Commentary: Euteneuer: Fr. Euteneuer Asks to Meet with Hannity
Fr. Euteneuer Asks to Meet with Hannity about Birth Control
2 Penn Plaza, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10121
July 19, 2004
Dear Mr. Hannity,
I was listening to your radio program today and heard your response to “Heather” towards the end of the show concerning birth control and denying Communion to pro-abortion “Catholics” in public life. I was shocked at your open dissent to the Church’s teaching on this issue. What you effectively did in that short segment was to solidify in the minds of Catholics and all other listeners a moral relativism about a sacred teaching. You also unfairly denigrated your own Church and confused listeners when you said that your pastor considers this issue “baloney,” a term that can be applied to many political opinions on the airwaves nowadays. However, on this issue you did not and do not apply your normal standard of intellectual rigor, and because of that you used your position in the media irresponsibly. You gave scandal. This is of greatest concern to me as a priest and ought to be of concern to you as a Catholic who professes to follow the teaching of Christ.
When I talk about lack of intellectual rigor I am being specific. In your show yesterday you did not offer the slightest challenge to the statistics that Heather was so irresponsibly using. She said that she “had read somewhere that 93-95% of Catholics use artificial birth control.” The point of the matter is that it is impossible to know how many “Catholics” use birth control without violating the privacy of millions of people. Even if that were the case, it is irresponsible for this issue to be played out so nebulously in a forum that reaches millions of people without any possibility for someone to offer an intelligent response. Al Sharpton should have been given such a pass.
You then would have made Planned Parenthood proud with your “I have no problem with birth control” comment. You did not offer even a passing nod to other points of view about your own Church’s centuries-old well-developed teaching on this matter. You did not mention that the Holy Father condemned birth control and abortion in every single major speech he gave on all of his tours to the United States. You did not clarify the distinction between things that are intrinsically evil and others that are open to debate in the Church and public life. Furthermore, you sounded oddly liberal in saying that the Church cannot get into the business of “reading people’s hearts,” but you plainly ignored the notion that Church leaders have a right to maintain the discipline of the sacraments among the faithful which is a matter of judging deeds not hearts.
In short, you gave the impression to millions of people that birth control is okay because you think it is okay and that you will not allow the Church’s teaching to disturb your lifestyle. Apparently your reason for remaining in the Church whose teachings you openly reject boils down to this: “so we can all humbly learn something and grow in our belief in God.” With this attitude, how are you different from John Kerry?
You said in the show that Church is meant to help us “change, grow and be enlightened.” I could not agree more. I am writing to invite you into a dialogue on the subject of birth control for your enlightenment and growth. I am not asking for an interview on your show or any public attention. I want to address your dissent on birth control and abortion from a standpoint of faith and intellectual honesty, not politics. I am concerned that you will be totally absorbed by the secular culture on this and other issues and so be a continuing source of scandal for other Catholics who are trying to live their faith in difficult circumstances. If you truly believe as you said in your show that the Church is to assist people in repenting and changing their hearts, then I urge you to accept this invitation. You need real repentance on this subject, and as a priest I will help you to return to the house of the Father.
I am available at [phone] or at [email] if you or your staff wish to contact me. Otherwise, I will make an attempt to contact your offices sometime before the end of August to set up an appointment with you.
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
Commentary: Euteneuer: An Open Letter to Fox Analyst Father Jonathan Morris
An Open Letter To Fox Analyst Father Jonathan Morris
["Fr. Morris’ letter to Sean Hannity" is reprinted below this “Open Letter.”]
Dear Father Jonathan,
Your letter to Sean Hannity indicates that you did not know that I asked to speak to him in private about this matter in 2004 otherwise you may have tempered your remarks about my supposed lack of charity in dealing with a high profile Catholic who dissents from clearly-defined and reiterated Church teachings. [See the link, “Fr. Euteneuer Asks to Meet with Hannity about Birth Control,” listed in Commentary: Rev. Thomas Euteneuer.] You also seemed to be unaware of the fact that Sean was the one who invited me on his program and who then promptly “[threw] civility to the wind,” refused to display “cultivated intelligence” on the issues and jeopardized another person’s “reputation and dignity.” May I also point out that you did not employ with me the same standard of “fraternal correction” that you expected me to employ with Mr. Hannity. I at least made the attempt to speak to him about this issue in private without success; you, in contrast, went immediately to the internet to take me to task. I do not intend to understand your motives; I can only evaluate what I see in your actions.
The question that comes to mind is an obvious one: if you are a Fox analyst on Catholic matters, wouldn’t you have been the one to have had those “private conversations” on birth control with Mr. Hannity? How about discussions on his abortion exceptions? When you told Sean “in person” that you “disagreed with him,” was it on the issue of birth control? If you had done that, I applaud you, but your powers of persuasion may need a little honing—Sean has only gotten more vocal on this issue over time. If you did not speak to him about his public dissent, then I ask you, “Why?” While we are on the subject, have you also analyzed and disagreed with Bill O’Reilly’s perfectly horrible disdain for the Holy Father and the Church that you represent?
The church sex abuse scandal was not just about homosexual and predatory priests. It was about clerical negligence and silence on issues that not only affect people’s souls but also ruin people’s lives. It is highly unusual that you or anyone else would want a priest to be silent on issues that affect the salvation of souls. We used to recognize “admonishing the sinner” as one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, and I consider my admonishment of Mr. Hannity to have been done in that spirit. I might also add that in doing so I have fulfilled my duty as a priest which is a requirement for my salvation.
