The Catholic Church’s gay fixation

It must be confusing to be Catholic today. On the one hand, you have a pope who is softening the church’s tone on gays, abortion, and other hot button issues. But on the other hand you have rank and file church leaders who haven’t gotten the message, who insist there are no shades of gray when it comes to church teachings.

Last year, Pope Francis gave an interview in which he said the church seemed to be obsessed with gays, abortion, and birth control and needed to dial the intensity back. “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” the pope said. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'”

Thomas Dalton,  principal of the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Harvard, apparently didn’t get the message. He vowed his school’s band would not march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston if gays were allowed to march because to do so would be to condone the gay lifestyle. And Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed legislation in February that would have allowed businesses, asserting religious beliefs, to refuse service to gays.

Now Attorney General Martha Coakley is venturing into this gray area, filing a legal brief supporting a civil suit brought by two men who claim their attempt to buy property in Northbridge from the Worcester Diocese was rejected when church officials discovered the men were a gay couple who planned to hold functions there, including gay weddings.

The Worcester Diocese didn’t take a public stand on the gay buyers. It had its real estate agent email them saying the church had other plans for the property, but the agent inadvertently included an email from the archdiocese to her stating the real reason for the rejection: the possibility that gay marriages might be held on the grounds.

Coakley claims the diocese can enforce its religious beliefs anyway it wants in regard to internal matters, but she says state law prohibits discrimination in real estate transactions. Other dioceses around the state also try to enforce their beliefs through real estate deals, including restrictions in their deeds prohibiting the property being sold from ever being used for anything that violates church teachings. The church’s restrictions are not all religious, however. The Boston Archdiocese often includes deed restrictions that prevent the new owner or future owners from ever using the property for a charter school that could compete against the church’s schools.

–BRUCE MOHL    

BEACON HILL

An initial report from a state-contracted review of child welfare practices finds that the embattled Department of Children and Families needs more caseworkers and technology upgrades to adequately monitor the well-being of the 36,000 children under its supervision.

Keller@Large asks a simple question: Why does the Department of Children and Families always struggle for much-needed resources?

House Speaker Robert DeLeo calls for a gradual increase in the state minimum wage from $8 to $10.50 an hour, WBUR reports.

Many people say Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry’s hosting of the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast signifies the dawn of a new day in Boston. It may well help nudge that reality along. But CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas traces the long arc leading to her election, which suggests the Haitian-American host owes her position more to old-fashioned redistricting strategy than any new voting patterns.

Greater Boston takes a look at the debate over efforts by the state to require labeling for genetically modified foods.

A key Beacon Hill lawmaker says firms that scored well but were not approved for marijuana dispensaries should have a second chance at the licenses. Gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker wants to reboot the whole licensing process.

MARATHON BOMBING

Nearly a year after the Boston Marathon bombing, federal investigation of security procedures preceding the attack remain incomplete, delays that the former secretary of homeland security calls “unconscionable.” A Globe editorial sharply criticizes Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for “incoherent meddling” in the effort to get answers through a Boston hearing that he has worked to scuttle.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Former Lynn mayor Edward (Chip) Clancy may be forced to repay the city more than $400,000 after a judge agreed with current Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy that Clancy was overpaid by the city, the Item reports.

The developer of the $1.6 billion downtown project in Quincy takes out a full page ad in the Patriot Ledger to thank the city’s residents and say they are at a “crossroads” with the stalled project but the ad reads more like a farewell.

New Bedford city councilors reject a motion to rescind the 44 percent pay hike they got two years ago.

The Berkshire Eagle applauds Pittsfield officials for recognizing that the city hasn’t done much to recruit minorities for municipal jobs.

North Attleboro ‘s town manager calls the upcoming municipal budget season “bleak.”

Two board members of Newburyport‘s redevelopment authority resign over plans for waterfront redevelopment, and the city’s mayor now wants to dissolve the development board.

Peter Gelzinis argues that the blame for the standoff over Boston‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade shouldn’t rest entirely with the parade’s organizers.

CASINOS

The New Hampshire House rejects casino gambling for the second year in a row, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Caesars alleges that state gaming commissioner Steve Crosby scuttled its chances at a Massachusetts casino because one of the owners of a casino site in Everett cashed in an IOU with Crosby.

Foxwoods Resort Casino has begun working on a host agreement with Fall River officials amid reports their undisclosed site may be near an elementary school. Meanwhile, UMass Dartmouth professor Clyde Barrow says the Foxwoods casino proposal is nowhere near a done deal, pointing out all the projects Foxwoods has announced and failed to finish.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A Wall Street Journal editorial raps Sen. Ed Markey‘s intervention into hedge fund investor William Ackman‘s crusade against Herbalife. The editorial notes that Markey’s letters to federal regulators didn’t do anything but drive down the company’s stock price, since the SEC has already been investigating the company for more than a year.

ELECTIONS

Republican Scott Brown is seeking to hire staff for a run against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, the Associated Press reports. The Huffington Post reports that Brown appears to be running.

One of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Republican primary opponents called the longtime South Carolina lawmaker “ambiguously gay,” reviving a long lingering rumor that Graham has denied in the past.

The Atlantic asks whether ex-Republican Charlie Crist‘s run for Florida governor, as a Democrat, is a sign of post-partisanship, or craven opportunism.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The state is seeking a $500,000 payment from the quasi-public agency overseeing the stalled mixed-use project at the former South Weymouth naval air base and wants some answers on how they plan to make future payments with the development on hold.

EDUCATION

The Peabody School Committee votes to allow parents to let their children opt-out of the new standardized test that is being rolled out across the state, the Salem News reports.

The state is on the verge of buying the iconic Christo’s restaurant in Brockton, closed shortly after the death of its owner, for use by Massasoit Community College.

Tufts creates its own “4+1” gap year plus college program.

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA employee driving a Green Line train that derailed on Monday was fired in 2010 but reinstated by an arbitrator, WBUR reports.

Late-night T service is now arriving.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Lincoln-Sudbury High School moves forward with a plan for a solar parking lot canopy.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Senate Republicans ease the party’s hard line on sentencing guidelines.

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Nate Silver talks with New York magazine about the launching of his new FiveThirtyEight at ESPN.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says his company is always working to maintain a secure Internet, but he thought the point was to protect customers from criminals, not the US government.