When Wolves Dress Like Sheep:
A Close Look at Voice of the Faithful
By Deal Hudson, Crisis Magazine
Voice of the Faithful began in January 2002 as a support group for parishioners who wanted to express their concerns about the sex-abuse scandal. What started in one church basement in Wellesley, Massachusetts, has now grown into a full-blown organization with a contact list of over 22,000 names, new branches (called "Parish Voices") cropping up all over the country, and its own conference held on July 20 with over 4,000 attendees.
If you visit its Web site (www.votf.org), you are greeted with Voice of the Faithful's slogan: "Keep the Faith, Change the Church." Leaders of VOTF are very adamant that their group is neither left-wing nor right-wing, but that it addresses universal concerns of ALL Catholics across the board. Also listed on the site is the group's mission statement, which is "to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church." Following the mission statement are the three main goals of VOTF: to "support those who have been abused, support priests of integrity, [and] shape structural change within the church."
But notice the bait-and-switch tactic used in listing its three goals. Everyone can rally behind the cry of supporting faithful priests and the abused, but "change within the church" could encompass a variety of "changes" that are well outside the Church's teaching. Most people agree that some sort of change is needed, but it dodges the REAL question: What kind of change? What role do lay Catholics have in changing the Church? And how do you know that you're keeping the authentic Faith?
Being "attentive to the Spirit" is hardly reassuring. What about being attentive to the magisterium or Tradition? Appealing to the Spirit sounds a lot like those who advocate radical change in the Church while finding recourse in the "spirit" of Vatican II. Too much emphasis on one's personal interpretation of the Spirit can very easily lead one away from the Church and its teachings.
THE VOTF PLAYERS
While VOTF has been operating largely on a volunteer basis up to this point, many of those associated with its leadership are involved with other dissenting groups, like Call to Action (www.cta-usa.org), CORPUS, and We Are the Church (www.we-are-church.org). Jan Leary, a member of VOTF's steering committee, serves as the contact for Save Our Sacrament/Annulment Reform, and Andrea Johnson, another steering committee member, is the contact for the Women's Ordination Conference in Virginia.
But this barely scratches the surface. Many of the people invited to speak at VOTF's national convention on July 20 espouse other radical views that are not in line with Church teaching. The following people were all invited to speak at the Boston conference:
** Leonard Swidler, professor of Catholic thought at Temple University. Well-known for his work in the formation of a "global ethic" with dissenting theologian Hans Kung, Swidler is also the founder of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (www.arcc-catholic-rights.org). As the chair of the association's constitution international drafting committee, he's responsible for drawing up a constitution for a more "democratic" church which includes the proposal for elected leaders; term limits for those leaders; a legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government; and opening up leadership positions to all people, including "women and minorities."
** James Carroll, columnist for the Boston Globe. Carroll, a self-proclaimed Catholic, was ordained a priest in 1969 but left the priesthood in 1974 and married before his laicization, effectively excommunicating himself. His columns in the Globe confirm that he believes in contraception, abortion, and women's ordination. Additionally, he rejects numerous fundamental Church teachings, such as the divinity of Jesus Christ. In a July 16 column, Carroll stated that at the VOTF convention, "deeper questions must be confronted as well -- the role of the laity in church governance, assumptions of sexual morality, the place of women, the pathologies of clericallism, the 'creeping infallibility' that corrupts church teaching."
** Debra Haffner, a member and former president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). SIECUS promotes guidelines for sex education for children grades K-12, guidelines which approve of children ages 5-8 being taught that masturbation and homosexuality are acceptable practices. Not only that, they also urge that 12- to 15-year-olds be taught how to obtain and use contraceptives.
Haffner is also the cofounder of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing (www.religionproject.org). The institute's "Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing" calls for "theological reflection that integrates the wisdom of excluded, often silenced peoples, and insights about sexuality from medicine, social science, the arts and humanities; full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same sex unions...[and] support for those who challenge sexual oppression and who work for justice within their congregations and denomination." Haffner has also been quoted as saying, "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."
