Cardinal James Francis McIntyre of Los Angeles


Book captures the achievements, but not the man
By Msgr. Clement J. Connolly

The French writer-politician, Andre Malraux, wrote, "One day it will be realized that men are distinguishable from one another as much by the forms their memories take as by their characters."

Having read Msgr. Francis J. Weber's book, "His Eminence of Los Angeles," I realize that our memories differ very significantly. Since I served as secretary to Cardinal James Francis McIntyre and his successor, Cardinal Timothy Manning, my memories are from personal experience. I was in a position to know.

In this biography we are given a directory, a menu, a product. It is impressive. Documents may support the chronicle of achievements, but the man is missing.

In the interest of truth and fairness I must offer these limited comments on Msgr. Weber's biography. My observations do not violate any privilege. The letters to the editor in reaction to Kevin Starr's review in the Los Angeles Times in July indicated how deep are the hurts and how long lasting. That's no small matter and should not be easily dismissed.

Cardinal McIntyre's actions and conversations clearly indicated his low regard for the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. His disposition was to mitigate the implementation of almost any development fostered through the council. He was comfortable with the identity of "Archconservative of the American Hierarchy."

Saving the church from the proposed changes energized him. For example, the cardinal's opposition to establishing a Priests' Senate "had a solid rationale" and his failure to explain himself to the presbyterate or the press "was a serious tactical mistake." (The quotations are from Msgr. Weber.)

The narrative which deals with the Immaculate Heart Sisters controversy (see adjacent column) is diminished for its lack of balance. No documents will measure the exchanges punctuated by insecurity, fear, the obsession to dominate and win, the absence of dialogue, the severe language and the deep, deep wounds. They are part of the living church which should not be overlooked. Since many of those involved still walk among us in faith, it would be wise and just to allow their voices to be heard.

The references to the cardinal's retirement and his successor are especially questionable.

To say that Bishop Manning was sent to Fresno on administrative probation must be an ecclesial joke. After 21 years as an auxiliary bishop, Cardinal McIntyre was still not sure of Manning? That in itself is revealing!

It is accurately recorded that the Coadjutor Archbishop Manning was made a pastor "against his expressed wishes." Credibility is stretched, however, when Msgr. Weber writes that this decision had an exalted pastoral sensitivity ("Bishops who did not regularly hear confessions and administer sacraments soon lost contact with the real world."— Cardinal McIntyre as quoted by Msgr. Weber).

The fact is that Cardinal McIntyre found it very difficult to retire and in no way enthused for a successor. Within my own hearing the cardinal and Msgr. Benjamin G. Hawkes, archdiocesan chancellor, detailed a plan to mute Manning's arrival. A low-keyed liturgical reception was arranged at St. Vibiana's Cathedral to be shared by Manning and the recently appointed Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Dougherty. This was designed to downplay the incoming of the coadjutor archbishop with the right of succession.

"When Archbishop Manning asked Msgr. Hawkes to remain on his staff," writes Msgr. Weber, "McIntyre felt it was time for a transition." This is fiction at its best. The stature of Cardinal Manning's person and priesthood will emerge more and more in that he was well aware of these machinations and yet lived beyond them without resentment and yet without forgetting.

The church of Los Angeles owes a great deal to Cardinal McIntyre. Personally, I had a great fondness for him and he was always exceedingly gracious to me. The publication of such a biography must reasonably invite examination.

Fortunately, there are many who still have vivid personal recollections of those days. It would be a mistake to judge the cardinal too harshly — he was a man of enduring faith, single mind and daily prayer.

It would be a greater mistake to accept inaccuracy. The cardinal was formed in an ecclesiology of unquestioned authority, when differing was not tolerated and an option was considered infidelity. He did well what the church asked of him. The pity was that he could not give what the post- conciliar church expected. He could not understand that.

It is a great weakness of any leader who thinks that in in his declining years, God's providence still makes him indispensable. Like any era, it had its sins. It's time to face that, for all of us. It would be salutary to ask for forgiveness as well as applause. To forget our sins may be a greater tragedy than to commit them in the first place. Now, we must admit the blindness which will never see the need for healing.

It takes a special courage to embrace the bad with the good. This condition comes with a age, a time devoid of special interest, prejudice, politics or ambition. History is the venue. For this reason it must be a sacred space made holy through honesty. The lack of open consultation in making this biography is not a worthy tribute to history, to scholarship or to Cardinal McIntyre.

