The largest story on the front page of yesterday's Boston Globe was about the lay reform group known as "Voice of the Faithful" which met on Saturday at the Hynes Auditorium with 4,000 people from across the country in attendance.
The group started in Wellesley in the basement of St. John the Evangelist Church just five months ago, after the sexual scandals appeared. It was begun by a well known activist, cardiologist James E. Muller, who was a member of a group which won the Nobel peace prize in 1985 for its work against U.S. policy on the nuclear bomb,
The Globe reported that at Dr. Muller's insistence, the Voice of the People has "refused to take a position on controversial issues such as priestly celibacy." Muller's goal is to "demand that lay people have a voice on key issues," the newspaper said.
The Cardinal has made no comment on the group but a chief aide has been assigned to meet with the group's leaders.
But C. J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League has criticized the group for "unfaithfulness to Catholic principles."
It is clear to all observers that Dr. Muller will have a difficult time controlling all the different factions that attended yesterday's meeting and there will be a struggle for power.
Although the Globe reported that the group has "refused to take a position on controversial issues such as priestly celibacy," a much more controversial issue than married priests was quietly slipped in the homily delivered at the meeting by the Rev, William Kremmell, the chaplain at Regis and Framingham State Colleges. He made a call for married, women priests when he said that "hopefully" a married woman might be presiding at a Mass in twenty-five years.
C. J. Doyle noted that the list of invited speakers was comprised of prominent Catholic dissenters, including proponents of women's ordination, opponents of Catholic sexual ethics, and Debra Haffner, former Director of Counseling, Education, and Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.
He characterized the conference's program as "the clearest signal yet received of the organization's lack of Catholic integrity and radical infidelity to Church teaching."
"What we are witnessing here today," said Doyle, is the cynical exploitation of a tragedy by dissidents with an agenda. When an organization which purports to be Catholic has a speaker affiliated with Planned Parenthood, it tells us all we need to know about its alleged Catholic credentials. The presence of Debra Haffner, along with representatives of the Women's Ordination Conference, CORPUS, and Call to Action makes a mockery of its pretensions to be Catholic.
"It is grotesque hypocrisy for an organization which claims to be Catholic to promote the views of those who reject Catholic doctrine and repudiate Christian morality. These adversaries of the Papacy and Catholic tradition are seeking the admission of women, married men and active homosexuals to the priesthood, the repeal of Catholic moral prohibitions against abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and divorce, and in some cases, the separation of the Catholic Church in America from Rome. As an organization marketing itself as Catholic, Voice of the Faithful is engaged in consumer fraud."
Dr. Muller Is Well Known
Dr. Muller has been well known as an international activist for years. He was one of three co-founders of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
He is also active with the Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Scandals tend to bring out the best in people, and the worst in people. The heterodox among the laity see this as an opportunity to advance their agenda. The orthodox do to. In most cases I'd say the outcome is uncertain, but as regards our Holy Mother the Church we have the promise of Our Lord. "The gates of hell will not prevail against it," He promised (Mt.16:18) and I believe Him.
Short answer: yes.
Hey, have you guys been to "La Familia Georgio's" in the North End. It's a great Italian restaurant with family style cuisine and lots of it.
I wrote the following letter to the Globe this morning:
Dear Mr./Ms. Pfeiffer:
I feel some mistaken things have been said this morning in your Boston Globe article on the group calling itself "Voice of the Faithful". Specifically, I feel it is an error for this group to be called a "moderate" group, or to say that this group has not called on Catholics to stop making monetary donations to the Boston archdiocese, or to say that this group has not called for the elimination of the discipline of celibacy or female ordination.
On the monetary donation question, I would point out that the Associated Press report reproduced below states that a call was made at the VOTF conference that Catholics must also ``stop enabling through financial support the power structures'' responsible for the ``horrific consequences'' of the scandal and cover-ups. This belies the claim that VOTF does not actively encourage the withholding of funds from contributions to the Archdiocese.
On the issue of eliminating celibacy and female ordination, there is plenty of advocacy of these at the www.votf.org website, and in addition, one of the agenda items of the conference listed on that website (which I reproduce below) was "Facing the Gender and Sexual Issues in the Priesthood".
Finally, I would note that one of the scheduled speakers was a certain Deborah Haffner, who apparently used to be the president of a group called the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, which produced a statement on sexuality that is completely at odds with the Catholic Church's teaching on sexuality as exemplified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and which apparently even promoted childhood sexuality. I copy below an article by Dr. Laura Schlessinger from Jewish World Review on the SIECUS statement and Ms. Haffner.
