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of Brooklyn—who is the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and was for­merly an auxiliary bishop of Bos­ton—rescinded his ban on the dis­sident group meeting in parishes.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.


In Newark


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


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.”