Then this response [with my comments] was posted by Father Jonathan Morris, Fox News Analyst and at the time, rector of the Legionaires of Christ seminary in Rome:
An Open Letter to Sean Hannity
As I watched a fellow Catholic priest spar with you on the March 9 edition of Hannity and Colmes, I hung my head in shame and sadness. My colleague in religion (whom I've never met) used the public airways and Internet to call you a heretic and hypocrite. Because he chose to do this in a public forum, I want you and your viewers to know, publicly, that as an analyst of this television network, I believe this good priest, who does great work, exercised, on this occasion, shockingly poor judgment. I consider his willingness to give his personal opinion about your status within the Church inappropriate and ill-considered, to say the least.
Regardless of the issue and arguments at hand [the issue was artificial contraception and dissent from Church teachings, teachings which Fr. Euteneuer accurately described and defended, and which Fr. Morris apparently isn't willing to bring up in this letter], brandishing law without palpable love almost always repels. I must assume he just made an honest mistake. [by using the term "mistake," here, Fr. Morris may be implying unintentionally to the reader that Fr. Euteneuer was wrong about Church teaching, and he was not.]
The unfortunate event reminded me of the bigger question of the fast-eroding credibility among religious leaders in our nation and its causes.
I should start, or rather continue, at home with the Catholic Church, your church and mine. As you rightly stated in the same television segment, the systematic cover-up of sexual abuse within some sectors of Catholic Church leadership was a monstrous scandal and its effects will be long-lasting. Even those priests who were not involved in the mess, as I am sure is the case with the priest in question, can never forget that those of us who wear a clerical collar still conjure up painful memories in many people's minds. The strange looks and rash judgments to which we are at times subjected is not the people's fault; it's ours, in as much as we are members of a very guilty family.
In this light, before we clergy members speak out publicly against public offenses, as sometimes we must do, we should ask ourselves and God why we are doing what we are doing, and what the best way to do it is, according to the circumstances, and always with palpable love. The question is not only if what we have to say is correct, but where, when, and how we should say it. I, for one, would have communicated my beliefs in a different way on more than one occasion if I had followed this advice.
I would be remiss if I were to suggest that the loss of religious credibility begins and ends with Catholic leaders. When we hear television evangelists wonder out loud whether Ariel Sharon's stroke might be God's judgment on him for making territorial concessions to the Palestinians, we lose trust. When, year after year, we listen to self-proclaimed prophets predict the day and the hour of the “end-times,” we lose trust. When we turn on the television and hear preachers promise heaven on earth if we give, give, give to the Church — their church — we lose trust. When we hear mainline Protestant pastors and their associations throw Biblical tradition to the wind and make wishy-washy statements about faith and morality, we lose trust.
The non-Christian religions are in even worse shape regarding leadership credibility. Is there a single Muslim imam who stands out today for his national leadership toward peace? What Muslim scholar can we trust to speak with scholarly proficiency and universal authority about the alleged peaceful nature of Islam?
The Jewish community in America is so splintered and disjointed on themes of dogma and religious tradition, it is difficult to find anyone who speaks for the majority, or even for the masses.
Here's my point:
When we believe we have discovered truth and, therefore, we believe others are wrong — a sign of cultivated intelligence, not pride — we must reject the temptation to throw civility to the wind. Being right always didn't ever inspire Jesus to jeopardize people's reputation or dignity. It went against his very nature, and it should go against ours too. Sometimes he spoke harshly, but he always spoke in love, and he made sure people knew it.
Sean, I don't always agree with you and Alan, as I have told both of you in person, but I think you are both honest, and both have the humility and courage to accept truth when you stumble across it, even when it comes in bits and pieces. I think it's precisely this three-pronged attitude of honesty, humility and courage that best prepares us, with all of our imperfections, for heaven.
God bless, Father Jonathan
And Father Euteneuer's response (source: Tea at Trianon):
Father Euteneuer's Reply to Father Jonathan Morris
Here is Father Thomas Euteneuer's polite but firm response to the brother priest who publically chastised him for taking a stand. (Via Spirit Daily) The red highlights are mine. What happened to fraternal correction? It seems that those who speak out against what is wrong are the ones who get corrected.
Dear Father Jonathan,
Your letter to Sean Hannity indicates that you did not know that I asked to speak to him in private about this matter in 2004 otherwise you may have tempered your remarks about my supposed lack of charity in dealing with a high profile Catholic who dissents from clearly-defined and reiterated Church teachings....You also seemed to be unaware of the fact that Sean was the one who invited me on his program and who then promptly “[threw] civility to the wind,” refused to display “cultivated intelligence” on the issues and jeopardized another person’s “reputation and dignity.” May I also point out that you did not employ with me the same standard of “fraternal correction” that you expected me to employ with Mr. Hannity. I at least made the attempt to speak to him about this issue in private without success; you, in contrast, went immediately to the internet to take me to task. I do not intend to understand your motives; I can only evaluate what I see in your actions.
The question that comes to mind is an obvious one: if you are a Fox analyst on Catholic matters, wouldn’t you have been the one to have had those “private conversations” on birth control with Mr. Hannity? How about discussions on his abortion exceptions? When you told Sean “in person” that you “disagreed with him,” was it on the issue of birth control? If you had done that, I applaud you, but your powers of persuasion may need a little honing—Sean has only gotten more vocal on this issue over time. If you did not speak to him about his public dissent, then I ask you, “Why?” While we are on the subject, have you also analyzed and disagreed with Bill O’Reilly’s perfectly horrible disdain for the Holy Father and the Church that you represent?
The church sex abuse scandal was not just about homosexual and predatory priests. It was about clerical negligence and silence on issues that not only affect people’s souls but also ruin people’s lives. It is highly unusual that you or anyone else would want a priest to be silent on issues that affect the salvation of souls. We used to recognize “admonishing the sinner” as one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, and I consider my admonishment of Mr. Hannity to have been done in that spirit. I might also add that in doing so I have fulfilled my duty as a priest which is a requirement for my salvation.
As a seminary rector, I would sincerely hope that you are not teaching by word or example the young men in your charge to be politically correct sissies who are afraid to roll up their sleeves and defend the Church in private and in public. We have tons of those types in the clergy already. I would advise you to drink deeply of the wisdom of the Number Two man at our Headquarters who has in no uncertain terms told all of us that high profile dissenters are a scourge and a danger to souls. [See item: “Bertone: Dissident Catholics More Worrying Than Atheists.” http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/jan/07011003.html.]
I wish you fraternal blessings for your priestly work.
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
Human Life International
The Church Will Not Be Hannitized
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