The book may please many people. It has one major problem — the man McIntyre, his wonder and his weakness, is absent.

Msgr. Clement J. Connolly is pastor of Holy Family Church in South Pasadena.

Immaculate Heart Community is still active in Los Angeles
By Helen Kelley, I.H.M.

Thirty years ago this month, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary set themselves on a course of prayer, study and reflection. Our program was initiated at the call of Pope Paul VI to religious communities around the world to discern the "signs of the times."

Out of that process we were asked to propose modifications in our way of living in church and world that would revive the spirit of our founders and make us more effective disciples of Jesus in a needy world.

From such a straightforward beginning there quickly sprang a host of unintended consequences. Some of those consequences have been brought before the public eye again by Msgr. Francis Weber's adulatory biography and the equally adulatory review of the book by Kevin Starr in the Los Angeles Times.

Msgr. Weber reports and Starr repeats that the Immaculate Heart Community was "wrecked" by the actions we proposed to take in response to the pope's call. Those actions — optional use of civilian clothes, collaborative management of conventual life, a firm decision not to assign young members to professional apostolates until they were professionally prepared — were similar or identical to what religious communities were proposing and acting upon around the country.

Volume I of Msgr. Weber's biography establishes clearly that the cardinal's management style was "command and total control." He was at first astonished and then outraged that anyone — let alone women — would undertake to describe for themselves how they would live and work and pray together.

Four of the five women who comprised the community's leadership council at the time are alive today and they can recall vividly the cardinal's outburst of anger and threats to bring us down if we did not reverse our proposals. Otherwise, he would not permit us to continue teaching in his schools. In June of 1968, we withdrew from 28 archdiocesan schools.

A small percentage of the community chose not to follow the majority's proposals and they remain as Sisters of the Immaculate Heart. Four members transferred to other religious orders.

A kind of detente was arrived at in 1970 when, in order to respond to what the majority believed to be signs of the times, we were dispensed from our vows. We reorganized immediately as the Immaculate Heart Community, a voluntary and ecumenical lay community based on Gospel teaching.

In the same week, at age 84, Cardinal McIntyre submitted his resignation. We were naive to believe that good faith, nearly 100 years of service in the diocese and the calls for change arising out of the Second Vatican Council would win the day. And we were mistaken in taking as given a uniform level of resilience among ourselves — that we could all weather fundamental revisions in our way of life and simultaneously withstand bitter criticism from sources we had been taught to honor.

Many members left the community during the tumultuous years between 1968 and 1970. Some were frustrated, some bitter, some liberated. Today, most of those who chose not to stay are with us in spirit and generously support us morally and financially.

Far from being "wrecked," members of the community have continued to administer and teach in parochial schools, including some in Los Angeles. We continue to administer Catholic high schools and a retreat center. We sponsor a Catholic hospital which is an integral part of a major regional health partnership. Four members serve in chancery offices. Of our trained theologians, all are serving the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Dozens are active in their parishes' religious education, RCIA and catechetical programs.

We have also established a critically needed religious and social service project on one of the most poverty-ridden streets in the San Fernando Valley. In central Los Angeles, we participate with the Sisters of St. Joseph in operating a transitional housing project for homeless women and their children. We founded a college center that offers a distinctive master's program in feminist spirituality.

Every day we labor without rancor to be fully present to the world, fully faithful to our history, fully open to the future. We are still in the habit of sharing the good news of the Gospel, of paying special attention to the poor, of caring for one another, of holding in prayer those who help us and those who would harm us.

A member of the Immaculate Hearts for more than 52 years, Helen Kelley served as president of Immaculate Heart College from 1963-1977 and as president of the Immaculate Heart Community from 1993-1996. Presently, she is writing a history of the community since its arrival in California in 1871.

Many remember the real Cardinal James Francis McIntyre
By Terrence W. Halloran

Msgr. Francis Weber has written a biased and inaccurate biography of Cardinal James Francis McIntyre. That's unfortunate, because no future historian will have Msgr. Weber's unique combination of personal knowledge and access to official records.

Cardinal McIntyre was archbishop of Los Angeles from 1948 until his retirement in 1970. Msgr. Weber is the archdiocesan archivist, a position he has held officially since 1962, and informally since he was a seminary student in the 1950s.

