Liberal U.S. Catholics say their Church is not listening

June 12, 2011

(St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, 4 March 2005/Tom Heneghan)

Members of a liberal group of U.S. Catholics called on Sunday on Church leaders to open talks with their members on controversies ranging from the ordination of women to allowing priests to marry. Members of the American Catholic Council, meeting in Detroit, said they had grown concerned that the Church hierarchy was not listening to its members on issues such as the role of women, married clergy and the treatment of homosexuals.

The meeting comes as the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is struggling with a sexual abuse crisis, loss of membership and a dwindling number of priests.

“When in God’s name are the conversations going to begin?” asked Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun who addressed the meeting of about 2,000 people — part of a liberal wing that represents a minority in the 1.2 billion-member Church. She likened the structure, with bishops and archbishops answering to the pope in Rome, to “a medieval system that has now been abandoned by humanity everywhere, except by us.”

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron had warned before the meeting that any members of the clergy who attended the group’s mass would be at risk of being defrocked. “All of the invited keynote speakers have manifested dissent from Catholic teachings or support for dissenters,” the archdiocese said in a posting on its website.

Robert Wurm, a retired priest from Ferndale, Michigan, who officiated at the closing mass, said he was not worried the archbishop would take action against him. “He was careful about that. He said they could be defrocked, not that they would,” Wurm told reporters. Under Church law, an archbishop has authority over all masses held in his area.

“It’s disheartening that a Detroit priest would preside over a Sunday service with so many serious liturgical abuses,” said Ned McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese. “They will be among the matters that now must be — will be — reviewed by the Detroit archdiocese.”

At a separate event in a nearby neighborhood, about 600 members of the Church met to speak out against the ACC conference and espouse conservative views on social issues, according to local media reports. The Archdiocese of Detroit sanctioned but did not organize that meeting, according to an archdiocesan spokesman.

Read the full story by Scott Malone here. For more on the conference, also see coverage from the National Catholic Reporter:

Baptism, not bishops or pope, unites the church, June 12

Hans K√ľng urges peaceful revolution against Roman absolutism, June 11


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These so-called Catholics. These dissenters. Should be immediately excommunicated. Something that I think is not used enough by The Church. These people are not true Catholics. They are going against official Church teaching. Just because THEY want something, does not mean they are going to get it, no matter how much they whine! I witnessed a case where there was a parish member that was pro abortion, and was protesting outside our Cathedral. Unfortunately, other than a talking to by The Bishop, nothing was done as far as punishment! I feel she should have been given one of two options, cease and desist, and apologize, or be excommunicated. Period. There is NO ROOM for dissent in The Church. NONE. The Pope is still infallible, The Church’s teachings are still infallible.

Posted by daddyd01 | Report as abusive

These People are not Catholic and the Religion is not going to change for them . The word of God is to be Obeyed not to be changed to what man wants.

Posted by dabigmoose | Report as abusive