Leading “Catholic” dissenters & heretics


JULY 26, 2013


Leading “Catholic” dissenters & heretics


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Preparation for the Papacy


Individuals notified, silenced, excommunicated, or otherwise investigated and disciplined/censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, directly or indirectly



Catholics for a Free Choice, Washington, DC







Archbishop Clarence G. Isenmann

Details of investigation unavailable/unclear



Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, OP

Dared to question Mary’s virginity; Karl Rahner and the Dutch church successfully defended him.



Dr. John McNeill, SJ

Investigations on McNeill for his views on homosexuality began.



Fr. Hans Küng

While Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich, investigations began regarding his views on papal infallibility.


Fr. Bernard Häring, C.Ss.R.

Originally in the Vatican’s good graces, especially under John XXIII, he was publicly critical of Humanae Vitae upon its release (1968) and not long afterward became the subject of investigation by the CDF. He was equally critical of John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor. The charges against him were never entirely resolved before his death in 1998.



Dr. John McNeill, SJ

He was silenced and forbidden to discuss homosexuality or minister to homosexuals.


Other noteworthy investigations and censures leading into Ratzinger’s tenure:


Fr. Hans Küng

His license to teach Catholic theology was revoked, but he remained on the Tübingen faculty, teaching ecumenical theology instead.


Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, OP

The CDF began investigating him for his Christology, but bowed to international pressure the following year to end the drive for a trial. Schillebeeckx has since continued to write pieces that purportedly conflict with church teaching, and he receives notifications regularly.


Fr. Anthony Kosnik

Came under fire for his theology in Human Sexuality, a study he co-authored on behalf of the Catholic Theological Society.




The Vatican disliked the study’s theology and Kosnik was pressured to resign in 1982 from Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary. Seminarians and faculty threatened to boycott the school’s spring commencement if Kosnik was not reinstated. He got his job back, but was forced to resign the next year.


Fr. Jacques Pohier, OP

For his teachings on the resurrection, he has the distinction of being the first theologian John Paul II disciplined as pope. Then the dean of theology faculty at a French Dominican theological school, he could no longer teach theology, say Mass or participate in liturgies. He left the Dominicans six years later.


Fr. Charles Curran

Investigations begin.


Dates unspecified

Fr. Karl Rahner

One of the 20th century’s theological giants, Rahner was often in the Vatican’s eye—silenced under John XXIII, rehabilitated under Paul VI, peritus for the German bishops at Vatican II, and then back under scrutiny during John Paul II’s reign. The issues of greatest concern for the CDF from his corpus include priestly ordination, contraception and his classic notion of “the anonymous Christian.” After his death (1984) and by the time of his centenary (2004), the CDF had come around to declare him orthodox at last.


Bishop Dom Pedro Casaldáliga (Sao Félix, Brazil)

This liberation theologian was criticized on many occasions for his political engagement beyond the borders of his own diocese.


Fr. August Bernhard Hasler

This priest, historian and former staffer of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Christian Unity published his 1979 book How the

Pope Became Infallible, a study of Pius XII’s push for this power. Under fire like Küng


Six Claretian priests from Madrid

They were noted in an NCR article by Dawn Gibeau (“Today’s sinners in eyes of the Vatican may very well be tomorrow’s saints,” February 3, 1995), but no further details on dates or the reason for their being investigated were mentioned.


Msgr. Luigi Sartori

The former president of the Italian Theological Association and consultant to the Secretariat for Non-Christians was denounced to the CDF by the Padua branch of Communion and Liberation, and as a result his teaching privileges at the Lateran University were severely restricted.



The Society of Jesus

In a New Yorker article (May 2, 2005), Jane Kramer argues that Jesuits were systematically targeted because their commitments and activities (e.g. liberation theology) were out of step with the ascendant priorities and values of the Vatican in John Paul II’s papacy. She wrote: “During [Ratzinger’s] first ten years as Prefect [of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith], the Jesuits were censured for challenging papal teachings on contraception, parts of their constitution were suspended, and their Vicar General, Vincent O’Keefe, a passionate advocate for social justice, was removed.” (39) She does not make O’Keefe’s particular role clear.



Bishop Alan C. Clark

This bishop of East Anglia was co-chair of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), a group working toward theological rapprochement between the two churches. He was investigated concerning ambiguities and points of theological conflict—real presence in the Eucharist, apostolic succession, interpretation of scripture and women’s ordination—in a report he wrote on the commission’s behalf.


Fr. Anthony Kosnik

Following the investigation for the Human Sexuality study, Kosnik was pressured to leave his faculty post at SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary. The school rallied successfully to get him reinstated, but he was eventually forced to resign altogether the following year.



Sr. Mary Agnes Mansour, RSM

She was the director of Michigan’s Department of Social Services, where her job included administering Medicaid funds for abortions. She had taken the job with her bishop’s permission, yet this was deemed to conflict with her role as a nun. According to the Sisters of Mercy, “she said that while she personally abhorred abortion, as long as it was legal it would be unfair to permit it only for women who had the means to afford it.” A papal emissary delivered an ultimatum:

leave her DSS post or leave her order. She reluctantly chose the latter. A lifelong educator and social reformer, she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988.




Sr. Elizabeth Morancy, RSM & Sr. Arlene Violet, RSM

Both women were active in political life in Rhode Island, having been elected to office as state representative and attorney general respectively. Like Mansour above, each was presented with an ultimatum and chose to follow her ministerial vocations.


Fr. Ernesto Cardenal

John Paul II scolded this liberation theologian, priest and poet (and four other priests) for serving in the Sandinista government. Rhode Island, having been elected to office as state representative and attorney general respectively.

Like Mansour above, each was presented with an ultimatum and chose to follow her ministerial vocations.

John Paul II scolded this liberation theologian, priest and poet (and four other priests) for serving in the Sandinista government.


Cardinal Joseph Höffner

Archbishop of Cologne, investigated regarding the “Work of the Angels.” No further details available.


Abbé Georges de Nantes

This archconservative French priest’s notoriously anti-Vatican II activities (since the opening of the council) earned him a

suspension from his superior. Comparable to Marcel Lefebvre, he founded the League of the Catholic Counter-Reformation (CRC) and wrote “Books of Accusation” against Paul VI, John Paul II and the author of the 1993 Catechism.


Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc

Excommunicated for consecrating (from 1976 onward) many bishops without papal approval, thus fostering splinter groups, courting schism and risking apostolic succession.


Fr. Matthew Fox, OP

This Dominican theologian taught what he called “creation spirituality,” which, critics argued, “contaminated” Catholic teachings and practices with New Age sensibilities. For “advocating panentheism,” and additionally for his views on sexuality and original sin, he was censured and forbidden to teach. He was dismissed from the Dominicans in 1993 for refusing to return home to the Midwest and was received as an Episcopal priest in 1994.



Sr. Barbara Ferraro, SND de Namour & Sr Patricia Hussey, SND de Namour

They were among a group of 91 priests and nuns who had signed a full-page ad in the New York Times that noted the diversity of opinions about abortion among Catholics. The Vatican ordered all signatories to recant and withdraw support for the ad. Ferraro and Hussey refused and finally left their order in 1988.


Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez

The CDF issues an instruction against certain aspects of liberation theology.


Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, OP

Investigated for his 1980 book The Ministry in the Church, in which he espoused the “Protestant” notion that a Christian community should have some say in choosing its ministers.


Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND & Fr Robert Nugent, SDS

Investigations begin into their ministry (New Ways Ministry) to homosexuals.



Fr. Leonardo Boff, OFM

The renowned Brazilian human rights advocate, liberation theologian and suspected Marxist was silenced (forbidden to teach, speak or write and suspended from religious duties) for his liberation theology book Church: Charism and Power. The CDF’s concerns lay in the areas of church structure, dogmas and revelation, the exercise of sacred power and the role of the laity. International pressure led to the silencing being lifted one year later.


Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen

As a result of Abp Hickey’s report (see 1983), the Vatican appoints an auxiliary bishop to Seattle and transfers much of Hunthausen’s power to his subordinate.



Fr. Charles Curran

Formerly a professor of moral theology at Catholic University of America, he had his license to teach Catholic theology revoked because of his challenges to Humanae Vitae and related stances on contraception and medical ethics. The underlying reason, though, was his insistence on his right to challenge (and dissent from) non-infallible teachings. CUA formally dismissed Curran the following year. He presently teaches in the Religious Studies Department at Southern Methodist University.




Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez

The CDF issues yet another instruction against certain aspects of liberation theology.


Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, OP

Investigated for his 1985 book The Church with a Human Face


Fr. György Bulányi, SP

This Hungarian priest and founder of the base Christian community movement was accused of heresy for encouraging the growing conscientious objector movement against compulsory military service. In 1981, the Hungarian bishops condemned his writings, forbade him to practice as a priest and forwarded his case to the CDF, which excommunicated him. He was officially rehabilitated in 1998.



Fr. John McNeill, SJ

In 1986 he disobeyed his 1977 orders demanding silence about homosexuality, thus compelling the Jesuits to expel him formally. The expulsion became effective in 1987, and he has since worked as a psychotherapist in private practice and remains active in DignityUSA.


Fr. William Donn

Was similarly forced to resign from the Newman Center at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota for disagreeing with the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. (It is unclear what role the CDF may have played in this matter, or whether it is more appropriately local.)


Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen

After much protest from the archdiocese and fellow bishops, the Vatican reinstates Hunthausen’s authority and exchanges the auxiliary bishop for a coadjutor instead.



Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez

The CDF attempts yet another investigation of Gutiérrez.


Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

This staunch opponent of Vatican II reforms (such as ecumenism and the Mass in vernacular rather than Latin), who founded the Society of St. Pius X, was excommunicated for consecrating four bishops despite warnings from John Paul II, thus risking schism and jeopardizing apostolic succession.


Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND & Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS

Investigations renewed.



The Society of Jesus

Gerald Renner of the National Catholic Reporter (August 11, 2000) notes:

“Several American Jesuits have been targeted by Vatican crackdowns in recent years. Specifically, the Vatican has refused to approve at least five US Jesuits to serve as administrators or members of pontifical faculties at Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass., or Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, Calif. The Jesuits include: Frs. William J. Rewak, Edward Glynn, Michael Buckley, David Hollenbach and John Baldovin.”



Fr. Leonardo Boff, OFM

Boff was nearly silenced again, so that he would not attend and speak out at the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992). The following year, he “promoted himself to the state of laity” and left the Franciscans and eventually the priesthood.



Fr. Eugen Drewermann

This priest and Jungian psychotherapist was criticized for exegeting biblical texts with psychoanalytic criteria in mind (see his 1988 book Tiefenpsychologie und Exegese), as well as for his views on resurrection and the virgin birth. In 1991 his archbishop denied him the right to preach or teach and began proceedings against him.


Fr. André Guindon, OMI

Investigations began into his 1986 book, The Sexual Creators, specifically for his views on homosexuality, premarital sex and birth control.



Sr. Ivone Gebara, SND

The Brazilian nun was investigated by her nation’s bishops for having publicly defended legal abortion. They resolved the matter by having her affirm her opposition to abortion.




Bishop Jacques Gaillot

He was removed from his post as bishop of Evreux, France, for unorthodox stances and conduct regarding poverty, homelessness and contraception. He was instead sent to lead the diocese of Partenia, a long-lost African diocese, and is doing so as a virtual diocese online (partenia.org).


Mrs. Vassula Ryden

This Greek Orthodox woman claimed to see visions and bring messages directly from Jesus. The CDF warned the faithful of errors in her writings and speeches and claimed that these were products of her meditation rather than any divine or supernatural source.


Sr. Ivone Gebara, SND

The CDF picked up where the Brazilian hierarchy left off (see below, 1993), reviewed her other writings, and pressured her order to discipline her. Se was silenced for two years.


Sr. Lavinia Byrne, IBVM

Bishop John Kinney (St. Cloud, Minnesota) reported to the CDF the US publication of Byrne’s 1994 book Woman at the

Altar, which argued for women in the priesthood; by a stroke of timing, it was already in process at the UK publisher when John Paul II issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. She asked that the document be included as an addendum to her text. Pending further investigation, her superiors asked her to refrain from teaching or speaking publicly about women’s ordination.


Sr. Carmel McEnroy, RSM

In 1994, McEnroy was one of hundreds who signed an open letter to John Paul II in response to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, requesting further discussion on the issue of women’s ordination. The letter ran in the National Catholic Reporter and did not include her school affiliation. Nonetheless, she was fired for doing so, and without due process. (As with William Donn’s

1987 case below, it is unclear what role the CDF may have played in this matter, or whether it is more appropriately local. Also, as with the silencing of Charles Curran and many others, this points up the raw tensions between academic/ intellectual freedom and the CDF’s expectations that theologians should present—and assent to—church teaching without ever engaging it critically.)



Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, OMI

This notification was a response to the escalation of complaints from the bishops’ conference of Sri Lanka against Balasuriya for his 1994 book Mary and Human Liberation. The bishops exhorted the faithful to avoid this text, which, they said, “contained statements incompatible with the faith of the Church regarding the doctrine of revelation and its transmission, Christology, soteriology and Mariology.” The final push was Balasuriya’s refusal to sign a prepared profession of faith; he argued that he was still within the bounds of orthodoxy. After prolonged censure and continued public outcry, he was reinstated in 1998.


Fr. Marciano Vidal, CSsR

The CDF began its investigation of Vidal based on his body of work, with specific attention to a three-volume
manual he wrote on morality. They took specific issue with his portrayal of the relationship between scripture, tradition, the magisterium and the theologian, as well as particular points on person, sexuality, bioethics, social morality, eschatology and utopia.



Perry Schmidt-Leukel

This lay theologian came under fire for his 1997 book Theology of Religions; he has since not been permitted to teach in German Catholic theology departments.


Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ

The renowned retreat master, spiritual director and psychotherapist was censured posthumously (d. 1987) for not being

Christocentric enough and, more generally, not hewing sufficiently closely to Catholic orthodoxy, i.e. being too open to readers and seekers who were not specifically Catholic or even religious.


Fr. Jacques Dupuis, SJ

Investigated for suspected heresy in his 1998 book Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism


Sr. Lavinia Byrne, IBVM

Ratzinger directs Liturgical Press (owned and run by the Benedictine monks at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota) to destroy all 1,300 remaining copies of Byrne’s book Woman at the Altar in stock.


Fr. Paul Collins, MSC

This Australian priest, church historian, and broadcaster was investigated for his book Papal Power, and the CDF accused him of holding “an erroneous concept of papal infallibility,” as well as misunderstanding sensus fidelium to include only the laity and not the hierarchy as well.




Michael Stoeber

The board of trustees at the Catholic University of America denied tenure to this professor of Eastern religions in the Religion and Religious Education department despite unanimous approval by the Academic Senate. There was concern about some of his writings that compared Hindu reincarnation and Christian resurrection. The CDF became involved in the review, since all eight US cardinals and 16 other bishops are on the board; it was at one cardinal’s request that Stoeber’s work was scrutinized.


Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND & Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS

The CDF finally sanctioned them for not adequately representing authentic church teaching about homosexuality. Their religious congregations did likewise, essentially prohibiting them from participating in public ministry to homosexuals. Nugent accepted the sanctions; Gramick, in conscience, order to join the Loreto Sisters in 2004.



Sr. Lavinia Byrne, IBVM

Under fire for her beliefs about contraception and, more significantly, the ordination of women to the priesthood, she refused to recant and was compelled to leave religious life.


Prof. Dr. Reinhard Meßner

(Innsbruck, Austria) This historian of liturgy came under scrutiny for his writings (done while a graduate student) on the sacramental life of the church. The CDF issued a 16-point censure, with the main points being that:

1) Thanks to the Magisterium’s role in interpreting revelation, later (and present) church practice should not be evaluated based on early church experiences;

2) Christ definitively instituted all seven sacraments, as well as apostolic succession; and

3) “There can be no contradiction between the declarations of church authorities and the practice of the church in liturgies.

In other words, historical liturgical texts or data may not be regarded as authoritative when they conflict with church teaching.”


Fr. Roger Haight, SJ

The CDF notified him of questions regarding his Christology and theological method as written in his 1999 book Jesus: The Symbol of God. He was suspended from his teaching post at Weston Jesuit School of Theology.



Fr. Paul Collins, MSC

Resigns from active priesthood following his investigation (details 1998). He has continued speaking out on issues of sexual abuse and aspects of the papal office.


Fr. Antonio Rosmini Serbati

The case involving this 19th-century priest, whose works were once on the list of prohibited books, was reconsidered and partially rehabilitated.


Fr. Marciano Vidal, CSSR

Vidal’s writings as investigated (see below, 1997) would be revised and include evidence of the notification, but would not be permitted for use in theological formation.


Fr. Jacques Dupuis, SJ

Censured, but never officially disciplined, for his teachings on religious pluralism that (among other things and by Ratzinger’s reading) did not insist sufficiently on Jesus Christ’s unique capacity to save.


Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo

Long an unconventional healer and unofficial exorcist as well as a critic of what he perceived as the hierarchy’s “toleration” of homosexuality and lack of celibacy within the priesthood, he was threatened with excommunication for attempting marriage to Maria Sung through the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and refusing the discipline of celibacy. He renounced the marriage.


Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, OP

Seeking a haven from his conservative archbishop, Gutiérrez joined the Dominicans.


Fr. Roger Haight, SJ

The CDF was not satisfied with the clarifications he offered as responses to their questions, so it began a full investigation of his work.



The Danube Seven

In late June, seven women were “illicitly and invalidly” ordained as priests, and were promptly excommunicated on the Feast of Mary Magdalene (July 22) when they did not repent as the CDF ordered.




Fr. Willigis Jäger, OSB/Ko-un Roshi

This German Benedictine and Zen master was ordered to cease all public activity (teaching, writing and presenting). According to John L. Allen, Jr., of the National Catholic Reporter (March 1, 2002), “Jäger has been faulted for playing down the Christian concept of God as a person in his work as a spiritual guide, and for stressing mystical experience above doctrinal truths.” In other words, he questioned the relationship between spiritual experience and doctrinal claims.


Fr. Josef Imbach, OFM Conv.

Assigned a year of “reflection,” or suspension, while his 1995 book on miracles (in English translation, Miracles: A 21st Century Interpretation, 1988) was under review.

Again, John L. Allen, Jr., writes in the NCR: “Imbach…was accused of not believing in the divinity of Jesus, of refusing the magisterium of the church, of describing the gospels as teaching texts rather than historically reliable accounts, and of excluding the possibility of miracles. He denied holding these views.”


Fr. Thomas Aldworth, OFM

This Chicago theologian, author and pastor was censured for how he presented teachings on original sin and related points in two books he wrote for popular audiences, Shaping a Healthy Religion, Especially If You Are Catholic (1985) and Fashioning a Healthier Religion (1992).



Fr Roger Haight, SJ

Was found to be in grave doctrinal error and banned from teaching Catholic theology. The CDF took issue with his take on Jesus’ divinity, the Trinity and the meaning and value of Jesus’ death and resurrection, among other points.



Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ

Under pressure from the CDF, the Jesuits removed Reese from his post as editor of America magazine for his insistence on presenting multiple points of view (and not only official church teaching) on such hot-button issues as HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, abortion/contraception, priestly celibacy and pluralism/ecumenism. A renowned scholar on church organization and politics, he has since gone on sabbatical at Santa Clara University.


Several of those listed by Catholics for a Free Choice [a euphemism for Catholics who are pro-abortion and euthanasia, pro-homosexuality and same sex marriage, pro-married priests, pro-women’s ordination, in fact pro almost everything that the Catholic Church opposes] are New Agers. A few decades earlier, the same priests and nuns, even a slew of bishops [see following pages] would have been branded as the heretics that they are. If Rome has castigated or censured or excommunicated them, it is for very good reason.

The inclusion of the pro-choice anti-life “Catholic” lobby’s vilification of Cardinal Ratzinger’s offensive against their dissent and error is for academic purposes. One need not take their defenses too seriously.


“…he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects ALL faith.”

-Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (#9), June 29, 1896



























Information Related to Specific Dissenting Catechetical/Evangelization Programs





Renew 2000


A large quantity of information is available on our



Should ALPHA be used in a Catholic Context?

Gillian Van der Lande 

An article describes the ALPHA program in Europe.

Is ALPHA for Catholics?

William J. Cork, D.Min. 

The purpose of this paper is to describe the process and content of the Alpha Course, and to evaluate whether Alpha, either in its original form or in the “Alpha for Catholics” model, should be recommended to Catholic parishes looking for evangelization tools.

Catholic Action Network

Jeff St.Louis

Promoting ordination of women among a plethora of other “social justice” issues.

Ministry of Mothers Sharing (MOMS)

Women for Faith and Family

A brief but telling analysis of the MOMS program. 


Dissenting authors and speakers


Matthew 12:30: He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

2 John 1:9-11: Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son. If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting; for he who greets him shares his wicked work.

Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts [wicca], enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of these which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.

Matthew 18:15-17: If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

Solemn Warning!

The following people are those who


to be Catholic but dissent from the Truth as handed down from Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, the Divine Word, to His Apostles and their successors. Unfortunately, even clergy are included on this list. However, since the beginning of Christianity, history shows that even


can begin with clergy, one notable example being the priest Martin Luther who started all of Protestantism.

These people are commonly associated with various Dissident Organizations or beliefs as indicated (see also the

Dissident Organization page

). The names of these individual dissidents, which are listed in alphabetical order by common dissent topic, are offered for your education and awareness. This list is not complete and will be modified as more information is learned over time. Read also on

how does a person get placed on this list


This set of people is unfortunately acting like JUDASJust Undermine Doctrine And Spirituality!

Since “

God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth that all men be saved

” (1 Timothy 2:3), remember that it is your duty to pray for these people so that they may embrace the full Truth of the Catholic Faith! God’s Love, Mercy and Forgiveness are boundless for the repentant sinner.

Note: each topical section is sorted by last name to simplify browsing (or just use our

search engine



Abortion and Euthanasia

Abortion and Euthanasia

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League‘s “Deadly Dozen.”

Sr. Mary J. Bujak 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”



Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) 



Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Sr. Margretta Dwyer 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Joan Harriman 

National Organization for Women member who founded Catholics for a Free Choice.

Mary Hunt 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Bishop Franz Kamphaus 

German bishop in Frankfurt who, in direct defiance to cease and desist orders from the Vatican, offers counseling certificates to pregnant women who can use said certificates to obtain abortions.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

Catholic politician, currently running for president in the Democratic party (of death) who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Fr. Arthur L. Kinsella 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Frances Kissling 

President of Catholics for a Free Choice.

