Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sean Hannity and Fr. Tom Euteneuer get into it on FOX



This is getting to be slightly old news, but just in case people hadn’t seen it, I wanted to give everyone a fair and balanced look at the dust-up that occurred last month on FOX between Sean Hannity and Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer of Human Life International.

It all started when Fr. Euteneuer made some remarks about Sean Hannity on his Spirit and Life blog. Hannity had made an apology of sorts on-the-air for eating chicken on a Friday during Lent, but Fr. Euteneuer dismissed that incident and took him to task for being a hypocritical Catholic over his views regarding birth control. Hannity became indignant over that, invited Fr. Euteneuer to appear on Hannity & Colmes, and the sharp exchange shown above took place. I don’t know if I can say that either of them handled himself particularly well.

So, who knew that Sean "Chickenhawk" Hannity, an arch-conservative ex-seminarian, was a dissident from the magisterial teaching of the Church? I have to say, I was somewhat surprised, especially since I recall that he had written the following blurb for the back cover of H. W. Crocker III’s militantly Ultramontane opus, Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church: A 2,000-Year History:

I used to think that the history of the Catholic Church was the greatest story never told. But it’s been told now – in Triumph – with all the verve, aggression, and even humor of John Wayne in The Quiet Man. This is rock-solid history – delivered with a rock-solid punch – and is the most essential Catholic book since the Catechism of the Catholic Church (although it’s a lot more fun to read). Buy it and enjoy.
So, is Sean Hannity what they would call on FOX “a great American, my friend”, but a bad Catholic?

We report, you decide.

18 comments:

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Wow.

He may have gone to seminary but he was no where near as prepared to defend his views within canon law as someonw like Joe Cecil. I am tempted to write him a letter, but have no idea how I could find the time. He kept spouting "judge not" but never once invoked licit dissent arguments. He invoked responsibility towards abortion and that his conscience directs him such that he does not believe humans have broad control over biological imperatives. I agree with all of that. But there again I think he should have consulted someone like JCecil, and discussed nullification of a greater evil with a lesser one, and the right to dissent from non-infallible teachings.

All the Best,

-B

Jeff said...

Hi B.,

I think it was a classic example of two guys talking past each other, or more accurately, of one guy talking on top of another.

Even though Hannity's protest, and his frustration over the sexual abuse scandal resonates with a lot of people, you are right - he wasn't using logic or informed conscience in his argument. Hannity was relying upon rhetorical flourish as a substitute for debate, but then again, this is not unusual for him or the other commentators on FOX. On the other hand, Fr. Euteneuer didn't help matters by dropping the "heretic" bomb on him right out the box. I think he was over-reaching by levelling a heresy charge on Hannity. Who knows how the conversation might have gone if he hadn't done that? Hannity might have taken the same tack anyhow, but that charge ensured that a meaningful dialogue wan't going to take place.

Liam said...

Wow, I never thought I would be defending Sean Hannity. Yes, all he did was to try to yell his way to winning the argument, but that's what he does always and that's cable news for you. He didn't get very far in logical arguement, but his point about abortion and non-Catholics was one that Euteneuer really didn't address. His point about the abuse scandal is from one point of view off-topic, but from the other point-of-view, I'm sick of listening to smug hijos de puta like Euteneuer talking about who is a "cultural Catholic" and about denying communion when Cardinal Law is still strutting around Santa Maria Maggiore.

Sorry about my tone, but Euteneuer really got my Irish up. Someone who disagrees about the use of birth control for non-Catholics is a "heretic" who should be banned from communion? I guess he'd have someone like me burned at the stake.

IPAO saw the clip with me and she described Euteneuer perferctly: "a modern-day pharisee."

crystal said...

If Hannity is a bad Catholic for dissenting on contraception, then about 90% of American Catholics are also bad, according to statistics.

There's an interesting article by Charles E. Curran on the web - Roman Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Dissenting View

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Hi Jeff,

Have you noted John Haynes's comments over the last few months on Joe's blog et cetera?

This 74 year old fellow is a gentle soul and honest searcher for truth that has been on the catholic blog scene for a while as a slightly agnostic reader. I was sad to learn he is suffering from cancer and then realized his wife has been typing for him as he is too sick.

http://www.beliefnet.com/milestones/commemoration.asp?milestoneTypeID=6&milestoneID=84728

I started a prayer circle for him.

