Cardinal O’Malley on controversial editor: “He has done an extraordinary job…”

The editor who pilots The Pilot — the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Boston — was profiled this weekend in the Boston Globe:

He published a column two weeks ago suggesting that homosexuality is caused by the devil. The uproar had barely faded when, a week later, The Pilot enraged priest abuse victims with a flattering birthday ode to Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the former Boston archbishop and the public face of the scandal.

For the past 10 years, [Antonio] Enrique, a confidant of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, has steered The Pilot along the conservative edge of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, in line with his background in the Neocatechumenal Way, a relatively new religious community far more conservative than many American Catholics. Some bishops have embraced the Neocats, as they are often called; other bishops have sought to ban them.

“Many of the opinions voiced [in The Pilot] seem to be pre-Vatican II,’’ said Boston College historian and author, Thomas O’Connor, a regular reader, referring to a more rigid era of the church, before changes made in the 1960s.

Enrique declined to be interviewed and has not answered questions about the paper’s recent controversies.

For his religious mission in the United States, Enrique, now 48, had to quit his job in Spain where he worked in marketing and technology for a General Electric company. He came to Boston in 1996 to fulfill a call from Cardinal Law for mission families to help bring Spanish-speaking immigrants into the local Catholic Church.

Enrique and his wife, Reyes, arrived during a bleak New England winter, with no salary and no job, Enrique said on an archdiocese-sponsored radio broadcast in August.

“We came,’’ he told the radio audience, “in the hands of God.’’

Though he had not worked in journalism, according to the archdiocese, Enrique became an editor at La Vida Catolica, a Spanish-language Catholic publication; Law made him editor of The Pilot in 2001. O’Malley retained him when he became archbishop in 2003.

The archdiocese prints about 23,000 copies of The Pilot, distributed to subscribers and through the parishes. Founded in 1829, The Pilot says it is America’s oldest Catholic paper.

Some priests are open about their irritation toward The Pilot’s unwillingness to represent a wider range of Catholic opinions.

“The Pilot doesn’t help to build community when it causes this much of a division or crisis,’’ said the Rev. Robert Bowers, who works at The Paulist Center in Boston.

The Paulist Center refused to distribute the Oct. 28 edition of The Pilot because of the antigay column, written by Daniel Avila, who was at the time a policy adviser to US Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has since resigned.

The notion that the devil turns people gay is not the position of the Catholic Church, and under a loud backlash the paper apologized for “having failed to recognize the theological error’’ before publication.

Gay Catholics, in response, called for Enrique’s resignation, citing what they call a pattern of hostility. In June 2010, The Pilot offended gay Catholics by publishing a commentary that sought to link gay relationships to pornography, as part of their argument for banning the children of gay parents from Catholic schools.

“Because of the pastoral harm [Enrique] has done, we don’t think he should continue as editor,’’ said Marianne Duddy-Burke, director of DignityUSA, an advocacy group for gay Catholics.

Advocates for child victims were equally aghast over the paper’s lengthy Cardinal Law profile of Nov. 4, which mentioned Law’s role in the abuse scandal in two paragraphs near the bottom, before ending with “Happy Birthday, Your Eminence.’’

“What they ought to publish is an entire issue on the abusers Law sheltered during his administration,’’ fumed Anne Barrett Doyle, a director of the group, which documents cases of clergy sexual abuse.

Despite the criticism, O’Malley offered Enrique an unqualified vote of confidence this week. “He has done an extraordinary job of running the newspaper,’’ the cardinal said Thursday in a statement. O’Malley praised Enrique’s professionalism and credited him with improving the paper’s balance sheet. “I am grateful for his leadership, advice and friendship,’’ said O’Malley, who is very close to Enrique and his wife. He personally baptized their 11th child.

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19 responses to “Cardinal O’Malley on controversial editor: “He has done an extraordinary job…””

  1. From the Boston Globe:
    The archdiocese prints about 23,000 copies of The Pilot, distributed to subscribers and
    through the parishes.

    Are the circulation numbers that low? I am surprised.
    Also, disappointing the editor of a newspaper wouldn’t sit down and talk with another newspaper. It would have shed light on the disputes.

  2. Hmmm…Deacon Greg, might you give Senor Enrique an opportunity to air his side of the story? It would be interesting to hear. Thanks.

  3. Sure. If he wants to talk, I’m happy to listen, and would gladly post his response. It’s unfortunate that he declined to talk to the Globe. But if he wants to talk to me, I’m here 😀

    Dcn. G.

  4. Is it generally considered a publisher’s job to review personally every article which is published in his paper? If so, then Mr. Enrique can be legitimately criticized for running the Daniel Avila column. But it’s understandable that opinion pieces by writers who have written for the paper over a number of years and who have always seemed solid and orthodox might not receive “fine-toothed comb” scrutiny prior to publication.

    As for the piece about Cardinal Law, IMO it was pretty innocuous. In giving a full account of his life, it devoted a reasonable amount of space to the sexual abuse scandal as well as to his various accomplishments. What was unfortunate was taking it “out of order.” They had started with Cardinal O’Connell (and they mentioned his priest nephew who led a double life as a priest and as a married man), but they only published the piece on Cardinal Medeiros after the one on Cardinal Law.

    The Pilot is a Catholic diocesan paper which does a good job of upholding the faith. It is deeply regrettable that there are no more than 23,000 Catholics* in this archdiocese who care enough about being informed both about their faith and about happenings in the diocese to read it.

    *Of course there may be multiple readers in households which receive it, but even if the number reading it is 70-100 thousand, it’s still way too low.

