Thanks to Bobo for the tip– here is another foray by Bill McClellan into waters too deep for him. This appears to be an attempt to get orthodox priests to back down from preaching and affirming the Gospel. My comments in green.
Church and politics get a little testy
By Bill McClellan
If you don’t think that tempers are getting short as the election approaches, consider that Hugh McVey did something last Sunday that he would have once considered unthinkable. The former seminarian (this is the variant of the “I grew up Catholic and so I am free to redefine Church teaching” strategy) stood up in the middle of a sermon and challenged the priest.
“I said, ‘Father, Father. Are you really comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler?'” To the extent that they both have supported mass killing of human beings, um, yes.
Moments later, McVey walked out of the church. Classy.
McVey is the president of the Missouri AFL-CIO. He is a lifelong Roman Catholic. Union first, or Catholic first? He was raised in north St. Louis County, one of 11 children. He went to St. Vincent’s seminary in Cape Girardeau with the intention of becoming a priest. He decided to leave the religious life when he fell in love. He got a union job at AmerenUE and became a business agent for Operating Engineers Local 148. He became president of the Missouri AFL-CIO in 1999.
He has three grown daughters. All of them are Roman Catholic. One of them attends Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church in St. Charles. She went to Mass Saturday night with one of her sisters. She called her father after the service. She was crying. She told him that the new priest had compared Obama to Hitler and had said that anybody who voted for Obama was condemned to hell. I seriously, seriously doubt the priest said anything like this. Fr. Waldman is a great young priest and very well-formed.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,” McVey said. “I’m a Catholic, and I’m pro-life. But I’m also a union guy and a Democrat. I’ve come to expect the church to bash Democrats around an election, but this just seemed way over the line.”
So he went to the 7:15 Mass on Sunday morning. He said he was a little bit late. He went to a pew near the front of the church. The Rev. Noah Waldman was delivering the homily.
“He was saying that in five weeks we’d be going to the polls,” McVey said. “He said that with all the serious issues confronting us, abortion is the single-most important issue. He said if you don’t vote for the pro-life candidate, you’re condemned. I don’t disagree with what Father probably said; I can’t imagine he would say a person was “condemned.” Yet a person who votes for a candidate because of their support for abortion is committing serious sin, as Archbishop Burke rightly said. If you’re voting for them but not because of that support, then your reason has to be correspondingly grave. That is where a well-formed conscience comes in. Good priests like Father Waldman are doing their jobs in helping to form those consciences. Then he talked about the Third Reich, and how Germany was in economic trouble and a man came along who was a wonderful speaker and people were taken in. That’s when I lost it.”
McVey left the church and called people to tell them what he had done. “I kind of felt like the village idiot,” (no comment) he said. “You just don’t do that in church.”
One of the people he called was John O’Mara, an official with the Plumbers and Pipefitters. O’Mara has been a member of Sts. Joachim and Ann for 21 years. His kids went through the parish school. Oh good, have the union boss pressure the priest…this will end well.
O’Mara said he went to the rectory later that morning hoping to speak with the longtime pastor, the Rev. John Brockland. O’Mara said nobody was at the rectory so he proceeded toward the church, where he saw Waldman standing outside talking to another parishioner.
“I stood there, waiting my turn, when I heard him say something about a ‘strong union presence’ in the parish. I thought, ‘Where is this going?’ Then he said that unions have embraced death, and I just cut in at that point. I said I’m with a labor union and I don’t appreciate that comment,” O’Mara said. You may not appreciate it (if that was what was said), but to the extent that unions support politicians who support killing babies, it is true.
O’Mara later called Waldman and asked for a meeting. McVey wanted to be there, too, he said. The priest agreed to meet with the two men at the chancery on Wednesday. Vicar General Monsignor Vernon Gardin also was at the meeting. McVey said that Waldman said he had not meant to compare Obama to Hitler, but he conceded that some people could have misinterpreted his intentions. I hope these fine men care as much if they hear that the Real Presence was downplayed in a homily.
I went to the church Friday morning to talk to Waldman or Brockland. A secretary in the rectory office told me to call Anne Steffens, the chief communications officer for the archdiocese. Hey, I know her! I did. Steffens e-mailed me a copy of the sermon. It was about the archbishop of Munich who challenged Hitler and National Socialism. A great man; he seemed a lot like Archbishop Burke, by the way… It urged the listeners to oppose abortion. I found nothing in it about Hitler being a wonderful speaker, nothing about anybody being condemned if he or she didn’t vote for the pro-life candidate. I faxed a copy of the sermon to McVey.
I heard what I heard, he said. In a way, this is the truest words McVey has spoken. He heard what he heard. Not what was said, but what he heard.
I spoke with Waldman Thursday afternoon. He is 39 years old. He graduated from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in May. He is a protege of former Archbishop Raymond Burke, whom he knew in Wisconsin. Is this a cutdown from the liberal press, that he is Archbishop Burke’s protege?
He said he did not veer from the script last Sunday. “This is an important homily. I stuck to the words,” he said. He did not say anything about Hitler being a good speaker, he added, nor did he say anybody would be condemned. “The church does not do that,” he said. As I suspected. I’ll believe him and not the Obama supporter with the guilty conscience, if you please.
Waldman said the exchange with O’Mara was a misunderstanding. He said he was speaking with another parishioner and said something to the other parishioner about how some people have gone so far as to accuse unions of embracing the agenda of death. At that point, he said, O’Mara interrupted him. “I was dumbfounded,” he said. Get used to it.
He said he was glad to have had the opportunity to meet with McVey and O’Mara on Wednesday.
“I am a new priest, and Sunday was a difficult day for me,” he said.
Father, people all over the Archdiocese support you. Preach the Gospel. Be instant, in season and out of season….
God bless you. If this is the kind of legacy the Archbishop leaves at the seminary, we are blessed. Keep this faithful young priest in your prayers.