Sr. Marie A. Kopin 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Daniel C. Maguire 

Teaches at Marquette University. Justifies abortion by saying “when the woman consents to the pregnancy … God then infuses a soul into the body,” thereby implying that killing the “fetus” is not killing a person.

Patricia Fogarty McQuillan 

National Organization for Women member who founded Catholics for a Free Choice.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Meta Mulcahy

National Organization for Women member who founded Catholics for a Free Choice.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Jon O’Brien 

Catholics for a Free Choice.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) 

Catholic politician who votes for abortion in contradiction to

Church teachings

. One of American Life League’s “Deadly Dozen.”

Denise Riley 

Catholics for a Free Choice.

Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).


Artificial Birth Control / Sex Education


Artificial Birth Control / Sex Education

Sr. Mary J. Bujak 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Sr. Lavinia Byrne 

Book titled Women at the Altar (condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith)

Bill Callahan 

Catholics Speak Out (Quixote Center).

Kathy Coffey 

… We should declare once and for all that the use of birth control is a question of conscience that Catholic couples should decide for themselves. The church need not make a pronouncement on the moral good or evil of the decision …

Fr. Charles Curran 

A leader in an effort to gain signatures to oppose the Pope Paul VI Encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Sr. Margretta Dwyer 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Maureen Fiedler 

Catholics Speak Out (Quixote Center).

Mary Hunt 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Fr. John Forliti 

Dissenter against Humanae Vitae.

Fr. Arthur L. Kinsella 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Frances Kissling  

Catholics for Contraception, a project of the Catholics for a Free Choice organization.

Sr. Marie A. Kopin

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Rosemary Radford Ruether 

Promotes Catholics for Contraception, population control.

Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Fr. Richard Sparks 

Dissenter against Humanae Vitae. Contributor and promoter of sex educational material being pushed in Catholic elementary schools (“Growing in Love”).



Homosexual Lifestyle Homosexual Lifestyle Homosexual Lifestyle

Sr. Mary J. Bujak 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Frank DeBernardo 

Homosexuality (New Ways Ministry).

Marianne Duddy 

Homosexuality (Dignity USA).

Sr. Margretta Dwyer

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Sr. Fran Ferder 

Teaches that the homosexual life style is not a deviance, but a healthy alternative lifestyle. Presents at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. Co-director of TARA: Therapy and Renewal Associates. Co-author of the book “Tender Fires: The Spiritual Promise of Sexuality” saying that “Whether we are married or single, young or old, divorced or remarried, male or female, gay or straight, celibate by choice or by circumstance, each of us is called to make the long and arduous journey of claiming our sexuality with reverence and integrating it with responsibility” and “Spirituality without sexuality is a phantom.”



Fr. John Heagle 



Teaches that the homosexual life style is not a deviance, but a healthy alternative lifestyle. Presents at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. Co-director of TARA: Therapy and Renewal Associates. Co-author of the book “Tender Fires: The Spiritual Promise of Sexuality” saying that “Whether we are married or single, young or old, divorced or remarried, male or female, gay or straight, celibate by choice or by circumstance, each of us is called to make the long and arduous journey of claiming our sexuality with reverence and integrating it with responsibility” and “Spirituality without sexuality is a phantom.”

Mary Hunt 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Philip Keane 

Author of “Sexual Morality” (Paulist Press. 1977). Says that homosexual lifestyle is not immoral. In April 1984, Cardinal Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle to withdraw his imprimatur from this book.

Fr. Arthur L. Kinsella 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Sr. Marie A. Kopin 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Robert F. Miailovich 

Homosexuality (President of Dignity USA).

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND 

Homosexuality (New Ways Ministry). Formally notified of her error by the Vatican and removed from her position.

Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS 

Homosexuality (New Ways Ministry). Formally notified of her error by the Vatican and removed from his position.

Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza 

Sex Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS).

Bishop Michael V. Seneco, CTM, DD 

President of the National Conference of Independent Catholic Bishops (NCICB), a group which supports the active homosexual lifestyle.

Fr. George Wertin 

Pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis, MN. He “totally disagrees” with Archbishop Flynn who withdrew a “Catholic” award to lesbian Kathy Itzin. He tried to have Mel White give a homily on accepting gay and lesbian lifestyles, but was also shut down by Archbishop Flynn. This parish actively promotes the intrinsically disordered homosexual lifestyle by marching in gay liberation parades and maintaining a ministry group affirming such a lifestyle.



Married Priests Married Priests

Louise Haggett 

Celibacy Is the Issue (“Rent-a-Priest“)

John Horan 

Published article pushing married (and women) priests in U.S. Catholic magazine.

Allen Moore 

President of CORPUS, an Association for a married priesthood.

John W. O’Brien 

CORPUS (Baltimore).

John Oesterle 

Association of Pittsburgh Priests.

Anthony T. Padovano 

CORPUS, an Association for a married priesthood.






Women Priests Women Priests

Sr. Lavinia Byrne 

Book titled Women at the Altar (condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith)


Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB 


A supporter of Call to Action who promotes women priests.

Paul Collins, ex-priest 

Author of the books “Papal Power” and “Mixed Blessings,” who was under investigation by the Vatican claims since 1998, claims that it is far too early for definitive closure on the issue of women’s ordination.

Sr. Fran Ferder 

Quixote Center book titled Called to Break Bread? A Psychological Investigation of 100 Women Who Feel Called to the Priesthood in the Catholic Church. As co-author of a National Catholic Reporter article dated 5/12/02 she states “Central to a more inclusive, open system is, of course, the need to welcome sacramental ministers from all lifestyles and both genders.”

Barbara Fiand 

Theologian teaching that women should be priests.

Maureen Fiedler  

Interim Co-Coordinator of Women’s Ordination Conference.

Ruth Fitzpatrick 

Women’s Ordination Conference.

Fr. John Heagle 

As co-author of an article printed in the National Catholic Reporter dated 5/12/02 he states “Central to a more inclusive, open system is, of course, the need to welcome sacramental ministers from all lifestyles and both genders.”

Andrea M. Johnson  

Women’s Ordination Conference National Coordinator and support of Catholic Organizations for Renewal.

Sr. Elizabeth Johnson

Promotes Women priests.

Sr. Theresa Kane, R.S.M 

Promotes Women priests.

Fr. Richard McBrien 

Claims that a future Pope must overturn the infallible document disallowing women “priests” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis).

Sr. Ruth Schafer

Organized “Action Purple Stole,” a women’s ordination protest.

Christine Schenk 

FutureChurch, Women in Church Leadership (WICL).

Sandra Schneiders

cited in Renew 2000


Speaker at Call to Action conferences.

Karen Schwarz 

Coordinates San Francisco Women’s Ordination Conference/WomenChurch.

Bishop “Willie” Walsh 

Bishop of Killaloe Ireland said that he would happily ordain women and that the Church “missed out” by not doing so.

Fr. John Wijngaards 

Author of “Did Christ rule out women priests?

(Ex-Bishop) Romulo Antonio Braschi: Christine Mayr- Lumetzberger, Adelinde Theresia Roitinger, Gisela Forster, Iris Muller, Ida Raming, Pia Brunner, Angela White 

Seven women who went through a mock ordination ceremony 
held by a schismatic ex-bishop Antonio Braschi. See their 
warning and subsequent formal excommunication notice here.



Hierarchical Teaching Authority of the Church Hierarchical Teaching Authority of the Church

James E. Biechler 

Association for Rights of Catholics in the Church.

Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB 

A supporter of Call to Action who promotes dissent. See her many articles in the National Catholic Reporter dissenting magazine.

Lisa Sowle Cahill 


Complains about the Vatican’s Formal Notification for Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND and Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS.

Fr. Charles Curran 

Promotes dissent (see entry in the artificial birth control section).

Terry Dosh  

President of Association for Rights of Catholics in the Church, an organization who wants to create their faith through a “democratic” vote and constitution. Mr. Dosh should read the Vatican II documents
and realize that we Catholics already have several Constitution documents.

Sr. Fran Ferder 

As co-author of the book “Partnership: Men & Women in Ministry” says that “The mobilizing metaphor of this council document (Lumen Gentium, specifically its description of the Church as The People of God) remains the image of the church as a community of faith in history. The result has been a revolution in Catholic consciousness that is stronger than our words and deeper than our symbols. It is a shift from understanding the church primarily as the hierarchical institution to experiencing it as a community of disciples. It is a way of recognizing the primordial dignity of baptism as the basis for all mission and ministry.” Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium makes it perfectly clear in chapter 3 that the Church is Hierarchical.

Fr. John Heagle 

As co-author of the book “Partnership: Men & Women in Ministry” says that “The mobilizing metaphor of this council document (Lumen Gentium, specifically its description of the Church as The People of God) remains the image of the church as a community of faith in history. The result has been a revolution in Catholic consciousness that is stronger than our words and deeper than our symbols. It is a shift from understanding the church primarily as the hierarchical institution to experiencing it as a community of disciples. It is a way of recognizing the primordial dignity of baptism as the basis for all mission and ministry.” Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium makes it perfectly clear in chapter 3 that the Church is Hierarchical.

Robert McClory 

Promotes dissent as advancing Catholic thought and Christian teaching (U.S. Catholic magazine, May 1999). Author of the books “Power and the Papacy” (1997) and “Faithful Dissenters: Stories of Men and Women Who Loved and Changed the Church” (2000). Former board member of Call to Action.

James Muller 

As chairman of Voice of the Faithful, he promotes a “democratic” church.

Terence L. Nichols 

Tries to avoid the Hierarchical teaching authority of the Church by proposing a re-definition of the hierarchy as something called a “holarchy.” This is a thin disguise for a “democratic” Church.

Ingrid Shafer 

Association for Rights of Catholics in the Church.

Leonard Swidler 

Wants a Catholic Constitution.



True Presence of Jesus Christ – Body, Blood, Souls and Divinity – in the Eucharist

[Note that all Protestant denominations also deny the true Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist]True Presence of Jesus Christ
– Body, Blood, Souls and Divinity –
in the Eucharist
[Note that all Protestant denominations also deny the true Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist]

Monika Hellwig
(contributor to Renew 2000)

Says that “[Jesus saying this is My Body]

more probably was intended to mean that His action of blessing, breaking, sharing and eating in such an assembly in His Name and memory was to be seen as the embodiment of the presence and Spirit and power of Jesus in the community.

Fr. Karl Rahner 

Proposes a “


” or “


” which claims the “


” of the bread changes after Consecration – a symbol – rather than the Bread really and truly changing into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This heresy is specifically condemned in the Pope Paul VI Eucharistic Encyclical Mysterium Fidei.

Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx 

Proposes a “


” whereby the “


” of the bread and wine are changed into the “


” of Jesus Christ. This heresy is specifically condemned in the Pope Paul VI Eucharistic Encyclical Mysterium Fidei.

Piet Schoonberg 

Influence for Monika Hellwig and Edward Schillebeeckx.

Anthony Wilhelm 

When we say that the bread and wine 'become Christ' we are not saying that bread and wine are Christ ... What me mean is that the bread and wine are a sign of Christ present.



Divorce and Re-Marriage (Adultery)

[Note: this group does not follow the official annulment process in the Church]Divorce and Re-Marriage (Adultery)
[Note this group does not follow the official annulment process in the Church]

Sheila Rauch Kennedy 

Wants divorce and re-marriage allowed. Author of “Shattered Faith: A Woman’s Struggle to Stop the Catholic Church from Annulling Her Marriage.”

Janice P. Leary 

Reform of Annulment & Respondent Support, an organization attacking the annulment process.

Ingrid Shafer 

Wants re-marriage without an annulment (in Association for Rights of Catholics in the Church).

Charlie Davis 

As Call to Action speaker, he promotes re-marriage after divorce and claims that St. Augustine improperly interpreted some Epistles by St. Paul on the indissolubility of marriage (in order to “justify” changing of Church teachings) He was also a leader in Call to Action (N. Virginia) and a board member of Catholics Speak Out.



Mass and Liturgy Mass and Liturgy

Mary Hunt 

Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER).

Diann Neu
(contributor to Renew 2000)

Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER).



Theology Incompatible with the Catholic Faith

Sheila Briggs 

Feminist Theology.

Fr. Patrick Brennan 

Denies the value and necessity of Indulgences.

Tom Beaudoin 

“Pop culture is important (e.g. be with the world),” “Pluralism can be a virtue,” “Suspicion of institutions can be a good thing,” “Humility is the center of all … teaching authority.” See the article “Irreverently Yours: A Message from Generation X” in U.S. Catholic magazine April 1999.

James Carroll, ex-priest 

Wrote a book titled Constantine’s Sword: the Church and the Jews. Time magazine explains well: “a new book claims that Christianity, not just bad Christians, is to blame for the persecution of the Jews.

Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB 

A supporter of Call to Action who promotes Feminist theology.

Paul Collins, ex-priest 

Author of the books “Papal Power” and “Mixed Blessings,” who was under investigation by the Vatican claims since 1998, claims that a “true and binding revelation [to obey the Church teachings] does not exist,” denies that the Church of Christ is identified with the catholic Church, and hold an erroneous view of papal infallibility, among other things.

Sr. Carol Coston, OP 

Carol Coston was NETWORK’s executive director during its first 11 years and later remained on its board of directors. In a 1984 autobiographical essay, Coston said her feminist perspective, developed during the 1960s and 1970s, enabled her to see “domination” on all sides and gave her freedom to “try to transform” it, as well as to choose her own work, companions and “life-style”, and to discover “feminist spirituality.” She discussed her spirituality in a 1980 speech published by NETWORK and included in Tuite’s NARW-CWU “conscientization” kit. It draws heavily on the thought of Sr. Madonna Kolbenschlag and recommends the “positive images” to be found in the goddess traditions of Ishtar and Isis.

Fr. Anthony De Mello

(contributor to Renew 2000)

Vatican ruling which states that his teachings are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.

Fr. Jacques Dupuis 

Author of the book “Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism” which obtained a formal Notification from the Vatican.

Matthew Fox 

Author of the book “Creation Spirituality” and the founder of a movement with the same name, he was investigated by the Vatican and subsequently dismissed from the Dominican Order in 1993. Creation Spirituality has 10 Principles which replace the 10 Commandments, among which are claims of “Divinity is as much Mother as Father” and “That we experience that the Divine is in all things and all things are in the Divine (Panentheism).” Panentheism is an old heresy which has been resurrected in New Age thought. He has “Techno-Cosmic Masses” which “integrates live music, electronics, multi-media imagery and eastern and indigenous spiritual elements to create a multi-cultural, intergenerational and ecumenical form of worship.” The real Catholic Mass makes Jesus Christ present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Fox claims that Christianity has been spiritually destitute ever since St. Augustine came up with the doctrine of original sin. (Friends of Creation Spirituality is also part of Call to Action‘s Catholic Organizations for Renewal).

Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia 

Liberation Theology.

David Gentry-Akin 

Pro-feminist men.

Fr. Roger Haight 

The author of the book “Jesus: Symbol of God” promotes pluralism, similar to that of Fr. Jacques Dupuis (above). He was prevented from continuing to teach and is presently under investigation by the Vatican. Any real Catholic knows that Jesus *is* God, and not just a symbol. He also presents at Call to Action conferences. In 2002, he promoted feminist theology, pick whatever religion suits your conscience (indifferentism) and that “Catholics need a new theology” rather than Dominus Iesus, decried the “sexist” Church because women are not leaders (priests), and chided the Church for clericalism because the laity cannot perform priestly duties.

Diana Hayes 

Author of the book “And We Still Rise: an Introduction to Black
Liberation Theology.”

Sr. Jose Hobday 

As disciple of Matthew Fox and his creation spirituality, she has been quoted as saying that Catholic teachers “should forget about any church doctrine prior to twenty years ago cut the spiritual and emotional umbilical cord to the Church and start in a new direction.”

Mary Hunt 

WomenChurch, Feminist theology.

Sr. Karol Jackowski 

As the author of “Sister Karol’s Book of Spells and Blessings,” Jackowski is into new age, pagan and occult spirituality. Her books says simply: “Find your own favorite prayers, your mantra … Whatever God or divine power you call upon, whatever moves you make, whatever words you speak, whatever spell or blessing you choose, all of that now becomes charged with the magic in ritual..

Bishop Franz Kamphaus 

Supports dissent via a false freedom of conscience: “Conscience can oblige the individual to acts that are in contradiction of Church teachings …. It is the responsibility of the individual alone.”

Hans Kung 

Former theologian condemned by the Vatican.

Fr. Richard McBrien 

Says, among other things, that Jesus did not establish the Catholic Church, and calls into question the virginal conception of Jesus and the perpetual virginity of Our Lady, and promotes dissent.

Sr. Mary John Mananzan 

Feminist theology, supporter of Call to Action.

Michael Morwood, ex-priest 

Author of the books “Tomorrow’s Catholic” and “Is Jesus God?” has had the former book banned by Archbishop Pell in Australia. He denies the teachings on the Divinity of Christ and the Most Blessed Trinity.

Diann Neu
(contributor to Renew 2000)

WomenChurch, Feminist theology.

Sr. Carolyn Osiek 

Feminist Theology. Also the author of Beyond Anger: Being a Feminist in the Church, and says that monotheism “becomes bad news” when you have to decide “whether you have a male or female God.”

Jacques Pohier 

Theologian condemned by the Vatican.

Rosemary Radford Ruether 

Eco-Feminist theology.

Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM 

Center for Action and Contemplation, focused on the occult Enneagram.

Bishop (retired) Remi De Roo 

Supports women priests, Liberation Theology, married priests, artificial contraception.

Edward Schillebeeckx 

Theologian condemned by the Vatican.

Margaret Starbird 

Says Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.

Sr. Carmia Navia Velasco 

Feminist Theology, Liberation Theology.

Fr. George Wertin 

Pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis, MN. In a homily on Sunday, January 12th, 2003  titled “A Baptism That Transforms,”  he denies the doctrine of Baptism” “People are still locked into the old sin/redemption theology that sees all human being as infected by a hereditary sin from Adam that keeps them from God.” Baptism not needed to remove original sin or personal sin but rather the sin of the world. In a July 14, 2002 homily, he preached that “we need to let go of fall/redemption theology” and “How refreshing to embrace a creation-centered spirituality.” He was written up favorably in the August 2003 ChurchWatch section of the Call to Action dissident group.



Public Supporters of Dissident Organizations Public Supporters of Dissident Organizations

Fr. Art Baranowski
(contributor to Renew 2000)

Supporter of Call to Action.

Phil Berrigan
(Jonah House)

Supporter of Priests for Equality.

Fr. Patrick Brennan 

Supporter of Call to Action.

John Coleman, SJ

Supporter of Priests for Equality. (Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, CA).

Fr. Michael Crosby  

Supporter of Call to Action.

Sheila and Dan Daley 

Supporter of Call to Action (Chicago).

William J. Davis 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Romero Institute).

Hubert Feichtlbauer 

Head of We are Church in Austria.

Matthew Fox 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Friends of Creation Spirituality).

Bishop Jacques Gaillot (deposed!)

Permitted married priests to celebrate Mass, blessed homosexual unions, encouraged distribution of condoms in public schools, and worked to change Church teachings about divorce and contraception.

Saundra Glynn 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Catholics of Vision/Canada).

Jeannine Gramick, SSND 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (National Coalition of American Nuns).

Joe Grenier, Cathy Grenier

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Good Tidings).

Thomas Gumbleton (Auxiliary Bishop, Detroit)

Supporter of Priests for Equality and Call to Action.

Paul Halsall 

Publishes a web page called “Radical Catholics” which support and link to all forms of dissenter information.

Rea Howarth 

Supporter of Call to Action. (Northern Virginia).

Carole Howell 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Promises).

Sr. Theresa Kane  

Supporter of Call to Action.

Thomas Kerwin 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Catholics for the Spirit of Vatican II).

Fintan Kilbride 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Coalition of Concerned Canadian Catholics).

Janice P. Leary

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Save Our Sacrament /Annulment Reform).

Bishop Raymond Lucker 
(New Ulm, MN – Deceased)

Supporter of Call to Action.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney
(Los Angeles, CA)

Sponsors a “Religious Education Congress” stuffed to the gills with dissenting speakers. The recent session on April 7-9, 2000 had those such as: Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Sr. Fran Ferder, Sr. Barbara Fiand, Fr. Richard Rohr, Fr. Patrick Brennan, Dr. Diana Hayes, Bishop Ken Untener, Bishop Robert Morneau, Fr. Thomas Reese, Fr. Michael Crosby, Megan McKenna.

Sr. Mary John Mananzan 

Supporter of Call to Action, feminist theology.

Fr. Richard McBrien 

Supporter of Call to Action.

Tom McCabe 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Renewal Coordinating Community).

Robert McClory 

Call to Action board member promotes others to practice dissent.

Megan McKenna 

Supporter of Call to Action.

Bridget Mary Meehan 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Federation of Christian Ministries).

Bishop Robert Morneau 

Speaker at various dissident conferences.

Bishop Albert Ottenweller (retired bishop of Steubenville, Ohio)

Supporter of Call to Action.

Ned Reidy, CSC 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Pathfinder Renewal Weekend).

Fr. Richard Rohr 

Supporter of Call to Action.

Rosemary Radford Ruether  

Founder of Call to Action.

Fred Ruof 

Supporter of Call to Action (Baltimore).

Christine Schenk, C.S.J. 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (FutureChurch).

Fr. Richard Sinner 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (North Dakota Peace Coalition).

William Slavick 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Pax Christi – Maine).

Bill Thompson 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (coordinator).

Bishop Ken Untener 

Supporter of Call to Action and feminist events.

Lena Woltering 

Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity)



Publications and Periodicals who Publish Dissenting Material Publications and Periodicals who Publish Dissenting Material

Rev. Mark J. Brummel 

Publisher of U.S. Catholic magazine.

Thomas C. Fox 

Publisher of National Catholic Reporter magazine.


The American Catholic magazine.

Fr. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Editor in Chief

America, the magazine published by the Jesuits.



Schismatics and Sedevacantists Schismatics and Sedevacantists

Fr. Anthony Cekada 

Sedevacantist who claims that Pope Paul VI, who promulgated the Novus Ordo Mass, “… imposed [was] evil, sacrilegious, faith-destroying. This is why as Catholics we reject it.

Bishop Daniel Dolan 

Sedevacantist who claims that Pope John Paul II is an apostate and that the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid.

Reverend Anthony Hash, D.D. 

“Presiding Bishop” of the schismatic United American Catholic Church.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

Former head of Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) who illicitly consecrated four Bishops.

Fr. Curzio Nitogliae 

Claims that Vatican II is false.

