Russert , “structural change” and the heresy of Americanism

Changing the church: Catholic leaders urged to embrace greater equality

CASEY ROSS The Patriot Ledger

‘‘I want (church policy) to be my decision and your decision, not just the pope saying what we want to do.''



NEWTON - For two hours, they talked about the things that aren't talked about in the Catholic Church. They talked about ordaining women, about fully accepting homosexuals, about giving the laity a voice loud enough to influence the pope.


In the end, the opinions of six panelists searching for a way to bring renewal to a church in crisis were different, but their general conclusion was the same: To re-energize ordinary Catholics, the church must show a willingness to change.


‘‘There must be recognition by the church of how much harm has been caused,'' said the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities USA. ‘‘And there must be a continuing process where we believe people are right on the edge (of leaving the church), and if we don't reach out to them, they will fall over the edge.'


The urgency of the troubles facing the church was emphasized repeatedly last night during a forum at Boston College that combined the analysis of top religious scholars with the passion of students and local teachers.


The event, which was to kick off the second year of the college's initiative to examine the causes of the crisis and find ways to bring renewal, was attended by hundreds of area Catholics and students. It was moderated by Tim Russert, the host of the NBC news program ‘‘Meet the Press.''


The discussion between the panelists, who ranged from a Boston College junior to a New York Times columnist, centered on many of the fundamental tensions that are tugging at the church and its members.


Students Elizabeth Paulhus and Patrick Downes spoke of the need for openness in the church and called on church leaders to consider ordaining women and granting greater acceptance to homosexuals.


The students also emphasized a need for equality and a more democratic decision-making process from a church hierarchy that formulates its policies based on traditions and cannon law, not the beliefs and values of contemporary society.


‘‘We need much more of the equality that we read about in the gospels,'' said Paulhus, a Boston College senior. ‘‘I want (church policy) to be my decision and your decision, not just the pope saying what we want to do.''


The distance between the laity and church leaders has been highlighted by the sex abuse crisis, which exploded in Massachusetts with revelations that as many as 1,000 children were abused by priests and church workers for decades.


A report by state Attorney General Thomas Reilly found that abusive priests were protected by church leaders who kept them in active ministry despite learning that they had repeatedly abused children.

The mistakes of the church leaders, which many believed were criminal, led to calls from ordinary Catholics for a greater role in making decisions about the direction of the church and formulating policies on everything from sexuality to finances.


Sister Mary Johnson, a sociology and religion studies professor at Emmanuel College, said the church must open itself to the values of its members. ‘‘We have to pay attention to people like Peter and Liz,'' she said, referring to the BC student panelists. ‘‘The best teachers are people who listen. We have to teach our bishops that.


The Rev. Hehir said he does not believe there can be immediate, radical changes in the church, but he said there must be a change in the way the leadership deals with ordinary Catholics.

‘‘We need to treat adults as adults in the church,'' he said, drawing strong applause from the audience. ‘‘We have the most educated laity in the Catholic Church in 2,000 years. I'm not calling for revolution, because I don't think that works. But there are a range of issues that can be discussed.''


The panelists also explored several issues on the periphery of the sex abuse crisis, such as the rapidly diminishing number of young men entering the priesthood. The shortage of priests had become an issue before the crisis and became more severe as revelations began to snowball.


Now, of 19,000 Catholic parishes in the country, 2,500 do not have a resident priest.


‘‘And if things progress as they are, 6,000 parishes will have to close'' in the near future, Sister Johnson said. ‘‘Many of the finest men who serve in the church are in their 60s, and there are not a lot of young men coming behind them.''


Casey Ross may be reached at

Copyright 2003 The Patriot Ledger

Transmitted Friday, September 19, 2003


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Date      Sat, 20 Sep 2003 07:21:39 -0400

From     Richard Blanchard <>


Subject  Russert and confer. on "structual change"

This shows clearly that "the most educated laity in the Catholic Church in 2,000 years, including Fr.Hehir, have no understanding of what an act of faith is all about. They have, perhaps lost their faith.


The youngs students mentioned along with Fr. Hehir do not know what it means to a disciple of the Lord.



"The students also emphasized a need for equality and a more democratic decision-making process from a church hierarchy that formulates its policies based on traditions and cannon law, not the beliefs and values of contemporary society."


The above statement shows how well "uneducated" the laity in the year 2003 truly are.


 They have lost the essence of being a disciple which means to accept the Lord's teaching.  They apparently do not accept the Holy Father as the Chief infallible teacher on matters of doctrine and morals. 


What a tragic state of affairs that most bishops in America have let the faith in the Church go the way of apostacy.


Defend The Faith

Webpage Manager


Date      Sun, 21 Sep 2003 13:30:40 EDT

From     DocFrey


Subject  Structural change


What all of the apostles of change forget is that the Church has a mandate from Christ to preach the truth, not only truth in doctrine, but also truth in morality.  Sin remains sin and no amount of pontificating by "change agents" can make it outherwise.  This is the same sin that has led to all schisms and heresies: the sin of pride.   I will do thing my way.  VOTF and its adherants have lost sight of the meaning of Catholic faith and morals.   It's really too bad no one was there to remind those participants of the truths of Jesus Christ.

         Dr. Peter Frey  , PA


Date      Sun, 28 Sep 2003 13:32:21 EDT

Subject  Re: Russert ,€œstructural change? and the heresy of Americanism


God's ways are high above the ways of man. His ways lead to everlasting life. The ways of man lead to perdition. Do we want to save souls for a better life in this world, conceding to the wants and wishes of man or do we want to save souls for the Kingdom of God, leading people to desire to find and do things according to the ways of God? Since when do the beliefs and values of contemporary society outweigh the ways of God? He didn't change His ways at the time of Noah. He didn't change His ways at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why does contemporary society think we are so much smarter than He?

I thank Faithful Voice for being here. We need to remain focused on Christ as I believe your site helps us to do.

God Bless! , Helen


Date      Sun, 28 Sep 2003 12:40:39 EDT

Subject  "catholic" colleges

It is so evident from those comments that many on our Catholic campuses have no clear understanding of the "sensus catholicam" and what is involved in being a faithful follower of Christ through his church.  But the fault does not lie entirely with the young, but with their philosophy and theology professors who have inculcated false ideas about the Church.  Dr. Peter Frey