Trajectory to schism. C. Joseph Doyle
VOTF would impose an American-style constitution on the Church in which the laity would share executive, judicial, and legislative power with the Pope and the hierarchy.
ALBANY, N.Y. — C. Joseph Doyle, executive director of the Boston-based Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, outlined the differences in the history of the Church between “authentic reform” and “pretended reform,” and warned his Albany audience in a May 3 address of the danger posed by the Boston-based Voice of the Faithful.
His warning was delivered at the same time two prominent bishops took opposite approaches with regard to VOTF. Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., questioned why the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board member Kathleen McChesney would speak before the local chapter of the dissident organization VOTF and Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn—who is the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and was formerly an auxiliary bishop of Boston—rescinded his ban on the dissident group meeting in parishes.
In his talk to the Coalition of Concerned Catholics of the Diocese of Albany, Doyle contrasted the ideology, agenda, and goals of VOTF to the genuine Catholic reforms of the Council of Trent during the Protestant revolution.
Doyle said that while authentic reform does not exclude changes in Church law or governance, “authentic Catholic reform is characterized by interior conversion, and the personal pursuit of holiness: It is sacramental and Christocentric; it is restorative rather than innovative; and it works within the divinely established constitution of the Church in which authority is entrusted to the Successors of St. Peter and the Apostles.
“Voice of the Faithful,” he continued, giving apt revelations about the background of some key members, “is fixated on what it calls ‘structural change in the Church,’ which is a deliberately ambiguous term designed to mask the radical agenda of its leadership cadre.”
For example, he said, at VOTF’s summer conference in Boston in the summer of 2002, one of the featured speakers was Dr. Deborah Haffner, the former director of education and counseling of Planned Parenthood of Washington, D.C., who is also a former president of SIECUS, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States. SIECUS has been the leading advocate of classroom sex education in the United States since the early 1960s, and is an organization that has been in the forefront of the sexual revolution.
The VOTF summer convention, Doyle continued, “was a who’s who of dissident groups on the Catholic and secular left — such as Call to Action, CORPUS (an association of married priests, some of whom are exercising priestly ministry without authorization), the Women’s Ordination Conference, WomenChurch, the AIDS Action Committee, and the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders — and the danger posed to the Church is not to be underestimated.”
During the period of the Protestant revolt, Doyle pointed out, “which took a third of the Church into the Protestant heresy and shattered Christendom, the Church responded by producing saints who conformed to the Tradition of the Church, not power-seeking revolutionaries who battened on and exploited clerical corruption for their own ulterior motives.
“If you look at VOTF, you see the same dynamic. VOTF would impose an American-style constitution on the Church in which the laity would share executive, judicial, and legislative power with the Pope and the hierarchy.
“We already have a name for such a Church,” he said. “It is Congregationalism — the invention of John Calvin, the arch-heresiarch of the Protestant Revolution who systematized Luther’s confused theology and planted it on the shores of Plymouth Rock.”
Doyle also pointed out that five months after Bernard Cardinal Law resigned as archbishop of Boston, VOTF agitators and their secular allies are still harassing parishioners at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston. Those parishioners go to Mass on Sunday mornings amid a police presence, through a gauntlet of protesters, disrupting services with their bullhorns.
“If Holy Cross Cathedral were an abortion clinic, those demonstrators would be in jail,” Doyle said.
Doyle also showed how some of the VOTF supporters in the media, such as former Paulist priest James Carroll and Eileen McNamara, both columnists with The Boston Globe, and The Boston Herald’s Marjorie Eagan, are noted Catholic-bashers of longstanding.
Eagan, he pointed out, on her radio program on WTKK-FM in Boston, advocated schism; and McNamara recently wrote a column urging VOTF members to leave the Church.
“An organization which in its very title claims fidelity to the Church,” Doyle said, “is endorsed by the most vicious anti-Catholics in the Boston media — which ought to inform the Catholic bishops and the Catholic people of America how malign this organization is.”