Fr. Lucian Pulvermacher, O.F.M. Cap 

Sedevacantist who claims to be the new “Pope Pius XIII.”

Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

As head of the Sedevacantist organization The Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (Congregatio Mariae Reginae Immaculatae – CMRI), claims that Vatican II and all popes after Pius XII are heretical and false, as well as that the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid.

Fr. Donald J. Sanborn 

Sedevacantist who claims that Pope John Paul II is an apostate and that the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid.

Fr. John Trosch 

Claims that Pope John Paul II is a heretical, automatically excommunicated masonic pope and that the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid.



Church Renovation (“Wreckovation”)Church Renovation (“Wreckovation”)

Fr. Richard Vosko 

Well known for modernist Church renovations which do not uphold the Catholic requirements.

Bishop Rembert Weakland 
(now retired)

Modernist militant Bishop of Milwaukee openly defies Vatican orders that his Cathedral wreckovation does not meet Church teachings.



Speakers at the 2004 Call to Action Conference

(Note: Complete list in alphabetical order. It is unclear whether all speakers claim to be Catholic)Speakers at the 2004 Call to Action Conference

(Note: Complete list in alphabetical order. It is unclear whether all speakers claim to be Catholic)

Celeste Anderson Byrnediscusses

Nguzo Saba," basis for Kwanzaa

Brian David Christian – Pagan “prayer” session for “wild men of God” with “ritual, drumming, archetypes and discussion.” He was mentored by a Hopi elder.

Kathryn Christian – feminist / female god: “we honor the Holy One with feminine images”

John Chuchman and Karen Schrauben – focused on spiritual healing (what spirituality?)

Lalor Cadley
– feminist / female god: “We view images of God from women’s experience and contemplate a world where God’s image shines in all Her people…”

Charles Curran – against “patriarchal approaches” and for liberal “sexual ethics”

Fr. John Dear, S.J. – author of “Jesus the Rebel, wants us to “disturb the peace with trouble-making nonviolence,” promotes Pax Christi

Russ Ditzel – promotes women and homosexual priests

Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Jungian psychoanalyst talking about the “creative fire”

Margaret Farley – into feminism and “sexual ethics,” proposes “a framework for Catholic Christian sexual ethics appropriate in today’s world … responsive to contemporary questions and experience.”

Brendan Fay, using examples with his own so-called “spouse” Tom Moulton, promotes homosexual unions (so-called “gay marriage”)

Fran Ferder – claims that “rigid orthodoxy” has facilitated the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse

Barbara Fiand – into feminist spirituality, she wants a “faith relevant for these arid times” based on “contemporary experience lest our precious story wither”

Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza – a feminist promoting women priests, claims that “Roman Catholic theology has developed not only hierarchical-kyriarchal understandings of the universe but also a politics of exclusion that has made women second class citizens”

Mary Ann Garfold – promotes “ways for parish ministers and catechists to pass on the vision of church in religious education programs” (what kind of vision?) using a “prayer” session of “music, movement, reflection, and ritual sharing of many types of bread”

Ivone Gebara – “seeks a new understanding of ‘sacred’ in the realm of our bodies,” using principles of  eco-feminism

David Gibson – author of “The Coming Catholic Church,” he describes” the transformations already underway through both a revolution from below and an impending change at the top.” He is working on a follow-up book about the next pope.


Neris Gonzales – works for ECOVIDA, a Latino social justice / ecology group, and tells her story

Jeannine Gramick

Jeannine Gramick – will display an 82-minute film about her disobedience to the Vatican regarding gay and lesbian Catholic teaching and “ministry.”

Salome Harasty and Janet Herrick – founders of Stone Circle spiritual resource center for women, will lead a pagan prayer session to “form the ritual circle.”

Diana Hayes – feminist theologian who claims that “the bodies of persons of African descent … have been dehumanized and rendered demonic by … the Catholic Church”

Pamela Hayes – discusses how the Church’s justice system is working for victims and the wrongfully accused

Daniel Helminiak – uses “human consciousness plus the findings of … social sciences to make the case that sexual = personal = spiritual integration. The result is a broadly inclusive view of sexuality which is contemporary, not medieval”

Thomas Honore (ex-priest) and Lena Woltering – Call to Action board members who claim to “go beyond personal prejudice to face the misuse of power by systems and institutions”

Joan Horgan – guides a “prayer” session using “the art forms of movement, writing and drawing to heighten awareness of the Holy Spirit at work within us.”

Patricia Beattie Jung – claims that sexual ethics “must be re-examined in light of all Christians’ experiences, whether gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-gender or heterosexual”

Joseph Kelly – talks about the “portrayal of Magdalen in Dan Brown’s best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, which has caused more than 60 million readers to look at her in a new way”

Joseph Kilikevice, OP – leads a creation spirituality based “workshop” using a “rich diversity of spiritual traditions: Jewish, Christian, Muslim and others” and using “simple chants and reverent movement in a circle.” He is the founder of SHEM Center for Interfaith Spirituality, which “honors and embraces the truth as it appears in the teachings of all faith traditions.” (never mind that Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life)

Martha Ann Kirk and Covita Moroney – “share story, music and ritual from ancient Jewish, Christian and Muslim women, challenging and healing us for our journeys into the future”

Renee LaReau – talks about young adult Catholics and “their problem areas of disconnect with the institutional Church.” LaReau is a columnist whose work has appeared in dissident magazines U.S. Catholic, the National Catholic Reporter, and America.

Robert McClory – as a former board member of Call to Action, he claims that “the institutional Church seems bent on driving everyone out of the pews or out of their minds.”

Melvin John P. Miller and Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe – lead a “participatory and interactive [prayer] session, working with us to find ways in which movement can enhance spirituality.” They also lead morning prayer, “Communing with the Spirit through Dance”.

Paul Ojibway – claims that “the American Indian experience of the Sacred as critical for understanding of our place in the universe and our individual path.” Wants to “look at ways of praying that inform and challenge our post-modern notions of gender, sexuality, relationships, and exclusive, personalized spirituality and ritualized prayer.”

Diarmuid O’Murchu – claims that “relationships and sexuality for long have been conditioned and undermined by narrow anthropocentric and biological terms of reference.” Redefines Christianity with so-called “Quantum Theology” wanting us to return to worship of Mother Earth.

Anthony Padovano – As a leader in the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests, he wants to re-define “fidelity”

Linda Pieczynski – a previous president of Call To Action, she talks about the clerical sex abuse crisis

Catherine Pinkerton – looks at globalization “and the theological currents which are interwoven there”

Cindy and Ken Preston-PilePax Christi supporters who want to “create peace” using methods of “ritual, stories, interactive exercises, creative expression, and presentation.”

Mary Ramerman – tells her story: “how a pastoral assistant and mother of three became a priest and pastor to the vibrant community of Spiritus Christi in Rochester, N.Y.”


Victoria Rue and Anne Pezzillo – promoting women priests. Ms. Rue, in “Heeding her own call to the priesthood … expects to be ordained to the diaconate in summer, 2004, by Austrian ‘Bishop’ Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger.” (Note that Mayr-Lumetzberger was formally excommunicated)

Christine SchenkFutureChurch member promoting a married priesthood in the Latin (Western) Tradition.

Brian Swimme – Associate director of The Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, claims that “our failure to find a meaningful approach to the universe has left a distorted mode of human presence upon the Earth”

Mary Evelyn Tucker – discusses the drafting of the Earth Charter and “promot[ing] its spiritual vision,” eco-religion, Mother Earth. (creation spirituality oriented)

Gloria Ulterino and Judith Boyd – use Mary of Magdala to lead a “prayer” session using “music, storytelling, and a participatory ritual.”

Susan and Jim Vogt – about raising children with values (which values?)

Susan Weissert – looks at AIDS claiming millions of deaths are preventable due to “poverty, debt, lack of access to medicines, and unjust structures”


Getting placed on the dissenter lists


How does an organization or person get placed on our lists of Dissenting Organizations and Dissenting Authors and Speakers?

In summary, very carefully.

Certain qualifications must be met and verified before anyone or any organization is placed on these lists.

In the words of St. Francis de Sales in his book “Introduction to a Devout Life,” “it is an act of charity to cry out against the wolf when he is among the sheep, wherever he is.

Similarly, Pope St. Felix III said “Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it.

1. The person or organization must claim to be Catholic. By definition this excludes all those of other faiths who do not accept Catholic teachings. This distinction is critical because a person or organization claiming to be Catholic must follow all the teachings of the Catholic Church, without exception. One who accepts part of the Faith and reject others – today commonly called “cafeteria Catholic” or a follower of pluralism – is really nothing more than a form of heretic if they obstinately reject the Church’s teachings (Summa Theologica, Part 2 of the Second Part, Treatise on the Theological Virtues, Question 5, Article 3 [1]).

2. The person or organization publicly promotes non-Catholic ideas to be acceptable as Catholic doctrine. In some cases, various dissenters might try and twist the true meaning of Vatican II to appear to support their agenda. This is very commonly done under the distortion of the true meaning of Freedom of Conscience.

3. The person or organization publicly speaks out against the official teachings of the Church, which commonly manifests itself by the call for a change to Church teachings, i.e. replace the Church’s teachings with their own agenda as manifested in item 2 above.

4. The person or organization publicly speaks against the Pope’s rulings as Supreme Pastor of the Church, or denies/attacks the teaching authority of the Church – the Magisterium – headed by the Pope. This in an necessary consequence of the above three items, since dissenters try and get their own opinions sanctioned in any way possible.

5. Any person who is part of a dissenting organization which meets any the above criteria [1 through 4] is a candidate for the Dissenting Authors list. However, we report more practically only on those in leadership roles or those who most publicly proclaim the views of the dissenting organization. Similarly, an organization meeting said criteria is a candidate for the Dissenting Organizations list. 

6. A person who has had their teachings formally condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith can be placed on the Dissenting Author list. This means that the Church has already formally determined their lack of Catholicity.

Lastly, these lists are not an exhaustive listing of all the dissenters.


[1] SUMMA THEOLOGICA Second Part – Part II – Treatise on the Theological Virtues
Whether a man who disbelieves one article of faith, can have lifeless faith in other articles?

OBJ 1: It would seem that a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith can have lifeless faith in the other articles. For the natural intellect of a heretic is not more able than that of a catholic. Now a Catholic’s intellect needs the aid of the gift of faith in order to believe any article whatever of faith. Therefore it seems that heretics cannot believe any articles of faith without the gift of lifeless faith.
OBJ 2: Further, just as faith contains many articles, so does one science, viz. geometry, contain many conclusions. Now a man may possess the science of geometry as to some geometrical conclusions, and yet be ignorant of other conclusions. Therefore a man can believe some articles of faith without believing the others.

OBJ 3: Further, just as man obeys God in believing the articles of faith, so does he also in keeping the commandments of the Law. Now a man can obey some commandments, and disobey others. Therefore he can believe some articles, and disbelieve others.
On the contrary, just as mortal sin is contrary to charity, so is disbelief in one article of faith contrary to faith. Now charity does not remain in a man after one mortal sin. Therefore neither does faith, after a man disbelieves one article.
I answer that neither living nor lifeless faith remains in a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith.
The reason of this is that the species of every habit depends on the formal aspect of the object, without which the species of the habit cannot remain. Now the formal object of faith is the First Truth, as manifested in Holy Writ and the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth. Consequently whoever does not adhere, as to an infallible and Divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth manifested in Holy Writ, has not the habit of faith, but holds that which is of faith otherwise than by faith. Even so, it is evident that a man whose mind holds a conclusion without knowing how it is proved, has not scientific knowledge, but merely an opinion about it. Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will.
Reply OBJ 1: A heretic does not hold the other articles of faith, about which he does not err, in the same way as one of the faithful does, namely by adhering simply to the Divine Truth, because in order to do so, a man needs the help of the habit of faith; but he holds the things that are of faith, by his own will and judgment.
Reply OBJ 2: The various conclusions of a science have their respective means of demonstration, one of which may be known without another, so that we may know some conclusions of a science without knowing the others. On the other hand faith adheres to all the articles of faith by reason of one mean, viz. on account of the First Truth proposed to us in Scriptures, according to the teaching of the Church who has the right understanding of them. Hence whoever abandons this mean is altogether lacking in faith.
Reply OBJ 3: The various precepts of the Law may be referred either to their respective proximate motives, and thus one can be kept without another; or to their primary motive, which is perfect obedience to God, in which a man fails whenever he breaks one commandment, according to James 2:10: “Whosoever shall. . . offend in one point is become guilty of all.”


Dissident Groups and Priests


By Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM, L. Th., Oblates and Missioners of St. Michael

Miss Block gives an excellent critique of Fr. Richard Rohr’s organization, which promotes heterodox views against the Church on such issues as homosexuality, the agenda of Call to Action, radical feminism, and Liberation Theology, amongst many other views.


Center For Action and Contemplation


By Stephanie Block, The Wanderer, January 2011

The Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) is situated on the parish property of Holy Family Church in Albuquerque. From this site, retreats and workshops are made available to the city’s progressive Catholics. The center is New Mexico’s Call to Action hub, and well-known CTA personalities, such as radical feminist Rosemary Radford Ruether and ’60s war protester Daniel Berrigan, have been speakers at the center in the last several years; also offered are alternative spirituality programs, such as Dr. Ruben Habito’s annual retreat weekend at the center that includes “instruction in the elements of Zen practice.”

CAC’s founder, Fr. Richard Rohr, is a prolific writer and retreat master. He has done as much as anyone to spread the study of the enneagram around the United States. He has been a prominent leader of the “men’s movement” (see accompanying article, “Coloring Outside the Lines,” elsewhere in this issue). And he has been a recent speaker at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (February, 1997), the New Ways Ministry Symposium in Pittsburgh (March, 1997), and the Call to Action Conference (November, 1996).

It is not surprising to discover, therefore, that much of Albuquerque’s Call to Action activity emanates from the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) and from Holy Family Parish. The center describes its “vision” as providing “a faith alternative to the dominant consciousness.” It is faithful to its vision.

CAC’s bimonthly publication, Radical Grace, features articles of significance to the center. January, 1997′s issue contains the story “Bridge Building” by Thomas Williams, which describes the Bridge Building Community, a community inspired by the New Ways Ministry and operating out of CAC. The community’s gatherings “have addressed the homosexual’s role in the Church: celebration of the gift of homosexuality, coming out, and spirituality; and relationships, commitment, and roles.” February-March, 1996′s issue of Radical Grace contains an article by Clarence Thomson on “The Parables and the Enneagram” in which Thomson informs the reader that “sin is trying too hard, doing the few things we know how to do.” The same issue announces that the Education Summit for the Industrial Areas Foundation local, Albuquerque Interfaith, promotes a men’s retreat with Fr. Rohr called “A Rite of Passage,” and advertises the center’s Seventh Annual Justice and Peace Conference.




To better appreciate the radical nature of this periodical and the center which produces it, it is necessary to examine some of the ideas and issues which define them. Are the center’s responses to those issues Christian, or are they modernist deviations which no longer bear any but the most superficial resemblance to the spiritual life of the Church?


The Enneagram

The Center for Action and Contemplation has taught the enneagram for years in Albuquerque. Classes for the enneagram have been advertised in Albuquerque’s Catholic Communicator (a Sunday bulletin which is distributed weekly in many parishes throughout the diocese). They are also advertised in the center’s own newsletter, Radical Grace, and in diocesan “For Your Information” packets that are mailed monthly to priests and deacons.

The enneagram is purportedly a tool for helping a person to self-understanding. It has been described by Fr. Rohr as an “inner work that can lend authenticity to our spiritual path” (p. 15, Discovering the Enneagram, by Fr. Richard Rohr), and it has been compared by its supporters to other typologies of the human character, such as astrology and Jungian analysis.

Where did the enneagram come from? According to Fr. Rohr, who states openly that the “history and genesis of the enneagram are unknown,” its earliest roots may go back over 2,000 years, developed in the Sufi brotherhoods (although there is no proof for this), or it may (according to the same author) be the mescaline-induced invention of one man (ibid., p. 5 and p. 12). It is irrelevant to Fr. Rohr what the enneagram’s true beginning is, however, because he has been so impressed with its benefits. He writes that when he “first learned about the enneagram, it was one of the three great conversion experiences” of his life (ibid., p. 13).

Despite such an uncritical concern about the enneagram’s origins, the enneagram has nevertheless been used by numerous New Mexican Catholics to “promote ongoing conversion and spiritual growth” (from a Radical Grace advertisement, February-March, 1996). It is evidently of no concern to them that those origins (either one; either its possible origin as ancient Sufic “wisdom” or its possible origin as a drug-induced “wisdom”) will have a bearing on the sort of “conversion” or “spiritual growth” experienced by its practitioners.

There are nine enneagram types. Each is assigned a symbolic color and symbolic animals. According to Fr. Mitch Pacwa, who studied the enneagram in the early 1970s, in the enneagram’s structure there are “. . . not merely nine character types, but 9 divine ideas, the 9 faces on the mountain of God, or the 9 faces of God within creation. At the same time, the 9 types are 9 devils, personal demons with their own will and intellect. Each type is a neurotic behavior, making it a caricature of a divine attribute, or the ‘face of God turned upside-down.’ During the lecture [at an enneagram workshop], I understood these statements to be symbols, not thinking through their theological ramifications. Only in later years did their inconsistency with Christianity become clear” (Catholics and the New Age, pp. 100-102).

What are these inconsistencies? Fr. Pacwa unveils a number of them based on the writings of its various teachers, including bizarre occult connections. For example, there is the situation of Oscar Ichazo, the man who claims to have developed the use of the enneagram for personality work during a mescaline “trip.” Ichazo is “said to be a ‘master’ in contact with all previous masters of the esoteric school, including those who have died” (ibid., p. 114). This sort of “spirit contact” (assuming that Ichazo is in earnest) is forbidden by Scripture (Lev. 19:31; 20:6; 27; Deut. 18:10-11; Is. 8:19). Ichazo also holds views about free will which are in opposition to Christianity’s, believing that we do not have free will until we have reached certain stages of enlightenment.

It is conceivable that a Catholic, however, might use the enneagram “differently” than Ichazo. A Catholic might try to “baptize” it, by using its valid insights and discarding the more suspect elements. One has to ask, however, what the value or desirability of these “extra-Christian” spiritual journeys are. One needs to ask how this self-absorption with one’s personality type helps the individual to be a better Christian, focused on Christ, who is the way; on God, who is the goal; and on one’s neighbor, in active love.

Pacwa describes the enneagram’s “myths,” such as the teaching that Jesus Christ (the perfect Man) is a complete 9, and is a perfect embodiment of the whole enneagram. “Jesus our Lord made no mention of nine faces of either God or the Devil,” Pacwa writes. “I see no need to add an enneagram myth to our faith.” This is a human “addition” to the faith, an attempt to discover an esoteric, hidden key to salvation. This is not Christianity.

One is “free” to experiment with one’s soul, of course, but in the case of the spiritual life, everything is at stake.


Radical Feminism

One cannot blame all the instances of distorted feminism among the New Mexican Catholic population on the Center for Action and Contemplation, but radical feminism is clearly being nurtured there. CAC, for example, hosted speaker Rosemary Radford Ruether in the winter of 1996 (Radical Grace advertisement, February-March, 1996).

Donna Steichen, writing in Ungodly Rage, says, “As a ‘feminist Christology,’ Ruether proposes that [and here Steichen quotes from Ruether’s own writing] ‘the mythology about Jesus as Messiah or divine Logos, with its traditional masculine imagery,’ be discarded [God-Talk, Ruether, p. 137]. Women ‘must emancipate themselves from Jesus as redeemer and seek a new redemptive disclosure of God and of human possibility in female form,’ [Ruether] says [ibid. p. 135]. ‘Feminism represents a fundamental shift in the valuation of good and evil,’ because ‘past descriptions of evil,’ rooted in patriarchy, were ‘themselves ratifications of evil’ [ibid., p. 160]. Destruction of ‘blasphemous’ patriarchy—’the idol with flashing eyes and smoking nostrils who is about to consume the earth’ — is, she announces, the primary goal of feminism [Women-Church, Ruether, p. 3].”

Steichen continues, “According to Ruether, the image of God as ‘Father’ is an idolatrous projection of ‘transcendent male ego’ that ‘sacralizes’ patriarchal culture and ‘inferiorizes’ woman as symbolic of nature [God-Talk, Ruether, p. 66].

“According to Ruether, the male enslaves the female because he images her as ‘a threatening lower “power” ‘seeking to ‘drag him down’ to the ‘realm of body and nature’ [ibid. p. 74 f.]. . . . The very name of God, Ruether proposes, should be replaced with gnosticism’s androgynous term ‘God/ess'” (quoting Ruether’s God-Talk, pp. 34,46, 67-71, from Ungodly Rage, Steichen, pp. 302-303).



Whether influenced by Ruether, or simply affirmed by her in his own convictions, Fr. Rohr spoke in Los Angeles at the 1997 archdiocesan Religious Education Congress, using multiple pronouns for God, both “He” and “She.” Rohr said, “I [not intending the speaker, but a hypothetical Catholic] want . . . a God who values the great risk of allowing us to sin, which clearly He does-She does, clearly this God allows us to break the rules, to color outside the lines” (emphasis added) (“Spirituality of Imperfection,” Fr. Richard Rohr, 1997 Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles).


The Industrial Areas Foundation

One of CAC’s social justice activities has been to help establish the New Mexican Industrial Areas local, Albuquerque Interfaith. As of late 1995, Albuquerque Interfaith had 28 organizational members. All of those organizations are religious communities. Thirteen of them are listed as Catholic, including the Center for Action and Contemplation. As there are 30 Catholic parishes in Albuquerque, this means that one-third of Albuquerque’s parishes have an Interfaith membership.

Albuquerque Interfaith is one of over 40 local affiliates around the United States. Each of these local affiliates is organized under the national umbrella of the Industrial Areas Foundation. The Industrial Areas Foundation (which was founded in 1940 by a man named Saul Alinsky) sends its professional organizers to train and engage, in each of these 40 locations, congregations from all denominations (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim). The organizer’s job is to bring these denominations into a “relationship” which will enable them to act together on civic issues.

Questions such as how does the Industrial Areas Foundation function, how does it operate and organize, what are its activities, and what are the changes it is mobilizing member congregations around the country to bring about, are all worthwhile and interesting. The present discussion will concern itself only with those IAF activities within the Catholic Church which are expressly designed to change Catholic ethics and religious sensibilities.

The Industrial Areas Foundation has, for example, for the past several years, conducted a national project called IAF Reflects. IAF Reflects is a series of “intense, two-week seminars for veteran organizers” (Organizing the South Bronx, Jim Rooney, p. 249, footnote n. 23).

