Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

October 22, 2010


Over the years, the ink has dried; magazine pages have yellowed; key figures have died. I, too myself, am playing in an end zone. What to do with the pile of periodicals containing articles I have written? Let's have a last look at some of these which tried to understand some puzzling conflicts.

AMERICA 2-9-85. "The American Pope" John Cooney (1984), a scurrilous book about Cardinal Spellman. Reminded me of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation: "You can have your own opinions; you cannot have your own facts." Cooney writes with acid ink, using more nasty adjectives than subjects and predicates. His opinions are contradicted by facts. OPINION: Spellman "had a history of working against the Israeli cause."FACT: When Israel's admission to the UN was up for a vote, Spellman called on UN delegates and officials of every Latin American country to vote for Israel. Cooney says he did it to please Charles Silver, his Jewish friend, and noted that Eleanor Roosevelt did it because she "firmly believed in the justice of the cause". OPINION: Spellman guilty of "heel-dragging on the issue of race". FACT: Spellman approved and funded a delegation of priests and nuns to the march on Selma, Ala. despite Alabama's bishop's unwelcome. Cooney:"By the mid-1960s, Spellman...had to do something for the civil rights movement." OPINION: Cooney: Spellman "detested unions". FACT: On arrival in NY, Spellman announced that all construction by the archdiocese would be by union labor. In May 1947, he announced a $25 million building program. The Building and Construction Trades Council of NY passed resolutions of appreciation. OPINION: Spellman "intended to chip away at the wall of church and state...until,it was leveled." FACT: John Courtney Murray, SJ fashioned for Vat II a new doctrine of church and state compatible with US constitution. Old timers at Vat II blocked Murray from the Council. Spellmanm brought him to Council as his personal theologian. Cooney's book is filled with distaste for Spellman and delinquent on facts.

AMERICA,Dec. 6, 1986 "Thou Shalt Not Speak". In August 1986,the NY Chancery issued a directive that persons, who hold positions contrary to church doctrine, should not be permitted to speak at church events. NY Assemblyman John Dearie, a sterling Catholic was banned from speaking at a parish affair because he had voted for Medicaid funding for abortions. My article criticized the directive because it could cause people to vote on a single issue, ignoring other favorable actions by the candidate. Could also lay clergy open to charge of interfering in politics. Also, it is a fact of life that American voters will never elect someone whom they view as politically subservient to a religious body! Many positive responses including Governor Mario Cuomo's; some negative including Cardinal O'Connor's. Story carried in NY Times.

AMERICA: Jan 5-12,1991 "A House Divided: The Pro-Life Movement". I described three points that divide the pro-life movement: abortion perceived as part of women's freedom,opposing contraception and abortion equally; use of excommunication to force a legislator's vote. Pro-life support is weakened if seen as part of anti-feminism, if contraception is opposed equally with abortion; if a legislator is seen as forced by a church penalty. Most comments positive; some insisted on condemning contraception equally with abortion.

AMERICA: Oct 5, 1985. "The Supreme Court and Parochial Schools." Title 1 legislation of 1965 succeeded in allowing federal funds to parochial schools for remedial reading, remedial math, and guidance programs. It was a triumph of LBJ, who brought proponents and opponents together to overcome what had been deemed to be constitutional barriers to any such federal aid to parochial schools. For the next nineteen years, this program was successfully carried out by public school teachers coming into the parochial schools to teach the allowed subjects. In 1985, the US Supreme Court declared the program unconstitutional on church-state separation grounds. My article reviewed previous Supreme Court decisions that dealt with governmental attitudes towards religion in public and parochial schools. Some items were declared unconstitutional: prayers and Bible readngs in public schools; direct aid to parochial schools. But many governmental assistance items for parochial schools were approved by the Court: bus transportation, loan of secular text books, providing computers, projectors, etc, vouchers. NOTE: In 1997 the Supreme Court overruled this 1985 decision. Public school teachers were now to be permitted to enter the parochial school to teach remedial reading and remedial math and provide guidance programs. Church-state jurisprudence had undergone a significant change. Mr. Paul Crotty, an Epiphany Parish parishioner and now a Federal District Court judge, had argued the case successfully before the Supreme Court.

AMERICA: Oct 2, 1999. "Courts Confused on School Choice." This article traced a changing attitude by the Court towards aid to parochial schools as different challenges were confronted: different types of voucher plans, reimbursement for required reporting expenses, computers and internet access, tax credits, sign language interpreter for a deaf student in a Catholic High School, school tuition for a blind student in a Protestant seminary. These varied cases wended their way through lower and appellate courts before arriving at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in affirming constitutionality of these practices was clearly experiencing an evolution.

AMERICA: Dec 12, 1998. "Growing Support for School Vouchers" in educational circles and court decisions.

AMERICA: jULY 25, 1987. "Church, State and Foster Care Children." My article reviewed the history of child placement in public and private facilities, some of which were religious. In that long history, NY legislation provided for "religion matching", which accorded priority to the wish of the child or parent regarding placement in a religious institution. Thus the child was assured of protection of his/her religious identity and of the comfort of religious symbols and devotions so important to young lives. The ACLU instituted a suit to bar religious choice and the providing of religious symbols and devotions in the facility. Catholic and Jewish opposition quickly arose. In view of the high emotions and the church-state complications, a
"Stipulation of Settlement", signed by NYC, Defendant in the case, and the ACLU, was accepted by a Federal District Court. Catholic and Jewish parties, having lost their case, appealed the court's decision. T Cardinal O'Connor said that if the "Stipulation" was upheld on appeal, archdiocesan congegate foster care would be withdrawn. I regret that I have not followed up this case to see how it played out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are to be commended on pointing out the facts about Spellman against Cooney's opinion. But, if only you could see your own blind spots.

Voting for medicaid funded abortions hardly makes one a "sterling Catholic," and that's a fact, not opinion. Positive reponses from Cuomo(Mr. "I oppose capital punishment even though it's my private view, but I can't oppose abortion because it's my private view") is worth as much as his hypocrisy.

You should be ashamed of deceiving people with the "single issue" mantra, unless you think the single issue of saying an innocent human life should not be legally murdered is not prime.

You should also be ashamed for giving in to the falsehood that opposition to abortion is based solely on religion.

October 28, 2010 at 9:52 PM  
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November 1, 2010 at 2:59 PM  

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