Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow,
The cow’s in the corn;
Where is that boy
Who looks after the sheep?
Under the haystack,
The old nursery rhyme brings to mind what may very well be an apt description of the current state of affairs in the Catholic Church. Shepherds have two responsibilities when it comes to tending sheep. The first is to keep the flock together, reigning in those who stray and prodding those who lag behind. The second is to ward off predators, such as wolves or lions. And when the shepherd falls asleep, the sheep stray and face immense perils without any chance of defense.
The Archdiocese of Boston has been in a well-documented state of confusion and turmoil for many years, and recent events offer little consolation of any pending relief. For instance, in 2003, one of Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s first acts as the new Archbishop of Boston was to appoint the dissident priest, Fr. Bryan Hehir, as the president of Catholic Charities of Boston and the secretary of social services. Despite ongoing scandals caused by Fr. Hehir, he has remained in the same position ever since. In 2009, Cardinal O’Malley, “in the strongest terms,” lashed out at pro-lifers who opposed the public funeral for staunchly pro-abortion and pro-same-sex “marriage” Senator Ted Kennedy, saying they “do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.” In 2010, a company named after the mythical guard dog of hell, Cerberus, purchased the Caritas Christi chain of six hospitals, despite strong, vocal opposition and warnings from pro-life leaders. Last year, Cardinal O’Malley praised a Boston pastor who later equated the Holy Family with homosexual couples.
Most recently, Cardinal O’Malley took part in a bizarre interfaith “ritual,” wherein he asked “Rev.” Anne Robertson, a female Methodist “pastor,” to administer a drop of water to his forehead. This is the same woman who wrote a book in 2005 entitled God’s Top 10: Blowing the Lid Off the Commandments. In this book, she supports contraception, legalized abortion, and same-sex marriage. For instance, the introduction page xi says:
When the exit pollsters in the 2004 presidential election asked me whether I voted the way I did because of “moral values,” my answer was an unequivocal “yes.” But it wasn’t homosexuality or abortion that made me cast my vote for John Kerry. The moral issue that concerned me most was what I believe to be an unjust war in Iraq and policies that favor the rich at the expense of the poor. (emphasis added)
On page 74, Robertson writes:
Because I have seen precious young women—even girls—in simply impossible circumstances, I shudder at the thought of a hard and fast law that would send those already abused to a dark alley with a coat hanger. I want those girls to at least have a sterile environment and caring staff as they go through the physical and emotional turmoil of abortion. That makes me vote to keep abortion legal. But that doesn’t mean I wish for a world where abortion happens. I want us to care enough about the poor and the abused to create systems where no woman is forced to choose between her own life and the life of her unborn child. (emphasis added)
On page 102, under the subhead “Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage,” she writes: “I’d be happy if my denomination changed policies and allowed me to conduct weddings for same-sex couples.” (emphasis added) The rest of this section is a feeble attempt to pervert scriptural condemnations of homosexual acts.
From a purely objective perspective, a Catholic heir to the Apostles acting in submission to someone who is basically living sacrilegiously as a so-called minister of the gospel, gives the impression that this individual holds some kind of spiritual authority. This, in and of itself, could lead Catholics to adopt the heresy of indifferentism, which maintains that no religion or philosophy is superior to another. And while Cardinal O’Malley may have missed the fact that someone could come away from this event with that kind of impression, it certainly wasn’t lost on Ms. Robertson, who said:
What moved me was not so much that I was anointing him. . . . It was him being willing to accept that from my hand—to ask me, as a woman in ministry, to do that. . . . My heart immediately went to my throat. . . . To be asked that by the man who might be pope someday—I was stunned. I was choking back tears for hours.
Shocking as all of this is, charity demands that we assume that Cardinal O’Malley is acting in all sincerity with the best of intentions. But given all that has happened, it seems clear that perhaps good intentions are not enough, and one has to wonder whether His Eminence is being properly advised. The end of the nursery rhyme seems to echo the thoughts of many people with well-intentioned, albeit misguided, charity:
Will you wake him?
Oh no, not I,
For if I do
He will surely cry.
If Little Boy Blue remains asleep, the sheep will run off and be eaten while the cows gorge themselves on the crops. Fear of upsetting the cardinal should not prevent us from alerting His Eminence to the reality of the situation, and in justice, it is our duty to do so. But charity also demands that we do so with kindness, while fasting and praying for him as well.
Michael Hichborn is director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project.