James M. Bendell
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 65471
119 Village Way
Port Ludlow, WA 98365-0471
April 5, 1997
Archbishop Harry Flynn
226 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102-2197
Dear Archbishop Flynn,
Since writing to you
on April 2 I have received a copy of yet another communication from your
office smearing HLI and Fr. Paul Marx. I
am referring to your April 1 letter to the priests of your Archdiocese
advertising your boycott of the HLI
Mass. This letter is so uncharitable and full of faulty reasoning that it
deserves an additional response from Roman Catholic Faithful.
The very notion
that a priest or bishop should boycott a Mass because of the alleged
unworthiness of the celebrant demonstrates both ignorance and
arrogance. All of us, including all priests, are unworthy to approach
the altar. We can do so only because of the love and generosity of
Jesus our Savior who bestows the sacrament of Holy Orders on his
unworthy servant. For you to refuse to concelebrate a Mass with Fr.
Marx because you have judged him a sinner is to place yourself higher
than God. This not only demonstrates incredible
chutzpah (1) but also is an act of great cruelty to Fr. Marx.
How would you feel if your fellow priests conducted an investigation
into your life and decided not to concelebrate Mass with you because
you may have committed certain sins or offended certain persons?
I think it is
important to point out the logical extension of your position.
Apparently you take the view that participating in a Mass with Fr.
Marx constitutes an endorsement of anti-Semitism. If that is so, then
clearly the altar servers should follow your example and refuse to
assist Fr. Marx at Mass. For that matter, it would then be unseemly
and an occasion for scandal for the organist and readers to
participate in such a celebration of hatred; they too should abstain.
Finally, if such a holy person as the bishop boycotts the Mass, the
faithful should also stay away. Really, the only sensible solution is
to have Fr. Marx celebrate Mass by himself, perhaps in some sort of
hermitage where nobody will have to watch. By your logic, this
ostracism of Fr. Marx should be joined by the priests and lay people
throughout this nation and the world. I formerly practiced law in
Alaska, and I could probably find some remote location where only the
beasts of nature would have to watch Fr. Marx pray or celebrate the
Your proposal that
a document be read at Fr. Marx' mass in which he will be publicly
chastised as a bigot is unprecedented and outrageous. If you feel so
strongly that Fr. Marx constitutes a moral blight in your diocese,
then you should forbid him to say Mass and ask him to stay away. Your
halfway measure is designed to embarrass and humiliate him. It will
also have the effect of setting back the life-saving efforts of
HLI which Pope John Paul II has
called "the most important work on earth."
Finally, and most
importantly, all of your efforts to smear Fr. Marx are based on the
incorrect assumption that he is anti-Semitic. This allegation is
false. If you feel so bold as to make such a public proclamation
against Fr. Marx, then I believe you should be able to back it up in a
Excellency, I challenge you to a public debate on the following
FR. PAUL MARX IS ANTI-SEMITIC AND HE SHOULD SEVER HIS CONNECTIONS WITH
HUMAN LIFE INTERNATIONAL.
I have crafted this
resolution to encompass your implied belief that
HLI itself is a worthy organization that
deserves support from the faithful. This public debate should take place
during the HLI convention so that
individual Catholics can make up their own mind about this issue. Your
April 1 letter stated that it is important to "witness to the whole Gospel
message of human dignity" and that there should be no "compromising on the
Gospel." I believe your attack on Fr. Marx's character and good name
violates Christian charity. Your position of power and prestige gives you
the opportunity to destroy his name and reputation. In the name of
charity, have the courage to defend your position by debating with me.
Please advise by the
close of business day April 8 if you accept this challenge to this debate
so I can make airline reservations and rearrange my schedule. If I do not
hear from you by then, I will know that you are not willing to defend the
serious allegations you have made.
Yours in Christ,
[signed] James Bendell
Member of the Board of Directors
Roman Catholic Faithful
1 This is a Yiddish
word with which you may be unfamiliar since you did not grow up with a
Jewish background as I did. You can look it up in Leo Rosten's wonderful
book "The Joys of Yiddish."
[Return to body of letter]