A New Church? Dissenter umbrella group forms
A coalition of dissenting organizations and individuals called the American Catholic Council forms.
The group’s website describes their aims: “We recall the promise of the Second Vatican Council for a renaissance through a radically inclusive understanding of the role and responsibilities of all the Baptized and an engaged relationship between the Church and the World reflecting the true meaning of the Incarnation for our times. This promise is eroding…We seek nothing short of a personal conversion of all to create a new Church, fully in tune with the authentic Gospel message, the teachings of our Church, and the American context in which we live.”
The website’s press release page contains one item: a release from “Voice of the Faithful.” The release is headlined: “Historic move for VOTF and U.S. Catholics--VOTF instrumental in launching American Catholic Council.” It begins: “January 25, 2009 – Boston – In a move to unite U.S. Catholics, the newly formed American Catholic Council called today for an historic assembly of the Catholic Church in the United States. Voice of the Faithful joins this call, spurred by evidence of serious deterioration in the life of the U.S. Church today.
“’The way the Church is now is not the way it was meant to be,’ says John Hushon, a VOTF board member who serves as council’s co-chair. ‘The Gospels make it abundantly clear that Jesus envisioned a community that welcomes and encourages the gifts of all. The two-tiered clerical system that separates the ordained from the non-ordained was never meant to be, and it has caused enormous harm. Vatican II attempted to recapture the universal call to ministry, but this promise has not been fulfilled.’”
While the webpage and release avoid specific policy statements, they do mention those who have joined the organizing efforts, including Sr. Joan Chittister, whom is described as a “well-known author on issues of contemporary spirituality.” Chittister was the keynote speaker at Women's Ordination Conference in Dublin, Ireland in June, 2000. Another endorser is former priest Dr. Paul Lakeland, professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue at the (Jesuit) Fairfield University.
Dr. Lakeland was recently in the news for his public support of Connecticut bill 1098, introduced by homosexual activist state Senators Mike Lawlor and Andrew J. McDonald. Bill 1098 sought to use legislative means to restructure the governance of the Catholic Church in Connecticut. The bill was tabled after intense opposition. On March 10, 2009, the Catholic News Agency reported: “The bill, which bears resemblance to Voice of the Faithful’s Strategic Plan, is being supported by Dr. Paul Lakeland, who believes that in this case it’s appropriate to use state legislation to force the Church’s hand…Concluding his support for the bill he said, 'I see absolutely no chance whatsoever of the Institutional Church making a change in this direction without pressure from somewhere outside the Church. There’s not even the most remote likelihood that the Church would adjust in this direction itself. I think this is a way of putting pressure on them to make changes and bringing the issue into a more prominent setting.'" On June 15, 2008, Dr, Lakeland was a guest at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. He spoke on the topic: “How the Laity can Save the Church.” Lakeland’s speech was co-sponsored by Voice of the Faithful Northern California and USF’s Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought.
Other signatory organizations to the council’s declaration include: Call to Action, New Ways Ministry, Catholics for Choice, the Women’s Ordination Conference, Women-Church Convergance, the National Association of American Nuns (Sr. Jeanine Gramnick), the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit, and Dignity.
This article originally appeared in California Catholic Daily and is reprinted with permission.
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