October 04, 2005

Parishioners protest archdiocesan ouster of pastor


Newton, Mass.

The ouster of a beloved parish priest and the assignment of a chancery insider to replace him has triggered another eruption of anger and hurt among the laity of the Boston archdiocese.

Fr. Walter H. Cuenin, pastor of the Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton, told parishioners that the archdiocese forced his resignation with allegations of financial practices that a chancery press statement said “do not comport with archdiocesan policy, canon law or archdiocesan statutes.”

The alleged financial improprieties include parish payment of a stipend to Cuenin, as well as the use of a Honda that the church leased for use by him and other priests. The finance committee and pastoral council had approved both practices, which had been in place for years.

On Sept. 26, the archdiocese announced that Cuenin’s replacement would be Fr. Christopher J. Coyne, who has served as archdiocesan spokesman under Cardinal Bernard Law and Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley.

During the peak of the sex abuse crisis, Cuenin had been outspoken in his criticism of Law’s handling of the scandal. Over the years, Cuenin also had encouraged dialogue about the ordination of women, and Our Lady Help of Christians was known for welcoming divorced and remarried Catholics, gay and lesbians, and others who felt alienated from the Catholic church.

Posted by kshaw at October 4, 2005 08:43 AM