These retreats for the congregational leaders of IAF members are designed to put those “leaders in touch with the biblical tradition that might give deeper insight into their work together, bind them more closely, and empower them to go forward to build God’s reign. The IAF has come to realize that it is about holy work” (“Moving Beyond Anguish to Action: What Has Saul Alinsky to Say to Justice Education,” Suzanne C. Toton, published in Religious Education, summer, 1993).

Christian denominations and their individual congregations, as well as Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques, are exploring the particular “vision” of social activism which the IAF holds out to them, and are trying to discern the spiritual foundation on which to root that activism.

Faith communities, writes the Catholic Villanova religion professor, Suzanne C. Toton, “must be conversant in two languages — the language of the faith and the language of public discourse,” which Toton equates to IAF-style activism. “Both are essential for communities committed to furthering God’s reign” (“Moving Beyond Anguish to Action . . .,” Toton).

Ed Chambers, national IAF executive director and a former Catholic seminarian, has a similar idea. He is quoted as saying, “I’d had a little training in philosophy. And I started forcing myself to look at what our kind of organizing meant to people. We worked with people in the churches, and their language was the language of the gospel. Their language was nothing like Alinsky’s language [Alinsky, recall, was the IAF founder]. His language was power talk. Tough, abrasive, confrontational, full of ridicule. And those are really all non-Christian concepts. So I started looking at it. Here are the non-Christian concepts . . . here are the Christian concepts. Are there any similarities? Is this just a different language for the same thing?” (“Gospel Values and Secular Politics,” Mary Beth Rogers, The Texas Observer, Nov. 22nd, 1990).

Alinsky explains where his power talk comes from. He writes, in the opening paragraph of his book. Rules for Radicals, that it is Machiavellian. “What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

Machiavelli’s The Prince used to be on the Catholic index, when the Church had an index, as forbidden reading. Why? Because the object of Machiavelli’s discussion was to protect the rich? No! Because the way Machiavelli taught the rich to hold power was unethical.

The “power talk” of Alinsky is also unethical. He teaches, at great length, that the “ends justify the means.” In fact, an entire chapter of Rules for Radicals is devoted to hammering home that point. Rom. 3:8, however, says, “It is not licit to do evil that good may come of it,” and Pope John Paul II, in Veritatis Splendor, has gone into great depth explaining this passage. These two positions are not reconcilable. They are not two languages saying the same thing. It is not moral to speak the language of pious ethics at worship, and then go out into the world and speak the language of opportunism and might is right and whatever else “the ends justify the means” ethics produces. A person who speaks this way is hypocritical.

Nevertheless, the IAF encourages its member clerics to find ways to teach organizing by using Gospel language. Last summer, Albuquerque Interfaith’s lead organizer, Tim McCluskey, during a leadership development seminar at Our Lady of Guadalupe, “interpreted” Scripture for seminar participants which was designed to compare the community organization to Moses’ selection of elders. McCluskey then went on to propose that he be allowed to interview and handpick people who would undergo “leadership training” with the IAF. Those IAF-trained leaders could then, in turn, help facilitate the parish’s RENEW program as well as serve on the parish’s Albuquerque Interfaith committee.

Besides retreats, like IAF Reflects, IAF communities in Los Angeles and Texas have experimented with “value-based organizing” through scriptural consciousness-raising. Writer Harry Boyte revealed that “in St. Timothy’s Church [in San Antonio, Texas], for instance, new catechisms connected biblical and Mexican historical and cultural themes with the current issues COPS [the IAF local] was working on. From such experiences [as at St. Timothy’s], the organization [the IAF] developed an ongoing process of community and parish renewal” (emphasis added; Community Is Possible: Repairing America’s Roots, by Harry Boyte, 1984, p. 149).




The IAF uses not only Bible study groups but values clarification techniques (which have been repudiated by their own originators as unethical and manipulative) to change the way Christians understand their faith. Peter Skerry writes, “Ten years ago IAF went into parishes and immediately began organizing around political issues. But in recent years its organizers have moved toward theological reflection, to the point where they have developed a series of Bible study classes to get prospective members thinking about the spiritual life of their parish. From the outside this may look opportunistic, but parish priests praise IAF organizers for challenging them theologically and getting them to rethink their clerical role” (“The Resurrection of Saul Alinsky: Neighborhood COPS,” Peter Skerry, The New Republic, Feb. 6th, 1984).

All of this is to say, that within given congregations, pastors have allowed the shepherding of their flocks, the evangelization, the Scripture interpretation, and the. moral formation of their people and of themselves to be “shaped” by the IAF, an organization whose founder, Saul Alinsky, writes in the “dedication” of his book, Rules for Radicals: “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: From all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

Alinsky was, perhaps, meaning only to tweak those “bourgeois” values of the middle class with a shocking bit of humor, but the words have deep import, whether or not Alinsky himself understood them. Scripture does teach us that there is a “diabolical” relationship to the world and its power, as well as a correct relationship. Specifically, Christ’s third temptation was to be shown all the kingdoms of the world and promised by Satan, “All these will I bestow on you if you will prostrate yourself in homage before me” (Matt. 4:9).

Jesus’ response was, of course, to give “homage to the Lord alone.” Consider, though, what His temptation consisted of — power over all the kingdoms of the earth; power to multiply the loaves infinitely into bread, but not into His Flesh; power to heal the lame, but no longer the power to forgive sins; and power to build a Utopia on earth without hope of Heaven. If such “power” tempted Jesus, small wonder that it tempts us as well. For us, however, of weaker wills and smaller intellects, the temptation rejected in the clarity of prototype is reintroduced with countless variations, and myriad opportunities for spiritual compromise. The Prince of the World still tries to persuade us to grasp for his golden promises, while reassuring us that we will retain the Lord’s blessing.

Scripture must be reinterpreted if it is to be useful to Alinskian-based community organizations. Retreats, like IAF Reflects, and St. Timothy’s new IAF “catechisms,” create that “different” way of understanding the Scriptures. Peter Skerry writes, “Through their organizations [the IAF locals] they [congregations] learn to speak the truth where it is not spoken and to create the truth where it never was, for all to see” (“The Resurrection of Saul Alinsky: Neighborhood COPS,” Peter Skerry).

Create the truth? If a “truth” must be created, then it is a lie.

Professor Toton writes, “[T]he process of building Poor People’s Organizations reminds the church over and over again that it does not own ‘The Truth'” (“Moving Beyond Anguish to Action . . .,” Toton).

From passages like these, it is clear that .the religion which the IAF is feeding its people has been twisted. This is not what the Bible or the Catholic faith teaches. The “power language” of Saul Alinsky and his IAF simply does not contain the same concepts as Christianity.


Delivering On The Call To Action Agenda

The Center for Action and Contemplation, as the primary Call to Action (CTA) member in New Mexico, has assisted CTA in propagating its We Are Church referendum. Fr. Jack Robinson, the pastor of Holy Family Parish where the center is located, has been a speaker for the center and spoke at the We Are Church, CTA forum from the Aquinas Newman Center of the University of New Mexico in March, 1997. The Aquinas Newman Center hosted two Sunday afternoon talks, which were called, “The Catholic Church: What Changes? What is Constant?” Fr. Robinson spoke at the first session about taking “a general look at how our faith and Tradition develops over time” (sic — from a flier advertising the talks). Sharon Pikula of the Newman Center addressed “A Look at the Question of Woman’s Ordination” at the second session.

It was clear at both talks that at least one objective of these Sunday sessions was to generate signatures for the Call to Action Referendum. Fr. Robinson’s specific contribution was to examine those aspects of the Church which may legitimately be altered, and have been altered over the centuries, distinguishing them from the constants of the faith.

Unfortunately, Fr. Robinson illustrated his position with revisionary history and flawed Hebrew. For example, he seemed to have completely misunderstood the early Church’s lifting of Jewish dietary restrictions. He mistranslated the Hebrew root for “Israel” as “wrestle” in an attempt to demonstrate that Israel’s role was to enter as a people into “dialog” with God, “wrestling [being] a form of dialogue, right?” Father also developed the notion that only in the Church of the last 200 years has there been any understanding of the evil of slavery, a notion which must ignore the Church’s constant and heroic position against slavery since her inception.

Fr. Robinson used these and other mistaken illustrations in an attempt to make the legitimate point that there have been changes in the Church throughout its history. One instance has been the Church’s evolving attitude toward clerical celibacy (which has been toward greater support and understanding of the discipline, although this was not, of course, how Father developed the point).

Fr. Robinson failed to distinguish between those aspects of the Church which are open to change and those, such as the moral law, which are changeless. His talk seemed merely aimed at building acceptance for the Church reforms proposed by the CTA referendum, in which the act of change becomes valuable in and for itself. “To deny the value of change is to want to stop living, is to want to stop growing, is to want to deny that God has given us the ability to reason,” was Father’s impassioned conclusion.

Audience members challenged the We Are Church referendum on several points, particularly its apparent desire to move the Church away from its position that homosexual activity is intrinsically disordered and objectively sinful. Fr. Robinson, in turn, argued that there has been a long-standing misunderstanding of the several Scripture references pertaining to homosexuality.



He felt, for example, that the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah was due to their inhospitality to strangers, and not to their desire to sodomize them. Fr. Robinson’s unusual perspective came as no surprise to area Catholics who were aware that five months earlier, Fr. Robinson had co-presided with Fr. Rohr at the “wedding” of a lesbian couple.

If the CTA agenda were not plain enough, a table at the Newman Center provided literature for the forum participants, which carried the titles . . . And Woman Said, This Is My Body, This Is My Blood and A History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church.

Given the Center for Action and Contemplation’s relationship with both Call to Action and the Industrial Areas Foundation, the history of Call to Action is extremely interesting. It was established in 1976 with the organizational assistance of Alinsky disciple and IAF-trained Msgr. Jack Egan. Nine position papers were adopted by the 1976 Detroit Call to Action Conference, designed to stimulate an appetite among the faithful for a reconstructed, democratic Catholic Church, rebuilt along humanistic lines. The conference demanded, in 1976, much the same reform that it seeks in its 1997 We Are Church:

• that the People of God participate in the process of selecting their bishops and pastors.

• that the Church permit the ordination of women to the priesthood

• that priests may choose either a celibate or non-celibate way of life.

• that the primacy of conscience be the deciding factor in issues of sexual morality (for example: birth control and abortion).

• that the human rights of all persons regardless of sexual orientation be respected (and those human rights are considered to include the sexual activity of homosexuals — which CTA wants the Church to condone).

• and that theologians and others who exercise freedom of speech be welcome in the Church. Several of CTA’s principal speakers are Richard McBrien, Charles Curran, and Hans Kung; the latter two theologians have been forbidden to speak in the name of Catholicism, because their theology is not Catholic.



It is apparent that the Center for Action and Contemplation has become a magnet for the dissenting elements of the Catholic Church, particularly in Albuquerque. Parishioners around the city have begun to observe the connections between their parish’s IAF activities and the rebellious demands of Call to Action. At Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, for example, which is an IAF-organized parish (see The Wanderer, Jan. 11th, 1996, p. 4, “IAF Priest Envisions ‘Church 2000′” about Holy Rosary’s pastor Fr. Joel Garner, who has been very active with Albuquerque Interfaith), a petition has been circulated challenging the parish’s distribution of CAC’s Radical Grace on church property. Petitioners were extremely disturbed by elements of the publication which they perceived as a distortion of Scripture, an affront to doctrine, and a perversion of their Catholic call to holiness. They referred specifically to the enneagram, to the We Are Church referendum, and to the teaching that Scripture does not condemn homosexuality, all of which they had read about within the pages of Radical Grace.

“This is not Catholicism,” said one of the petition’s signers, holding up his copy of Radical Grace. “We don’t want this in our church.”

Catholic charismatics recalled Fr. Rohr from 15 years ago. “He was a wonderful, inspiring speaker back then,” they reminisced. “And he still is quite a speaker. He has a real gift. But somewhere along the way, over the years, he fell off the track.” [END]


Father Sibley gives a summary of the issues and controversies surrounding the dissident priest Fr. Richard Rohr, who in addition to taking issue with the Church’s teaching on homosexuals, supporting Call to Action, radical feminism, liberation theology, and more, also flirts with heresy on doctrines on the Nature of God as Father, Original Sin, and nature of Redemption by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.


The Fr. Richard Rohr Phenomenon


By Fr. Bryce Andrew Sibley, New Oxford Review, 2006

During the past few years, I’ve noticed among Catholic circles a marked increase in the attention paid to the work of Fr. Richard Rohr. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Fr. Rohr wrote and spoke often on the Enneagram, but lately he seems to have abandoned “personality spirituality” for the now-popular “male spirituality.” Through several recent visits to my own diocese, Rohr has attracted quite a local following. So, in order to better understand the increasing “Rohr phenomenon,” I decided to purchase his most recent book, Adam’s Return, and attend a conference given by him titled “Men Matter: A Quest for the True Self.” Surprisingly, there were over 400 people in attendance, some having traveled hundreds of miles to be there. After reading the book, going through a few of his other writings, and then listening to his presentations, I have come to believe that Fr. Richard Rohr adheres to some very questionable, if not dangerous, beliefs. Although most of what he says and writes may appear harmless to most people, the discerning Catholic reader will notice that underneath the surface lie ideas and opinions, some of them fundamental to Rohr’s message, that reside outside of the realm of orthodox Catholic teaching. I would like to look at a few of these ideas here.


God the “Mother”?

Rohr began his presentation by speaking about the phenomenon of the “Father Wound” that he has noticed in young men throughout the world, but especially in the U.S. Many young men, he claims, grow up with weak, abusive, or absent fathers, which leaves the young men wounded. From that wound flows what Rohr calls a “Father Hunger” — a desire to have an authentic father figure in their lives. Rohr’s “masculine spirituality” uses symbols, archetypes, and rituals that, he argues, speak especially to males in order to help cure the “Father Wound.”

But Rohr fails to demonstrate a true Christian solution to the problem he diagnoses. I would argue that such a remedy must encourage a healthy family life and authentic fatherhood on earth, but most importantly must be founded in having the young men become aware of God the Father’s paternal love for them. Part of the reason that Rohr is unable to provide this solution is because of his flawed concept of Revelation, especially regarding the paternity of God.



Rohr makes it very clear that he does not want to be limited to having to call God “Father.” He writes in Adam’s Return (which was the basis for his presentations) that we must “find public ways to recognize, honor, and name the feminine nature of God….”

Rohr bases this claim on his belief that “God is the ultimate combination of whatever it means to be male and whatever it means to be female.” He asserts that God is in no way sexed, and here he seems to be in agreement with the Catechism, which states: “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes” (#370). However, this does not mean that it would be proper to refer to God as “Mother.” Rohr’s thesis runs into the problem of Divine Revelation: Christ has definitively revealed God as Father. To say that God could just as easily be called “Mother” is in direct contradiction to Divine Revelation. As the Catechism states, “Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: He is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father…” (#240)

Rohr’s problem also extends to his vision of the Church. During his presentations, he made several negative references to patriarchy, particularly to the Church as a patriarchal institution (patriarchy finding its roots in the Latin word pater, meaning “father”). The vague references he made during the conference become clearer when seen in relation to what he writes about the patriarchal dimension of the Church in his book Simplicity, in the first chapter, titled, “God the Father — God the Mother?” Here Rohr describes the structure of Catholicism as patriarchal. Jesus was happy to call God “father,” but “presumably that has something to do with his patriarchal culture.” The Gospel text then “reveals the beginnings of the bias against women,” and the beginnings of patriarchy. Our “liturgical texts are almost completely patriarchal, and they perpetuate this narrow image of God.” But fortunately (according to Rohr), “we belong to the first generation of the Church that has come to consciously recognize our patriarchal biases.”

Like many others today, Rohr thinks that patriarchy carries a negative connotation. Once again, however, he runs into the problem of Revelation. It was Christ who became incarnate as male, who deliberately chose men to lead His Church.

Although the Church is patriarchal by structure and office, the true symbol of the Church is not Peter, but Mary. Maybe having a more developed image of the Church as feminine would assuage Rohr’s desire to have God reveal Himself in feminine terms.

The ultimate irony here is that, while concentrating on the problem of rejecting our earthly fathers, Fr. Rohr rejects his heavenly Father. He also rejects the spiritual fathers whom God has called to be representatives of His paternal authority on earth. It follows logically that if someone rejects the definitive Revelation of God as Father, then it is very difficult to teach men to be good Christian fathers (or males) themselves.


Homosexual Advocacy

The reality of sexual difference — that man was created as male and female by God for a reason — is a basic teaching of Catholic anthropology and theology. Pope John Paul II wrote beautifully about the significance of sexual difference in his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem, in which he calls the reality of man being created as male and female a “truth which is immutably fixed in human experience” (#2). At first, I was encouraged to see that Rohr appeared to ground his “male spirituality” in the reality of sexual difference as one truly positive aspect of his presentation. However, when I took a closer look at some of his other writings, particularly those dealing with homosexuality, I began to question whether Rohr really holds a strong belief in the importance of sexual difference.

The website of Soulforce, a homosexual advocacy group, carries a letter written by Fr. Rohr (dated 2000) supporting this organization’s mission. Soulforce claims that its purpose is non-violent resistance to the “spiritual violence” perpetrated against “gay,” lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons by social and religious groups. The Soulforce website defines spiritual violence as “the misuse of religion to sanction the condemnation and rejection of any of God’s children.” Soulforce claims that spiritual violence is a misuse of God and religion to perpetuate society’s prejudices against “gays,” lesbians, etc. Needless to say, Soulforce protests the condemnation of homosexual activity and homosexual “marriages” by the Church and other religious organizations.

Rohr’s support of Soulforce and its goals is rooted in his interpretation of Jesus’ all-inclusive love. He writes that the Church has failed to live up to the Gospel values by “judging” and “excluding” homosexuals. He hopes that the Church will realize the error of her ways, but until she does he hopes that Soulforce will maintain its loving, inclusive position because “our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered brothers and sisters have been left outside of [Christ’s] realm of grace for far too long.”

Since homosexual activity is the ultimate denial of sexual difference, Rohr’s support of homosexual-advocacy groups such as Soulforce (and thus his implicit support of homosexual activity) is a radical contradiction of the apparent importance he places on sexual difference in his presentation on “male spirituality.” As the Catechism states, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (#2357). “They do not proceed from a genuine sexual complementarity” clearly states that homosexual activity runs counter to the God-given meaning of sexual difference.

There is yet another irony. While Rohr endorses the work of a homosexual advocacy group (on that group’s website), he criticizes political conservatives active in the 2004 presidential election for their preoccupation with what he refers to as a “body oriented morality.” He writes in an essay posted on the website of his Center for Action and Contemplation, “In the upcoming years we must find ways to address this ‘body oriented’ morality, which has always held churchy people captive, but now seems to be widespread. The body holds human shame and inferiority, and people can be most controlled at that level…. We [i.e., political conservatives] want body morality, not really a demanding Biblical morality. No concern about social values, or justice values, or basic truthfulness, just puritanical concern for keeping human bodies so called ‘pure,’ by preoccupation with issues like abortion, those terrible gays, and stem cell research. All of which can be addressed by a more nuanced morality.



But America does not like nuance or compassion…. These body issues, these pretensions at being pro-life, demand very little change of 90% of the population, but allow us to remain preoccupied with trying to change others. How convenient for the ego. How disturbing for the future of religion and state.” Rohr echoed these same sentiments in his conference when he said that religious people often use religion to condemn others, particularly those who participate in abortion and homosexual activity. Religious people do this, he claimed, so that they do not have to hear the Gospel message and transform themselves. (Of course, Rohr is condemning those who condemn.)

So, if Rohr thinks we should look beyond these “body issues” to a more “demanding Biblical morality” why is he so concerned with the “body issue” of homosexuality?


“He Was Paying No Debt”

And so our discussion of the body brings us to Rohr’s thinking on the Redemption that Christ brought about in His body. In the first chapter of Adam’s Return, Rohr makes this very puzzling assertion regarding the Incarnation: “‘Incarnation is already redemption,’ and you do not need any blood sacrifice to display God’s commitment to humanity. Once God says yes to flesh, then flesh is no longer bad but the very ‘hiding and revealing’ place of God.” Rohr is saying that the crucifixion of our Lord was not necessary for redemption; that the Incarnation already brought about redemption. This is made more evident in this passage from his critique of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, supposedly taking the teaching of John Duns Scotus as his justification: “As many of you know, I am a strong proponent of the Franciscan understanding of the redemption, based on the teaching of Blessed John Duns Scotus in the 13th century. He did not believe in any ‘substitutionary atonement theory’ of the cross: Jesus did not have to die to make God love us, he was paying no debt, He was changing no Divine mind. Jesus was only given to change our mind about the nature of God! (Imagine what we are saying about the Father, if he needed blood from his son to decide to love us! It is an incoherent world with no organic union between Creator and creature. No wonder so few Christians have gone on the mystical path of love, since God is basically untrustworthy and more than a little dangerous.) For Duns Scotus, Jesus was the ‘image of the invisible God’ who revealed to us a God’s eternal suffering love for humanity, in an iconic form that we could not forget. He was not ‘necessary,’ but a pure gift. The suffering was simply to open our hearts, not to open God’s — which was always open.”

I will not belabor arguing the point in detail that the crucifixion and death of our Lord was not only part of God’s eternal plan but also necessary for the atonement of sins. I would hope all faithful Catholics already know this. Rohr’s teaching here is at best confused. It does not seem clear to me that the “substitutionary atonement theory” teaches that the death of Christ was necessary for God to love us or to change His mind about us. What the atonement theory does teach, however, is that there is a real debt rendered to God when we sin, which is our death. How can we, of ourselves, mend a relationship initiated freely by God Himself? How could our sin, our rejection of the free friendship offered us by God at the creation, result in anything else but our death? In terms of our sinfulness, only God can fix what we broke, and He did. Christ died in our place. He himself suffered the real punishment for our real sins — He paid the debt — and therefore those who accept Christ have access to divine life.

Instead of focusing on Rohr’s error in claiming that Christ’s death was not necessary for redemption, let’s look at his teaching on Original Sin and how his teaching leads to an erroneous proposition. In the section on Original Sin in Adam’s Return, Rohr says that Original Sin “names the ‘corporate body pain’ that we all suffer from together.” It is the “tragic flaw in all of us” and we should not “waste time blaming anybody” for its existence. It is the collective hurts that have been passed on to us by our parents, just as they were passed on to them. Baptism washes away this “original wound” and “our endless capacity for self-rejection and self-hatred” by “situating one’s life in a much bigger picture.” For Rohr, Original Sin is the “original wounding,” it is the “shadow self that you do not understand,” “the dark side that seems to be in everything,” “the common pain of being human.” “It does not deserve punishment. It deserves tears.”

