Whither the Boston Priests Forum?

Whither the Boston Priests Forum?

Like its sister organization, Voice of the Faithful, the Boston Priests Forum is a group looking for a mission. The group was founded as a clerical analog to VOTF, a liberal group masquerading as a non-ideological group. Their claims to have had a membership equal to almost half of the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston is laughable on its face. Many “members” were simply priests who attended a meeting before realizing what the group really stands for. The only priests it represents are the small clique who advance a heterodox, anti-institutional agenda in the Church.

They reached the climax of their power and influence with the resignation of Cardinal Law, but the reforms and actions of Bishop Lennon and Archbishop O’Malley since then (even as we debate the effectiveness of some of those reforms) have stripped the group of any pretense of being anything other than what it really is.

One priest who is no longer active in the forum said some of his colleagues, particularly younger priests, have been turned off by a perception that the group is dominated by liberals. “I don’t even consider myself that conservative, but, boy, did I feel like it,” said the priest, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

If a priest who doesn’t see himself as conservative, feels like he is in relation to the group, then you get a clearer idea of who they really are.

Of course, you only have to see who they turned to as they re-define their mission.

In an effort to become better organized, the forum has drafted a mission statement with Mary Jo Bane, a public policy expert from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Catholic lay leader who was among the first to call for Law to resign as archbishop. A final mission statement should be approved this month, Bullock said.

Bane is a vocal leader of Voice of the Faithful and reliably heterodox in many of her views. And notice they turn to a political science professor for their mission statement. Telling, isn’t it?

Bullock said O’Malley’s changes to the [Presbyteral] Council won’t make the forum unnecessary because the council is an advisory body to the archbishop, while the forum is an “independent and distinctive” support group for priests.

Again, a telling statement. Diocesan priests should not be independent of their bishop, but extensions of his ministry.

“There’s a need for support and strength among a very fractured and powerless group, which is the priests of this archdiocese.”

And we see what it’s all about: power. The search for power in the Church could be the great problem in the post-Vatican II Church.