** Tom Groome, professor of theology at Boston College. Groome gave an interview to BBC 4 World Forum on the sex-abuse scandal in which he commented on the Church: "Catholic Christians are...distinguishing between their faith in the tradition and their faith in the institution.... The Church is terribly important to us, but we won't exaggerate the importance, as it were, of the institution." On priestly celibacy and women's ordination: "I think that [priestly celibacy] has to be revisited, likewise the exclusion of women from ministry has to be rethought. But that's not a liberal position...." On ecclesial hierarchy: "I would love to see an overhaul in how our bishops are chosen because right now they're chosen by a kind of subterfuge -- a kind of backroom politics." And finally, on the pope: "I do think that the problem of an enfeebled pope becomes fairly trransparent, especially when the Church faces such a tragedy in a crisis time as we are in at the moment."
** Michele Dillon, professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. Dillon has published several books, including Debating Divorce: Moral Conflict in Ireland; Gay and Lesbian Catholics; and Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason, Faith, and Power, a work focusing on why "pro-change" Catholics (such as those who support abortion, women's ordination, and homosexuality) remain in the Church.
DISCERNING THE SPIRIT
Nowhere are problems with VOTF more clear than in its document on change, titled "Discerning the Spirit: A Guide for Renewing and Restructuring the Catholic Church." The guide refers to our Church's "clerical culture" that is noted for its "power and secrecy...isolation from the laity...ignorance of the human body and sex, a mindset that degrades women and marriage, [and] a spiritually distorted, psychologically troubled view of celibacy." Here, the argument quickly devolves from a real problem seen in the current scandal -- clericalism -- to a misinterpretation of Church teaching on women, marriage, and celibacy. These are then lumped together sso that if a person accepts the first claim, he must automatically accept the second. A typical bait-and-switch technique.
The guide also relies heavily on the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium to support VOTF's push for a more "democratic" Catholic Church. It quotes the following passage in support of greater lay governance in the Church: "Thus every layman, by virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church herself" (LG §33). However, lay involvement is quite a different thing from the kind of "democratic" Church that VOTF so desperately wants. The establishment of a democratic Church was not the intent of Vatican II, as a later passage in Lumen Gentium explains: "The laity should promptly accept in Christian obedience what is decided by the pastors who, as teachers and rulers of the Church, represent Christ" (LG §37). This kind of selective reading of Church documents can be dangerously misleading.
Finally, the guide urges renewal of the Church so that it "will more clearly express the American features of the beautiful face of Christ." This renewal involves the laity "in discerning the Spirit's intentions for today's society and times." Again, no mention is made of any authority other than a private interpretation of the Spirit. In this way, VOTF is paving the way for a separate American Catholic Church based on popular public sentiment.
It's true that lay involvement is crucial to addressing this present crisis. But that involvement CAN'T be about changing Catholic doctrine handed to us by Christ. This is the crucial point VOTF appears to miss.
ROBBING PETER TO PAY VOICE OF THE FAITHFUL
Voice of the Faithful has begun its own charity drive called Voice of Compassion to serve as a substitute to Bernard Cardinal Law's annual appeal. Those boycotting the cardinal's fund-raiser because of the scandal could give to VOTF, who in turn would give the money to the diocese...but ONLY if the funds went directly to charities and not to fund the diocese.
While this may sound fine to a lot of justly outraged Boston Catholics, it's a little more complicated than what VOTF would have us believe. The money raised in the cardinal's appeal doesn't go into Cardinal Law's pocket. Rather, it's spent on many important programs that rely on the fund-raiser to keep them afloat. For example, the money helps pay the salaries of all the people who work in the Church. It also goes towards Catholic schools and other programs run directly through the diocese, like youth ministry and RCIA. In other words, the cardinal's appeal helps keep the entire diocese running.
The Voice of Compassion fund, on the other hand, is only giving money to the kinds of programs VOTF wants to fund. On top of that, VOTF just announced that it's starting an additional fund-raiser in order to keep its own operation running, to the tune of $1 million. In short, it encourages people not to contribute to the cardinal's appeal, a fund-raiser that helps keep the local churches running, but then asks these same people to contribute to its OWN appeal to keep ITS operation running.