As a seminary rector, I would sincerely hope that you are not teaching by word or example the young men in your charge to be politically correct sissies who are afraid to roll up their sleeves and defend the Church in private and in public. We have tons of those types in the clergy already. I would advise you to drink deeply of the wisdom of the Number Two man at our Headquarters who has in no uncertain terms told all of us that high profile dissenters are a scourge and a danger to souls. [See item: “Bertone: Dissident Catholics More Worrying Than Atheists.” http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/jan/07011003.html
I wish you fraternal blessings for your priestly work.
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
Human Life International
Fr. Morris’ Letter to Sean Hannity
As I watched a fellow Catholic priest spar with you on the March 9 edition of Hannity and Colmes, I hung my head in shame and sadness. My colleague in religion (whom I've never met) used the public airways and Internet to call you a heretic and hypocrite. Because he chose to do this in a public forum, I want you and your viewers to know, publicly, that as an analyst of this television network, I believe this good priest, who does great work, exercised, on this occasion, shockingly poor judgment. I consider his willingness to give his personal opinion about your status within the Church inappropriate and ill-considered, to say the least.
Regardless of the issue and arguments at hand, brandishing law without palpable love almost always repels. I must assume he just made an honest mistake.
The unfortunate event reminded me of the bigger question of the fast-eroding credibility among religious leaders in our nation and its causes.
I should start, or rather continue, at home with the Catholic Church, your church and mine. As you rightly stated in the same television segment, the systematic cover-up of sexual abuse within some sectors of Catholic Church leadership was a monstrous scandal and its affects will be long-lasting. Even those priests who were not involved in the mess, as I am sure is the case with the priest in question, can never forget that those of us who wear a clerical collar still conger up painful memories in many people's minds. The strange looks and rash judgments to which we are at times subjected is not the people's fault; it's ours, in as much as we are members of a very guilty family.
In this light, before we clergy members speak out publicly against public offenses, as sometimes we must do, we should ask ourselves and God why we are doing what we are doing, and what the best way to do it is, according to the circumstances, and always with palpable love. The question is not only if what we have to say is correct, but where, when, and how we should say it. I, for one, would have communicated my beliefs in a different way on more than one occasion if I had followed this advice.
I would be remiss if I were to suggest that the loss of religious credibility begins and ends with Catholic leaders. When we hear television evangelists wonder out loud whether Ariel Sharon's stroke might be God's judgment on him for making territorial concessions to the Palestinians, we lose trust. When, year after year, we listen to self-proclaimed prophets predict the day and the hour of the “end-times,” we lose trust. When we turn on the television and hear preachers promise heaven on earth if we give, give, give to the Church — their church — we lose trust. When we hear mainline Protestant pastors and their associations throw Biblical tradition to the wind and make wishy-washy statements about faith and morality, we lose trust.
The non-Christian religions are in even worse shape regarding leadership credibility. Is there a single Muslim imam who stands out today for his national leadership toward peace? What Muslim scholar can we trust to speak with scholarly proficiency and universal authority about the alleged peaceful nature of Islam?
The Jewish community in America is so splintered and disjointed on themes of dogma and religious tradition, it is difficult to find anyone who speaks for the majority, or even for the masses.
Here's my point:
When we believe we have discovered truth and, therefore, we believe others are wrong — a sign of cultivated intelligence, not pride — we must reject the temptation to throw civility to the wind. Being right always didn't ever inspire Jesus to jeopardize people's reputation or dignity. It went against his very nature, and it should go against ours too. Sometimes he spoke harshly, but he always spoke in love, and he made sure people knew it.
Sean, I don't always agree with you and Alan, as I have told both of you in person, but I think you are both honest, and both have the humility and courage to accept truth when you stumble across it, even when it comes in bits and pieces. I think it's precisely this three-pronged attitude of honesty, humility and courage that best prepares us, with all of our imperfections, for heaven.
His audio section:http://www.hli.org/index.php/video-audio/35-audio
Talk on Exorcisms:http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20081007-An-Evening-with-an-Exorcist.htmlhttp://www.audiosancto.org/auweb/20081007-An-Evening-with-an-Exorcist.mp3
His Youtube spar w/Hannity:
HIs biography from Wiki:
Father Thomas J. Euteneuer was president of the pro-life organization Human Life International (HLI) from December 2000 until August 2010, when he was asked by his bishop to return to the Diocese of Palm Beach.
Euteneuer was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1962, the fourth of seven children born to Joseph and Mariann Euteneuer. He has a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana as well as a Licentiate degree in Biblical Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. He is fluent in Spanish.
While in college, Euteneuer participated in the Marine Corps Officer Candidate Program, attended boot camp at Quantico, Virginia, and graduated at the top of his company. Believing that the Lord was calling him to the priesthood rather than the military, he entered the seminary. After his ordination in 1988, Euteneuer served as a parish priest in five parishes of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, secretary to the diocesan bishop, director of vocations, and spiritual moderator for the diocesan Respect Life Office.
His pro-life activity began in the early years of his priesthood with prayer vigils, pilgrimages, pickets at abortion clinics, sidewalk counseling and the establishment of a crisis pregnancy center across the street from an abortion clinic in 1999.
Since taking office at HLI, Euteneuer has made many appearances on EWTN and other local, national and international media. He has been featured in Human Events and National Catholic Register and has recently been awarded the John O'Connor Award for Life from Legatus.After being so public for so long, he has now dissapeared. The Palm Beach Diocese will not comment on his present assignment.