Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Liberal and Conservative Catholics In Conflict Over Archiodecsan Sale to Boston College

The Boston Globe reports that the Rev. John Farren, a Dominican friar who resigned May 24 as head of St. John's Seminary, has written a letter to Sean Cardinal O'Malley objecting to the sale of most of the remaining seminary land to Boston College. It seems to be pitting at least one prominent, conservative Catholic against the more liberal Jesuits about to move in.

While Rev. Farren raised a number of "financial and legal concerns," he saves his harshest words for his staunch opposition to having Jesuit seminarians (from BC's new affiliation with the Weston Jesuit School of Theology) alongside St. John's Archiodesan seminarians:

The Rev. John A. Farren... warned in the letters last month that the "doctrinal integrity" of St. John's is at risk because of increased proximity to two Jesuit-run Catholic institutions, Boston College and Weston Jesuit School of Theology, which are expected to move into buildings currently held by the seminary.

"A sign of this is found in the fact that several professors of WJST are currently under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," [Rev. Farren] wrote, referring to the Vatican agency that investigates theologians accused of doctrinal error. "Several professors at WJST are self- professed gays or lesbians. Collaboration at such an institution is not good policy for St. John's Seminary."

Weston Jesuit and Boston College are generally considered liberal institutions open to a wider range of theological views than St. John's. Under Farren's leadership, several members of the seminary faculty perceived as liberal were ousted.

Cardinal O'Malley explained the sale on his blog and, in more detail, in a letter to Boston's Catholic newspaper, The Pilot. He has apparently written another letter to Archdiocesan priests in response to Rev. Farren's comments, but it appears not to have been released.

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