Rev. J. Bryan Hehir
CEO, Catholic Charities
Archdiocese of Boston
On September 18, in the company of an audience of more than 2,000 in Conte Forum, Boston College launched the second year of its Church in the 21st Century initiative.
One of the panelists was Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, former head of the Harvard Divinity School and Catholic Charities USA, was named president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston by Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley in late September.
The moderator was Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press.
Russert: What can the laity do to motivate, encourage, cajole their leadership to become more engaged on this issue?
Hehir: When you asked Peter the question at the beginning--what do we do to regain credibility--my view is, as a kind of simple principle, that we've got to treat adults as adults in the Church. We now have in the United States the most educated laity the Catholic Church has confronted in 2,000 years of history. You can't have a situation where men and women are in charge of their lives, treated as adults in corporations, universities, and politics, and are not treated as adults inside the Church.
The question of how to mobilize discussion among the leadership comes partly from laity who understand what a significant strategic role they are now in. A hundred years ago, this discussion would have been inconceivable in American Catholicism--that you would have this kind of room, at this kind of university, on this kind of topic. I'm not calling for revolution. I don't think that works in the Catholic Church. I do think that there's a range of definable, discussible issues on which the laity need to say at the parish level and every other level, we simply won't accept anything except adult conversation.
Consider now the actions of another CC