Some errors in Msgr. Weber's book are glaring but unimportant. He misspells Father William DuBay's name three times. In the text and in the index, he misspells the names of Sue Welsh, Leon Aubry, Father Ellwood Kieser and Father Daniel Delany.

He should have looked up "Sic semper tyrannis" in a book of quotations before saying Edward Keating of Ramparts magazine wasn't much of a Latin scholar. It's surprising that no proofreader corrected Msgr. Weber's bad spelling of philatelic and UNICEF.

Msgr. Weber's book demonstrates terribly poor practice of the art of history. He includes extensive negative reporting about Catholics United for Racial Equality (CURE). But he didn't bother to interview Sue Welsh, Alan White or Leon Aubry, founding members of CURE.

He criticizes Fathers William DuBay, Phillip Berryman and John Coffield in abundant detail. But he didn't ask them to share their memories of the events he describes. All these people are available, and Msgr. Weber knows where they can be reached, either directly or through others.

"Hollywood Priest," a book by Father Ellwood Kieser, describes Cardinal McIntyre more accurately than any other book in print today. Father Kieser, a Paulist priest, produced the Insight television series and the movie Romero.

Msgr. Weber includes only one remark from Father Kieser's refreshing autobiography. He misquotes the author, changing "arch-conservative minority" to "arch-conservative majority."

He calls Father Kieser's remark scurrilous. But he cites no reference for his own incredible statement that Cardinal McIntyre voted with the majority on well over 95% of the Second Vatican Council roll calls.

The index entries "Father Vincent Martin, O.S.B.," "Sister Corita Kent, I.H.M." and "Father Eugene Burke, C.S.P." in the archdiocesan archives point to many pages of relevant data. Msgr. Weber chooses to ignore this information in his biography of Cardinal McIntyre.

He doesn't even mention the controversial visit to St. John's Seminary by John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me. This famous "Strawberry Sunday" incident is described fully in the July 10, 1964 issue of Commonweal magazine. As a defining moment in the Catholic history of California, it deserves at least a short paragraph in any book about California's first cardinal.

His Eminence of Los Angeles disliked the possibility of Catholics praying at Mass in English instead of Latin, with the celebrant priest facing them. He shuddered at the idea of allowing priests to elect their own diocesan senate.

The thought of nuns in secular dress bothered him. He welcomed the sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart, who wore no religious habits, only because they didn't teach in Catholic schools. Women in religious life who chose to finish college before they began teaching made him nervous.

Worst of all, Cardinal McIntyre preferred race relations the way they were in the 1940s, and he often hid the truth underlying his actions. He gave a false excuse for not allowing Father Hans Küng to speak at UCLA. He said "the extreme shortage of intervening time" was the reason.

He quoted selectively from the 1958 pastoral letter of the U.S. bishops condemning racial segregation, though he disagreed strongly with the document. He pretended to agree with 1964 statement of the California bishops on fair housing, which he despised.

He never expressed in public his personal view that anyone who advocated racial equality was a deluded or self-seeking "outside agitator." Anyone who mentioned equal employment opportunity or fair housing laws in his presence could expect an angry reply.

In private conversation, "property values" and "safe white neighborhoods" were among his favorite phrases. "You've been misled by those immoral radicals," he would say. "You're upsetting the natural relationship among the races."

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, Cardinal McIntyre faked sympathy for the causes espoused by the civil rights leader. In his eulogy at an ecumenical gathering in the First Methodist Church, he hypocritically called Dr. King a champion for a just cause. The cardinal didn't mention his own consistent habit of chastising priests who preached against racial discrimination or the Vietnam War.

The darkest-skinned man he ever ordained, Father Peter Foster, was required to promise before becoming a priest that he wouldn't engage in any civil rights activities. He was also ordered to conceal the fact that he had made such a promise.

Msgr. Weber says in his biography of Cardinal McIntyre that CURE conducted a sit-in at the cardinal's office in the summer of 1963. The official reaction was negative but polite. But the unofficial reaction was near paranoia.

Some pastors said CURE wanted control over minority affairs in the archdiocese. They condemned Sue Welsh, Alan White and Leon Aubry as communists and outsiders. Others accused them of fabricating stories of priests "harassed, muted, transferred or in some cases driven from their vocations."