Clearly, Rohr has a very weak understanding of Original Sin. Once again, I do not think it necessary to go into great detail about the teaching of the Church on Original Sin (see the Catechism, #388-421). It should suffice to say that Original Sin comes as the result of the sin of the first man. It resulted in the loss of the state of grace and a tendency toward sin that is passed on through human nature. It is more than just a “tragic flaw” or an “original wound” — it is a loss of grace and divine friendship, which is what necessitates a Messiah and Redeemer. One paragraph from the Catechism explains this point particularly well: “The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the ‘reverse side’ of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation, and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. The Church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ” (#389).

Here we see the real root of Rohr’s redemptive theology. His “tampering” with the correct understanding of Original Sin truly leads to an undermining of the saving mystery of Christ. If Original Sin is nothing more than a “tragic flaw” or “shadow side,” if Original Sin is not seen from the perspective of the fall from grace, then the just penalty due for that, and hence the necessity of salvation, of Christ, His message, His death and Resurrection are all meaningless. As the above quote from the Catechism points out, one cannot have the Good News of salvation that comes through Christ without the bad news of condemnation that comes through Adam. Without a proper understanding of Original Sin, Christ is reduced to nothing more than a prophet who teaches us to love ourselves, and this is unfortunately who Rohr’s Christ turns out to be.


“People Who Creatively Hold the Tension of Opposites”

As we have already seen, Rohr is fond of the theology of John Duns Scotus. It is fair to say that between Scotus and St. Thomas, and therefore between Scotists and Thomists, there exists a significant difference in their regard for human reason. In comparison to Thomists, Scotists manifest a marked distrust of the native intellectual powers of the soul. This leads them, in some cases, to a greater trust in the will and the emotions, not only in theological discourse but also in the spiritual life. Rohr’s descriptions of the spiritual life often unfold in this vein, especially in Simplicity. He claims that “we tend to find out if things are true or false by engagement with them instead of thinking or theorizing about them.” But there are dangers in relying primarily on experience.


Throughout his talks, Rohr made a number of negative remarks about those who search for answers in religion instead of being willing to put themselves in a “liminal space” deprived of answers. There were also several subtle snide comments reserved for those concerned with orthodoxy and doctrine. Rohr has several sections in Simplicity criticizing those who feel compelled to be “right” dogmatically. Rohr claims that one should renounce being right and instead “‘go deep in one place’ and let your God lead you to a place of surrender, love, and humility.” Speaking from his own experience, Rohr writes, “I have found that a great deal of wisdom comes in the world through people who creatively hold the tension of opposites on difficult and complex issues.”

While elaborating on this nebulous position, Rohr makes condescending remarks about those who hold fast to dogma and doctrine, especially young laymen and young clergy. In Adam’s Return he asks why so many intelligent young people are attracted to “very conservative politics and fundamentalist religion.” He surmises that the reason is that young people need order in their lives, and they find this in tradition and dogmatism. He also notes that many young laymen and young clergy today have a longing to return to an earlier and false innocence that never really existed. As they get older, and hopefully undergo some form of “mystical” experience, however, Rohr hopes that they will realize the inadequacy of their youthful views. Rohr also notes in several of his works that Jesus never spoke about moral issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Jesus’ sole concern was effecting justice, loving the poor and marginalized, and bringing about the “Kingdom of God.”

However, God has given us the gift of reason so that we might understand His laws and meditate upon His Revelation. Faith is a supernatural gift for the intellect, which allows us to know what God knows. Both faith and reason must work together in spiritual life, and this necessarily creates in the Church a place for doctrine and dogma. By refusing to search for and acknowledge a definitive right and wrong, especially in the moral life, one becomes a fool, not a sage. It is just this type of muddled thinking that is used to justify the moral relativism present in the Church and in the world. And certainly this leads to moral chaos, when no one can claim to know right from wrong.

Rohr’s critique of the young who search for orthodoxy betrays a subtle ad hominem argument — he contends that it is just because the young are young that they believe such things. He does not address their position, but casts off the position outright simply because of their age.

In reference to his insistence on getting back to Jesus, Rohr seems to forget that there are other writings in the New Testament, also inspired by the Holy Spirit. For example, in his first letter to the Corinthians, we hear St. Paul making such dogmatic statements as, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts [active homosexuals], nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9-10).

We also hear St. Paul say such things as, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths” (2 Tim. 4:1-4). These passages seem pretty insistent on dogma and sound teaching.


Pagan Ritual

A central theme of Rohr’s “male spirituality” is the importance of ritual for the transformation of the male. Through these rituals, these rites of initiation, the man is supposed to experience his powerlessness through some form of suffering, and later emerge as Jonah from the whale, a transformed and more spiritually aware man. Traditionally, the sacred liturgy and the rituals surrounding the Sacraments were the way in which Catholics (both men and women) experienced this ritualistic initiation and transformation (especially through the Sacraments of Initiation). Rohr, however, criticizes Catholic ritual for not having any efficacy in the form that it presently takes. His concern is that the Sacraments lose the ability to transform if their accompanying ritual does not produce a desired psychological effect.

I will be the first to admit that there is something lacking today in the Church’s sacramental celebrations, but Rohr’s proposal for solving this problem is strange. Instead of advocating an authentic renewal of the Sacraments and the rituals surrounding them, he has taken it upon himself to create new rituals that, he hopes, will speak to the men of today. In fact, the appendix of Adam’s Return gives an outline of a sample rite for men. The sponsoring of such male rituals is one of the main activities of Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Men from around America pay hundreds of dollars to “find themselves” in the New Mexico desert. What makes these rituals problematic for discerning Catholics is that they draw from and retain elements of various pagan rites of initiation.

Rohr argued at his conference that the rites that inspired him are Native American. Most disturbing was Rohr’s description of crawling around naked on all fours with a group of men in a Native American sweat lodge. He gushed about what a powerful experience it was for him. But Christ came to free us from such pagan rituals.

Rohr’s almost uncritical adoption of religious rituals alien to the Gospel brings us to the main problem with his theory of male initiation. Rohr’s rites can in no way bring about Christian redemption or a thorough understanding of who we are as baptized sons of the Father and brothers of Jesus Christ. Only a deep surrender to the person Jesus Christ, through prayer and confession of His Name, in and with the means made available through the Church, can do that. Only in Christ will man come to know who he truly is and find the spiritual transformation he is seeking. Pagan ritual cannot provide this.

To his detriment, Rohr, in his writings and conferences, gives the impression that Christ is not truly the divine Son of God, whose sufferings redeemed us from our sins, but rather just another guru, prophet, or great moral teacher, who like so many others before Him came to show us the path to self-enlightenment. Constantly quoting Buddha, Joseph Campbell, and Hindu aphorisms, Rohr’s syncretistic vision of Christ strips the Incarnate Son of God of His divinity and His uniqueness as mankind’s only Savior. Rohr’s unfortunate flirtation with paganism or Arianism leaves his wounded men naked, on all fours, crawling in the dark on the floor of the New Mexico desert, looking blindly for meaning in their lives, instead of humbly approaching Christ, their Lord and Savior.




At the conference I explained to another attendee that I did not think Rohr should call his “male spirituality” Catholic. This individual responded that I was being too rigid in my interpretation of Catholicism, that Rohr just has a very “broad” sense of what it means to be Catholic. To which I posed this situation in reply: Imagine that you, a Cajun, traveled to some state in the Midwest and went to a restaurant advertising that it sold “Cajun food” and you ordered a bowl of gumbo. But what was brought out to you was a bowl of watery soup with a few pieces of steak floating in it. Would you call that authentic “Cajun food”? Of course not. No Cajun in his right mind would. Then why would you be more dogmatic in your approach to food than in your approach to your faith?

In sum, Rohr’s presentation of his so-called “male spirituality” should certainly not be called Catholic. Though he claimed at his conference to sit in the “larger Christian and Catholic tradition,” he fails to demonstrate how referring to God as Mother, encouraging homosexual advocacy, denying the spiritual reality of Original Sin, denying the necessity of the Cross for redemption, and promoting pagan rituals resides within the Catholic or even Christian tradition.

The Rev. Bryce Sibley, STL, who holds a Licentiate degree from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Rome, is Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Parks, Louisiana, in the Diocese of Lafayette.



With material presented as Catholic teachings by “Fr.” Rohr only leads to confusion of the beautiful truths of our Catholic faith. Rohr’s teachings are empty of the truths of God’s spoken Word. With his misguided compassion toward those outside of marriage, he writes untruths to help others cope with their vocations in life by not having to practice chastity. “Your okay, I’m okay” theory is misleading.

It takes Jesus’ sacrifice to set us free from our sin. The commandments allow us to reflect on our life and learn about ourselves and our sinful ways. Then we are able to know what is truly right and truly wrong and righteously serve God.

Experiences and feelings can mislead us to accept evil as goodness.

If Rohr loves the Lord and his Christian audience, he would better serve them with God’s truth rather the Gospel of Richard Rohr, modern day guru. Questions…Why would Rohr still use the title of a Catholic priest when he teaches heresy?

…Why would he want to hold the title of Father…why not Mother Richard Rohr?

With all due respect Richard, I don’t understand why you would want to remain a Catholic priest of an organized Catholic Christian religion with its teachings that are apparently unacceptable to you yet under the guise of “Father” Rohr, you mislead and pretend to teach Catholic teachings and the most damaging things is a person (soul) is trusting you for guidance to the truth and salvation.

Your method of approaching each of Rohr’s misguided statement with Truth allowed me to view the contradictions clearly.

I pray that anyone in search of attending one of Rohr’s seminars will come across your review before signing up.

May God bless you with His love and eternal truth. –Juliana

Thank you for the eye opener. Someone just told me about this Priest. But after looking up him in a search red flags flew all over! I am an American Indian Catholic and it also seems he has abused various American Indian ceremonies for his own selfish interests. It is a shame a so called leader of our faith falls into the “New Age” trap.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, Timoteo


List of dissenters


Catholic Answers Forums, April 8, 2005

-The website http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/ contains a list of dissenting authors, speakers and organizations.

-There is a good list of dissenting organizations published in the book Call to Action or Call to Apostasy. It is written under the auspices of Human Life International. This list is well researched inasmuch as the official statements of these organisations are weighed against the Catechism. I really recommend it for anyone who wants to know what kinds of movements are present in progressive Catholicism.


Public dissenters and heretics in the Catholic Church


The web site ourladyswarriors.org has compiled a list of some of the more notorious dissenters and heretics in the Catholic Church. Notice that many are bishops, priests, and nuns.


And this from the ultra-left, dissenting itself, National
Catholic Reporter:

Theological disputes


National Catholic Reporter, February 25, 2005

The List

Editor’s note: Following is a list of Catholic theologians and others disciplined by the Vatican during the papacy of John Paul II. Though not an exhaustive list, it is a substantial representation of the range of people subject to papal discipline during the past 26 years. The list was compiled by Tara Harris, assistant to the editor.

Fr. Jacques Pohier: A French Dominican priest, he was the first theologian to be disciplined by Pope John Paul II. In 1979 Pohier, the dean of the theology faculty at the Dominican theological school near Paris, lost his license to teach theology, was banned from saying Mass or participating in any liturgical gatherings. The Vatican objected to his views on Christ’s resurrection. He left the Dominicans in 1984.



Fr. Hans Küng: A Vatican investigation into the writings of this Swiss-born theologian began in 1975. He lost his license to teach Catholic theology in 1979 after the Vatican found fault with his views on papal infallibility. He continued to teach at the University of Tübingen as a professor of ecumenical theology.

Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx: A Belgian Dominican, he was the theologian of the Dutch bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and has endured several Vatican investigations. He was initially investigated in 1968 for questioning the virginity of Mary. The Dutch hierarchy, clergy and laity rallied to his defense, and Fr. Karl Rahner, who himself would be investigated, convinced the Vatican of Schillebeeckx’s orthodoxy. In 1979, a trial or “procedure” was convened to investigate his writings on Christology. In the face of an international campaign of protest against the trial, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dropped the matter in 1980. He has since received several “notifications” from the congregation that his writings remain in conflict with church teaching.

Fr. Charles Curran: Once a professor of moral theology at the Catholic University of America, Curran lost his license to teach theology in 1986 because the Vatican did not approve of his views on sexuality and medical ethics. He currently teaches at Southern Methodist University. He is a member of the NCR board of the directors.

Leonardo Boff: A Brazilian Franciscan and one of the most famous proponents of liberation theology, Boff was investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981. The Vatican objected to his views on Christology and the structure of the church. Boff was silenced for a year in 1985. Boff enjoyed the support of his religious order and two of Brazil’s cardinals, Aloisio Lorscheider and Evaristo Arns, but he was silenced again in 1991. In 1992 Boff left the Franciscans and the priesthood.

Fr. Anthony Kosnik: A priest of the Detroit archdiocese, he was forced to leave his teaching position at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary because he co-authored a Catholic Theological Society study called Human Sexuality. The Vatican disliked the study’s theology and Kosnik was pressured to resign in 1982. Seminarians and faculty threatened to boycott the school’s spring commencement if Kosnik was not reinstated. He got his job back, but was forced to resign the next year.

Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez: Often called the “father of liberation theology,” Gutiérrez has had to face numerous investigations by the Vatican. In 1983, the Peruvian bishops received a notification from the Vatican containing 10 complaints about Gutiérrez’s writings. They declined the request to condemn them. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued instructions in 1984 and 1986 that criticized certain aspects of liberation theology. In 1988, the congregation began another investigation of Gutiérrez. Nothing came of any of these investigations. In 2001 Gutiérrez joined the French province of the Dominicans in a move that was seen as an attempt to distance himself from the conservative Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, the conservative archbishop of Lima.

Fr. Karl Rahner: Considered one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century, Rahner spent much of his career under Vatican scrutiny. John XXIII had him silenced and was extremely critical of his writings. Under Paul VI, he was rehabilitated and his theology greatly influenced the Second Vatican Council, where he served as an expert for the German bishops. In his later years, he was very critical of the conservative direction the church had taken under John Paul II. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took issue with Rahner’s views about priestly ordination, contraception and his doctrine of the “anonymous Christian”. After his death in 1984, a gradual reassessment of Rahner’s theology took place, and by the time of his centenary in 2004, the secretary to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith declared Rahner to be “an orthodox theologian”.

Fr. Matthew Fox: A former Dominican priest, his views on sexuality, original sin, and pantheism attracted the notice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983. His work was reviewed by a panel of fellow Dominicans and cleared. However, he was silenced by his superiors after the congregation found fault with his views. In 1993 he was expelled from the Dominican order after refusing to return to his community in Chicago. He joined the Episcopal church in 1994.

Mary Agnes Mansour: A Sister of Mercy, she was forced to choose between her job as the director of Michigan’s Department of Social Services and her religious vows. In 1983 after 30 years of religious life, Mansour left her congregation.

Elizabeth Morancy and Arlene Violet: Both were Sisters of Mercy in Rhode Island. Morancy, a Rhode Island legislator, and Violet, Rhode Island’s attorney general, were forced by the Vatican to choose between keeping their jobs and remaining in religious life. They chose to keep their jobs and left religious life in 1983.

Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen: The former archbishop of Seattle found himself under investigation after the Vatican received letters complaining of liturgical abuses. In 1983, Archbishop James Hickey of Washington conducted a visitation of the Seattle archdiocese. His report to the Vatican resulted in the appointment of an auxiliary bishop in 1985, and Hunthausen was stripped of much of his authority. After a wave of complaints and protests from laity, clergy, religious and Hunthausen’s brother bishops, the Vatican restored Hunthausen’s authority and replaced his auxiliary bishop with a coadjutor in 1987. He retired in 1991.

Fr. Ernesto Cardenal: He was a member of the Sandinista party in Nicaragua. When the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza regime in 1979, Cardenal became the Sandinista’s minister of culture. When John Paul II visited Nicaragua in 1983, he publicly chastised Cardenal for his participation in the Sandinista government. Cardenal and four other priests were ordered to quit their government posts by the Vatican. Cardenal refused and lost his priestly faculties. He remained in the government until 1988. In 1994 he resigned from the Sandinista party, accusing its leadership of corruption.

Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick: The two spent much of their religious careers working in ministry to homosexuals. In 1984 they were forced to leave their New Ways Ministry. In 1988, they were again investigated and in 1999 the Vatican sanctioned them for not representing authentic church teaching about homosexuality.





They received sanctions from their religious congregations that essentially prohibited them from participating in public ministry to homosexuals. Nugent, a Salvatorian priest, accepted the sanctions. Gramick left the School Sisters of Notre Dame and joined the Loreto Sisters in 2004 (
see story).

Dr. John McNeill: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened an inquiry in 1974 into the former Jesuit priest‘s view about homosexuality. In 1977, church authorities in Rome officially silenced him. He was no longer allowed to speak about or minister to homosexuals. He disobeyed that order in 1986 and the Society of Jesus began formal procedures to expel McNeill. The expulsion became official in January 1987 and McNeill became a psychotherapist.

Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey: Sisters of Notre Dame de Namour, they left their religious order 1988. They and 91 other nuns and priests signed an ad in a 1984 issue of The New York Times that proclaimed a “diversity of opinion regarding abortion” existed among Catholics. Ferraro and Hussey alone refused a Vatican order to retract their support for the ad. Although their religious congregation supported them throughout their investigation, the two left religious life, protesting the process used by the Vatican against them.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: The leader of traditionalist Catholics was excommunicated in 1988 for ordaining four bishops. Lefebvre rejected the reforms of Vatican II, believing the council opened the church to the negative influences of communism and modernism. He also rejected the “new Mass.” During the reform council, he led a group of traditionalists who firmly opposed anything new or different. After the council, he established his own seminary in Econe, Switzerland. Paul VI suspended him for ordaining the graduates of this seminary. John Paul II made many attempts to reconcile Lefebvre to the post-Vatican II church, but the episcopal ordinations made Lefebvre’s excommunication automatic.

Fr. Tissa Balasuriya: A Sri Lankan Oblate of Mary, he attracted the negative attention of the Vatican with his writings on Mary, the divinity of Christ, and original sin. In 1994 he was notified that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had found errors in his writings. In 1995, he was ordered to sign a profession of faith or risk excommunication. He responded by signing a profession of faith written by Paul VI. He was formally excommunicated in 1997. One year later, after protests and negotiations, Balasuriya was “reconciled” to the church.

Fr. Eugen Drewermann: A German theologian, he was suspended from the priesthood in 1992. He questioned the virgin birth of Christ and the physical reality of his resurrection. He was later expelled from the priesthood.

Ivone Gebara: A Brazilian Sister of Notre Dame found herself under investigation in 1993 for publicly advocating legalized abortion. A yearlong investigation by the Brazilian bishops’ conference ended with Gebara reaffirming her defense of human life in all forms. Although the Brazilian bishops considered the matter closed, the Vatican did not. Citing problems with her theological writings, in 1995 the Vatican pressured her religious congregation to sanction her. The sanctions resulted in Gebara being silenced for two years.

Bishop Jacques Gaillot: He was removed from his position as bishop of Evreux, France, in 1995. The Vatican, and several of his brother bishops, saw his identification with the poor and advocacy of homosexuals and contraception as too unorthodox for a bishop.


John Allen’s strategy for legitimizing Catholic dissent


By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, LifeSiteNews, May 19, 2011

In recent months, media celebrity John Allen has been on a campaign to legitimize the dissenting, anti-life and anti-family views embraced by his publisher, the “National Catholic Reporter” (NCR).  Let us call it the “Allen Strategy”.

The Allen Strategy hearkens back to the 1990s, when Chicago’s Cardinal Bernardin sought to co-opt orthodox Catholics with the “common ground” and “seamless garment” initiatives. His apparent intent was to induce the faithful to compromise with liberal dissenters in order to promote “unity” in the Church. Inevitably he failed, although the Common Ground Project maintains a post-mortem presence at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union.

Allen incorporates this element into his overall approach with his claim that the Catholic Church has been splintered into numerous “tribes” during the “postmodern” period, due to the cultural fragmentation of society. His model presents a multi-polar world inhabited by what he calls “pro-life Catholics, peace-and-justice Catholics, liturgical traditionalist Catholics, neo-con Catholics, church reform Catholics, feminist Catholics, and on and on”. Not coincidentally, “peace-and justice” “feminist” and “reform” are the labels that NCR uses to sugar-coat its dissenting ideology.

In Allen’s universe, the Catholic Church is not polarized between those who are faithful to its perennial teachings and those who oppose them—an inconvenient notion that highlights the unacceptable and increasingly marginalized position of NCR. Rather, the Church is “tribalized” among various groups that have legitimate differences in perspective. This permits Allen to smuggle in his assumption that those who write for his newspaper are in an analogous position to “pro-life Catholics” and “traditionalist Catholics” in their differences with the others. In other words, liberal dissenters are only one Catholic “tribe” among many.

Allen’s term “pro-life Catholic” speaks volumes about his own distorted perspective on the faith. He seems to regard “pro-life” as a mere type of Catholic, rather than an essential element of the faith. However, the deeper significance of Allen’s “tribal” model of modern Catholicism lies in the proposed solution to his contrived problem.

Writing about the divisions among his “tribes” in a recent article*, Allen opines that “Such diversity is healthy in principle, but destructive in practice if these tribes come to see one another as the enemy, and in many cases that’s precisely the situation. Compounding the problem is that these tribes have spent so much time moving down separate paths that they often have completely different senses of what the issues facing the church actually are, so on those rare occasions when they do rub shoulders, they often lack a common set of points of reference to sustain a conversation.”



*Thoughts on post-tribal Catholicism http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/thoughts-post-tribal-catholicism, April 15, 2011

So, for example, when the disgraced “theologian” Charles Curran is given space on NCR for long and convoluted essays attacking the bishops’ pro-life teachings and defending the “pro-choice” position, and then is praised for it by NCR itself, we must not react with outrage. And when NCR’s openly homosexual columnist Kate Childs Graham rejects the Church’s condemnation of sodomy—an article of the natural law recognized by virtually every society and religion in history—we are not to see her publisher as “the enemy.”

When we find NCR writers defending nuns who are excommunicated for authorizing abortions, or trashing the homosexual ministry group Courage for encouraging its members to remain celibate, we should not raise our voices in objection. Nor should we grimace with indignation when we read NCR legitimizing heretical nun Jeannine Gramick‘s campaign to legalize homosexual “marriage.” Rather we need “common points of reference” with such people, accepting them as just another species of Catholic.

