Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dissident Catholics

They ramble angrily on…as this article from Crisis Magazine reports.

An excerpt.

“While faithful Catholics concluded their celebration of the Year of the Priest only last spring, a coalition of dissident organizations like Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, and the Women’s Ordination Conference have issued a “universal call to ministry” to help build a “non-clerical Catholic Church in which the laity reclaims their baptismal priesthood.” Promising a “radically inclusive understanding of the role and responsibilities of all the Baptized,” the dissident groups are planning to hold the American Catholic Council during Pentecost to encourage the laity to “remove the two-tiered system that separates the ordained from the non-ordained.” For the dissidents, we’re all priests now.

“Well, maybe not all of us. One of the endorsers of the American Catholic Council, Paul Lakeland, a professor of Catholic Thought at Fairfield University, has promoted what he calls the “non-clerical church” but maintains that not all members of the laity have the same gifts to bring to ministry. He writes in his book Catholicism at the Crossroads: How the Laity Can Save the Church, “I am not so sure that someone who is also a plumber or an accountant is necessarily adding to the skills valuable to an ordained minister.” Rather, Lakeland, an ex-Jesuit priest who left the priesthood to marry, suggests that educators (like himself) would be the most logical choice for ministerial leadership once the celibacy requirement is lifted.

“And although we can never know another’s motivation for this kind of spiritual quest, once you scratch the surface of many of the organizers and endorsers of the “non-clerical church” movement, you find individuals with sadness or anger over feeling left out. From women who want to be ordained, to gays and lesbians who want the Church to recognize the goodness of their sexual relationships, to married ex-priests who long to celebrate the Eucharist again, the desire for an inclusive Church that welcomes their ministerial gifts is what unites them. Lakeland’s proposed priesthood is a new and improved model that welcomes women, non-celibate men, and gays and lesbians: “Some will be called to a ministry of leadership, including Eucharistic presidency, while others will be called to minister to the local community in a variety of different ways.”

“More than two decades ago, Pope John Paul II predicted this problem during a visit to the United States in 1987. In a discussion on the dangers of confusing the role of the clergy and the laity, the pope spoke supportively of the role of lay participation in parish life but declined to use the term “lay ministry” in referring to this role. In fact, John Paul warned that, in the move to empower the laity in ministry activities, “we run the risk of clericalizing the laity or laicizing the clergy.”…

“A few years ago, the activities of Call to Action were deemed to be “so irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith” that the Vatican publicly affirmed an Episcopal decree of excommunication for any member of the dissident organization. Claiming that Call to Action is “totally incompatible with the Catholic faith” and is “causing great damage to the Church of Christ,” Cardinal Giovanni Battista confirmed that membership in Call to Action causes the member to be automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Despite this, many Catholic theologians teaching on Catholic campuses retain an active membership in Call to Action, openly participating in meetings and conferences.”