Newspaper and television coverage of CURE was calm and accurate. The group wanted an interracial council, a pastoral letter on discrimination, sermons on racial matters, race-related news in the Catholic press and more black teachers in Catholic schools. The cardinal said no.

In his book, Msgr. Weber mentions Father William DuBay on 28 different pages. In June of 1964, Father DuBay sent a telegram to Pope Paul VI. He asked the pope to remove Cardinal McIntyre from office.

Father DuBay's detractors like to point out that he acted alone. But he was only one of more than 50 priests who met frequently in the spring of 1964 to prepare a response to Proposition 14, the "property rights" initiative opposed by several California bishops.

The priests knew that any expression of solidarity with these other Catholic leaders would anger Cardinal McIntyre. They discussed the possible consequences. Fear prevailed, and Father DuBay was forced to act alone or not at all.

Many priests apologized privately to Father DuBay for not supporting him. His seminary classmates and other friends in the clergy often joined him for lunch on their days off.

After the 1965 riots in the Watts area of Los Angeles, Father DuBay received dozens of phone calls and letters from priests. They said they now saw the harm they had caused by remaining silent.

Freedom is always in danger where abuse of authority is possible. We can all imagine a bishop directing a pastor to fire a parish employee who has dared to protest the closing of a diocesan high school. In the days before Father William DuBay, the priest's only choice would be to obey.

Nowadays a pastor receiving such a letter has several choices. He can fire the employee. Or he can ignore the directive. Or he can send the bishop a polite but negative reply. Or he can react with public anger.

Msgr. Weber and future biographers of Cardinal McIntyre need to recognize that Father DuBay's brave voice may well be the main reason Catholic priests are free today.

Apparently trying to make him appear less credible, Msgr. Weber condenses Father DuBay's subsequent biography into a few sentences ending in 1972. He doesn't mention that this courageous priest, no longer in official ministry, is a generous writer and computer professional whose talents continue to benefit the community.

Msgr. Weber needs to be more honest. He includes many excerpts from relevant newspaper articles in his biography of Cardinal McIntyre. But he often discontinues sentences and paragraphs exactly where the words begin to displease him.

For example, he cites a 1964 New York Times article very selectively. He notes that Father Terrence Halloran privately counseled Father William DuBay against making public his letter toRome. Then he fails to include the next sentence, where Father Halloran continues his statement.

In the New York Times article, Father Halloran agrees with Father DuBay that their cardinal has no open policy on civil rights. He agrees that Cardinal McIntyre has remained silent while other Catholic leaders have taken a position on the issue of fair housing. Msgr. Weber leaves this out of his book.

Sometimes Cardinal McIntyre got Bishop Timothy Manning to tell stories for him. Bishop Manning passed off Father Phillip Berryman's sudden removal from a Pasadena parish as a routine transfer.

Msgr. Weber compounds the falsehood by quoting it approvingly. He knows from the archives that Father Berryman was truthful when he said the transfer was unplanned.

Father Berryman preached one Sunday in May 1965 that racial discrimination "cannot be reconciled with the Christian view of human dignity." His pastor, Msgr. William North, was displeased and told the chancery office he wanted prompt action. The young priest was given a new assignment in West Los Angeles a few days later.

Msgr. Weber tries to cast doubt on Father Berryman's credibility, by noting that he subsequently left the ministry. He doesn't mention that this was nine years later, or that Phillip Berryman's numerous scholarly books and articles about Latin America have confirmed his reputation for accuracy and honesty.

To his credit, Msgr. Weber rejects the authorized explanation that the transfer of Father DuBay from Anaheim to Santa Monica in 1965 was a "routine change." But he repeats two other discredited chancery office myths.

He says Cardinal McIntyre paid scant attention to the question of whether the Immaculate Heart sisters must wear a religious habit. And he says Father John Coffield possessed no administrative ability and was frequently scolded for not keeping proper financial records.

Cardinal McIntyre decided to punish Father Coffield for opposing Proposition 14 in the fall of 1964. He ordered him to leave Los Angeles for a period of five months. Msgr. Weber says Father Coffield then announced that he was going into a longer self-imposed exile in Chicago, as the strongest protest he could make. He was never invited to return, but he came back anyway four years later.

