Fr. Flanagan Wouldn’t Qualify Either

One of the more disturbing aspects of this HHS mandate is knowing the degree to which our nation has profited from Catholics only now to have our consciences treated so shabbily.

As an example I give you the life of Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, and whose cause has recently opened. Many may remember the 1938 movie about the straight-talking priest played by Spenser Tracy, who won an academy award for his portrayal. Fr. Flanagan not only started a ministry for lost and abandoned boys in his neighborhood of Omaha but extended that work of compassion all over the country so that boys would beg, borrow and steal in order to come to Boys Town.

Boys as young as twelve, with parents who were either dead or had abandoned them would hop on busses or jump trains in order to make it to the outskirts of Omaha, Nebraska. Lives that would otherwise have remained unproductive and/or turned to crime were turned around by the feisty Irishman from Ballymoe.

Fr. Edward J. Flanagan

Ahead of his time in many ways, Fr. Flanagan taught Americans what true compassion meant by allowing black boys and Native American boys and Polish boys and Irish boys, Catholic boys and Jewish boys and Protestant boys to all eat and sleep under the same roof. He caught a lot of grief for it. Folks literally ran him out of town, which is why he had to buy that farm. But he stuck to his principle that all boys are created in God’s image and deserve respect.

When World War II broke out, Fr. Flanagan was known as the nation’s “Number One War Dad” as he had hundreds of his boys overseas. But that was not his only contribution to the war. After the victory of the Allied Powers, Fr. Flanagan was sent to Japan by President Truman in order to help create a welfare system for the orphaned children of that devastated nation. In doing this, Fr. Flanagan was creating a system which that culture had never seen or needed up that point. They honor him there to this day.

Fr. Flanagan was also sent by Truman to Germany to help that country’s children cope with the war and set up orphanages, and it was while on this Presidential mission that Fr. Flanagan died of a heart attack. This priest gave his life for our country in the name of compassion for orphaned and lost children.

As people asked him what would happen to all those boys if he should ever die, Fr. Flanagan’s response was always to say simply that the work would continue because it was not his work but God’s. To this, today’s Presidential administration would say that, while nice and all, the fact that Fr. Flanagan employed non-Catholics and served non-Catholic boys means it’s not of God, it’s not religious activity, and it’s not protected by the first amendment.

And to that, I’m sure Fr. Flanagan would be joining Cardinal Dolan – another feisty Irishman – in denouncing the HHS mandate. As it is, the work of Fr. Flanagan can still be seen at Boys Town in Omaha and in hundreds of orphanages and places of hope for children all around the world. That’s something of God even if the administration is not willing to admit it.



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  • Steve M

    Tom is very right. Our individual hypocrisy has lead to an institutional hypocrisy. We all want a culture where we can do what we want when we want without consequences. Hopefully the current situation serves as a wake up call to the Church and to each of us to get back in there and start teaching the Truth. Unfortunately we all need some consequences so we start living the Faith not just professing it. Bishops, priests and lay people to start really quesitoning our own individual actions instead of defending these. Like St. Patrick start of with “I Steve a sinner” in the morning and then really acknowledge my sins and beg for Mercy. This seems the only way it will change. Fr. Flanagan showed that perfect Love for these children. Let’s ask for his prayers to help each individual start with themselves so show the Love of Christ.

