by Christopher M. Halleron
A few weeks ago, as parishoners at Sts. Peter & Paul in Hoboken and St. Lawrence in Weehawken prepared to enjoy their long Labor Day weekend down the shore, the Archbishop of Newark, Most Reverend John J. Myers, arbitrarily dismissed Fr. Warren Hall for actions that the Archbishop considered to be “confusing to the faithful.”
He was openly supportive of LGBTQ advocacy groups.
“I was told this is being done because of my continued involvement with LGBT groups that he says are in opposition to the church,” said Hall. “[Archbishop Myers] didn’t name them but I have been involved with PFLAG, New Ways Ministry, Dignity, Gays-Against-Guns, and the LGBT Community Center. He says I’m causing confusion for Catholic people.”
Here’s where the real confusion lies…
In defense of Hall’s firing, Newark Diocese spokesman James Goodness made the statement that, “A priest’s actions and statements always must be consistent with the discipline, norms and teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis said of the gay community back in June, “I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally.” The Holy Father went on to say, “The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times—when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!”
So what’s it going to be then?
Let’s be honest—overall, the Catholic Church really hasn’t done that well on the PR front in recent history. However, the Pope’s timely messages of progressive renewal and inclusion have genuinely begun to resonate among the flock. For someone of my generation, I suppose I’m a relatively active member of the Catholic Church—in the sense that I still attend. That’s because I’m keenly aware of the good that the Church—specifically the Newark Diocese—is capable of doing on the whole. That’s what keeps me engaged. As we’re making tremendous steps forward as a Faith, to see one of our leaders backslide so dramatically sends a saddening message.
It also opens the door to a lot of the ugliness and bitterness that many harbor towards Catholicism—picking at deep wounds that are for the most part self-inflicted.
When faced with such a stark disconnect from a Church leader, even the faithful have to call their level of engagement into question.
This is an Archbishop who recently spearheaded the “We Are Living Stones“campaign, which raised $72 million “provide the solid foundation upon which our Church will continue to build and enhance the future for all one million Catholics across Northern New Jersey.”
Except the gay ones? I’m confused…
I know that the Archbishop has been openly critical of the Pope’s progressive ideology. I realize the Archbishop’s tenure is waning. To see him in a sense “trash the place” on his way out appears to be a blatant act of political petulance. At a critical juncture for the Catholic Church, it alienates those who may seek to reconnect with their faith. Meanwhile, from a human resources standpoint, the move puts undue strain on the parishes Fr. Warren served. He was—by near unanimous accounts—a revered, respected and beloved member of the Hoboken and Weehawken communities.
“A priest’s actions and statements always must be consistent with the discipline, norms and teachings of the Catholic Church.” At least that’s the official stance from the Newark Diocese.
In the case of Fr. Warren, a man who was seemingly adhering to the words of the Holy Father, it is the actions of the Archbishop that are, “confusing to the faithful.”
Christopher M. Halleron is the Publisher/Editor of hMAG.
As a columnist and journalist, he has covered various aspects of life here in the ‘greater Hoboken area’ and beyond for the past two decades.
His opinions are his own.