Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bishop Watch: Murphy "lays law" with VOTF

For those who don't know, Voice of the Faithful(VOTF) is another dissenting group cloaking themselves as "Catholic".

From an article on CatholicCitizens.Org

Recognizing that VOTF is emerging as umbrella group for dissenters, several Bishops across the country have prohibited them from using Church property for organizing. Citing the VOTF's refusal to accept the Bishop's authority, Cardinal Law in Boston banned VOTF from Boston Diocese Churches. In New Jersey, Archbishop John L. Myers of Newark banned the group saying they were "anti-Church and, ultimately, anti-Catholic," calling VOTF "a cover for dissent." Roman Catholic parishes in New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have also banned the group from Church property, forcing them to meet privately in homes or public facilities.

That article was written in 2003, as was this report by Deal Hudson at Crisis Magazine in 2002, in which he says:

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 so that if a person accepts the first claim, he must automatically accept the second. A typical bait-and-switch technique.

That article by Deal is quite extensive, so do read it if you need to get a better idea on what VOTF is really about.

I bring these two documents forward because Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. at Bettnet.com and Gerald Augustinus at his blog, The Cafeteria is Closed, are both covering a Newsday.com column on Bishop Murphy - more evidence of the crackdown on VOTF spoken of in the CatholicCitizens.Org article.

Gerald writes:

Newsday has a column by a disgruntled Catholic "Voice of the Faithful" (explainer - they're a dissenting group in the USA - the usual sex/gender topics) member from the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Bishop Murphy is apparently cleaning house there. H/T to Domenico who's glad to see the "VOTF zombies" on the way out. There really is mounting evidence of a change in course in this country, with more and more bishops cleaning house and increasing numbers of liberals decrying their fate - and, it's not confined to the USA either, I've seen evidence of the same in European countries.

Pulling out a few lines from that Newsday article:
  • Murphy still refuses to allow the Catholic reform group Voice of the Faithful of Long Island to meet on church property and refuses to even engage in a dialogue with its leaders.

  • Morale across the diocese also has been tested by the recent heavy-handed edict reconfiguring the diocesan Pastoral Formation Institute, a respected training program for lay people most of whose 1,600 alumni went on to serve in parish ministries.The administrative staffing has been drastically reduced from 33 to five, and the program dispersed among several parishes where clergy can be expected to exercise more control. It's possible that the shakeup aims to eventually eliminate the Institute, which has produced the kind of empowered, theologically aware believers who also happen to gravitate toward Voice of the Faithful.

  • The Pastoral Formation Institute flap arose only months after the messy firing of three religious sisters from their posts as college campus ministers. A diocesan spokesman explained that they were not a good fit with the more "traditional" and "sacramental" thrust of the emerging model of "new evangelization."

  • The stout self-confidence of this neo-orthodoxy could yield a band of staunch believers who sadly become increasingly fewer in number and less engaged in the society in which they are supposed to be a leaven.......In the words of Sister Lauren Hanley, the summarily dismissed director of the Pastoral Formation Institute, "Until the reason for the pain and anger of so many is acknowledged, healing cannot happen."

The former Prefect of the CDF did surmise that the Church would get smaller and purer, did he not?

While I'm tempted to clap and celebrate at this news on crackdown, it is saddening to note that there are large numbers of our Catholic brothers and sisters who are disoriented, and keeping others off-course, as well. Lets pray for them today, that the mixed-up lessons they serve be replaced with truth.

Fr. Corapi was spot-on when he said, "Unity must subsist in Truth!" All too often these days, a group of people think they themselves can define truth. Truth is not relative, it is objective. I learned this reality when I rediscovered my Catholic faith last year. As one pope died, and another rose, I came to the conclusions below upon reflecting on the former Cardinal Ratzinger's sermon where he spoke of the "dictatorship of relativism", as he led the conclave toward's the vote.

Truth is like north, where the compass needle points. One cannot claim to be heading north while bending the compass needle to a direction which suits him and merely call it "north".

Truth is black or white, but never shades of gray.

Truth is static or fixed, not dynamic or moving.

Jesus never said the road would be broad, he said it would be narrow.