Fishwrap has a wrap-up, in their own paper, if you get my drift, of the American catholic “Council” held in Detroit over the weekend.
She has some interesting points and conclusions. This may surprise you, but I agree with some of this!
My emphases and comments.
Reflections after the American Catholic Council meeting
by Maureen Fiedler on Jun. 14, 2011
I’m a veteran of conferences on church reform. I started out at the first Women’s Ordination Conference in 1975, attended the original Call to Action (the one the U.S. Bishops called in 1976) and participated in numerous Call to Action and Women’s Conferences since then. I’ve even attended a couple in Europe, including the 8th of May Movement in the Netherlands.
So, the American Catholic Council meeting in Detroit this past weekend (June 10-12) was of great interest to me. I was especially interested in signs of change and maturing in the movement. [Maturing.. yes… there was that.] Here’s what I sensed and observed:
The issue of women’s ordination, and gender equality generally, has risen to a new level of prominence on the roster of reform. It is at the top of many reformers’ lists — men as well as women. It’s clear as never before: the denial of women’s equality just makes no sense to most Catholics anymore, especially these Catholics. [Two premises need to be checked. First, are the “reformers”? Or are they just “wrong”? Second, are they “Catholics”? A group such as gathered this weekend is sure to be pretty heterogeneous. So… who knows?]
The issue of gay and lesbian rights has become mainstream in the movement, just as in society at large. [First… blech. Second, that only means that they are “conforming themselves to the wisdom of this world”.] It’s not a “fringe” issue for Dignity or New Ways Ministry; it’s everybody’s issue. And of course, over the years, Call to Action has had a lot to do with that.
New and independent communities are flowering as never before. [Key word: independent.] If the Church is a garden, new sprouts are proliferating. [Is the Church a “garden”? Okay…we can play along.] There have always been tall trees and shrubs (cathedral and parish communities) in the church. But now, there are new flowerings: intentional communities – lots of them, the communities of the Roman Catholic Women Priests’ movement, the “Ecumenical” and “American” Catholic churches and dioceses, even new religious orders like Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont. Most of these are outside the purview of the hierarchy. [Indeed. In the garden there also be weeds.]
The “priesthood of the faithful” was visible. [No, Maureen. What was visible were some people pretending that there is no distinction between the priesthood of the faithful, the baptized, and the ordained priesthood. What you say were people who were pretending.] When the celebrant at the Pentecost Sunday mass said the words of consecration, hundreds of people in the congregation chimed in without prodding or instructions in the program. Why? I suspect that many do it routinely in their intentional communities, and they believe that they have the power, along with the priest, to call for the presence of Christ. [And they can call and call and call. Thousands and thousands of lay people can scream the words of consecration over and over again and transubstantiation will not take place. A single priest, alone, whispering, can do that. But note that Maureen has clung to to the old and outdated language of “consecration”. Men are consecrated with Holy Orders. I just thought I would add that.]
There is something increasingly “American” about this movement. [Which may mean that it is decreasingly “Catholic”.] The leaders of the conference formulated a “Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” modeled on our own Bill of Rights. [What did I say about conforming to this world?] The whole crowd affirmed it.
Nobody expects that the world of Catholic “officialdom” will change soon, maybe not even in their lifetimes. [Well… they better hurry, ’cause they aren’t going to have another generation.] Common comments about the hierarchy or bishops included: “Can it get any worse?” “Do you think they know how ridiculous they look?” “When will they leave the Middle Ages behind?” [I have often thought the same, but different reasons.]
No one feels guilty about working for reform. [Interesting. So, keep telling them that they are reformers instead of sinners. Good. They reformers, not dissenters. Just use another term, repeat it loudly. Repeat it enough times. No more guilt.] If anyone worried about what the hierarchy would say in response to this meeting, it was not in evidence. “Excommunication… what’s that?” [I am reminded of the guy who asked a Jesuit if it would be a sin to recite a novena so he could get a Maserati. The Jesuit puzzled for a moment and said “What’s a novena?”]
A couple things other things to note: [This, friends, is good…]
This was a “graying” crowd: the “Vatican II generation” still hoping to fulfill the promise of that Council. There was surely outreach to the young, but both Call to Action and the Women’s Ordination Conference have had more success in attracting youth. [And not many, either. They are “graying”. FAIL 1.]
It was a very “white” crowd, and the major speakers — with the exception of Jeanette Rodriquez — were white and Anglo. I know the organizers tried to attract people of color, but Call to Action conferences definitely exhibit greater diversity. [Lot’s of talk about diversity, but not much real diversity. FAIL 2.]
Barring some re-appearance of Christ on earth, no one expects the hierarchy to change course any time soon. [That’s sure to rouse up the troops! But read on… the most important line is coming…] Meanwhile, new communities grow and create what is essentially a small parallel church. How all this will ultimately play out only God knows.
“Small parallel church.”
And that, my friends, is a wrap.