Cardinal O’Malley: So Who is Obsessed?

O'MalleyIn the run-up to today’s March for Life, Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, gave an interview to the Boston Herald (h/t Rocco Palm) which was published yesterday. One of the questions asked of His Eminence was about Pope Francis’ now (in)famous remark that the Church needing to avoid being obsessed with issues like abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.

Here’s what the Cardinal had to say:

The normal Catholic in the parish might hear a sermon on abortion once a year. They’ll never hear a sermon on homosexuality or gay marriage. They’ll never hear a sermon about contraception. But if you look at the New York Times, in the course of a week, there will be 20 articles on those topics. So who is obsessed?

Bingo! But the Cardinal doesn’t leave it there. He continues:

Now, the Church’s positions are very clear and very consistent. For us, life is at the very center of our social teachings. Life is precious. It is a mystery. It must be nurtured, protected, the transmission of life is sacred. And our defense of human life is a great service to society. When the state begins to decide who is worthy of living and who isn’t, all human rights are put in jeopardy, but the voice of the church is very clear. And we’re not just saying that life is precious in the womb but life is precious when someone has Alzheimer’s when someone has AIDS when someone is poor when someone has mental illness. Their humanity is not diminished – and they have a claim on our love and on our services. So the church’s position is a very consistent one. It is a consistent life ethic. I don’t think that we are obsessed, however, when the New York Times is writing 20 articles a week about these things and make reference to the Church in half of those articles, it gives the impression. But I think in the parishes, these things are talks, in a routine way, in CCD classes, along with the rest of the Catholic doctrine but all of our teachings fit together. They’re part of a whole. There’s a consistency in our life ethic.

While we ought to insist on the truth–and a fair accounting of the truth, as Cardinal O’Malley does–we must never let the failings of others define our own mission. It’s the easiest thing in the world to complain about media bias. It is also easy to fall into a trap where a lack of fairness becomes an excuse for bitterness. When this happens, when we lose focus on our ultimate goal, the half-truths and lies can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Moreover, we risk missing a particular opportunity for grace. As Christ Himself tells us:

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

On this unhappy anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, let’s all resolve to keep up the fight for life. Let’s also resolve to never let our own frustrations obscure the joy of the Gospel.

  • kneeling catholic

    Dear Vincent,

    If his Holiness is being misquoted, he has no one to blame but himself. His quote that you give targets a strawman. Who is advocating a ‘disjointed’ presentation of Catholic imperatives? I don’t know anyone who says we ought to do that!

    His Holiness has Scalfari -and Time Magazine-and LGBT advocacy groups jumping for joy. Are they misunderstanding him? He is ‘ajournimienting’ directly to them.

    Does his Holiness have the power to transform a sin into a virtue?

    Sooner or later, (when e.g. it turns out that sodomy is still a sin which cries out to heaven) these ‘friends’ will have to conclude that they were misled by false advertising. I don’t see how the future Church will genuinely engage them after this-less-than-honest approach falls flat. “once burned, twice shy”.

  • Mariann

    But Frank, it is not only the youth who need to hear Truth. Our Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and ultimately Parish Priests must bring the fullness and beauty of Truth to the pulpit in order for parishioners to understand, defend, and evangelize with courage and the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Well said, Roger LeBlanc. Lord, have mercy on all Bishops, and return their thoughts, words and lives to the salvation of souls! Amen.

  • kneeling catholic

    Dear Roger!

    I am not discouraged by Cardinal o’M’s words. He is, in a way, painting a very real picture of things as they are. This can be seen the Cardinal’s gentle corrective to the Pope’s assertion that the Church has become ‘obsessed’. Kind of like saying……. ‘what world are you living in, your Holiness?’ or, from the famous ‘Space Balls’ vignette…’Your Holiness, we are in ‘now’ now.’ :-)

  • Vincent

    I find it very frustrating that nearly everyone continues to misquote what the Pope said about being “obsessed.”. He did not say the church was obsessed with abortion, contraception, etc. Here is what the pope actually said:
    “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. ” His concern is that people are putting forward the Church’s moral teachings apart from the the gospel message that gives them their logic and force. He went on to say, “The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.” His objection is not to talking about these issues, but to talking about them out of the context in which they make sense. If we do that, we simply end up undermining the moral teachings we are trying to advocate. In the Pope’s words, outside of the gospel context “even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

  • Frank S

    As a Confirmation Catechist working in the trenches I understand your frustration. I just give my personal frustration over to the Holy Spirit, pray and work with the teens to help them develop a strong Catholic identity. I have hope in our youth. God bless.

  • Roger LeBlanc

    I JUST CANNOT BELIEVE THIS STUFF. YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP. So, Cardinal O’Mallyey is defending the Pope and blaming the media as being the ones who are “obsessed”, is he? REALLY?

    Cardinal O’Malley’s own words are an indictment of HIMSELF and the failure of Priests, and Bishops to educate and catechize the faithful from the Pulpit. His own words demonstrate the abysmal failure of Bishops to make sure their priests are getting the message out.


    “The normal Catholic in the parish might hear a sermon on abortion ONCE A YEAR. They’ll NEVER hear a sermon on homosexuality or gay marriage. They’ll NEVER hear a sermon about contraception. But if you look at the New York Times, in the course of a week, there will be 20 articles on those topics. So who is obsessed?”


    Just what does he think he is defending? The abysmal failure of priests and bishops, AND HIMSELF, or the Pope? Without realizing it what he said is a TERRIBLE INDICTMENT of the failure of priests and bishops to catechize the faithful from the pulpits. It’s a terrible indictment not only of his priests, but of HIMSELF for failing to make sure that his priests get the message out about church teaching on abortion, homosexuality, and gay marriage FROM THE PULPITS.

    There is a satanic blindness that has beset the church that prevents these men from any kind of serious objective introspection that brings them to blame everyone but themselves. Just incredible and pathetic. Don’t forget, this is the guy who gave the rock and roll funeral to the anti-christ in government (Ted Kennedy) and let Obama (another anti-christ) eulogize Kennedy in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament which was one of the most shameful things that ever happened in a Catholic Church in the US.



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