Skip to comments.A mutiny by priests and laity against the cardinal (and the church)? Voice of the Faithful
Posted on 04/30/2002 4:54:31 AM PDT by american colleen
Laity group demands voice: In Lowell, pastor snubs diocesan fund drive
by Tom Mashberg and Eric Convey Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Nearly 500 mainstream Catholics demanding a major voice for the laity in church affairs met last night to say they would organize locally and nationally despite a recent letter from the Archdiocese of Boston urging ``the faithful'' not to question church directives.
The meeting of The Voice of the Faithful group, at St. John the Evangelist Church in Wellesley, came as a small mutiny broke out in Lowell. The pastor of St. Michael's Parish urged his congregants to shun two major archdiocesan fund-raisers and focus instead on the ``pain, fear, stress and hurt'' of the clerical molestation crisis.
``The position of absolute power is a very difficult position for anyone to handle,'' said Jim Muller, president of VOTF, which has received global attention in the past week for voicing the determination of conservative U.S. Catholics to wield power and influence from the parish level to the Vatican.
``It has never been so clear the laity is needed to bring structural change into the church at the most fundamental of levels,'' he said.
Muller said at least 50 parishes around the nation have now asked for guidance in establishing VOTF chapters. More than 1,200 people signed up on the group's web site during the last 48 hours, organizer Paul Baier said.
Muller said the ultimate goal of the group is to have democratically chosen lay representatives sit on councils in parishes, dioceses, at the national level, and in Rome.
The group plans to hire full-time staff and raise at least $100,000 for its campaign.
VOTF, which takes no stands on controversial issues such as gay, married or female priests, says the authority for lay Catholics to organize and flex their muscle stems from the language of the Vatican II church reforms, which call on laity to assume key roles in the church.
``We want to serve as a counterbalance to the church hierarchy,'' Muller said. ``If we had been consulted 10 years ago, (Bernard) Cardinal Law and our church would not be in this position today.''
Stephen Pope, chairman of the theology department at Boston College, said church teachings are on their side.
``I believe that the tradition of the church and the theology of the church is with the spirit of the movement you represent,'' he said.
Dr. Joseph Murray, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and member of the Pontificial Academy of Sciences, said Law has lost credibility with the masses.
``My confidence in (Law's) leadership is increasingly being tested,'' he said.
Even as the VOTF movement gathered steam, a rare chink appeared in the archdiocesan armor in Lowell.
In a church bulletin issued Saturday, the Rev. Albert L. Capone told St. Michael's churchgoers the parish would eschew Law's annual ``Cardinal's Appeal'' and Promise for Tomorrow campaign.
``We must attend to immediate needs of the parish - the pain, fear, stress and hurt we are all experiencing as a result of this present crisis,'' he wrote.
Robert A. Sherman, an attorney representing alleged Birmingham victims, said there is ``a mutiny by priests against the cardinal.''
Cardinal Law Opposes Parish Groups
BOSTON (AP) - Cardinal Bernard Law risks alienating his most devoted followers by cracking down on a proposed coalition of lay groups representing parishes in the Boston archdiocese, some church experts said Saturday.
Law's directive to priests, sent Thursday by a senior bishop, came just days after American cardinals meeting at the Vatican urged the laity to take a greater role in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
``You have the potential for some combustible material here,'' Boston College church historian Thomas O'Connor said Saturday.
David Zizik, vice chairman of the parish council at St. Theresa in Sherborn, has proposed that a group comprising one person from each of the more than 300 parish councils meets with archdiocese officials.
Parish councils are made up of volunteers who aid their parish in organizing, fund-raising and advising the pastor.
Law learned of the proposal while in Rome. Bishop Walter Edyvean, on Law's behalf, sent a letter invoking Canon Law to point out that any parish council remains ``exclusively within the parish where it has been established and it is presided over by the pastor of that parish.''
Another lay group would be ``superfluous and potentially divisive,'' the letter said.
The archdiocese's reaction to the proposal caused disbelief among some Catholics.
``I'm shocked,'' said Jim Muller, president of Voice of the Faithful, a lay group. ``The divisiveness is going to be in response to the order.''
If Catholics cannot meet with the blessing of the archdiocese, they might seek out other venues, Muller said.
O'Connor said the move could backfire, especially after Law pledged to foster an atmosphere of openness.
``It seems surprising from a political point of view,'' he said. ``From a historical point of view, it seems like a sudden attempt to turn the clock back. Given the current emotional outrage, it seems unlikely that it would work. It's more likely it would produce a greater level of outrage.''
Some prominent Catholics, however, said it might be a good idea to go slow on the proposal.