As Allen uses very euphemistic language in his own columns to refer to the NCR agenda, and takes pains to present himself as “balanced,” one might easily conclude he doesn’t share in the anti-Catholic perspectives of NCR and its other columnists. However, his own words in a recent NCR fundraising campaign leave little to doubt about the matter.  He calls NCR a “precious gift, a gift to journalism, and a gift to the Catholic Church” and an “incredibly important vehicle for keeping Catholic conversation alive.” He adds that NCR is “about the only outfit” where “it is theoretically possible” to write objective, accurate stories.

The real problem for Allen and NCR: “evangelical Catholicism”

Later in the same article, Allen identifies the true source of the conflict between the “tribes” that he so laments. It is caused by what he calls “evangelical Catholicism,” which is creating “pressure” on “Catholic identity.” Even more alarming for the dwindling faction of sixties radicals that Allen represents is the fact that this movement is coming from both the upper and the lower levels of the Church.

“Whether anyone likes it or not, pressure related to Catholic identity is here to stay,” he writes. “This is not only because a fragmented, post-modern world always makes identity contentious, but because one key trend in today’s church is precisely the rise of ‘evangelical Catholicism.'”

Allen informs us that “evangelical Catholicism” is “premised on recovering a strong sense of Catholic identity (including traditional markers of Catholic thought, speech and practice, such as Eucharistic adoration and Marian devotion) and using that identity as a lever to transform culture – beginning with the culture of the church. This evangelical wave comes from the top down, in the sense that policy-makers are understandably concerned to defend Catholic identity vis-à-vis secularism. Yet it also comes from the bottom up, in the form of strong evangelical energy among younger priests, religious, theology students and lay activists.”

What are aging radicals to do in the face of this youthful fidelity to the Catholic religion? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em—or co-opt them, to use the more precise term.  It is impossible to reconcile NCR’s dissenting positions with the teachings of the Catholic Church, to which they stand in stark contradiction.  However, if orthodox Catholics can be induced to join organizations or movements that include dissenters, they are likely to stop fighting and cooperate, giving the dissenters the legitimacy they need to continue their subversion of the faith.

“What the church needs instead are spaces in which relationships among Catholics of differing outlooks can develop naturally over time,” Allen opines. “The plain fact of the matter is that such spaces have been badly attenuated by the ideological fragmentation of both the church and the wider world.” Within such zones, liberal dissenters and faithful Catholics would work together, creating a “hybrid vigor” through synergistic action.

Among the groups he names to perform this amalgamating function is Canada’s Salt and Light Television, run by Allen collaborator Fr. Thomas Rosica.  In a recent Salt and Light interview with Rosica (beginning at 19:49), Allen promises viewers that there will be a “new spiritual awakening” where “we realize the sterility of this dead-end street of importing the culture wars into the Church” and names Salt and Light as an institution that conforms to his “zones of friendship” concept.

“One of the things that has always struck me about you personally and the Salt and Light network generally is that it genuinely is open to all of the different tribes of the Catholic landscape; that is you are not speaking from one side of the street, you are not speaking for one constituency, you are speaking for, and to, and about the entirety of the Church,” Allen gushes to an affirming Rosica.

Unfortunately, Allen’s “tribal” model is shared by many other Catholic leaders as well, who see themselves not as protectors of the faith and morals of the laity, but rather managers who balance competing factions against each other in order to maintain a peaceful equilibrium in the Church. Those who take this view seem to care little for the essential message of the Gospel— conversion from error and sin to the light of truth and of love. They are fundamentally politicians rather than leaders, and they are among the most useful allies of heretics, dissenters, and other malcontents who undermine the Church’s salvific mission.

Ironically, the true source of the “polarization” in the modern Church is arguably to be found in the same relativistic concept of the faith pushed by Allen, which leads so many into a deluded sense of Catholic identity. A truly charitable approach to discipline would not permit those who promote an anti-life, anti-family agenda to deceive themselves into believing that they are authentically Catholic. The accompanying divisions owe their existence to a fundamentally uncharitable laxity of discipline on the part of many bishops, which permits confusion and strife where there should be clarity and harmony, an authentic unity based on the truth.


Allen’s Plan B

If the “common ground” aspect of the Allen Strategy fails, however, Allen has a backup plan, which we shall call “Plan B.”

In Plan B all pretense of reconciliation and syncretism is dropped. Faithful Catholics are tar-brushed as extremists, while NCR’s dissenting viewpoints are portrayed by implication as the reasonable middle ground in the Catholic Church.



Allen’s choice of smear-term, “Taliban Catholicism,” has become standard fare in his talks since he first used it in a 2006 speech, in which he expressed his concerns about new movements to restore “Catholic identity.”  Despite his protests that he doesn’t apply the term to any particular person or group, there is little doubt of its meaning within the NCR paradigm.

Allen warns of a “defensive and polemic Catholic traditionalism that depends upon enemies, perceived or real, to give it strength. This reaction too fudges the identity question by attempting to define Catholicity in terms of the narrow borders of one or another Catholic tribe, which amounts to an artificial limitation of our universality.”

The universality of the Church, therefore, depends on an inclusiveness that contains all of Allen’s “tribes”—both those that defend the faith and those that distort and undermine its teachings.  The latter are not to be seen as “enemies,” lest one fall under the rubric of extremism. All must be included, and those who oppose this “universality” are the moral equivalent of Muslim fanatics who engage in terrorism, oppress women, and prohibit kite-flying.

The answer to the wicked Catholic Taliban, Allen assures us, is to be found in St. Thomas Aquinas’ concept of the “just mean,” which he regards as the veritable essence of Catholicism. 

“In the long run, what almost always prevails in the Church is what Aquinas called the ‘just mean’ between such extremes,” Allen assures his readers. “Assuming this pattern holds, it suggests that the future will belong to those voices able to articulate a robust sense of Catholic distinctiveness, but one which does not shade off into a Taliban Catholicism that knows only how to excoriate, condemn, and smash the idols of ‘the other.'”

The “just mean” of Aristotle and St. Thomas is a favorite theme of Allen’s when he addresses the issue of conflict in the Church, but the star journalist has somehow forgotten that Thomas regarded virtue as a mean between extremes only in the case of the moral and intellectual virtues, which are directed to the created world. With regard to the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, which are directed to God, Thomas writes that there can be no excess, no extreme too great. Perhaps the Angelic Doctor himself is in danger of Allen’s “Taliban” smear.

If we wish to see an example of the Allen Strategy in action, we have no further to look than Salt and Light’s Fr. Thomas Rosica.  Without a hint of irony, Rosica has launched his own campaign to tar-brush pro-life and pro-family groups with Allen’s “Taliban Catholicism slur”  and other similar epithets, while simultaneously calling for civility and moderation.

Although Rosica can count on the backing of many bishops as well as chancery and episcopal conference bureaucrats, his actions reveal an increasing frustration with the liberal establishment’s inability to control the flow of information. Rosica has gone so far as to call for “oversight” of the Catholic internet by the hierarchy—a concept discarded at the Vatican’s recent meeting held for bloggers.


What the Allen Strategy really means

And it is here that we arrive at the deeper meaning of the Allen Strategy. Although it is distressing to witness such a famous and capable reporter putting his talents to ill use, Allen’s words can only inspire hope, if read in their proper context. The Allen Strategy, which has no real possibility of succeeding, is nothing less the swan song (if swans will excuse the comparison) of a dying movement that has no recourse left but to silly subterfuges and weak protests against “extremism.”

The defeat of NCR’s phony, neo-modernist “peace and justice Catholicism” is in large part the product of lay movements exercising the very functions that liberal dissenters hoped to expropriate for their own ends following Vatican II, a council for which the latter professes a profound reverence. Although the legitimacy of lay movements to protect orthodoxy has always been recognized in the Church, the concept was engraved in stone in the new Code of Canon Law, which explicitly recognizes the right and even the obligation of Catholics to inform their prelates, and one another, of their concerns regarding the faith.

To the dismay of NCR and the movement it represents, this new emphasis on lay involvement in the Church did not spawn a proletarian army to carry out their “peace and justice” revolution. It produced instead the “evangelical Catholicism” that so troubles Allen and his publisher. In recent years, “evangelical Catholicism” has made increasing use of the Internet as well as television, augmenting its influence dramatically. The Church’s establishment, so accustomed to controlling the Catholic means of communication, is finding that modern communication is a two-way street.

The response it is hearing is a clear “no” to the culture of death and sexual perversion, and to compromise and laxity with regard to the truths of the faith.  It is a voice that will only grow louder until the Catholic faith, in all its integrity, is fully upheld and protected in the Church.

John Allen and his unfortunate patron are facing an inexorable imperative of Catholicism: the tribe of life must prevail over the tribe of death. Then, and only then, will authentic justice and peace reign among Christians.

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman is LifeSiteNews’ Latin America correspondent.  His award-winning articles have appeared in many major newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times of London, Christian Science Monitor, Detroit News, and Nicaragua’s La Prensa. He can be reached at mhoffman@lifesitenews.com.


Selected comments

It would be best if Pope Benedict XVI would kick John Allen and the latter’s bosses OUT! –Angelonius

Bishop Helmsing CONDEMNED National Catholic Reporter in 1968 –M Hichborn

John Allen is just another wolf in sheep’s clothing trying to convince anyone who does not think critically, that dissent is just fine as long as we keep discussing and capitulating. Christ and the Apostles did not capitulate, nor did they dissent from the Truth of Divine Revelation, handed down from Christ. It’s time to shake the dust off of our feet and the foul dust of the immorality propagated by the National catholic Reporter. –Mark Andreas

The fact is, this ‘dissent’ has been enshrined at every level over many, many years and in the places where it is ruling triumphant it can be observed over and over again that it simply never ‘dialogues’ and instead in a militant and even abusive way simply stomps out the opposition, even if mild and innocuous. So this has been tested and it totally failed.




Further, one can look at the places in which dissent is the norm and see what is going on, there are few to no vocations, Catholic institutions being shuttered, and even with respect to the selective bits of social justice doctrine which have been permitted to be taught and retained, the faithful even in their affirming of their reasons for dissent are not in fact practicing even the most minimal bits of faith which have been allowed to be transmitted such as the ideals of tolerance and outreach to the poor. So many of the leaders of the dissent are simply so out of touch with the needs of ordinary Catholics, whatever demographic, ethnicity, socio-economic level. That they have been able to cobble together certain constituencies or factions which unite in their mutual hatred of the Church is really sad and itself speaks to an exploitative regard for souls in their supposed care, people are in effect held hostage to a political agenda and not permitted to join the entirety of the truth and the unity of the faithful. –Blandina

This is one of the most accurate depictions of the Catholic Church that I have read in a long time. These themes run through out the Church, and it is killing the Catholic faith. I said to my wife yesterday that the Catholic Church is not attracting people to its truths because those who are teaching the faith (Bishops, Priests, DRE’s, etc.) do not believe what they are teaching and therefore they are not excited about the Catholic Church and what it teaches. These people are internally destroying our Church the one true faith, and it is sad. You know if these people (Liberals) actually believed what the Church has revealed in its orthodoxy, there would be no divisions, but no we have to have a protestant church with in the Church. Matthew Cullinan Hoffman you have my admiration for writing such an informative article. -James Dorchak

Mr Hoffman has written a remarkably strong and amazingly calm article exposing a frightfully strong and chillingly calm adversary of Catholicism. The syncretists are complacent in their human preparations, Hoffman is at peace because he honestly believes that the outcome in God’s hand. Those who would reduce the struggle of Faith to culture wars in post-modern despair rely on the strength of their clever arguments. Men like Hoffman obediently look forward to the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven. We can see that. What a marvelous apostolate is LSN! I am sure you take similar consolations when you are attacked and maligned by collaborateurs. –Francesco

The Pope should excommunicate all of the staff that belongs to that blog! There are often times so many blasphemies that come from their website! I was of course referring to the “Nation Catholic Reporter” -Josh

I think you meant to say “National Catholic Distorter” which apparently is sometimes much better known as “The Fish Wrap“. –Cynthia


MyCatholicSource.com: Listing of Possible Dissenters


Notice: The following is only a “small list” of possible dissenters (sadly, there many more dissenters – and there may be new ones each day).

The following is provided for informational purposes only and is not comprehensive. We do not guarantee that any group / organization / movement / etc. actually dissents, even if that group / organization / movement / etc. is listed herein. Some groups / organizations / movements / etc. which do promote or assist dissent may object to being considered a “dissenter”. All items herein may be subjective, may be disputed, may be temporary, etc. If a group / organization / movement / etc. dissents, it does necessarily mean that all (or even many) of its members / adherents similarly dissent. Note that members may also be unaware of dissent or their participation in dissent may be unintentional (it is said that “true dissenters may appear truthful, combining 90% truth with 10% errors and lies”). Problems with groups / organizations / movements / etc. may not trace from their origin, and may not be officially sanctioned by the group / organization / movement / etc. Some groups / organizations / movements / etc. may not actually dissent, but they may have aligned themselves with dissenters, or they may have lent support to dissenters, etc. Even if a group / organization / movement / etc. does dissent, it does not necessarily mean that all of their activities / teachings / etc. are problematic. On the other hand, dissenting groups may ‘package’ harmful teachings with pleasant sounding terms (e.g. love, tolerance, acceptance, etc.). Groups / organizations / movements / etc. indicated herein may dissent on one or more points (commonly, dissenters may object to the Church’s teaching / practices regarding homosexuality, the male-only priesthood, the hierarchical priesthood, divorce, abortion, contraception, celibacy, etc.) or they may promote certain unacceptable practices (e.g. New Age, feminist, sinful behaviors, sinful actions, etc.), or they may promote one or more activities / goals, etc., such as: pushing for change, promoting disobedience, teaching against doctrine / discipline, subversive activities, unorthodox teaching, propagation of modernism, etc. Groups / organizations / movements / etc. may have various locations (even if not listed below). All information herein is subject to change at any time without notice. Some groups / organizations / movements / etc. indicated herein may have some diocesan acceptance / approval. Groups / organizations / movements / etc. may no longer be active, may have changed names, may go by alternate names (or acronyms), etc. Groups / organizations / movements / etc. indicated herein may no longer be active or dissenting (or others may have assumed their name). This list may favor well-known / influential organizations / movements / groups / etc. of a progressive / liberal nature, which appear (or may appear) to be Catholic and which are located in the U.S. May exclude some or all individuals, colleges, religious orders, diocesan groups, publications, various conferences, etc. This list may favor liberal / progressive dissenters (and may therefore omit some or all schismatic / sedevacantist dissenters). Various non-dissenting organizations / groups / movements / etc. may exist with the same or similar names (or acronyms) as those of dissenting organizations / groups / movements / etc. Locations and other identifying information may be inaccurate, incomplete, and subject to change. Not all acronyms may be listed. We do not guarantee accuracy or completeness of any item herein and we are not responsible for updating any information herein, even if we know it is outdated / inaccurate / etc. We have relied on various sources to compile the list herein. We do not guarantee that any source is accurate / reliable or that any source is not out of date. We are not passing an official judgment on any group / organization / movement / etc. – rather we leave that to the proper, orthodox Church authorities. We make no guarantees regarding any item herein. We are not liable for any occurrence which may result from using this site. Use of this site is at your own risk.


In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, the Church has been plagued with widespread dissent. Many seek to change doctrines and practices that they simply do not like (or do not agree with). In many cases, this is done “by infiltration and stealth”. Often dissenters may appear truthful, “combining 90% truth with 10% errors and lies”. Catholics must be careful not to support true dissenters, as they may poison one’s faith and endanger one’s soul. Further, true dissenters may be considered “enemies of Christ and of His Church”.



While the following groups / organizations / movements / etc. may be dissenters, we can’t guarantee that any particular group / organization / movement / etc. listed herein actually is a dissenter
(we leave official judgments regarding dissenters to the proper, orthodox Church authorities). In any event, one should use an additional degree of caution with regard to potentially suspect groups / organizations / movements / etc. [Note: One must be especially careful when evaluating groups / organizations / movements / etc. in this confused age since materials may be deceptive and it may be rather easy to become “taken in unaware” (2 Cor. 11:14-15: “…for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”). One must also remember that even if a group / organization / movement / etc. has some diocesan “approval”, this does not necessarily guarantee that the group / organization / movement / etc. is “safe”.]


ACLN – See “American Catholic Lay Network”

Adrian Dominican Sisters (Adrian, MI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

American Catholic Church [Source: Clowes, 1997]

American Catholic Lay Network (ACLN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Aquinas Institute of Theology (St. Louis, MO) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

ARCC – See “Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church”

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Association of Pittsburgh Priests (Pittsburgh, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Bear & Company [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Bear Tribe [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Benedictine Sisters of Erie (Erie, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Black Sister’s Conference (BSC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Bread for the World (Detroit, MI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Bread Rising (Minneapolis, MN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Brothers for Christian Community (Warren, MI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

BSC – See “Black Sister’s Conference”

BVM Network for Women’s Issues [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Cabrini Mission Corps (Radnor, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CAE – See “Catholic Advocates for Equality”

Call for Dialogue on the Future of Priestly Ministry [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Call to Action (CTA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Canon Law Society of America (CLSA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Carmelites of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Advocates for Equality (CAE) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Coalition for Gay Civil Rights [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Common Ground Center (Long Beach, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Gay and Lesbian Family Ministry [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Parent’s Network (CPN) (Baltimore, MD) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) [Sources: Various, 2006]

Catholic Reform (Albert Lea, MN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Women for Reproductive Rights (CWRR) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholic Women’s Network (Sunnyvale, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholics Act for ERA [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholics Against Capital Punishment (Arlington, VA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholics for Renewal (Saverton, MO) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholics for the Common Good [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholics for the Spirit of Vatican II [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Catholics Speak Out (CSO) (Hyattsville, MD) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CATT – See “Central American Telephone Tree”

CCC – See “Coalition of Concerned Catholics”

CCCC – See “Creation-Centered Catholic Communities”

CCCC – See “Cross Cultural Christian Concerns”

CCL – See “Conference for Catholic Lesbians”

CCW – See “Chicago Catholic Women”

CEE – See “Center for Education and Enlightenment”

Celibacy Is The Issue (CITI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Center for Action and Contemplation (Albuquerque, NM) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Center for Arts & Spirituality (Hudson, NH) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Center for Education and Enlightenment (CEE) (Lexington, KY) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Center of Concern (COC) (Washington, DC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Central American Religious Study Group [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Central American Telephone Tree (CATT) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CFFC – See “Catholics for a Free Choice”



Chicago Catholic Women (CCW) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Chloe’s People (Hayward, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Christian Faith Committee (Washington, DC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Christic Institute [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Church of Reconciliation [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Church Women United (CWU) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CITI – See “Celibacy Is The Issue”

CIWPC – See “Committee for Incorporation of Women’s Perspectives into Curriculum”

Clare’s Well [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CLSA – See “Canon Law Society of America”

Coalition of Concerned Catholics (CCC) (United States) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

COC – See “Center of Concern”

College Theology Society (CTS) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Committee for Incorporation of Women’s Perspectives into Curriculum (CIWPC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Communitas (Washington, DC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Communities of Peace and Friendship [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Communities of the Christian Spirit (Blue Bell and Noble, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Community of the Anawim (Denver, CO) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Companions of Chiara – Vestments for Women [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Conference for Catholic Lesbians (CCL) (New York, NY) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

COR – See “Catholic Organizations for Renewal”

Corps of Retired Priests United for Service (CORPUS) (Morris, NJ) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CORPUS – See “Corps of Retired Priests United for Service”

CORPUS – See “National Association for a Married Priesthood”

CPCSM – See “Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities”

CPN – See “Catholic Parent’s Network”

Creation-Centered Catholic Communities (CCCC) (St. Louis, MO) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CREDO Liturgical Dance Company of Boston [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Cross Cultural Christian Concerns (CCCC) (Oak Park, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

CSO – See “Catholics Speak Out”

CTA – See “Call to Action”

CTS – See “College Theology Society”

CTSA – See “Catholic Theological Society of America”

CWRR – See “Catholic Women for Reproductive Rights”

CWU – See “Church Women United”

Dignity/USA [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Domestic Catholic Church [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Dromenon Center for Sacred Psychology (Boca Raton, FL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Ecumenical Catholic Communion [Sources: Various, 2006]

Ecumenical Feminist Roundtable [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Eighth Day Center for Justice (Chicago, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Emmaus Communities [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Esther House Groups [Source: Clowes, 1997]

European Conference for Human Rights in the Church [Source: Clowes, 1997]

European Network [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Family Life Ministry (Rockaway Park, NY and Brooklyn, NY) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

FCM – See “Federation of Christian Ministries”

Federation of Christian Ministries (FCM) (Upper Darby, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity (FOSIL) (Belleville, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Feminism and Faith (Indianapolis, IN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Feminist Action Coalition (Jersey City, NJ) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Feminist Liturgy Group [Source: Clowes, 1997]

FOSIL – See “Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity”

Freelance Faith Group (Chicago, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Friends of Creation Spirituality (Oakland, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Friends of the Third World (Fort Wayne, IN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Future of the American Church Conference [Source: Clowes, 1997]

FutureChurch [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Gathering for Rituals of Women (GROW) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

GOD’S CHILD Project (Bismarck, ND) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Good Tidings (Canadansis, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Grail, Grailville and Grailville Conference [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Grail Women Task Force (Loveland, OH) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Green Nation (San Jose, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Greenhouse Experiment (Greer, SC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Groundwork for a Just World (Detroit, MI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]



The Group (Vacaville, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

GROW – See “Gathering for Rituals of Women”

HELIX (Silver Spring, MD) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

House-Church [Source: Clowes, 1997]

ICCS – See “Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality”

Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality (ICCS) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Institute of the Blessed Virgin (Wheaton, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Institute of Women Today (IWT) (Chicago, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

International Thomas Merton Society [Source: Clowes, 1997]

IWT – See “Institute of Women Today”

James Markunas Society (San Francisco, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Justice Campaign [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Kairos Community (Rochester, NY) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Keryx (Morris Plains, NJ) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Koinonia Community (Lake Oswego, OR) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Latin American North American Church Concerns (Notre Dame, IN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Lay Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

LCWR – See “Lay Conference of Women Religious”

LCWR – See “Leadership Conference of Women Religious”

Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Let Live [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Life and Light Ministries (Houston, TX) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Limina [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Listen to the Voices of the People [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Looking Toward the Light (Natuck, MA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Loreto Women’s Network (St. Louis, MO) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Love Happens (Monte Clare, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Magdalene Group (Oshkosh, WI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Mary’s Pence [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Matrix (Oshkosh, WI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Mercy Justice Coalition Committee (Omaha, NE) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Miriam’s Circle (Waldwick, NJ) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Miryam Community (Highland Park, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Moveable Feasts [Source: Clowes, 1997]

