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MA: Gay affirming priest replaced by Vatican stooge

The beloved, but ousted Cuenin (l), and his Ratzi-approved replacement, Coyne.

”I believe this is about more than money — that is an excuse, not a reason. They’ve used that as a way of moving Walter out of the way, and ensuring he can never be a pastor again, and I believe it has more to do with his stand and activities in the sexual abuse crisis and his support of women, of gays and lesbians, of divorced couples, and of marginalized people.”

— Christina Graf, the vice chairwoman of the parish council at Our Lady Help of Christians on Walter Cuenin’s ouster

Never mind homos, Ratzi’s now ordering the deep-sixing of dissenters that dare think gay people are human beings.

The fig leaf of “fiscal improprieties” is being used to squash dissent, but evidence has surfaced that Rev. Walter H. Cuenin, pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton, MA, was targeted for his pro-gay and progressive public positions. He was a popular figure, leading the parish for 12 years, but he was removed by the Boston Archdiocese in yet another “witch hunt” bent on weeding out clergy critical of the church’s hypocrisy and frankly, immoral behavior.

To add insult to injury, the man installed to take his place, Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, is a part of the Vatican cover-up of the pedophile horror, having served as archdiocese spokesman at the height of the clergy sexual abuse scandal. This church is so sick and rotten. How many times do parishioners have to be spat on by the Vatican before an outright revolt and schism occurs?

The improprieties held against Cuenin are laughable — a $500 stipend and a leased Accord — and Cuenin said that the payments had repeatedly been approved by the parish finance council and reported during previous archdiocesan audits.

A letter surfaced, according, that shows the more likely reason the hammer came down.

In an indication that a Newton pastor’s position on gay rights may have played a role in his ouster, a conservative website has posted a letter from a top archdiocesan official saying that Roman Catholic Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley had been ”very disturbed” by an accusation that the pastor had invited parishioners to consider marching in a gay-rights parade in Boston last spring.

…Bishop Richard G. Lennon, the archdiocesan vicar general, writes of receiving complaints that Cuenin had positively mentioned an upcoming gay pride parade in the church bulletin, and says, ”Please know that the archbishop is very disturbed by the information that you, along with others, have sent to him regarding this event and the involvement of Father Cuenin. He wishes to assure you that he is in the process of addressing this whole matter.”

The letter was dated July 8, one month after the annual Boston Pride parade on June 11.

…A leader of the parish’s delegation to the gay pride parade said Cuenin did not author the bulletin announcement and did not march in the parade.

It wasn’t an invitation from Walter, but from the justice and peace committee of the parish, because gay rights is an issue of justice in our minds,” said Larry Kessler, a member of the parish council at Our Lady Help of Christians and a founding director of the AIDS Action Committee.

The wrath against Cuenin is also driven by hardline American Conservatives.

Cuenin has been an outspoken supporter of welcoming gays and lesbians to the church, and his position on that issue, as on many other issues, has angered conservatives, some of whom have been agitating for his ouster for years. The Operation Rescue: Boston website,, for example, refers to Cuenin as a ”pro-gay, dissenting priest,” and to his actions as ”heresy.”

…In the parish bulletin at Our Lady’s earlier this month, Cuenin wrote: ‘We have made a special effort to welcome gay and lesbian persons and their families. The parish is blessed to have many couples, some now legally married, as members of the community. They come on Sundays and are raising their children in the faith. Their marriage seems to have been a good experience for them. It doesn’t appear that anyone’s marriage has been threatened or compromised by the 1,800 gay marriages that have already taken place in the past year.”

…Cuenin had previously landed in hot water in 2002, when he was quoted in The New Yorker magazine saying that divorced people should be granted a ”front-row seat” in Catholic parishes, and that gays and lesbians should be granted the ”other front row.”

Cuenin also led a group of priests who wound up signing a letter calling for Cardinal Bernard F. Law to resign in December 2002.

You know that last bit of business was enough to put the Vatican’s panties in a bunch. Law in 2002 summarily banned any church agencies from holding meetings at Cuenin’s parish because of the popular priest’s criticism of Law’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal, so this is sweet revenge. Cuenin had to go, and they were going to find a way to take him out (why didn’t they just go ahead with concrete shoes for him?).

The Ratzi-approved mouthpiece has been installed. The announcement that Rev. Christopher J. Coyne was to take Cuenin’s place was not met with joy by parishioners. In fact, they took to the streets in a protest vigil.

Amanda Forster, 9, attends a vigil last night in support of the Rev Walter Cuenin. (Staff photo by Mark Garfinkel)

Protesters at Our Lady Help of Christians began what was to be a 12-hour vigil last night. Newton’s Jewish mayor and an openly gay Catholic senator spoke to a spillover crowd in support of Cuenin.

Newton Mayor David Cohen called Cuenin “a leader, a teacher, a healer, a mentor.” State Sen. Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge) said that when priests protested the handling of the sex-abuse crisis, “The leader of those priests was your priest Walter Cuenin . . . while others did nothing, he stood up.”

Reacting to the news of Coyne’s appointment, parishioner Donna Giovannini said, “We want to keep Walter Cuenin here. He is the spirit of this church and the leader of this community.” Christina Jameson, one of many Catholics who came from other parishes to Cuenin, said of Coyne, ``If there is anything they could do that would be more offensive, that is it.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding