A model of Catholic candor and conviction

Villagers of the year: Runner up

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Rev. Larry McNally, pastor of Ascension Church, didn't plan to spend so much time in the limelight this past year. He had no choice when one of his "weekend assistants," Rev. Larry Reuter, a Jesuit who worked at Loyola Medical Center and filled in celebrating Sunday Mass at Ascension, was "disappeared" by the Jesuits because word got out about an inappropriate relationship with a student at Loyola Academy, where Reuter had previously served as president.

The media, of course, jumped all over that, but the Jesuits weren't talking, which left McNally in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to parishioners who, understandably, were demanding answers.

McNally organized a public forum at the parish in June, which the Jesuits didn't show for, but the archdiocese sent troubleshooter Jan Slattery (from the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth), and the issue got a thorough airing. Members of Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic watchdog group, representing victims of priest abuse, praised McNally for his forthrightness.

Then in August, McNally took the much more courageous step of sending a letter to the editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, criticizing the church hierarchy for investigating women religious orders and declaring the ordination of women a sin on the same level of magnitude as priest pedophilia. He took it a step further and, during the next Sunday's homily (and in the church bulletin), apologized to all the women of his parish for the insensitivity of the male hierarchy toward Catholic women.

Some 600 parishioners at both Ascension and St. Giles followed up with a petition supporting McNally's position. McNally personally delivered the petitions to Cardinal Francis George.

All seemed cordial at first, but eventually the higher-ups started lowering the boom in the fall — first with thinly disguised criticism from George in his New World column, then with an archdiocesan official telling McNally he would have to apologize and publicly support the church's position against ordaining women.

Despite the pressure, McNally continues to conduct himself with integrity, courage and candor, a genuine role model of grace under pressure.

Contact:
Email: ktrainor@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

8 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Cradle Catholic from San Francisco  

Posted: January 19th, 2011 1:06 PM

This priest deserves thanks for handling a touchy situation well. He didn't run from it, as so many of our church leaders do. With that said, women are NOT to be ordained priests, no matter how many clergymen &lay women want it, or THINK it would be a good idea & I'm a woman. Women were never ordained priests in universal Church Tradition. The practice is against Bible wisdom. In New Testament Scripture, qualifications for ordained church LEADERS - priests and bishops are MEN!

charles bolser from chicago  

Posted: January 19th, 2011 7:57 AM

On one hand, I respect and honor Fr. McNally for his integrity and faithful response to the Gospel of Jesus - while so often we mistake the institutional church for God and are guilty of creating false Gods. The Church as a community of faith is bound to struggle to walk in the way of the Gospel and high-handed efforts of the bishops to stifle controversy only diminish their credability further.

Fred  

Posted: January 18th, 2011 2:16 PM

There is nothing courageous about denying Church teaching and leading his parish away from the faith rather than embracing the faith in its fullness. God save us from the 1970s priests.

LoyolaAlum  

Posted: January 18th, 2011 12:49 PM

In other Jesuit news, Jesuit Fr. Jerold Lindner is a Jesuit Brophy College Prepatory (Phoenix) alum and is accused of being a serial sexual assaulter of children using violence. Ironically Lindner, with Boy Scout and TESOL experience, is in the news in recent weeks because there was apparently a May 2010 confrontation between Lindner and one of his victims. http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_16799841

david clohessy from st. louis mo  

Posted: January 18th, 2011 12:18 PM

Let's hope that anyone who was abused by Reuter will come forward, get help, call police, protect kids and start healing. David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Sister Maureen from New Castle, DE  

Posted: January 18th, 2011 12:09 PM

Unfortunately he folded in the end as the article below notes.

Sister Maureen from New Castle, Delaware  

Posted: January 18th, 2011 12:07 PM

Pastor apologizes for backing female priests Nov 19, 2010 04:28PM Share E-Mail Print An Oak Park pastor who made sympathetic remarks about women joining the Roman Catholic priesthood has apologized to his congregation -- after reportedly being told to do so by his bishop. The Rev. Larry McNally, pastor of Ascension Parish, caused a stir in September when he signed a petition expressing "solidarity" with "those who support women and married men who are called to ordination." He delivered the petition to his boss, Cardinal Francis George. Only men -- usually unmarried men -- may become priests in the Roman Catholic tradition. Debate on the issue is forbidden in official church circles. Auxiliary Bishop John Manz met with McNally last month and told him he wanted a public apology and a pledge not to challenge church doctrine, said a church official who requested anonymity. Fearing he would be stripped of his job at Ascension, McNally decided to apologize in a letter published in the church's Oct. 31 bulletin. The letter stated, in part: "I am sorry that my words and actions may have caused some upset and some inner turmoil among our parish family." Neither the cardinal nor Manz answered requests for a response. McNally said he didn't want to comment. ChicagoCatholicNews.com

Pauline Bova  

Posted: January 18th, 2011 11:18 AM

Father McNally is a true and faithful priest in the image of Jesus.

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