VOTF lays its cards on the table

VOTF lays its cards on the table

Voice of the Faithful has sent a letter to the apostolic nuncio to the US in Washington with their list of demands. The content of it shows their lack of understanding of the Church as it is, of how it could be, and their own place in it. (Read the whole thing at Carol McKinley’s blog.) The best parts are where they want seminarians to be able to date and explore their sexuality, and when they demand that laypeople and ministers of other religions be allowed to give homilies.

Here are some things that leap out at me.

  • I equate their demand that seminarians engage in “intimacy” with sexuality because that is how it is defined in some of the documents that they say the relied on as well as in other writings of those who express similar views as VOTF. I’m not the one who made the connection, those they rely on do.

  • Just a few days ago I attended a meeting being held in my diocese (Fort Worth) of some people hoping to organize VOTF in our area—not because I’m interested in joining them, but because I wanted to learn first-hand what these people are saying (after all, I’m one of the Faithful, and they claim to speak with my voice).

    I was struck by two things: first, that the agenda being outlined clearly is built on a vision of the Church not as a spiritual entity, the Body of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but as a kind of international mega-corporation run by a bunch of greedy, power-hungry bureaucrats, trying to keep power out of the hands of the shareholders; second, that the other people in attendance at this meeting seemed either to be willfully blind to this vision, or to accept it without question. A couple of people openly sneered at my suggestion that, since the problem of priests as sexual predators and bishops as their enablers is a fundamentally spiritual problem, the only real and lasting solution is a spiritual one, which can’t be effected by any amount of palaver or legislation but only by an authentic understanding of the sacred character of the episcopacy and the priesthood. To those who sneered at me, “spiritual” clearly meant “naive, unrealistic,” whereas to me it means just the opposite. And therein lies the real problem, I believe.

    I don’t really think VOTF will get to be much of a force to contend with in my diocese—the meeting I attended was poorly attended (a baker’s dozen, including me) and everyone except one woman and myself was well past sixty. While I don’t doubt VOTF can cause considerable trouble in dioceses that have experienced public sexual scandals (like Boston and our neighboring diocese to the east, Dallas), they seem to me already a spent force, a bunch of aging Am-Churchers who are using the sexual scandals to piggyback their dead-letter dreams of reconstructing the Church to suit their own nightmarish vision of what Christ’s Church on Earth should be. I hope and pray I’m right about that. Anyway, I certainly can’t see anything good coming out of their efforts, because their basic assumptions about the nature of the Church are so badly skewed.

  • Good points.

    Other lay groups ought to put out counter proposals. Many lay groups far out number VOTF.  VOTF ought to remain one voice among many.  The other voices must speak out.  VOTF ought not be the sole voice which gets press and to which the bishops react.  IF they are, they “shape the battlefield.” 

    In order for that not to be the case, other lay groups need to make statements that are in support of the Church and its teachings and put forth creative ideas to build-up the Church not tear it down. The media are not going to let these folks die unless Catholics make it evident how marginal they are and call the media on their bias.

    With respect to lay involvement there is one VERY important ingredient regarding lay participation in the Church or even lay goverance. As the church is currently structured there is no way to force lay people to be faithful to the Church or its teachings.  US employment laws and civil lawsuits would pretty much make it impossible and/or costly to fire lay people for non-conformance to the faith.  I suspect we would hear them whining if they were required to sign some sort of mandate stating that employment was at will and under condition of faithfulness to the teachings of the Church as expressed in Canon Law, the Catechism and the Magisterium.

    Our Catholic hospitals, schools, universities, retreat houses all become secularized because there was no requirement for administrators to remain faithful to the Church. If VOTF has their way, the sanctuary would be next candidate for secularization.

    One last comment on the seminarians being able to explore their sexuality: a fair number of the abuse cases stem from seminarians doing exactly that.  Perhaps they would like to withdraw their accusations in those cases?

    If someone is in seminary it is the equivalent of being engaged to God. It is highly immoral to try out a relationship with another human being under those circumstances. Further, as we have seen by the sex scandals, it raises serious liability issues for the Church if the other person should cry foul and engage a lawyer.