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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hehir, former HDS dean, now Archdiocese's policy advisor.

Interesting! J. Bryan Hehir, a Jesuit priest and scholar and the only Roman Catholic to have served as dean of Harvard Divinity School, is leaving his post as head of Catholic Charities of Boston to become Cardinal Sean O'Malley's public policy advisor. (I attended HDS when Hehir was on the faculty, and he became chair of the school's executive committee — the title he took instead of "dean" when he replaced Ronald Thiemann — in 1999, my last academic year there. I liked his dry, very orderly lectures but didn't study with him. My fellow James Luther Adams fans will want to note as well that Hehir gave the 2004 JLA Forum on Religion and Society at Georgetown University; his lecture topic: "Three Issues in Catholic Social Thought: Engaging James Luther Adams." I didn't make it down to D.C. for that lecture.)

Michael Paulson writes:

[H]is primary responsibility will be to advise O'Malley on a variety of public policy matters, including the archdiocese's relationship with the Legislature, its ownership of a struggling hospital chain, and the future of its school system. Hehir also will continue to serve as a primary troubleshooter for O'Malley.

Church officials regard Hehir as a pragmatist who is valuable to O'Malley because of his analytical and negotiating skills. Hehir has been an advocate of greater lay involvement in church adminis tration, declaring in 2003, "We've got to treat adults as adults in the church."

Notable from the omnipresent culture-war angle:

But Hehir has been viewed with suspicion by conservatives, including some bloggers who have fretted about his influence on O'Malley. O'Malley's predecessor, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, was so unhappy with Hehir's association with Harvard's liberal divinity school that he asked him to leave the post, and some conservatives criticized Hehir for his 2005 decision to allow Catholic Charities to honor Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who supports abortion rights.

Paulson also introduces Hehir's replacement at Catholic Charities, one of Hehir's former students at the Kennedy School of Government and the first woman to lead the nonprofit organization, Tiziana Dearing. Here's the Catholic Charities press release.

("Key aide tightens ties to O'Malley," Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 7.28.07, reg req'd)

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 28 July 2007 at 9:13 AM

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