  • Tom

    The HHS mandate regarding insurance coverage of birth control is a clever divide and conquer strategy regarding Catholics. The politicos know that the Catholic Church has a huge internal problem on the issue of birth control that we, the Catholic people, have left unresolved for about 50 years now. On the books, artificial birth control is a mortal sin, and even limiting children by natural means is allowed only for grave reasons. The Catholic Church has keep itself from disintegration in the West by adopting a de facto “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on use of artificial birth control by sexually active Catholics. We all know that on any give Sunday at any give Mass, most of the sexually active adults in the Communion line are using artificial birth control. The HHS mandate is a political move to separate the more liberal Catholics from the more conservative Catholics and from the their bishops. In terms of pure cleverness, they are to be admired. But they are only exploiting a more prior problem of conscience, which that Catholics are, in very large numbers (a majority of sexually active Catholics), regularly doing an act that the bishops and popes have declared to be a mortal sin. The problem in all this is not the HHS or the White House. The problem is primarily OUR OWN, an internal Catholic problem. We cannot go on forever with this state of affairs, in which he have most of our people regularly committing a mortal sin, or what the bishops say is a mortal sin. The White House’s action has succeeding in showing what hypocrites we Catholics are on this issue of birth control. That hurts. But when a large group is so hypocritical, it is fair game for its opponents to use whatever ammo they can. We Catholics have handed this ammo to them. The primary shame is not on the presidential administration. The primary shame is on us. Yet, I never hear any one say this. To me, a major nobody, this all seems like a no brainer. If most Catholics were following Church teachings on sexuality, the presidential administration would not have even dared to issue this HHS mandate. But they can read polls, surveys and studies. They know that Catholics actually do. They know most Catholics are not united with their bishop and the pope on this issue. They are playing their cards astutely. Who can blame them. It is their goal to defeat the Catholic Church and reshape culture into something more like the more secular nations of Europe. But it is WE CATHOLICS who are making that happen, because we TALK THE TALK, but do not WALK THE WALK. We can file all the lawsuits we want against the HHS. We can be outraged all we want. We can redouble out efforts to elected conservative politicians. But that won’t reduce our hypocrisy ONE BIT. That won’t make us ONE BIT more holy, if we as a Catholic People just keep on using the birth control en masse as before. Jesus never called us to change the government or the laws. He called us to personal repentance, to personal faith, to personal submission to the Lord God. Why won’t Cardinal Dolan say this? I don’t have his phone number or I’d call and ask him. But I can guess. Because like all the other bishops, he doesn’t know the way out of this big mess that the Church is in regarding the massive non-compliance of Catholics to the Church’s teaching on sex related issues, including birth control, but also premarital sex, living together as unmarried couples, divorce and remarriage, etc. It is so much easier to file lawsuits than to pastor and lead a rebellious people back to the way of God. Yet, as seen in the Hebrew Bible especially, that is exactly the role of the prophet, and the role of those holding the offices in the Church with a prophetic responsibility. Catholic People, the villain of this story is not President O., or any party or faction or movement external to the Catholic Church! The villain of this piece is US, you and I and all our neighbors we sit next to at Mass every Sunday. We are hypocrites! Jesus was hardest of all in his condemnation of hypocrites! Catholics, VOTING is NOT a SACRAMENT of the Church. We cannot gain graces and holiness by voting for conservative politicians! Jesus never said or intimated any such thing. If we live in a country which has citizen voting, we should vote and vote prudently. But we cannot VOTE OUT WAY TO HOLINESS AND SALVATION. Neither Jesus nor St. Paul ever had the government on their side, yet they were VERY successful in spreading the saiving FAITH and LIGHT across the world. Catholics, I believe a prophet speaking today will tell US CATHOLICS that we have lost our way. We think we can vote ourselves int HOLINESS, can gain absolution for our sins by voting for conservatives!

  • David

    I don’t deny that Santorum was a man with a heart and convictions. He had some admirable qualities. However, there is a single candidate who undeniably has the champion of the cause for liberty, and that is Ron Paul. It just so happens that he is also the only truly pro-life candidate in the race. Among many other reasons, because I oppose the killing of innocents and the HHS Mandate, I will be wholeheartedly voting for Dr. Ron Paul.

    (PS.– Ron Paul absolutely has more delegates than the news outlets project/guess. Also, there’s no way that anyone will have enough delegates to have the convention in the bag, which translates into more than one vote. That means that Ron Paul actually stands a better chance of winning the nomination than does Romney.)

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  • Kay White

    This has been a Grassroots campaign from the beginning! I would encourage everyone in all the states that have not voted to cast their vote for the most Loving Caring Person with a real heart in this campaign. His decision to suspend because of the stress on his family show what a true man he is!! This is the kind of Person that WE NEED in the the White House!! Vote and pass this on to everyone you know to show that the people have a voice and the people can WIN THIS CAMPAIGN WITHOUT ANY MORE STRESS ON THE CANDIDATE!! VOTE RICK – STAND UP FOR AMERICA. AMERICA’S HEART BEAT IS GROWING WEAKER BY THE DAY WITH THE RISING DEBT – AMERICANS ARE CRYING OUT FOR A LEADER LIKE OUR FOREFATHERS WHO LOVED AMERICA, GOD AND THEIR FAMILIES – THAT MAN IS RICK SANTORUM!

    • Brian C

      I will still be voting for Rick Santorum in my state’s primary which has not yet occurred.



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