``The church is not involved in public relations,'' said Ray Flynn, former Boston mayor and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. ``They can't be guided by a populist movement that on the surface sounds good. The devil is in the details.''
Cardinal Law is right about this, but has lost any credibility he had - another reason he has to go. This is pretty scary, folks. Originally, I thought VOTF sounded pretty orthodox, but it appears they are just another group that wants to change the church. Notice they take no stand on "controversial issues" (read homosexual priests, celibacy and female ordination). ..."the authority for lay Catholics to organize and flex their muscle stems from the language of the Vatican II church reforms, which call on laity to assume key roles in the church."
Scary. Anyone else wondering about a schism between the Roman Catholic Church in America and the American Catholic Church?
I don't like seeing this crisis in the church being used as an excuse to promote the agenda of those who want to change the basic tenets of the church. The first priority right now has to be to clean house. A lot of very fine people who care deeply about their relationship with the Church are suffering deeply right now. They deserve better.
Right now, the world needs a Catholic Church that has moral authority...if the Vatican weren't so busy with this scandal it could've been able to do something about issues like the siege on the Church of the Nativity and carnage in the Middle East and Africa.
Yes, you are right. If you think like I do, this entire evil scandal is deliberate... and in matters where the Church formerly could be a "beacon of light", Her beacon has been dimmed considerably by the evils of men within Her.
And this is surprising? The Church has survived in spite of the venal men who have led it from time to time -- think of Popes like Alexander VI (Ceasare Borgia), Cardinals like Richelieu and Bishops like Talleyrand, of the scandals that led first to the founding and then to the reform of various orders of monks and nuns, of the abuses that led to the Reformation. As painful as it may be, read what the Protestant historians such as von Ranke (History of the Popes) have written on the Church in the late medieveal, renaissance and reformation periods. I suggest that despite their obvious hostility to Rome, because the Church approved historians consistently minimize the problems that led to the Reformation. The Reformation, regardless of what one things fo it, and regardless of whether it was heretical or not, came out of sincere righteous anger and indignation at very real abuses in the Church and frustration at all attempts to reform the Church from within. American Catholics have never much been given to learning about the Reformation, perhaps now would be a good time for both the hierarchy and laity to really read what the Protestants and their historians were saying, if only to understand why the hierarchy's intransigence now is playing with fire far beyond their human understanding.
It will take a "mutiny" by parishioners who decide to withold their offerings
Schism is not always a bad thing for the Church. When a limb rots with gangrene, it has to be amputated lest the rot spread.
The AmChurch (and the CanChurch, for that matter) have only in juridical communion with Rome since Vatican II, not spiritual communion. It is clear that the Catholic Church and the American Church do not share the same faith.
< rant > As far as I'm concerned, the AmChurch and CanChurch can go and take their altar girls, guitar choirs, chickenhawk priests, Earth Mother-worshipping nuns, lay women busybodies and feel-good semi-Unitarian theology with them. Let the Roman Catholics get on with the job of restoring the Church. < /rant >
However, the "reforms" proposed by some of the newly forming dissenting groups are not proposing "reforms" that correct the problems within the Church. They are groups with agendas that propose changing dogma and will consequently bring the Catholic Church more in line with some of the mainstream Protestant religions.
I believe that only an adherence to Catholic Catachism will rid the Church of the evil within.
This also appears to be the war plan of homosexual groups within the church. A story in the NYT yesterday quoted members of a "gay Catholic church" (an oxymoron) in San Francisco -- totally denying that homosexual priests are the problem, but ranting about the removal of bishops. In other words, their tactic is to ignore the real issues, and focus on attacking the hierarchy. I don't think it would be a bad idea if these "gay congregations" and doctrinal reformers split off from the Church, but that isn't their goal; as with the gay movement, their aim is acceptance within the establishment. Watch for them to attack conservative bishops as well as the cardinals and bishops involved in the cover-up.
I know you are right, and I do agree with you, but I'm one of those Rodney King types - why can't we all get along?
I believe that the AmChurch (and CanChurch) was born of the watering down of Church teaching over the past 30 - 40 years and if these people really knew Catholicism and what it stands for and what it teaches, they would come back/remain in communion with Rome. So, we need the priests and catechists to step up to the plate and teach morals and preach on sin and salvation and repentance. At least if parishioners go, they won't go in ignorance.
Yes, I agree with you. The sad part is, many of the laity who have been subjected to "love your neighbor" "don't judge others", etc., ect., homilies over the past 30 years are unwitting accomplices. I find that most people I know take things on face value - if you look below the surface on this HOMOSEXUAL (not pedophile) problem, you can see that it was/is a concerted infiltration plan to wreak havoc on the Roman Catholic Church.