A FREE VOICE?
One simple reason why a lot of people are suspicious of VOTF is that many of them feel uncomfortable with VOTF's presumption that it represents the real "voice" of faithful lay Catholics. The organization's leaders claim that they're open to all voices in the Church, whether on the right or left, and that they encourage an open exchange of ideas with room for all under the VOTF banner.
To facilitate this exchange, VOTF set up a message board on its Web site where users could post questions, concerns, and opinions that could then be discussed openly. But this open forum quickly became restricted -- users were given only two small windows of time a day when they could post messages, and even then they had to limit their posts to three a day. Some forum members began a discussion of the dubious background of Debra Haffner, but their e-mail posts were immediately deleted. A post made last Saturday by an administrator read, "Posts in regard to this message board decision [to delete the Haffner thread] will not be accepted. Inquiries to admin. about this thread will not be answered. The board may go on view only for an extended period of time. The possibility of shutting the board down is being seriously considered."
Shortly thereafter, the board was shut down completely.
While it's possible the board needed to be removed for other reasons, the most glaring likelihood is the group's unwillingness to tolerate criticism of anything related to VOTF. Its own cover-up and dismissal of public concern is astoundingly similar to the actions of the very bishops it criticizes. Voice of the Faithful is no more trustworthy in providing a free "voice" than any other group.
And yet, it insists it's the voice for faithful Catholics.
In the end, VOTF has every right to its own voice and opinion. There have always been dissenting groups in the Church, and VOTF isn't saying anything new. The real problem is its patent dishonesty: It claims to be faithful to the magisterium while rejecting the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Claiming that it's "faithful" doesn't make it so. Nor can Voice of the Faithful be considered in any way the voice of the one true Church.
Voice Of The Faithful?
Prepared by Roman T. Gorski, T.O.P.
³Keep the Faith, Change the Church²
Boston, 06/07/02---When I read the slogan: ³Change the Church² for the first time, I realized that we [might] experience a schism or other disaster in our Roman Catholic Church in the near future. A new group of the Church ³reformers² was born in our neighborhood, due to the sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston. In January of this year, Dr. James Muller, a 59-year-old cardiologist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and living in Newton, MA, organized Voice of the Faithful, VOTF. He went to church every Sunday for decades, but in his interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer he said: ³I felt almost ashamed to be a Catholic².
Instead of leaving the Church, Muller started a group that he and some church-watchers believe could revolutionize the Church. ³Pedophilia is only a symptom of a disease the disease is absolute power² J. Muller said to the LA Times. ³This scandal is about abuse of children, than abuse of power. We have to balance the power of the hierarchy with the power of the laity² he said. In an interview with CNN, Muller stated: ³The [Churchıs] hierarchy is not a democracy. The hierarchy is not the whole church. The Church is made up of the hierarchy plus the laity. The laity, our goal is to provide a democracy for the laity, so that the laity can decide what they want and then counterbalance the absolute power, which we have now of the hierarchy."
After a few weeks of work, VOTF delivered a mission statement.
To provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.
* 1. Support those who have been abused
* 2. Support priests of integrity
* 3. Shape structural change within the Church
According to the Boston Herald, VOTF takes no stand on controversial issues such as homosexuals, married or female priests. In my opinion no answer is an answer. I have no problems in saying what is the Churchıs teaching on those subjects. It is very interesting, that the Sisters of Notre Dame are very much visible in this organization. And comrades from Boston College are active in the preparation for reconstruction of the Mystical Body of Christ. Stephen Pope, chairman of the theology department at BC, said Church teachings are on their side. To eliminate possible misunderstandings of the VOTF, after reading many of the newspaper articles and an official propaganda of that organization, I went to Wellesley, to St. John Evangelist church and parish, a temporary home of the VOTF. The meeting had a place in the Social Hall under the church at 7:00pm. It was an open meeting for all people who were not yet members of the Voice Of The Faithful. At the same time, the group of VOTF activists met across the street in the parochial school. About one hundred people gathered under the church. The VOTF membership form was distributed. After a greeting and opening prayer there were personal introductions. All VOTF candidates were asked to answer two questions: ³ why you are here² and ³what do you expect from the VOTF?² .