Everything I read about this "lay empowerment" group seems to suggest that it sees the clergy and hierarchy in fundamentally antagonistic, "us versus them" terms, as an evil, power-hungry "other" to rally against and to be overthrown by poor, oppressed lay people. I just think that is a very secular, political way to view the Church. I'm mad as the next person about how the hierarchy and the clergy have allowed the abuse of children and have set their vows of celibacy at naught. But I think we cannot simply
vilify and overthrow the clergy. Rather we should call the clergy and ourselves to greater holiness of life. If a parent or a sibling committed some great wrong, we may be angry, but should we therefore cease to love them and encourage them kindly to convert back to the practice of the true faith of God and sound moral behavior and teachings?
I certainly nbever elected this group to speak for me and I do not view it as broadly representative of the laity. Perhaps it is the enlightened "vanguard" of the laity the way that the Communist Party was supposed to be the "vanguard" of the proletariat and therefore entitled to exercise dictatorship in its name. And I do believe the leaders are motivated by a desire to overturn teachings of the faith on sexual morality, although they will at first try to be very quiet about that. At this point, they will focus solely on matters of
Church governance, with occasional but ever increasing calls to abandon the discipline of celibacy and to allow female ordination. Yet even the subject of Church governance is not devoid of doctrinal substance. As the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium makes clear, the hierarchical nature of the Church and the apostolic succession was established by Christ. There is some fluidity in the specific arrangements, but at some point radical changes in Church governance to eliminate the teaching and governing authority of the hierarchy and the clergy will change the very nature that Christ intended for His Church on earth and will thus change the deposit of faith and create a new religion.
As Americans, it is only natural that we all thrill to the ideal of democracy. Government of the people, by the
people and for the people and all that good stuff. However, part of a democratic society is that people should be allowed voluntarily to form and join subgroups of persons that have similar views on what constitutes the good life and on other matters that concern them. Not everyone will agree with the particular views of any of these voluntary associations. To say that these voluntary associations must themselves allow others who do not share the beliefs or goals of the association to belong and to exercise
influence in these organizations is in fact to deny freedom of association to those who fully accept the beliefs and goals of the organization and who merely want to live in peace with their neighbors and practice their beliefs as they see fit. Thus, while democracy and freedom is certainly appropriate for the overall civil sphere, but it is not necessarily appropriate in private voluntary associations. A religious voluntary association like the Catholic Church cannot be a democracy as regards doctrine, since the whole purpose of the Church is to practice and pass on the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles. The content of faith is not determined by opinion polls or ballot boxes. Our Lord chose His apostles and gave them authority by laying hands on them. They likewise taught and handed on to selected disciples their authority through the laying on of hands. You may say that this leads to a self-perpetuating autocracy. But consider that the purpose of this apostolic succession is to preserve and teach Divine revelation to generation after generation. Thus it is a question of a teacher teaching his students and choosing the best to
preserve and carry on this tradition. The laying on of hands ensures the personal relationship and certification. This manner of teaching authority is not unique to Catholicism. Many eastern religions have gurus or teachers that attract disciples and create generations of successor gurus and teachers to pass on the wisdom that they have received. In the Jewish religion, the chapter Aboth in the Mishnah, upon which the Talmud is based, sets forth a geneology of rabbis and teachers stretching back to Moses as
the foundation for the Oral Torah. Moslem hadith are always carefully recite that so-and-so heard this from so-and-so who heard it from so-and-so and back to the prophet Mohammed.
Also keep in mind that the clergy is not simply to exercise blind power, but is supposed to be of service to the people of whose souls they hold the cure, just as Our Lord washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. Part of this service is to pass on the deposit of the faith whole and entire, as the apostle Paul says.
The laity in the United States by and large seem improperly catechized and, to the extent they even know what the Church teaches, seem in many respects more likely to follow and believe the dominant secular hedonistic philosophies of society, particularly as regards sexual morality, rather than the unchanging teachings of the faith. We see that 85% of the Catholic laity practice artificial contraception, despite the unchanging teaching of the Church that this is a grave matter and thus a mortal sin if done knowingly. I would prefer not to be ruled in the Church by persons who either do not know the teachings and traditions of the Church or who do not value them and think the wisdom of the world superior.
If one prefers a presbyterian or congregational model of Church governance, then there are already Protestant branches of Christianity that practice this (and indeed broke off from the Catholic Church precisely to change the form of Church governance). If those who are dissatisfied with the apostolic succession of the episcopacy and the Papal primacy that Christ established as the basis for carrying on His teaching in His Church on earth, then perhaps they could take a cue from their Protestant predecessors and start a new congregational denomination that combines all their preferred teachings. Then perhaps they could leave the Catholic Church to carry on her mission on earth in peace.
The "Voice of the Faithful" conference was given a huge buildup by the Boston Globe, which cited all sorts of facile comments from people like "the priests made these rules, and if they are not going to follow them then why should I?". If the typical Catholic thinks that the priests simply "made up" moral teachings, then
that is a sharp indictment of the utter lack of sound catechetical training of the faithful. The moral teachings of the Church are not simply man-made rules thought up by priests or even by some sinister Grand Inquisitor in the bowels of the hated Vatican. They come from God, whose final revelation of Himself is in the person of Jesus Christ who taught the apostles the deposit of faith, which includes the divine teachings on sexual morality.