Msgr. Weber stretches the truth when he says Father Coffield was eventually reconciled with Cardinal McIntyre. The cardinal was preparing to retire. He was a realist. He knew that if he didn't welcome Father Coffield back, his successor would do it.

His Eminence saw clearly that the next archbishop would overrule him and initiate an elected senate of priests. He predicted correctly that no future Catholic leader of Los Angeles would echo his support for the war in Vietnam. He could foretell that some day Father Coffield would be made monsignor. So he relented and named him pastor of a small parish in Santa Ana.

In his biography of the cardinal, Msgr. Weber describes several related events of the 1980s and 1990s. He doesn't mention that over a thousand admirers, including United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez and several dozen priests, honored Msgr. John Coffield on his 50th anniversary as a priest. The joyful Mass and reception were held at the San Juan Capistrano Mission in 1991.

Msgr. Weber's most serious error colors his tale of the dispute between Cardinal McIntyre and the Immaculate Heart sisters. He didn't contact Helen Kelley or any other members of the community, who could refute his many indefensible allegations about them.

During the summer of 1967, elected representatives of these religious sisters met to explore new ways of community, ministry and religious practice. Cardinal McIntyre read their desire for renewal as an ultimatum.

He began to interfere deliberately in their governance. He told them they had to either wear their habits and cease experimenting, or stop teaching in the schools of his archdiocese. A Vatican congregation agreed, handing down its decision in early 1968, according to Msgr. Weber.

After the sisters appealed their case in Rome and in the public media, they won a partial victory. Vatican approval came in June of 1968. The sisters were allowed to divide into two groups, one modern and the other traditional.

The cardinal reacted angrily. Msgr. Weber notes that Cardinal McIntyre replaced the Immaculate Heart sisters in 31 of the parish schools and high schools where they were teachers. He quickly removed the name and address of their college from the Catholic directory.

Fortunately, the reformed group has been able to sustain itself. Immaculate Heart College survived the controversy and remained open until 1980. Other bishops, despite pressure from the archbishop of Los Angeles, continued to welcome the community in their dioceses.

The Immaculate Heart Community now has 170 members, many of them serving the church in Catholic schools and colleges, and at the archdiocesan headquarters. Currently eight more women are preparing for membership.

The first Los Angeles cardinal of the church seldom let anger or fear obscure his goals. He was a deeply secure man, confident of his ability to handle dissent by crushing it.

But he was too busy with finance, real estate and construction matters to do it all alone. He relied heavily on his chancellor, Msgr. Benjamin Hawkes.

This was the man in the headquarters building that priests feared most. They knew Msgr. Hawkes would call them on Tuesday if they were seen at a Catholic Human Relations Council meeting on Monday. They knew he would telephone them if only their names were mentioned at such a meeting.

As Msgr. Weber says, in many ways Msgr. Hawkes was a clone of Cardinal McIntyre. Any priest brave enough to suggest that U.S. military policy in Vietnam was immoral could expect a severe reprimand from the archdiocesan chancellor.

Failure to heed the reprimand would almost certainly be followed by a transfer. The cardinal's loyal aide knew which senior pastors were best at keeping outspoken young priests busy and quiet.

Msgr. Weber's book reveals that on at least two occasions Cardinal McIntyre nominated Msgr. Hawkes when a California diocese needed a new bishop. Catholics everywhere can be grateful that the Vatican rejected these nominations.

When Cardinal Roger Mahony became archbishop of Los Angeles, he decided quickly that Msgr. Hawkes would no longer be chancellor. He announced this decision at his first meeting with the clergy of the archdiocese. The priests applauded gratefully.

Many believe Cardinal McIntyre's words and actions triggered the long-term decline of religious vocations in Southern California. Today fewer than half of the priests and religious brothers and sisters in the archdiocese of Los Angeles are graduates of local Catholic or public schools. The majority come from out of state or from other countries, worsening the shortage of clergy in those areas.

The Catholic community needs an objective biography of California's first cardinal. It should be written soon, while the elusive oral history is still available. The time has come to honor Cardinal James Francis McIntyre with nothing less than the truth.

Terrence W. Halloran, a retired computer programmer, lives in Beaumont, California.

Msgr. Francis J. Weber's book, "His Eminence of Los Angeles," was published in 1997 by the Saint Francis Historical Society, Mission Hills, California.