Archdiocese of Boston Entertains Dissenters by Deal W. Hudson
The Boston Globe reports that on Friday Cardinal Sean O'Malley will meet with members of the dissenting group Voice of the Faithful. A spokesman for the Archdiocese, however, explained that the meeting does not represent a change in policy regarding VOTF.
Voice of the Faithful is presently forbidden from meeting in Boston parishes.
Catholics in the Boston area, who have been battling the Voice of the Faithful since its inception, are concerned that this meeting will give the group credibility. Leaders of Voice of the Faithful are already claiming a symbolic victory.
Carol McKinley, a founder of the group Faithful Voice, has been Boston's leading lay critic of Catholic dissent. She is deeply disturbed by the Cardinal's decision: "Boston Catholics are appalled by continued statements from the Archdiocese giving the appearance that the Cardinal welcomes a group with a side-car mission that is heretical and invalid sacramentally. We're in real trouble."
Voice of the Faithful began in Boston over four years ago during the sex abuse scandal. From the beginning the group was closely associated with dissenters and leaders of the far left in the Catholic Church. For example, Jim Muller, the VOTF founder, issued a public letter calling for a national convention to ratify a constitution for an American Catholic Church separated from the authority of the Vatican.
Subsequent leadership, notably president Jim Post, tried to address similar issues under the banner of seeking "structural change." But most ecclesial leadership had already recognized VOTF's true intent and shut their doors. Only a handful of chanceries and parishes in the United States will host their meetings.
The latest reinvention of VOTF, as represented by their Web site, is an attempt to recover the outrage generated by the sex abuse scandal. The Web site also contains clear assurances of VOTF's obedience to Church teaching and Vatican authority. Their long-awaited statement on the meaning of "structural change" is innocuous and reflects nothing of the debate the group has expressed through its media coverage over the past four years.
C. J. Doyle, another leading critic of dissent in Boston, heads the Catholic Action League. Doyle says VOTF has little life outside its coverage in the Boston newspaper: "I hope the Archdiocese will do nothing to extend life support to this dying organization of left wing revolutionaries posing as Catholics. This organization has no public existence outside of Michael Paulson's articles in the Boston Globe."
VOTF has retained some presence in Boston because it receives moral support from institutions like Harvard and Boston College and financial backing from well-connected Catholic business leaders who agree with their dissenting attitude toward Church authority. A good example is O'Malley's appointment of Jack Connors, Jr., a prominent businessman and highly vocal critic of the archdiocese, to oversee the renewal of parochial education. Business leaders like Connors also sit on the board of Boston's Catholic Charities, an organization necessary to the survival of archdiocesan social ministries.
The appointment of Connors by Cardinal O'Malley was the first of several notable appointments that have been questioned by lay Catholics in Boston. Another example is the appointment of Dorothea Masuret, CSJ, as director of the office of Pastoral Ministry. She is a well-known heterodox nun who has worked closely with Jean Marchant, who earlier this week resigned from a position in O'Malley's cabinet. Marchant revealed that she had been secretly ordained last year and has been "quietly blessing" the sick and performing "Masses."
William Cousins, a long-time resident of the Boston area and Knight of Malta, comments, "I am hoping that Cardinal O'Malley will tell them what the rules are. In other words, that their desire to change the structure and doctrines of the Church is out of bounds. I am also very concerned about what he's saying to the relatives of the people who were given invalid sacraments by the woman health-care cabinet officer."
Whether the Archdiocese will release any information on the meeting is unknown. However, you can be sure that Voice of the Faithful will be telling the press how much their point of view is appreciated by the Cardinal.
Cardinal O'Malley's meeting with VOTF not only gives them credibility but also gives them the opportunity to represent the meeting any way that serves their purpose.