All the Best,

-B

Jeff said...

B,

I haven't been over to Joe Cecil's much lately, but I do know of the guy you are talking about. That's a shame, I'm very sorry to hear it. I will keep him in my prayers. Please pray for Paula's friend Laura as well.

Liam and Crystal,

Yes, I know what you mean. As far as birth control goes, I think there has been movement and evolving in the teaching on this throughout the history of the Church, so I think we must beware of the "creeping infallibilism" that seems to be growing around this in certain circles. When the majority of even Mass-going Catholics practices birth control, I think it is legitimate to question if the sensus fidelium has reached a consensus on this, even if the Curia insists the case is closed. I think this chapter isn't quite closed yet. I think Fr. Euteneuer was out of line calling Hannity a "heretic" here, even if he does want to criticize him for his public dissent. In the Catechism it states:

CCC (2089) Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to submit to assent to it. Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.


This is not heresy, at least as I read it. I tend to agree with Curran that there is such a thing as faithful dissent.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

will do...

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Hi Jeff,

Upon further review I agree with your position that Fr. E was out of line in the first place with a strong Heresy line. He baited Hannity a bit with that.

All the Best,
-B

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Just watched it again. There is no question. Fr. E has the first word and "starts it" with the use of the loaded word heretic. He could have stuck with 'dissenter'. So I can't fault Hannity as much as i was.

I also agree with Jeff about the sensus fidelis, particularly for the single, so as to keep the unborn out of the crossfire. Fr. E's point about birth control failings being 60% of abortions is important, but so are the studies coming out that say abstinence only programs are a complete statistical failure.

All the Best,

-B

Jeff said...

Thanks for the comments, guys... I don't know... I've been over on dotCommonweal today, mixing it up a bit over there.

Next week is school vacation. We'll be away for a few days, down in New Jersey and NYC. I'll catch you later.

This whole impending Motu Proprio that's expected next week has me so depressed and so livid, it's just as well that I won't be posting for a little while.

Be good. Cheers.

Steve Bogner said...

Hmmm... isn't it the bishop's job to toss around the terms like 'heretic' - aren't there some formal processes to go through? 'heretic' and 'dissenter' are pretty serious charges to be tossing around on public, national TV.

Unfortunately, that sort of behavior is getting more acceptable these days; but it's sad to see a priest partaking in it. I've always liked the way Ignatius of Loyola instructed his student, Antonio Brandao, about correcting others (here's a rather lengthy quote from Ignatius; but worthwhile, I think):

An important factor in [correcting another] successfully is the authority enjoyed by the person giving the correction, or his love - and this love must be perceived. Lacking either of these, the correction will be ineffective; there will be no amendment. Hence correcting others is not for everyone.

Moreover, no matter how one makes an admonition (after having judged that it will lead to the person's amendment), he should not state things too forthrightly, but along with some commendation and in a roundabout way. For one sin can bring another in its train: the sin already committed may dispose a person to take the bestowal of correction badly.

... for the first person's own progress it would be better to do this: the more attention one pays to others' faults the less he will dwell within himself and see his own faults, and the less progress he himself will make. However, in a case where a person is advancing in perfection and has his own passions under control and in good order, our Lord expands his heart so that he may be a help to others as well as to himself, that person may well correct someone who does wrong [first by praying about it and then by approaching that person privately].

cowboyangel said...

I have to say, my own expereince of life and what's important makes me feel like I live on a totally different planet when I see something like this.

Wish I had something more constructive to offer.

Have a good trip!

Liam said...

Have a nice trip, Jeff.

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Have a good trip Jeff! I'll check out dot commonweal too.

Both your own and Liam's comments have been very valuable to me.

All the Best,

-B

jackjoe said...

lost in bloggerland. alice

cowboyangel said...

Jeff, Just to clarify - I meant watching the video made me feel like I was on a totally different planet. Calling Hannity a heretic for not following the Church's teaching on birth-control seems so extreme, and Euteneuer's almost gleeful attitude frankly shocked and appalled me.

Jeff said...

Hi Steve and Cowboy,

Yes, the priest was overstepping his bounds with the heresy charge, I think, both in terms of Canon Law and in charity. Steve brings up Ignatius Loyola, and I like what he said in the Presuppositions:

"..let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor's proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself."

Jeff said...

Hi Alice,

Hope you don't feel lost here. John, God Bless you and hang tough.