Almost all speakers were upset with ³pedophilia scandal² in our Archdiocese and it was their motivation for coming on the meeting. I have recorded some of the voices: - Pope is fallible and shouldnıt give us all directions. - Vaticanum Secundum gave us lay people a right to control of the Church and we can make structural changes. This is our obligation!! - Homosexuals will find a better place in the Church. - We donıt want to separate from Rome, but the Vatican has to listen what we want to say. - What will the cardinal or pope to the ³dissidents²? Are there [or] will [there] be reprisals?? Excommunication perhaps? - A nun from the BC, working on her PhD: Church tradition is bankrupted, we have to make changes. ³I have theological education but because I donıt have what a man has, my opportunities in the Church are limited² she said pointing to the place under her stomach. - Justice doesnıt come from the Church hierarchy. We need to make the Church a democratic institution. - I see a good future for myself thanks to the VOTF, said a former priest, living with his children in Brookline, MA.
- Who said, the priests must be lonely.
- Everyone should have a right to be a priest.
- We have enough of slogans, we need change.
These are only some of the voices, very well accepted by the auditorium. After that, a few VOTF speakers introduced to us the philosophy and plans of the group.
1. Michele Dillon, author of the book: ³Catholic Identity². She is a professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire. M. Dillon is one of the organizers of the VOTF. In her speech, referring the documents of the Second Vatican Council, she stated that the lay people have a right to control the Church and to make structural changes. Dillon accented that VOTF is becoming a strong organization and the Roman Catholic Church will listen to it. The Church has to open itself for a people or organizations, which are outside of her today. For example the organization ³Dignity² with homosexual priests and their followers. ³Dignity² is outside the Church, but it should be within her. When she worked on her book one of the people whom she interviewed said that in the near future will be no Holy Eucharist in the tabernacle due to the lack of the priests. 'Oh, I didnıt know priest has power over God and can make God come to the tabernacle,' she said.
When I stated that the VOTF can make a division [schism] in the Church, that some of the American Catholics will separate from the Vatican, Mrs. Dillon, with a big smile on her face said that Church must listen to them and thatıs all.
2. Anne Barrett Doyle founder of the ³Coalition of Concerned Catholics² informed us, that her organization cooperates with the VOTF and promotes its program. CCC is an ecumenical organization. Non-Catholics support Liberal Catholics in attacks on the Mystical Body of Christ. This is how I see that.
3. Jim Post [?] financial expert working for the VOTF said, that Cardinal Law and the Church will listen to the Voice due to the financial pressure from this organization. The Church is spending itıs last money and has no new income because many people didnıt support the Cardinalıs Appeal. But Voice Of The Faithful successfully collects money and soon can pay for some of the Catholic programs in the Archdiocese, that is if the laity get an access to power, of course.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, people from the Voice Of The Faithful forgot that Jesus Christ established the Church on Apostles as a base. Not on laity.
Why are we in crisis? I think it has to do with the disobedience of the Church by the laity in the last thirty years. Some of the American bishops do not believe in the Catholic teachings. For example: the encyclical Humanae Vitae and the subject of homosexuality are not treated seriously. If leaders do not care, what are followers going to do??