I will rely on the Holy Spirit to preserve the Church and the deposit of faith, because I cannot rely on sinful men, be it bishops and priests who do not protect children or value purity or morality, or dissenting laypeople who if they were being honest would recognize that they are not immaculate themselves.
Thank you and best regards,
Reform Group Seeks Catholic Changes
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 4:46 a.m. ET, Sunday, July 21, 2002
BOSTON (AP) -- At its first national meeting Saturday, a non-clergy reform
group born out of the Roman Catholic priest sex abuse scandal called for
drastic changes in the way the church is governed.
An estimated 4,000 Voice of the Faithful members from 35 states and seven
foreign countries signed a petition urging Pope John Paul II to endorse
reform policies that U.S. bishops approved in June.
In a statement, the group vowed to find ways for lay Catholics to ``actively
participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.''
Included among proposals under discussion were policy-making power for lay
church members, and giving parishioners a role in the appointment of bishops
The Rev. Thomas Doyle, keynote speaker and an Air Force chaplain in Germany,
said the abuse scandal resulted from ``the delusion that the clergy are
somehow above the rest,'' as well as some clergymen's ``unbridled addiction
The word ``democracy'' strikes fear in many clergy, he said, but ordinary
lay Catholics need to shed ``timidity or fearful deference to the very
structures that have betrayed us.''
Catholics must also ``stop enabling through financial support the power
structures'' responsible for the ``horrific consequences'' of the scandal
and cover-ups, he said.
Panelists at the meeting included Thomas Arens of Germany, an organizer of a
petition drive in the mid-1990s urging the Church to accept married priests
and women priests, and lay theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College.
Early Saturday evening, hundreds of participants walked to the Cathedral of
the Holy Cross, where Cardinal Bernard Law regularly celebrates Mass, and
stood singing hymns and chanting, ``Keep the faith, change the church.''
Law has come under intense criticism for allegedly allowing abusive priests
to keep getting new assignments in parishes that were not warned of the
priest's prior conduct.
Since February, the reform group says it has attracted 19,000 supporters,
forming chapters in 68 parishes around the nation, half of them in
Voice is ``the fastest growing Catholic lay organization in the world,''
James E. Post, a professor at Boston University and the group's president,
said in an interview.
James Muller, cardiology research director at Massachusetts General
Hospital, said he helped launch Voice out of the belief that ``I must either
attempt to correct these deep structural defects or leave the Catholic
At a news conference Friday, the group called on members nationwide to fill
out forms rating local bishops' compliance with reform policies. Results are
to be issued before the bishops' November meeting.
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused
by Priests, called the national gathering ``the first time a large group of
Catholics have come together to tell survivors, we support you.''
"RESPONSE OF THE FAITHFUL"
VOTF NATIONAL CONFERENCE
HYNES CONVENTION CENTER, BOSTON, MA - JULY 20, 2002
Tentative Schedule as of June 16, 2002 --- Subject to Change
Come share a day with Catholics of prayer and discussion about the role of the laity in the future, what the future church could look like, how to support victims, how to support priest of integrity and how to use our Financial Voice.
Come also to see how over 30 Parishes have started their own VOTF group to help at the local level and at the national level and are providing hope and parish renewal to their local church.
Join us and be a part of improving the Catholic Church. The Church needs you now.
7:30 Doors Open
8:30 Welcome and Prayer
9:00-Noon Plenary Session
1-3 Breakout Sessions
5:00 Holy Mass
6:15 Conference ends
Confirms Speakers As of June 16 (subject to change)
Includes Speakers for the Plenary Session and Breakout Sessions
Mary Jo Bane, Professor Harvard University
Rev. Tom Doyle, wrote 1985 Doyle Report
Tom Groome, Professor Boston College
David O'Brien, Professor Holy Cross
Steve Pope, Professor Boston College
Leonard Swidler, Professor Temple University
Michele. Dillon, Professor University of New Hampshire
Deborah, Haffner, will speak on ways to have safe parishes
Rev. Steven Lynch, Director, Evang. at St. Francis Chaplain, Providence Rhode Island
Tom Beaudoin, Ph.D., Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry
* Tentative Breakout Sessions
1. Listening Session Techniques: A guide to the why and how of successful parish dialog.
2. How to Establish Your Own Chapter: Step by Step
3. Beyond Listening Sessions: what's next at my Parish?
4. How Safe Is Your Parish?
5. Toward a Constitution of the Laity?
6. Can We Reach Young Adults? Are neglect and scandal pushing another generation of Catholics away?
7. Explaining Sexual Abuse to Our Children
8. The Good Priests: Caught in the Middle? What they lost, what they need, and what we can do.
9. What Do Victims Need? Let Them Tell You.
10. Church Governance: A Revealing Look at Other Religions
11. Facing the Gender and Sexual Issues in the Priesthood
12. Up Close with Pedophilia and Ephebophilia
Tickets are $20.00. Go to www.VOTF.org information on ticket sales
Jewish World Review Feb. 23, 2000 /17 Adar I, 5760
Declaration cloaks its positions in religion
By Dr. Laura Schlessinger
-- YOU KNOW all the steady nagging I do
on the air, in my books and in this column about what I have come to
believe is a conspiracy to sexualize our children at ever-earlier ages.