NAPR – See “National Association for Pastoral Renewal”

NARW – See “National Assembly of Religious Women”

National Assembly of Religious Women (NARW) (Chicago, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Association for a Married Priesthood (CORPUS) (Morris, NJ) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Association for Lay Ministry [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Association for Pastoral Renewal (NAPR) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Association of Parish Coordinators and Directors of Religious Education [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Black Sister’s Conference (NBSC) (Washington, DC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Center for Evangelization and Parish Renewal (NCEPR) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Center for Pastoral Leadership (NCPL, formerly Time) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) (Chicago, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

National Federation of Priest’s Councils [Source: Clowes, 1997]

NBSC – See “National Black Sister’s Conference”

NCAN – See “National Coalition of American Nuns”

NCEA – See “National Catholic Education Association”

NCEPR – See “National Center for Evangelization and Parish Renewal”

NCPL – See “National Center for Pastoral Leadership”

NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby [Source: Clowes, 1997]

New Jerusalem Community (Cincinnati, OH) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

New Visions (Mount Prospect, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

New Ways Ministry (Mt. Rainer, MD) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

NEWoman (Luxemburg, WI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Nova Community Women’s Groups [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Ocean of Glory (Crofton, MD) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Oecoumin (Walton, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Old Catholic Church [Sources: Various, 2006]

One Catholic Voice for Action [Sources: Various, 2006]

Open Window (Dallas, TX) [Source: Clowes, 1997]


Pallotine Apostolic Association (Milwaukee, WI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

PAM – See “Performing Arts Ministry”

Pandora’s Circle (Tuxedo, NY) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Parish Renewal Consulting Services (PRCS) (San Francisco, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Pathfinder Community of the Risen Christ [Sources: Various, 2006]

Pathfinder Renewal Weekend (Palm Desert, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Pax Christi USA (Erie, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

People of the Promise [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Performing Arts Ministry (PAM) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

PPMP – See “Priests and People for a Married Priesthood”

Prayerfulness Support Group (PSG) (Bastrop, TX) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

PRCS – See “Parish Renewal Consulting Services”

Priests and People for a Married Priesthood (PPMP) (Minneapolis, MN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Priests for Equality [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Project Search, Inc. (Burbank, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Promises (Alexandria, VA and Englewood, CO) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

PSG – See “Prayerfulness Support Group”

Quest and Vision Study Groups [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Quixote Center [Convergence Task Force] (Hyattsville, MD) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Rainbow Sash Movement [Sources: Various, 2006]

Renewal Coordinating Community (Garden City, NY) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Rent-A-Priest [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Response-Ability (Rosemont, PA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Roncalli Connection (Sterling, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Roncalli Society (Bloomington, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Ruah (Holyoke, MA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

SAIM – See “Student Advocates for Inclusive Ministry”

Sarah’s Circle (Midland, MI and Binghamton, NY) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Sarah’s Sisters [Source: Clowes, 1997]

SAS – See “Sisters Against Sexism”

Save Our Sacrament (SOS) (Re: Annulments) [Sources: Various, 2006]

Sea of Faith Network (San Francisco, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

SFCs – See “Small Faith Communities”

Shalom Center (Splendora, TX) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

SHEM Center for Interfaith Spirituality (Oak Park, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Sinsinawa Network on Women’s Issues (Atlanta, GA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

SIS – See “Sisters in Solidarity”

Sisters Against Sexism (SAS) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Sisters for Christian Community (Freehold, NJ) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Sisters in Solidarity (SIS) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Monroe, MI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Small Faith Communities (SFCs) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

SOFIA – See “Spirituality of the Feminine in Action”

Solinox (Reston, VA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Sophia House [Source: Clowes, 1997]

SOS – See “Save Our Sacrament”

Spirit (Columbus, OH) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Spiritual Directions (South Euclid, OH) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Spirituality of the Feminine in Action (SOFIA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Spiritus Christi Church [Sources: Various, 2006]

SteppingStone (Milwaukee, WI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Student Advocates for Inclusive Ministry (SAIM) (Notre Dame, IN) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Table Talk (Libertyville, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

TAU Volunteers (Chicago, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Thomas Merton Center (Palo Alto, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Time Consultants (Annapolis, MD) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

TWO – See “The Women’s Option”

United American Catholic Church [Sources: Various, 2006]

United States Catholic Biblical Association (USCBA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Upper Room Community (TX) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

USCBA – See “United States Catholic Biblical Association”

VOCA – See “Voices of Catholic Action”

Voice of the Faithful [Sources: Various, 2006] (Controversial: Organization may vigorously dispute being a dissenter)

Voices of Catholic Action (VOCA) (Altadena, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Volunteer Missionary Movement (Greendale, WI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

WATER – See “Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual”

We Are Church [Sources: Various, 2006]


Weavers of Change (Grand Junction, CO) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Wellstreams Center (Chicago, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

WICL – See “Women in Church Leadership”

WIT (Lincoln, NE) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

WOC – See “Women’s Ordination Conference”

Womanchurch or Womenchurch [Convergence] [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Womanspirit [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women at the Well (San Jose, CA) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

WoMen Gathering (Lacon, IL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women in Church Leadership (WICL) [Sources: Various, 2006]

Womenprayer [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women’s Eucharist Groups [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women’s Institute on Religion and Society [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women’s Liturgy Group (West Palm Beach, FL) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

The Women’s Option (TWO) (Dayton, OH) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) [Sources: Various, 2006]

Women’s Spirituality Groups [Source: Clowes, 1997]

Women’s Worship (Circle) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

The Woodlands (Osseo, WI) [Source: Clowes, 1997]

WOW – See “Women’s Ordination Worldwide”

YFN – See “Young Feminist Network”

Young Feminist Network (YFN, a project of WOC) [Source: Clowes, 1997]


The Dissenters’ Secret Meeting


By Deal Hudson, CatholiCity, Crisis Magazine

This morning, the Boston Globe dropped a bombshell of a story… though they seem to have little idea just how major it is.

The title was “Bishops seek out opinions, in private: conference focus is church future,” and began by explaining that some top bishops “met secretly with a group of prominent Catholic business executives, academics, and journalists to discuss the future of the church.” The gathering was convened by former Boston College trustee Geoffrey Boisi and was called “The Church in America: The Way Forward in the 21st Century.” Cardinal McCarrick hosted the event at the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC.

The fact that any bishops were involved in a “secret meeting” is strange… but it gets a whole lot worse.

Reading through the article, the author refers over and over to the “prominent” Catholics – men and women, both lay and religious – who were called to the secret meeting. Some of them, it turns out, aren’t so prominent. In fact, I didn’t recognize half of the names on the list, and I like to think that I’m pretty familiar with the Catholic world.

As for the others – well, they’re prominent all right. The list is full of the kinds of liberal and dissident Catholics that would make a Call To Action conference jealous.


These are the people who are supposed to be representing the Church in a discussion about its future? Just look at a few of these names…and make sure you’re sitting down:

—Monika Hellwig – director of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Dr. Hellwig needs little introduction. Most people by now are familiar with her infamous statement calling Humanae Vitae Pope Paul VI’s “personal opinion” and her questioning whether Jesus is the only savior.

—R. Scott Appleby – left-leaning professor at Notre Dame and media darling who has been critical of Church conservatives for not being open to women priests and a married priesthood.

—John Sweeny – president of the AFL-CIO and open supporter of abortion.

—Kathleen Kennedy Townsend – former lieutenant governor of Maryland and an infamous and enthusiastic pro-abortion “Catholic.”

—Peggy Steinfels – the former editor of Commonweal magazine, Steinfels is very open about her dissenting views. In fact, she laid them out in an article called “Holy Mother Church’s Loyal Opposition: Disagreeing with official Catholic teaching on birth control and other issues should not cut us off.”

—Kathleen McChesney – executive director of the Office for Child and Youth Protection under the USCCB. McChesney has been reprimanded by some bishops for her willingness to meet with such dissident groups as Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), calling into question her impartiality when working for the lay review board. Her presence at this secret meeting certainly doesn’t help.

—Mary Jo Bane – professor of public policy at Harvard. Also intimately involved with VOTF, she laid out her “personally opposed but publicly supportive” position regarding abortion rights in a paper presented at a Commonweal colloquium.


And these are just the names I recognize at first glance. If these people are representative of those invited to the conference, I think it’s safe to say that the real criterion for involvement was not prominence or influence in the Catholic Church but sympathy with dissenting points of view.



Other names seem to be big players in Catholic businesses and philanthropy organizations. Frank Butler, president of FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities), is one such name. Why were these people there? You have to wonder if they’re being corralled in to fund a liberal reform agenda.

Another thing I notice when scanning the list is the number of names associated with Boston College and the city of Boston in general. More and more, Boston College appears to be the very epicenter of dissent. Should it be surprising that the home of VOTF is also the home of those convening secret dissenting meetings?

And that’s what’s so frustrating. Why on earth would high-ranking bishops – including the president of the USCCB, Bishop Wilton Gregory – entertain a meeting with such known liberals and dissenters…and do it in private? The author of the article mentioned the difficulty he had in finding participants willing to talk about the meeting in even the most general terms, let alone allow their name to be published. Those who participated were “sworn to secrecy,” he wrote.

Frankly, I find it ironic that the same people who lambaste the bishops for being “secretive,” the same people who want openness and transparency in the chancery, are now sneaking around behind the scenes, trying to escape the public eye.

In addition, these are the PRECISE questions about the future of the Church that liberals claim the laity has a right to address. (Predictably, the issues of women’s ordination and priestly celibacy came up in some of the meeting’s breakout sessions.) But how can we be a part of the great dialogue they champion when it’s held in secret?

This says nothing of the fact that there isn’t a single person on the list known for his or her stand in support of faithfulness to the Magisterium, the pope, and the teachings of the Church. If this was a meeting of “prominent Catholics,” where are the prominent orthodox representatives? Where are George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Father Neuhaus? Why fly in representatives from little-known colleges in Boston when the orthodox president of Catholic University in DC, Rev. David O’Connell, has his office literally right across the street?

It’s absolutely absurd to call the meeting a discussion of the direction of the Church and not include representatives from the very heart of Catholic thought. Apparently, those Catholics faithful to the Church don’t count.

Honestly, can you imagine these bishops holding a conference for a group of prominent conservative Catholics… listening to their concerns…noting their advice? Don’t hold your breath.

When the pope called on bishops to crack down on dissent after the sex abuse scandal, I doubt this is what he had in mind. One final irony to top off this nonsense is the fact that the meeting was held at the John Paul II Cultural Center – the Institute constructed in his honor as a testament to his life and dedication to the Truth.

But alas, the pope probably wouldn’t have heard about the meeting anyway. After all, it was supposed to be a secret.

Rest assured that we’re going to be following up with this story.

We’ve received some very reliable inside information that the cardinal was duped into attending the meeting, and was not happy with the way it turned out. I’m not sure he should be held responsible for it.

Deal W. Hudson is the director of the Morley Institute, and is the former publisher of CRISIS Magazine, a Catholic monthly published in Washington, DC. His articles and comments have been published in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, National Review, Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Village Voice, Roll Call, National Journal, The Economist, and by the Associated Press. He appears regularly on television shows such as NBC Nightly News, One-on One with John McLaughlin, C-Span’s Washington Journal, News Talk, NET’s Capitol Watch, The Beltway Boys, The Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on PBS, and radio programs such as “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio. He was associate professor of Philosophy at Fordham University from 1989 to 1995 and was a visiting professor at New York University for five years. He taught for nine years at Mercer University in Atlanta, where he was chair of the philosophy department. He has published many reviews and articles as well as four books: Understanding Maritain: Philosopher and Friend (Mercer, 1988); The Future of Thomism (Notre Dame, 1992); Sigrid Undset On Saints and Sinners (Ignatius, 1994); and Happiness and the Limits of Satisfaction (Rowman & Littlefield, 1996). His autobiography, An American Conversion (Crossroad, 2003), is available from Amazon.com.


The National Catholic Reporter
aside, there are several web sites such as the following that appear to be dedicated solely to publicizing Catholic dissidence wherever it occurs and whichever form it takes:

Catholic dissentQueering the Church



Beware the Dangerous Catholics


November 13, 2012 by Lacey Louwagie
[A self-declared FEMINIST]

Decrying the Our Lady’s Warriors list of dissidents, writes, “In a voice that rings of fanaticism, Our Lady’s Warriors claims…


With dissenters seemingly outnumbering faithful Catholics, it’s hard to keep track of all the self-described Catholics who specialize in denying their faith


By Karl Maurer, www.ourladywarriors.org, January 14, 2003

With dissenters seemingly outnumbering faithful Catholics, it’s hard to keep track of all the self-described Catholics who specialize in denying their faith. Until now, that is.




Our Lady Warriors has developed a handy table of the All-Star dissenters, which we encourage CCI members to refer to. Listed among them is Fr. Patrick Brennan, Pastor of Holy Family Church in Inverness, IL.

For the complete listing see this link: http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/dissent/disspeop.htm


Catholic Dissenters in the Times


Posted by Fr Ray Blake, August 13, 2012

Far be it from me to ever suggest to anyone that “It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate”, the Pope did that before his UK visit to the Bishops of England and Wales at their ad Limina visit to Rome.
In the Times this morning this little bit of dissent* appeared signed by those listed below, most I know nothing about:

James Alison, Theologian & priest
Ruby Almeida, Chair of Quest (LGBT Catholics)
Tina Beattie, Theologian
Mike Castelli, Educationalist
Mark Dowd, Journalist
Michael Egan, Chair, Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement
Maria Exall, Chair, Trade Unions Congress LGBT Committee
John Falcone, Theologian
Eileen Fitzpatrick, Educationalist
Kieran Fitszimons, Priest
Mary Grey, Theologian
Kevin Kelly, Theologian & priest
Ted Le Riche, Retired educationalist
Bernard Lynch, Priest
Gerard Loughlin, Theologian
Francis McDonagh, Lay-person
Patrick McLoughlin, Priest
Anthony Maggs, Priest
Lorraine Milford, Lay-person
Frank Nally, Priest
Martin Prendergast, Chair, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality
Sophie Stanes, Lay-person
Joe Stanley, Lay-person
Valerie Stroud, Chair, Catholics for a Changing Church
Terry Weldon, Editor, Queering the Church
Matias Wibowo, Lay-person
Deborah Woodman, Clinical Psychologist

This is a clear attempt to undermine the bishops. Some like Ms Beattie are associated with a well known “Catholic” weekly, others I think are involved with the Soho Masses.


Selected comments

If you look up the names that claim to be priests in the Catholic Directory, you will find that a number of them are not listed. The most likely explanation is that they are ordained priests who have been suspended from their priestly state. –Et Expecto

At least one of the priests listed already regards himself as being married to a man so he hasn’t waited for any ‘debate’ to happen. –Stevie D

Has anyone else noticed that all of the dissenting Catholic organisations that keep springing up (StandUp4Vatican2, We Are Church, etc ad nauseam) all seem to be composed of the same individuals? –The Raven

Many are well known liberal Catholics so there isn’t anything very surprising about their views. Oh look there are some liberals saying liberal things. Hardly earth shattering. What surprises me is that people bother to write these sorts of letters to The Times anymore. I thought it long ago ceased to be our newspaper of record.

You can find all the priest signatories on Google and a right self-justifying shower they are. –Genty

I understand that several of those people write for “The Capsule” which might be better known as a public convenience, hence the smell of verbal diarrhoea.
-EF Pastor Emeritus


*British Catholic Leaders Support Marriage Equality Legislation


New Ways Ministry

One selected comment




None of the 27 people who signed this letter are Catholic Leaders, indeed only 1 of 27 is a blogger. The British Catholic Leadership led by Archbishops Conte and Nicholas are 100% opposed to redefining marriage. This is the kind of misleading headline I have come to expect from New Ways Ministry. –Luke

Even the New Ways Ministry blog had Luke and other Catholics standing alongside the Church. –Michael


Below is another site netplaces.com that supports and defends dissidence from Catholic teaching:

Dissent in the Church


The post-Vatican II era has seen major shifts in many aspects of Roman Catholicism, some rather subtle, others more obvious. Liturgical changes in the celebration of the sacraments, significantly fewer priests and religious, and, as a consequence, fewer Catholic schools are overt and visible changes. However, a more subtle, yet possibly more significant shift is found in the general acceptance of dissent in the church. While certainly part of Catholic history, dissent today is not only widespread, but it is manifest in nearly every aspect of the faith.


Catholicism Divided


By Richard Gribble, CSC, PhD

Theological dissent has created various camps within the Roman Catholic community, even to the point of schism. Arising in the wake of Vatican II, these groups, with the passage of time, have become more clearly defined and possibly more strident and unbending in their theological positions. Two distinct positions within Roman Catholicism, loosely distinguished by the terms conservative and liberal, are joined by a third perspective, traditional Catholics, who as a result of a staid view that rejects the present pope and the teachings of Vatican II, have been labeled a schismatic group since 1988, although in 2009 Pope Benedict XVI initiated dialogue seeking reconciliation.


Conservative Catholics

Conservative Catholics are those members of the faithful who seek to defend, advance, and live the teachings of the church through the proper implementation of the documents of Vatican II. While most members of this camp would not expressly describe themselves as “conservative,” the name has been given as a result of a specific group whose philosophy of the Catholic faith generally adheres to this more conventional understanding of the church. Catholics United for the Faith (CUF), a formal organization started in August 1968 by H. Lyman Stebbins, is characterized by loyalty to the Vatican and a spirit of cooperation with Catholic religious authorities. The organization sees Catholicism as a religious bulwark against modernity and as a corrective to the dissent generated in the wake of Humanae Vitae. The communitarian aspect of CUF is important; it does not see itself as an organization of ideas alone. Membership in CUF is small, with nine chapters, attached to specific parishes, in the United States.

Conservative Catholics in general believe that many of the new ideas that have arisen in the church since Vatican II have led to widespread doctrinal illiteracy and religious indifferentism. Those associated with this perspective believe authority in the church has been compromised. In response, adherents suggest complete faithfulness to magisterial teaching is necessary; no one has the right to pre-empt church teaching or go beyond what the church has stated.


Progressive Catholics

By far today the vast majority of Roman Catholics in the United States are found on the opposite side of the religious ideological spectrum. Often referred to as progressive Catholics, these members of the Catholic faithful are content to live in the “spirit of Vatican II” and thus do not feel constrained to follow magisterial teaching absolutely. Proponents of this perspective view the church in a more inclusive way. This group feels free to dissent from church teaching, accepting certain teachings but rejecting others. Members of this camp believe Vatican II freed church members to prayerfully and in conscience make prudent decisions on how to live and practice their life of faith.



Catholic traditionalists actually are two groups in one. The majority of this group accepts the authority of and claims union with the pope. They do, however, reject the liberal tendencies of certain members of the hierarchy and their teachings. A second group, whose first great champion in the hierarchy was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, seeks to arrest and reverse religious change among Catholics and to preserve the ideological, organizational, and cultic patterns of the church that were present before the Second Vatican Council. This second form of traditionalism is a protest against the blurring of Catholic identity and the loss of Roman Catholic hegemony in the world. The movement began somewhat underground, but by the mid-1970s had gained worldwide support by its return to the pre-Vatican II (Tridentine) Mass.

The Catholic Traditionalist Movement (CTM) in the United States was inaugurated in March 1965 by Father Gommar De Pauw, a professor at St. Mary’s Seminary and College in Emmitsburg, Maryland. CTM’s theology is a radical departure from Roman Catholicism, although it claims that the Roman Church has moved far astray from its tradition. The CTM rejects Vatican II, including the contemporary Mass, casting aspersions on its doctrinal integrity. Its ideology is animated by a conspiracy theory and apocalyptic imagery of the Great Apostasy.


The CTM believes that the papacy is sede vacante (seat is empty), believing that all popes after John XXIII were imposters. Through the work of Archbishop Lefebvre in France, clerical societies, the Society of St. Pius X, the Society of St. Pius V, and the Society of St. Peter, became part of the traditionalist movement. In 1988, against the orders of Pope John Paul II, Lefebvre ordained four bishops in the Society of St. Pius X, leading to his excommunication and placing the traditionalist movement in schism.



How Dissent Became Institutionalized in the Catholic Church


Ignatius PressThe Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Among the notable anniversaries marked by the Church last year in 1998—the 20th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II and the 30th anniversaries of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae and Credo of the People of God—there was another 30th anniversary that passed mostly unremarked and indeed unremembered, just as the event it marked was itself largely unheralded and its significance not understood at the time that it occurred. Yet, as things have turned out, the event in question was destined to be of simply incalculable significance for the future of Catholic faith and practice in the United States.

The event in question was the publication, on November 15, 1968, of the Pastoral Letter of the U.S. bishops entitled Human Life in Our Day. As its title suggests, this Pastoral Letter was issued by the American bishops primarily in support of Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical which was greeted with instant dissent and vociferous public protest coming especially from educated Catholics and led by Catholic theologians— dissent and public protest that were virtually unprecedented in the history of the Church up to that time.

Yet, contrary to the general impression at the time, especially the impression purveyed by the media, the U.S. bishops were really neither hesitant nor ambivalent in defending Pope Paul VI’s reaffirmation of the Church’s traditional teaching that each and every marriage act had to be open to the transmission of life. This Church teaching meant, of course, that resorting to all the forms of contraception provided by modern technology was gravely immoral.

By 1968, however, contraception had come to be almost universally accepted in our society at large: it was considered one of the great boons of modern technology and science; one could no more question the value of contraception, it seemed, than one could question, say, the utility and convenience of modern air conditioning.

Only the Catholic Church continued to maintain that contraception was nevertheless morally wrong. Most people could no longer see what was wrong with it, however, and so, prior to the issuance of Humanae Vitae, it had come to be almost universally taken for granted that the Church too would eventually back away from a teaching considered to be an anachronistic and irrational holdover from an ignorant past; it was assumed that the Church would drop her moral condemnation of birth control, just as she was believed to have quietly dropped her earlier absolute condemnation of usurious interest taking or her earlier toleration of slavery.