Father Richard John Neuhaus from New York, in an interview with EWTN [06/07/02], said that he likes to see bishops on their knees. And he gave advice to the laity: ³laity should say to bishops we want to help you to be a good leader, but not to revolutionize the Church². The answer? He said " FIDELITY, FIDELITY & FIDELITY"
THE FAITH OF THE FAITHFUL
By Ralph McInerny Catholic Dossier
The post-conciliar period can be divided into three phases. The first, the twenty years from the close of the Council until 1985, was marked by tumult, dissent and preposterous appeals to the Council to justify antics it is embarrassing even to remember. This was a time when Pope Paul VI detected the smoke of Satan within the Church. Who shall ever forget the triumphalism of the liberals as they crowed about having taken possession of the seminaries, the chanceries, the universities and the Catholic press? Smoky times indeed, and times when those who saw what was happening and deplored it found little support from the episcopacy. But, as Newman observed of the dark days of the Arian heresy, it was the faith of the people that did not give way. ³For I argue that, unless they had been catechized, as St. Hilary says, in the orthodox faith from the time of their baptism, they never could have had that horror which they show of the heterodox Arian doctrine. Their voice, then, is the voice of tradition . . .² Their voice was not welcome during the first post-conciliar phase. Malcontents and dissidents were invited to address the meetings of bishops; the bishops sat like schoolboys at the lectures of the heterodox.
Phase two began in 1985. The first harbinger was The Ratzinger Report, in which the Popeıs right hand man frankly admitted the chaos in the Church and traced it to distortions of the teaching of the Council. When the Second Extraordinary Synod convened in December of that year, its agenda seemed to have been set by The Ratzinger Report. It was at this synod that Cardinal Law proposed that a new catechism be drawn up. It was this synod that distinguished between the true and false spirit of Vatican II, and itemized the distortions of the latter. For the first time, the loyal faithful had authoritative support for their observations that supposedly conciliar reforms were in fact the spread of Modernism in the Church.
This second phase was marked by an astonishing number of new Catholic periodicals. Crisis, New Oxford Review, and Fidelity were founded and were soon joined by others until the older periodicals, gone over to the enemy, had been eclipsed. New schools were formed, colleges founded, older institutions reformed. Home schooling kept children away from the secular spirit and parents resumed primary responsibility for instructing their children in the faith. That there were now two sides in the field was acknowledged and deplored by the liberal establishment. But the battle continued unequal. The bishops continued to provide weak and fitful guidance, and little support and encouragement to those who came to the defense of the faith. The scandal of the theologians continued and it seems that only the Grim Reaper will bring it to an end. Consider the continuing tragicomedy of Ex corde ecclesiae.
This magnificent document appeared in 1990, an eloquent statement of the nature of the Catholic university in the modern world. If it had been immediately embraced and implemented, it could have corrected the drift of Catholic institutions into secularism. But dissent, dispute and foot-dragging began. They continue now a decade later. Even if, per impossibile, the bishops found the courage to act on the matter, it is very likely too late to preserve the Catholic character of the major universities. The bishops bear a large part of the responsibility for that, one they share with those theologians who made careers out of lampooning and distorting the Magisterium and setting themselves up as alternative guides. Future historians will puzzle at the way in which bishops, with the model of John Paul II before them, pandered to theologians whose main skill seemed to be the manipulation of the secular media. Rather than welcome the prospect of being found counter-cultural by the media, our leaders cringed and caved and sought to placate the implacable. The heroes of the post-conciliar period were almost never clerics. And when a Bishop Austin Vaughan arose, he was treated as a pariah rather than a prophet. And Monsignor George Kelly, while he did not waste his sweetness on the desert air, was not perfume in the nostrils of the powerful.
The third phase of the post-conciliar period began with the Jubilee Year. Pope John Paul II has defined his papacy in terms of Vatican II. The Church has been renewed and has been blessed by the blood of martyrs. The magnificent example of Pope John Paul II has dominated the post-conciliar period and he has put things in place for the belated flowering of the Council. First, there is the vast number of documents he has written. Has any aspect of the faith been left untouched by his teaching? He authorized the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, a previous weapon against the distortions of the faith that have seeped into every crack and crevice of the Church. John Paul II called his preface to the Catechism, Depositum Fidei, the deposit of the faith, the saving truth entrusted to the apostles and to all their successors to be passed on whole and entire to each generation. He has canonized new saints to act as models for this time. Added to this has been the example of the Pope himself, his courage, his sanctity, his dedication unto death to the cause of Christ. Do we have any inkling of what a blessing he has been to the Church?