It all started with Alfred Kinsey and his highly dubious research about
the sexuality of children, much of which was gleaned from the testimony
of pedophiles whom he paid to experiment on children and report to him.
(Hardly disinterested, trained scientists.)
His research and many of his original researchers are today behind the
push to legitimize adult-child sex, elevate pornography to a subject fit
for study at the university level, and introduce graphic sexual education
and instruction in schools.
Their most recent salvo is an attempt to co-opt religious support for
their frightening agenda. The Associated Press, USA Today and The New
York Times carried the amazing story of 850 clergy and others involved in
religious organizations who endorsed A Religious Declaration on Sexual
Morality, Justice and Healing. Instigated by SIECUS, the Sexuality
Information and Education Council of the United States, the declaration
effectively eliminates any consideration of morality from human
sexuality. It calls on all faiths to bless same-sex couples; to allow gay
men and lesbians to be ministers; to provide open access to abortion and
sexual education; _and to oppose all forms of sexual oppression,
including notions of marital status and the innocence of children._
[above emphasis Kelly's...funny, how "Voice of the Faithful" has as its
main reason for existing: "Supporting the Victims," sheesh]
SIECUS educational guidelines call for children ages 5 to 8 to be taught
about masturbation; children ages 9 to 12 to be taught different ways to
share sexual pleasure with each other; children ages 12 to 15 to be shown
where to buy contraceptives; children 16 to 18 to be instructed in the
use of erotic photos, movies or literature to enhance their sexual
Their so-called religious declaration states that "sexuality is G-d's
life-giving and life-fulfilling gift." I remember another declaration
that invoked G-d. It said something about inalienable rights given by
G-d. I don't remember that any of those rights included the right to
same-sex sex, or abortion, for that matter. I can't find that in the
Why would the leading advocates for increasingly graphic sexual education
and instruction "to all ages" invoke G-d in its manifesto? Because
religion is the last bastion of morality in this humanistic
society._Thus, it's a smart place to infiltrate._ And this is just what
Deborah Hafner did when she left her post as president of SIECUS to
become a fellow at Yale Divinity School. At the time, people were baffled
by this apparent career right-turn. Now we know why she took the
The declaration announces itself as a "faith-based commitment to sexual
and reproductive rights, including ... abortion." This absurd statement
is supposedly aimed at counteracting the genuinely faith-based opposition
to much of what the declaration embraces. The signers of this declaration
represent 25 denominations, but according to the AP, "nearly half are
from the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association
and Judaism's Reform and Reconstructionist branches.
"The paper got slim backing from Roman Catholics and none from major
Evangelical, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Mormon, Buddhist, Hindu or
I have to say I was really embarrassed by the fact that Judaism is
represented here. So I asked my rabbi for a response. He wrote: "Judaism
has been very clear and consistent on the subject of homosexual activity
for the past 3,311 years. Judaism is based on a Divine constitution
called the Torah, which leaves no room for misunderstanding of its
position. One may choose to agree or disagree with Judaism's perspective
on homosexuality, but one cannot confuse his own opinions with that of
Judaism. No rabbi or Jewish movement can call upon Judaism to bless
same-sex couples and allow gay and lesbian ministers. Only G-d speaks for
That made me feel a lot better as a Jew.
In an interview with Baptist Press, Hafner asserted that the declaration
establishes a religious standard for promoting morality, justice and
healing. She said: "It's not 'anything goes.' It's just that no matter
what gender orientation you have -- bisexual, transgender -- no matter
what sex you are, no matter what age you are, no matter what marital
status you are, no matter what sexual orientation you are, you have a
right to sex." No matter what age you are?
Now, how is that not "anything goes"?
I'm going to let Albert Moller Jr., president of The Southern Seminary in
Louisville, Ky., have the last word on this:
"The arrogance of this declaration is breathtaking. The self-appointed
moral revolutionaries will reject the clear teachings of Scripture in
order to justify sexual perversion and destructive behaviors and claim a
religious mandate! In a cloak of distortions they seek to overthrow
biblical morality and put the humanistic ethics of sexual liberation in
its place. The result will be ruined lives, devastated marriages, lost
innocence and broken hearts."