities had to step in where the bishops had stepped
aside), to our
“Religious Education” classrooms where our
children learn little of the Faith and are passed from grade
to grade as a rite of passage until their Confirmation —
knowing little or nothing of what they are confirming or
being confirmed in.
Every available metric has indicated
a decline in the Church in Boston, from vocations to Mass
attendance. How many Boston Catholics declare themselves,
without the slightest sense of contradiction, to be both
Catholic and Pro-Abortion? How about Catholic
and advocates of
“Gay Marriage”? Not enough?
How about Catholic and Pro-Contraception? Even the
most casual and indifferent observer would say that there
is something at least inconsistent in one holding oneself
to be authentically both.
Rank with Absurdity
Illogical absurdities such as these,
however, are not just persistent hallucinatory episodes
in Boston — they have calcified into a mind-set. If we wish
to adduce evidence to this we merely have to look upon our
“Catholic” politicians — who are consistently
put in office by
“Catholic” voters. And both are heedless
of the mind of the Church, to say nothing of the Heart of
In a word, Boston is rank with
absurdity and contradiction extending from the State House
to to the Chancery. In many ways it is a political and theological
cesspool from Boston City Hall to Boston College. Only bottom-feeders
survive. A harsh assessment? To be sure. But an accurate
assessment no less.
Examples always vivify, so let
us indulge. Take the charnel house called Planned Parenthood
1055 Commonwealth Ave. as something
of a paradigm. It is a remarkable cross-section of Catholics.
The abortuary itself is staffed by some who are
while outside it is carefully guarded by husky women with
short hair and shorter tempers who keep a careful, if disdainful
eye on the other group of Catholics, the
“Rabble” who quietly
stand in witness, prayer and protest against the killing
inside (funded to the tune of
$336.7 million dollars of taxpayer
money). The huskies,
in turn, are backed up by
“Catholic" Boston police who,
according to sources close to the killing fields, are quick
to manhandle and cuff any protestor who steps so much as
an inch over carefully defined lines on the sidewalk (that
small deadly space between life and death, freedom and imprisonment)
— and who routinely ignore physical and verbal violence
inflicted on the protestors from rabid passersby. Women
have been literally punched in the chest, while
police looked away ... This is, of course, hearsay ... and
such a selective approach to law enforcement would clearly
cause a controversy ... wouldn't it?
Welcome to Boston. Leave your morals,
your religious convictions, and your integrity at the first
toll both on the Mass Pike ... and keep your mouth shut.
In a bizarre turn on an old aphorism,
“If you can't say
anything socially and politically correct, don't
Is it any wonder that some
people could credibly believe that God has forsaken Boston,
or simply left it to wallow in the filth of its own making?
And What does this have to do with
John Henry Cardinal Newman?
Boston is the academic hub of America
... perhaps the world. Some of the greatest and most prestigious
universities and colleges lay within a 10 square mile area.
In fact, it is an area disproportionately populated by the
students of over 50 colleges, many of which are (nominally)
Catholic. Students —especially the more affluent —from around
the world flock to Boston. It is the stepping stone to success
measured as money, especially through its professional,
medical, and legal schools. It is, in short, deeply rooted
in education and as such, the venue par excellence of a
scholar such as Newman.
Surely a man of such erudition
and renown would be embraced as one of their own
However, in Boston the notion of
“being embraced” is rather ... equivocal. Here, where the
genitalia is not only a longstanding social fixation, but
the very axis of everything interpretable as human,
it comes as no surprise that even the cause of the canonization
of Newman is construed in terms fraught with sexual
implications — homosexual implications, to be precise— as
evidenced in an article in the Boston Globe suggesting that
Newman was a homosexual
Boston, it appears, wants to embrace Newman
of their own”, not so much for any imputation of sanctity,
or even for his academic contributions, but as a potential
cause célèbre, however spurious the reasoning or
specious the conjecture, to further promote homosexuality
in Boston. Facts, of course, have little to do with the
state of affairs — political, social and ecclesiastical
— in Boston. Unwarranted but distinctly sordid conjecture
suffices. Especially if it brings one to ill-repute ...
something, admittedly, extremely difficult to do these days
in Boston, given the inverted valuation that has taken deep
hold where virtue becomes vice and vice virtue.
Nevertheless Newman has come to
Boston, welcome or not, through the miraculous healing of
a Boston area deacon, which furthered the cause of his canonization.
In this sense, we come in some respect face to face with
God and the realization that He has not forsaken Boston
in toto despite the stench of sexual immorality that
covers it like soiled sheets in some cheap motel. That we
all sin goes without saying. It really takes little effort.
What takes considerable determination is the effort to make
sanctity sin. It involves some devilishly clever subterfuge.
But Boston is, if anything, a devilishly clever town.
It is odd that God comes, of all
places, to Boston through Newman. He knew that His servant
would be abused here ... too. Rather much like Abraham's
nephew Lot ... with the exception that Newman is dead. And
still the crowd lusts after him.
Perhaps there are ten just
men in Boston. Pity that we know so few.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
for the Boston Catholic Journal
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Blessed John Henry Newman on Hope