October 06, 2005

Cuenin belongs in Newton

The Heights

By Heights Editorial Board
Published: Thursday, October 6, 2005

The Issue: Archdiocese forces priest out after accepting stipends
What we think: Church misses mark with forced resignation

It was wrong for the Archdiocese of Boston to force the Rev. Walter Cuenin from his post as pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians parish for reasons of "financial impropriety."

The official line is that Cuenin was removed from his job because he ignored archdiocese regulations when he accepted an additional stipend approved by his Newton parish's council. In all, it amounted to about an additional $75,000 over 12 years. It was also wrong, the archdiocese said, for the parish to have allowed Cuenin to lease a Honda Accord with church funds. The additional money was a small token from his parishioners meant to compliment a meager salary.

By all accounts, Cuenin is an excellent priest. He led a multi-million dollar capital campaign to restore his century-old church. He reached across faiths and offered his assistance to a Jewish synagogue after it was vandalized in 1997, and encouraged his parishioners to also show their support. He stabilized his church's leadership, establishing strong parish councils that gave lay people a greater voice in the governance of their faith. He stood up and criticized Cardinal Bernard Law for his handling of the sexual abuse crisis, and preached a need for tolerance and understanding of those that have been marginalized by the Catholic Church. Perhaps, when all is said and done, that's really why the archdiocese wrongly sent Cuenin packing.

Posted by kshaw at October 6, 2005 09:38 AM