When one recalls the optimism with which Pope John XXIII convened the Council and what can seem his mindless cheerfulness as it opened, the sequel may seem only ironic. But why should we imagine that John XXIII was thinking only of the present and immediate future? That wise and holy prelate served the Church of the future as well as the present, and John Paul II has carried his predecessorıs hopes and aspirations to the third millennium. Now it can begin. And the main burden lies, as it always must, on the faithful, on the Christifideles laici.
Ralph McInerny is editor of Catholic Dossier.
WAS VATICAN II ³PRE-CONCILIAR²?
By James Hitchcock Catholic Dossier
In many ways the promise of the Second Vatican Council has not been fulfilled, and most of this failure is traceable to fundamental misunderstandings of its intentions, to the very meaning of the process called ³renewal.² Some of this misunderstanding is sincere, but some has also been deliberate, on the part of people who know that the Council did not authorize the changes they wanted but who pretend that it did.
Often unnoticed is the fact that there were two different ways of understanding the Councilıs reforming efforts, approaches which are not contradictory but which do move in different directions. A common term for post-conciliar reform was ³aggiornamento,² an Italian word meaning ³updating,² which conveyed the need for the Church to adjust itself to historical change, to make evangelization more effective by relating to the needs of the modern world. Less commonly used, and probably unfamiliar to most Catholics, was the French word ³resourcement² ³return to the sources² which saw reform as recovering the earliest roots of the Faith, judging later developments by the criterion of authoritative early teachings. The dominant thrust of the conciliar decrees was the latter, and there is scarcely a passage anywhere in them which is not supported by references to Scripture, and sometimes to the Fathers of the Church.
But advocates of unlimited change have espoused an extreme form of aggiornamento. Realizing that the Council did not support their agenda, they quickly got into the habit of speaking of the ³spirit² of the Council, which is said to transcend its actual statements and even in some cases to contradict them. Since there is no authoritative way by which this ³spirit² can be determined, it has been invoked to justify virtually whatever any particular individual happens to want.
The post-conciliar crisis cannot be understood unless it is recalled that, almost immediately at the Councilıs end, but for the most part undetectable while the Council was still in session, there occurred the world-wide cultural crisis called ³the Sixties,² which was nothing less than a frontal assault on all forms of authority, at all levels of society.
Confused by the conciliar changes, and unable to grasp the subtle theology of the conciliar decrees, many Catholics simply translated the conciliar reforms into the terms of ³the counter-culture,² which was essentially the demand for ³liberation² from all restraint on personal freedom. Had the Council been held a decade earlier, during the much more stable l950s, it is likely that the post-conciliar upheaval would have been far less severe. (The most perplexing question about the post-conciliar period is why the hierarchy made so little effort to insure that the faithful were educated as to the Councilıs authentic meaning, and why the hierarchy failed to insure the authenticity of those programs which claimed to do so.)
Thus, at a time when authority was being assaulted on all levels, many people interpreted concepts like ³the people of God² simply in terms of democracy. Their agenda for ³reform² became one of intense opposition to the teaching authority of the Church, often to the point of advocating in effect that doctrine be determined by majority opinion.
Initially liturgical change was urged on a reluctant laity by insisting that those changes marked a return to the practices of the early Church and thus represented a more authentic understanding. But quickly the agenda changed to one of making liturgy ³relevant,² which meant conforming it as closely as possible to contemporary culture in language, ritual practices (balloons, dancing), and music. For many people liturgy lost its entire supernatural dimension and was reduced to a communal celebration whose meaning is exhausted by the subjective effect it has on the participants.
Even though Perfectae Caritatis (³Perfect Love²) in particular expressed the idea of resourcement religious communities were to be reformed by returning to the original vision of their founders the crisis of priestly and religious life emanated from a distorted idea of aggiornamento. The world and the cloister were now pitted against each other, the supernatural vocations of priests and religious deemed to be obstacles to their service to the world. Furthermore, this service itself was now understood in exclusively worldly terms the priest or religious as counselor, social reformer, or community leader but not as witness to the Kingdom of Heaven.