However, Doyle said, “the most damning indictment of VOTF comes from that organization’s continuing refusal to affirm Catholic doctrine and morality, saying in classic doublespeak, that it supports the Magisterium but takes no position on ‘hot-button sex and gender issues that are roiling the Church’—such as abortion, contraception, divorce, and homosexuality.”
Doyle mentioned that The Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1994, condemns, along with heresy, schism, and apostasy, in-credulity, which it defines as “the willful refusal to affirm Catholic truth.”
VOTF, in a nutshell, said Doyle, “has a Protestant ecclesiology, a secular, neopagan morality, a modernist theology, an Alinskyite organizing method, and a Marxist approach to critical analysis, viewing the Church as a power structure to be overthrown.
“Since the Church is indefectible, and cannot ever accept its demands,” Doyle concluded, “VOTF is on an inevitable trajectory to schism.”
During the question and answer session which followed, one of the conference participants asserted that the organizer of the VOTF chapter in Albany is a member of the Playboy-funded anti-Catholic front group, Catholics for a Free Choice.
On the eve of the appearance of Kathleen McChesney, a member of the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board, at a VOTF meeting just outside the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Newark on May 13, Archbishop Myers wrote to a VOTF member that he would not attend the meeting.
The Newark Star-Ledger’s Jeff Diamant reported May 1 that Archbishop Myers “has delivered a stern rebuke to the woman charged by U.S. Catholic bishops to assess church reform in the wake of the priest sex-abuse scandal, saying her actions have perplexed a number of bishops.
“Myers’ remarks came in a letter declining an invitation to attend an upcoming meeting of a reform-minded group of Catholics, Voice of the Faithful. Kathleen Mc-Chesney, executive director of the Bishops’ Office of Youth and Child Protection in Washington D.C., is scheduled to speak at the group’s meeting May 13 in Little Falls. McChesney, once the third-highest official at the FBI, was hired in November by a national panel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“‘I have met with Dr. Kathleen McChesney,’ Myers wrote to a member of Voice of the Faithful on April 21. ‘I can only say that her decisions and the conduct of her office leave more than a few bishops for whom she technically works in a state of perplexity’....
“Though not addressed to McChesney, Myers’ letter seemed aimed as much at her as at Voice of the Faithful, a group that originated in Boston in response to the scandal and seeks a restructuring of the Church to increase lay involvement. Myers has rejected its mission and is one of several bishops nationwide, including Camden Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, to bar Voice of the Faithful from meeting on church property. . . .
“In his letter, Myers wrote that he has been investigating the group and has determined ‘it is aligned or being aligned with groups in the Church which are clearly in dissent from formal Church teaching. I think it would be a serious mistake for the Church to promote in any way an organization which is counter to its own teachings.”’
In Brooklyn, Bishop Daily informed his priests in an April 29 letter that he was rescinding his earlier ban on VOTF meeting on Church property.
The reversal was hailed by VOTF’s executive director, Steve Krueger, who said Daily’s original position was an “affront to our sensibilities and Catholic spirit [and] has been the source of pain for our members, wherever they live. However, we have stayed the course in dialog with our bishops, and today we have seen the fruits of some of these efforts, specifically in the Diocese of Brooklyn....
“The significance of this action cannot be underestimated,” continued Krueger.
“In his letter, Bishop Daily stated that he found VOTF documents ‘to be in accord with the teachings of the Church.’ This unprecedented action by Bishop Daily is testimony to both the words and deeds of the affiliate members in Brooklyn — the truth of who we are — m their collaborative dialog with their bishop. Additionally, it speaks to the courage of Bishop Daily who is the first of eight bishops who have imposed bans on VOTF to reverse his decision. You can read VOTF Brooklyn’s press release on the VOTF national web site.
“This positive action by Bishop Daily is also testimony to the fruits that grow from the collaborative efforts of laity, parish clergy, and hierarchy. As we learn more about the events that gave rise to this historic action we can only wonder what impact this will have on the decisions of other bishops who have banned us. Hopefully, this will serve as a model for all to witness, and will allay the fears of our critics, proving that we are who we say we are.”