  5. It is said that the same old dribble from the leaning left continues to be sputtered. A Catholic publication is to be just that a Catholic publication. Although his wording may not have been the best, when the church clearly teaches that homosexual activity is intrinsically evil, from where does evil come if not the Devil? All human persons have a dignity being created in the image and likeness of God, but our role as Catholics is to present the Truth in love and call all people to surrender to God who created them. It is sad that in our current PC world where we have same sex Marriage being shoved down our throats that Catholic publications cannot be Catholic be PC!

  6. My mistake: I now see he’s editor, not publisher. So he should have given the Avila column at least a glance.

  7. I agree with FrP.

    I find it amazing that there are many so call Catholic publications out there around the country, many attached to various diocese, which have outright dissent being sent out time after time that get a pass.

    I wish every article published not in strict line with actual Catholic teaching would have the same result. We would eliminate a lot of so called authors and their dissent and make it a lot easier for Catholics to understand what is actually taught.

  8. “Richard Gaillardetz, a Boston College theology professor, says “Followers of the group are known to criticize “pastors, bishops, and theologians who fail to meet their rigid standards of orthodoxy,’’ he said.”

    Funny…I know a few Boston College theology profs who are also “known to criticize “pastors, bishops, and theologians who fail to meet their rigid standards”

  9. I would like to read Avila’s original October 28 article, which is no longer available on the Pilot’s website; in place of it only his apology can be found. Anybody knows where I can find it, so I can see what he actually wrote and in what context?

  10. Ok, don’t bother looking for it, I found it:
    It’s worth reading, especially if you wondered what was so wrong about that article and why the big fuss.
    The article is seeking to answer to what the “ultimate” cause of homosexuality could be. Pointing out that it can’t possibly be God, it goes on to explain that it is the devil. The column is rather short and doesn’t go into the factor of the freedom of choice of human beings (those choices, following the devil’s, are the cause of evil many times as well). Whereas it is true that the devil can’t be called the sole responsible for all disorders and suffering, considering the context, I don’t think Avila is so dead wrong. He obviously could have been more careful, in order to avoid being misunderstood. Nevertheless, I don’t think it could be successfully argued that what he wrote is against Catholic teaching.
    So I don’t see anything wrong with the editor having approved of this column, unless he needed some kind of approval from USCCB first (as Avila’s apology states, “the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops”). But this still does not make the statements theologically wrong.

  11. Putting aside for a moment whether or not it’s theologically correct (which it apparently is not), singling out a group of people as being influenced by the devil feeds into peoples’ prejudices and fears. It was not constructive in any way and could easily be seen as an attack on people with same sex attraction, people who probably often feel unwelcome in our Church as it is. I am absolutely appalled as well that, according to this article, the Pilot apparently argued earlier that children of Gay parents should be banned from Catholic schools. This must be an exaggeration or a misprint of some sort. It cannot possibly be true. If it is, there is something seriously wrong in Boston.

  12. There was a column which offered the opinion that it was not a good idea for children of same-sex couples to be admitted to Catholic schools. One reason given, as I recall, was that it can create problems for the children when they are taught that homosexual activity is wrong. Another was that parents may object when their children are taught that homosexual activity is wrong. Another was that it may undercut the Church’s teaching on marriage for other pupils when they see that a child has two parents of the same sex. Or all these potential situations may lead the school or individual teachers to soft-pedal or fail to present the Church’s teachings in order to avoid upsetting people.

  13. Thanks, naturgesetz.
    Of course, I assume the archdiocese will also say no divorced and remarried families are allowed. No single unmarried mother families. No families of people whose parents are in prison or facing any sort of criminal charges. You get my point. This policy is selective and predjudicial in the extreme and simply plays into the hands of people who accuse our Church of homophobia.

  14. Deacon Mike, are you an ordained Catholic deacon?? If so, do you accept official Church teaching re homosexuality, that, while same sex attraction diminishes not in the least the inherent dignity of the individual, it is yet a disorder nevertheless that, if sexually expressed, is objectively sinful, and gravely so??

  15. I am indeed an ordained Catholic deacon and I accept the Church’s teachings. My point is that the archdiocese is apparently singling out homosexuals in its hunt for purity in the parent ranks. If you’re not going to allow them because they are living a sinful life, apparently in open opposition to Church teaching, fine. However, don’t stop there. Divorced and remarried outside the Church? Ban their children as well. People who are living together without benefit of marriage? Ban their kids. People whose jobs we may find bordering on the sinful…ie people who exploit their fellow man? Ban their kids. The list goes on. Why ban homosexual couples? Because they are an easy and obvious target. It’s shameful.
    Also, assuming the horror that is present in their house, why are we denying their kids a Catholic education? It would seen they need it more than anyone.

  16. Mike, all sins of the flesh, or of parental irresponsibility, are not created equal.

    The Church teaches that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, contrary to natural law, and — in the words of the catechism — “acts of grave depravity…under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    You don’t find that kind of harsh language applied to the other circumstances you described.


  17. Perhaps. I still feel it is a shameful policy that singles out homosexuals and implicity (and maybe even explicitly) gives people permission to exercise their prejudices against those who have same sex attraction. God can judge these people…I’m not sure why the Archdiocese feels it’s necessary to exclude children who find themselves with parents of the same sex. I’ll be honest…on a personal level, I am curious why in a world filled with so much injustice, violence, poverty, hunger and so many other terrible problems, the Church exerts so much of its effort and captial to combat the sin of homosexuality. It doesn’t seem proportional to me.

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