In practical terms nothing had a more devastating effect on post-conciliar Catholic life than the Sexual Revolution, as believers of all kinds began to engage in behavior not measurably different from that of non-believers. Priests and religious repudiated their vows to marry, and others remained in religious life but ceased to regard celibacy as either possible or desirable. Catholics divorced almost as frequently as non-Catholics. Church teaching about contraception and even abortion was widely disregarded. All this represented not only the influence of a secular culture but also the effects of post-conciliar theological dissent, which Church officials, apparently themselves confused as to the meaning of renewal, were rarely willing to confront directly.
The early development of ecumenism consisted mainly of formal dialogue with particular groups. However, liberal Protestants, who were the most visible and influential kind throughout the Western world, simply became more and more liberal, so that the assumptions made by both sides when ecumenical dialogue began in the early l960s were no longer valid a decade later. (All the liberal groups began ordaining women and most accepted, to one degree or another, the Sexual Revolution, including abortion.)
Perhaps surprisingly, the Council had relatively little to say about missions, except to reaffirm their importance and to suggest that some adaptation of the Gospel to non-Western cultures was necessary. If a Third Vatican Council were held today, that subject would probably dominate. But the Second Vatican Council scarcely addressed the crucial question of how, and to what extent, Christianity can be adapted to non-Western cultures, an issue which is now coming to the center of attention.
Since the Council, the task of reading the signs of the times has become far more difficult, and consequently far more crucial, than it was in l965. Wave after wave of movements have burst upon the scene Marxism, the Sexual Revolution, Feminism, Environmentalism, and many others each claiming to have discovered the single most important truth, each demanding that the Church support it uncritically. With Godıs grace still with it, the Church has, as it must, avoided capitulation to these movements, but they nonetheless exercise substantial influence.
Caught in the maelstrom of ³the Sixties,² and fundamentally confused about the nature of renewal, many Catholics after the Council (priests and religious especially) pursued a path of personal ³liberation,² which ended by creating a spiritual vacuum at the center of their lives. Rather than providing the sense of peace and fulfillment they sought, this in turn made them pathetically vulnerable to secular movements claiming the authority which the Church itself no longer wielded. Thus authentic efforts to renew the Church according to the teachings of the Council are now automatically dismissed as ³pre-conciliar² by people who have lost the ability even to understand genuine Catholicism, much less to live it.
James Hitchcock is professor of history at Saint Louis University and a regular columnist for Catholic Dossier. He is also author of several well-known books on the post-conciliar Church, including The Decline and Fall of Radical Catholicism, Catholicism and Modernity and The Recovery of the Sacred.
Some Questions re : The Paul Shanley Case ???
The Question is : Who knew what when ?
Who called John White to participate in this 1999 event ?
How is it that when all of law enforcement could not find Fr. John White and Fr. Paul Shanley , those listed below seem to have a direct line to them ?
Catholic Charities "Companions" program Alice Slattery 11 APR 03
And to think that Dr. Doolin claims that Catholic Charities is in line with the Church teaching !
Fr. Richard Lewandowski one of the planners of the Catholic Charities "Companions"
The other planners and participants :
Fr. Phillip Earley, St Thomas ,Wilmington,MA. Member Board of Catholic Charities
Paul Merullo ,Pastoral Asst St Thomas, Wilmington ,MA. [ later convicted of sexual assault against a Woburn teen and served 2 1/2 years sentence),
Fr. John J. White (co-owner of homosexual bed and breakfast, in CA. , with Fr. Paul Shanley ),
Fr. Walter Cuenin, OLHC ,Newton , MA.
Fr. Robert Congdon , instructor at St. John Seminary ,Boston, MA.
Charles Connors pres. of Boston PFLAG in 1999),
Pat Dunn (Catholic Charities Social Worker)
Vivian Soper (Catholic Charities Social Worker) and
Jean Proia ,leader of Catholic Parents Network/New Ways Ministry at Immaculate Conception parish, Stoughton, MA.(Fr. John J. White often helped her in her "ministry").