Instead, Pope Paul VI ignored popular opinion and came out with Humanae Vitae, thereby maintaining the Church’s traditional moral condemnation of any intervention which altered or interrupted the human generative process, before, during, or after the marriage act. Those immersed in the assumptions of modern society and culture concerning what was considered the obvious desirability of birth control—which included practically everybody—were stunned and incredulous at the pope’s action; the dissent from the pope’s conclusions was immediate and massive. The sense of grievance and resentment against the Church’s teaching office in the person of Paul VI was especially marked among Catholic theologians who had put their professional reputations on the line in favor of a “necessary” change in the Church’s moral teaching. Perhaps understandably, the beleaguered pope appealed to the bishops of the world to support the teaching of his encyclical— which, after all, incontestably did represent the Church’s constant and invariable teaching on the subject of the transmission of human life. The bishops’ conferences in many countries responded with pastoral letters prepared in support of the encyclical which, in some cases, turned out to be rather less than forthright and unambiguous in the support they offered for the pope’s “hard sayings” in the encyclical. Even the Catholic bishops in many countries, it turned out, were finding it hard to swim against the strong modern cultural current in favor of birth control. By all indications, not only large numbers of their laity, but many of their priests as well, were already swimming with that same birth control current.

The U.S. bishops’ Pastoral Letter Human Life in Our Day was actually one of the stronger countercultural episcopal statements made in favor of Humanae Vitae. In it the American bishops explained carefully and at times eloquently the Church’s teaching—and Pope Paul VI’s—on the transmission of life; and they stated very plainly that “united in collegial solidarity with the successor of Peter, we proclaim this doctrine.” The bishops thus declined to grant the modern cultural assumptions favoring birth control and opposing the encyclical; they even found themselves able to assert that:

The encyclical Humanae Vitae is not a negative proclamation, seeking only to prohibit artificial methods of contraception. In full awareness of population problems and family anxieties, it is a defense of life and of love, a defense which challenges the prevailing spirit of the times. Long range judgments may well find the moral insights of the encyclical prophetic and its worldview providential. There is already evidence that some peoples in economically under-developed areas may sense this more than those conditioned by the affluence of a privileged way of life.

There is much else in this Pastoral Letter in the same positive pro-encyclical vein. In it the U.S. bishops dealt firmly with some other contemporary issues of morality and conscience such as abortion. They even got into the question of the morality of the then escalating Vietnam War, which was an even more burning issue at the time than the issue of birth control. Nowhere did the bishops lack either the candor or the courage to affirm the Church’s authentic teaching on all these difficult questions, regardless of the very different assumptions that had already come to be accepted by most people today, including many Catholics. For the American bishops, in 1968, there was simply no question but that Catholics had an obligation to assent to and act on the renewed papal teaching concerning birth control. At least this is what the written record shows.

Yet it is from the publication of this 1968 Pastoral Letter of the American bishops that we are also obliged to date what became the virtual “institutionalization” in the United States of theological dissent from the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium.



Among the things the bishops addressed in Human Life in Our Day, there was the patent fact that Catholic dissent from the encyclical had indeed been massive and was still both belligerent and unrepentant. As they wrote, the bishops had to be aware that their words were unlikely to change many minds, at least in the short run. Nevertheless they certainly understood very well that they had to uphold the Church’s teaching.

Unfortunately, they did not confine themselves simply to reaffirming and defending the Church’s teaching on the contraception question and other moral issues. They went on to deal with the burning issue of the dissent from the encyclical as well. And it was the way they decided to address this issue of the widespread dissent they were contending with that would prove to have serious negative consequences for Catholic faith and practice in the United States from that time up until the present. We must examine how and why this occurred. But first we must examine further the phenomenon and logic and the effects of the dissent itself which had become so publicly manifest in 1968.


The inexorable logic of dissent

Even though the U.S. bishops’ 1968 Pastoral Letter Human Life in Our Day contained a strong defense of the teaching of Humanae Vitae, few were under any illusion that the bishops’ words would prove to be any more acceptable to large numbers of Catholics than the pope’s words had been. Most people had already made up their minds that a change in the Church’s teaching about birth control was “necessary”; and not a few reputable Catholic theologians occupying official positions within the Church’s structure were being quoted in front-page stories and on the evening news telling everybody that there were indeed perfectly good “Catholic” theological reasons for opposing the pope’s teaching—a teaching now officially adopted by the bishops as well.

The whole Humanae Vitae affair, which extended over many months in 1968 and after, very quickly established quite firmly in the minds of most people the proposition that the Magisterium of the Church could err; the pope and the bishops might reaffirm the Church’s traditional teaching as solemnly as they liked, but they were nevertheless widely seen as simply being wrong about birth control. And if the Church’s Magisterium could be in error concerning a matter taught as long and consistently as the Church’s teaching condemning contraception, then the same Magisterium could surely be in error concerning other teachings, even those that the Magisterium might nevertheless continue to insist on.

The underlying logic of the situation escaped very few people. If the Church was wrong, dissent was not only permitted—it was imperative. It was on this basis that dissent quickly came to be nearly universal, in fact. In the minds of very many people, the dissenting theologians, not the pope and the bishops, had turned out to be right on the issue. Moreover, since most of the dissenting theologians continued to remain in place, and were neither removed nor rebuked by Church authority for their open dissent, the other thought that inevitably came to be lodged in people’s minds was this: maybe the Church herself really had doubts about the teaching in the final analysis; surely Church authorities could not really be very serious about the birth control teaching, in spite of their verbal reaffirmations of its authenticity. Otherwise, how could all these open dissenters simply be left in place to go on publicly contradicting and undermining the teaching Church, as was the case?

Nor did it make any great difference as far as the underlying logic was concerned that, at least initially, the theological dissenters were claiming to be able to dissent only from non-defined, non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium. Defined, infallible teachings were still supposed to be incumbent and binding upon believers, according to the dissenters themselves. Many in authority seized gratefully upon this distinction as providing proof that the dissenters really were basically “loyal,” except on something that probably really was “non-essential” to the faith anyway, namely, the whole birth control business.

But this position limiting permitted dissent to non-infallible teachings was inherently unstable and could not really be maintained. For the same logic underlying accepted and tolerated dissent would simply continue to work in the minds of those who had come to doubt or deny any of the Church’s announced teachings on any subject. The only thing standing behind a defined, infallible teaching, after all, was the authority of the Magisterium—and the authority of the Magisterium had supposedly now been shown in the case of birth control to be capable of error.

Thus, three decades after theological dissent came into its own, and came to be tolerated in practice as a result of the Humanae Vitae affair, it should not have been surprising to anyone that dissent had now become almost universal, not least among professional theologians. For example, the formal theological dissent which greeted Pope John Paul II’s declaration in his 1994 Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to the effect that the Church had no power to ordain women to the sacred priesthood proved to be at least as far-reaching as the dissent which had greeted Humanae Vitae in 1968.

In vain did the pope declare that the teaching forbidding female ordination was to be “definitively held by all the faithful.” In vain did the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in November, 1995, insist that this non-ordination teaching actually belonged “to the deposit of faith,” i.e., that it was in effect, infallible.

For the judgment that it was infallible was simply held to be itself fallible—all too fallible!—as a paper approved in June 1997, by a voting majority of the members at the convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) did not fail to point out— a paper which the CTSA had the chutzpah to send to the heads of the U.S. and Canadian bishops’ conferences. According to the theological establishment, the authority behind the statements of the pope and the CDF on the ordination issue had come to be considered as erroneous and as unwisely proposed as Pope Paul VI’s reiteration of the Church’s teaching against birth control had been back in 1968.

More or less the same negative reaction from large segments of the Catholic theological community and the educated laity greeted Pope John Paul II’s solemn condemnations of abortion, euthanasia, and the killing of the innocent in the present pontiff’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae. No doubt the pope wished to place all the authority of his sacred office behind the moral condemnation of these terrible contemporary evils.


However, solemn condemnations by the pope no longer count for much in the era of accepted and tolerated dissent—and perhaps especially at conventions of the CTSA. Perhaps many dissenters even continue to oppose these obvious evils themselves—but they no longer do so because the pope has solemnly condemned them. Solemn condemnations by the pope no longer count for much at all in theological circles—since the papal Magisterium was shown to be capable of such an egregious error back in 1968 in the issuance of Humanae Vitae’.

Thus has the inexorable logic of dissent worked itself out over the past generation in the Church in the United States. There no longer effectively is any accepted Church Magisterium in the traditional sense of the word today—a Magisterium that teaches “with authority” and sees its pronouncements accepted on the basis of that authority. Not a few, perhaps especially in the ranks of the theologically trained, have even apparently lost their Catholic faith entirely as a result of the same inexorable logic of dissent: certainly many of them no longer assent to the faith in the sense that the Church has not ceased to propose it; they may go on calling and considering themselves Catholics, but they have for all intents and purposes really joined the ranks of Fr. Andrew Greeley’s famous “communal Catholics”—those who continue to consider themselves “Catholics,” even though they no longer believe the faith enshrined in the Creed they still recite on Sundays and Holy Days.

Evidence abounds, in fact—as regularly encountered, for example, in the pages of America, Commonweal, and the National Catholic Reporter, and, certainly, in the pages of Theological Studies—that many such “name Catholics” no longer apparently subscribe to the traditional faith at all in the same sense that the Church proposes it for belief; they have simply jettisoned significant portions of the traditional credenda and they pick and choose among what remains on the basis of what used to be called Protestant “private judgment.” And even when some things in the Catholic tradition nevertheless do continue to be accepted and affirmed by such people, they are no longer accepted and affirmed on the authority of the teaching Church, but rather merely on the basis of what modern scholars or experts—or simply “modern” people in general today—are prepared to affirm as acceptable and affirmable today. For them the Church may well continue to be a community, a tradition, a way of life, an ethnic heritage, even a “culture”; but she is certainly no longer believed to be the “teacher of truth” described in Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae #14, a teacher setting forth credenda which are binding upon the belief of her members as a condition of their membership.

In 1987, Pope John Paul II told the American bishops in San Francisco that it was a “grave error” to imagine that “dissent from the teachings of the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a good Catholic and poses no obstacle to reception of the sacraments.” The presumption of the pope’s words had to be that dissent from established doctrines is not “compatible with being a good Catholic” and does pose an “obstacle to the reception of the sacraments,” if words mean anything.

By the time the pope got around to making this statement, however, the underlying logic of the dissent that had come to be tolerated in practice after Humanae Vitae had long since done its work. It is no exaggeration to say that, by 1987, this theological dissent already had become “institutionalized,” at least in practice, in the Church in the United States. And responsibility for this state of affairs, at least in part, must be laid at the door of the 1968 Pastoral Letter Human Life in Our Day.


Inviting rebellion

How could a bishops’ Pastoral Letter which so strongly affirmed and supported Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae be in any way responsible for helping to “institutionalize” theological dissent in the Church in the United States? Surely the intention of the bishops was to defend and justify the pope’s position, not permit dissent from it.

Yes, but the bishops unfortunately went somewhat beyond merely endorsing the pope’s position. They evidently thought that they had to reach out to and accommodate in some fashion the large numbers of those working within the Church’s official teaching and educational structure who turned out to be open dissenters from the pope’s encyclical. They accordingly included in their Pastoral Letter a short chapter entitled “Norms of Licit Theological Dissent.”

Without citing any other theological or ecclesiastical source beyond their own say-so, the bishops declared in this short chapter of their Pastoral Letter that:

. . . There exist in the Church a lawful freedom of inquiry and of thought and also general norms of licit dissent. This is particularly true in the area of legitimate theological speculation and research. When conclusions reached by such professional theological work prompt a scholar to dissent from non-infallible received teaching the norms of licit dissent come into play.

What the bishops were faced with in 1968, of course, was hardly mere “theological speculation and research,” whether or not “legitimate.” Rather, it was widespread public dissent from and disagreement with a solemnly proclaimed papal teaching, led and indeed egged on and orchestrated by well-known theologians, who had also evidently convinced large numbers of the clergy of the justice of their position. These theologians were hardly engaged in “professional theological work”; they were engaged in a politicized mass-media campaign frankly intended to discredit the teachings of the Church in the eyes of the faithful and the world as a whole.

In a situation such as this, to be drawing up and publishing “Norms of Licit Dissent” supposedly to be applied to “theological research” was at best an exercise in unreality (at worst it was yet another indication that the bishops had simply been ignominiously defeated in the media campaign by the dissenters). The situation the bishops faced had nothing to do with scholarly work at all; it was rather a situation of open, public rebellion against Church authority that just happened to be led by “scholars.” “Lawful freedom of inquiry and of thought” was probably the last thing on the minds of the latter; they were concerned rather that the whole world should understand that Catholics should henceforth be following them instead of the pope and the bishops.



In this climate, mere episcopal statements that the encyclical indeed represented authentic Catholic teaching and needed to be taught and enforced by priests in classrooms, pulpits, and confessionals diverged wildly from what nearly everybody understood the real existential situation to be, namely, that the teaching of the encyclical was being rejected on a huge scale by both clergy and laity alike, who were meanwhile being assured by theologians speaking through the mass media that this dissenting position was perfectly justified and even more “Catholic” than what the pope and the bishops were trying to say.

Moreover, the dissenters were mostly left in place in the positions they occupied, and they were thus able to go on asserting with much credibility that their positions were legitimate; nor was there ever any effective denial of this by the official Church. In only three or four dioceses did the bishops even attempt to impose what earlier would have been considered normal discipline upon those who were openly denying and denigrating Church authority. These disciplining efforts, in any case, uniformly failed—spectacularly so in Washington, D.C., where the late Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle—who had the theological ring-leaders of the dissent at the Catholic University of America on his hands— seriously tried to impose discipline and remove dissenters, but received no visible support from any of his colleagues.

Nor did Rome itself provide any tangible support to Cardinal O’Boyle, as far as anyone could see. It was not until three years later, in 1971, when it was too late to do any good, that the Congregation for the Clergy issued a statement more or less vindicating the disciplinary actions taken by Cardinal O’Boyle.

What occurred in 1968 unfortunately constituted a pattern that would recur over the next three decades: the Church’s authentic teaching, whether on birth control or other subjects, would be strongly and regularly reiterated by the pope in various documents and actions; and the bishops, meanwhile, would never fail in any important instance to adopt stances openly supportive of the pope’s teachings.

At the same time, few below the level of the bishops themselves were ever strictly required to uphold and enforce these official Church teachings as a condition of continuing to be considered a “good Catholic” and even to hold official positions. In fact, there is very little evidence from anywhere that what was being regularly taught at Catholic institutions at all levels was anywhere subject to any very serious episcopal oversight. As a practical matter, open dissenters were largely left in place in their university faculties or institutes, and this was often true of other types of educational institutions as well. It was perhaps not always the case with regard to, e.g., a few seminary professors—yet dissenting professors continued to hold even seminary posts in more than a few instances.

There were some exceptions to this pattern of tolerated dissent, of course, notably the case of the leading theoretician of dissent in the United States, Fr. Charles E. Curran of the Catholic University of America’s theology faculty. At the insistence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Fr. Curran was eventually removed from his teaching position (after 18 years!). For the most part, however, open dissent from Humanae Vitae, and, later, from other doctrines as well, has not been a notably evident disability among the professional classes in the Church in the United States. As in our contemporary “non-judgmental” culture generally, the idea that people might ever be removed from official positions if unwilling to uphold the authentic teaching of the Church has seemed to be rather far from the typical mindset of those in authority in the Church.

If anything, it has been those who have attempted to call attention to the deleterious effects of dissent who have been the ones most readily criticized; often they have been marginalized for insisting on the Church’s authentic teaching.

This is the state of affairs that has roughly obtained in the Church in the United States from 1968 up until the present day. And it has often been justified—and, in one sense, even made possible—by the presence of the “Norms of Licit Dissent” in the Pastoral Letter of the U.S. bishops’ Human Life in Our Day. Merely to characterize dissent as ever possibly “licit” was perhaps already to give the game away; once this point was conceded, it inevitably became merely a question of what specific cases of dissent were therefore “licit.”

Of course, the bishops attempted to limit and circumscribe in their Norms the kinds of dissent that could be considered licit. They specified that “the expression of theological dissent from the Magisterium is in order only if the reasons are serious and well founded, if the manner of dissent does not question or impugn the teaching authority of the Church, and is such as not to give scandal”—but the whole purpose of the Humanae Vitae dissent was to question and impugn the teaching authority of the Church, and a good deal of scandal was regularly given in the process.

The bishops also tried to insist that the theologian who found it necessary to dissent should exhibit “respect for the consciences of those who lack his special competence or opportunity for judicious investigation”—as if the rebellion against Humanae Vitae had in any important sense stemmed from any “judicious investigation.” Dissenting theologians were also required by the Norms to set forth their “dissent with propriety and with regard for the gravity of the matter and the deference due the authority which has pronounced on it.” “There is always a presumption in favor of the Magisterium,” the Pastoral Letter went on. “Even non-infallible doctrine, though it may admit of development or call for clarification or revision, remains binding and carries with it a moral certitude . . .” (emphasis added; but if it “remains binding,” how can it ever be “licitly” dissented from?).

The Norms included yet other requirements, namely, that “even responsible dissent does not excuse one from faithful presentation of the authentic doctrines of the Church”; and that priests were supposed to heed “the appeal of Pope Paul that they ‘expound the Church’s teaching on marriage without ambiguity.”‘

In the minds of the bishops in 1968, these Norms of Licit Dissent were perhaps drawn up and included in their Pastoral Letter in order to try to re-impose some measure of episcopal control and oversight over a situation of dissent that had literally already gotten out of hand.




Whatever the original intention, however, the Norms only made a bad situation worse. It was simply unreal to speak about dissent that did not “question or impugn the teaching of the Church” when it was the object of the dissent from Humanae Vitae to question and impugn the authority of the Church. Similarly, it was idle to attempt to require that dissent could only be expressed “with propriety,” when the favored method of the dissenters was precisely to challenge the pope’s teaching with maximum publicity, hopefully in or through the mass media.

In short, the Norms were fundamentally misconceived and incoherent; and even if it could be shown that they were in any sense valid, they certainly did not apply to the kind of dissent the Church was facing. Virtually none of the dissent of 1968 and after was carried out in accordance with these Norms or with anything resembling them.

Yet the fact that such Norms could be found in an official bishops’ document served to create the illusion and the justification that, yes, dissent from Church teaching could somehow be “licit.” By admitting that dissent could ever be licit, the bishops simply invited dissenters in all cases to assert that their particular dissent was licit. Any bishop even contemplating disciplining or removing a dissenter henceforth had to admit the plea that the dissent of the latter was, after all, at least arguably licit, according to the bishops’ own criteria. In practice, virtually all dissent was thereby enabled to be considered licit.

Tolerated dissent thus fostered widespread disloyalty to the Church. It fostered dishonesty too, since the pretence had to be maintained that those who were disloyal were not to be judged disloyal under the regime of the Norms.

It was in this fashion, then, that theological dissent from magisterial teaching became virtually “institutionalized” in the Church in the United States. That this was hardly the intention of the bishops does not alter the fact that it was the almost inevitable result of their unwise attempt to lay out official “Norms” for what amounted to simple rejection of the Church’s teaching.

Kenneth D. Whitehead is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. He has authored or coauthored nine books, as well as many articles, and is the translator of some twenty published books.


Dissent at Catholic Youth Ministries


By Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine, July 19, 2013

Not long after
I published my recent column about Robert McCarty and the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministries (NFCYM), I started receiving emails from concerned and in some cases very well informed parents. One of the emails included screen shots from Facebook postings of one of McCarty’s senior employees.

On Facebook this fellow celebrates the recent Supreme Court rulings in favor of homosexual marriage as “historic” and an “affirmation of the love and dignity of all human beings.” In another post he congratulates Rhode Island for legalizing homosexual marriage. To his credit, on his Facebook page he also celebrates the recent pro-life victory in Texas.

There is a certain ho-hum quality to this news. Are we really surprised to find that an employee of a quasi-official Catholic organization is squishy on a key teaching of the Church? Sadly, no.  Dissenters from Church teachings have occupied senior positions in chanceries, rectories, seminaries and certainly in quasi-Church organizations for at least 50 years.

Yet in these days of increasing orthodoxy isn’t it at least a little bit surprising that a senior official of a Catholic organization would flaunt his dissent so publicly?  Some compare Facebook to a cocktail party, others to an office water cooler. But it is even more public than that.  And in this public forum, in front of his boss McCarty who is on Facebook with him, this youth ministry leader felt quite comfortable announcing his dissent from this Catholic teaching that so deeply affects children. Maybe these views are de rigueur at the NFCYM water cooler. Did they all celebrate homosexual marriage after the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions?  Do they know the teachings of the Church on homosexual marriage? More importantly, how do they instruct Catholic youth on the subject?

It makes sense that one of the last redoubts of the failed Church revolution would be youth ministries. As the revolutionaries are driven from the chanceries, rectories and bishops conferences, it makes sense they would remain imbedded in an area with so many impressionable minds and so little adult supervision.

Most of us would not come within a mile of Catholic youth ministries, for a whole host of reasons. It is not for adults, though adults run it. And much of it is simply strange to us. The floridly tattooed Bryan Kemper, who runs a thoroughly solid youth outreach for Priests for Life, says a certain level of excitement is necessary to keep the kids’ attention and I believe him. While many young people are attracted to the Traditional Latin Mass, many others need something quite different. But, do they need what McCarty’s annual conference offers them?

He regularly features a comedienne who makes fun of—or at least light of—Catholic practices. A campy Christmas skit from a recent NFCYM youth catechist conference featured adults dressed as Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men. While the choir sings Christmas hymns, the Mary character makes periodic comic grimaces, presumably from labor pains, to audience laughter.  Other adults sashay and shimmy on stage until the climax of the skit, when, as the choir crescendos to the words, “This, this is Christ the King,” a man in a bear costume stumbles onto the stage. Hilarity ensues.

The skit was proudly posted on YouTube by the head of an archdiocesan Catholic youth ministry who attended the conference, but after it appeared among the comments of my last column on this topic it has been taken off YouTube—not likely because it is blasphemous, but because shining a spotlight on it is a danger to McCarty’s project.

Most of us steer clear of youth ministry. Other than a sojourn in a Methodist youth singing group called New Faith, so did I. My time in New Faith was mostly about girls. The whole scene was just too touchy feely, and not in the way I sought in those days.



Maybe kids need pop music and silly skits to keep them interested in the Church, but you have to wonder if this is the only way to pass along the faith to kids. And you have to ask if it is working. Look around your Church on Sunday and count the number of teenagers. You will be shocked at the how small the number is. So, you have to wonder if McCarty’s way is really working. After all, he and his have been at this for decades. Yes, he turns out 20,000 for his annual conference, but where are these kids on Sunday? Not in Church.

Not all diocesan Youth Ministry offices are content with the hippy-dippy way. Informed sources tell me the Diocese of Arlington has pulled out of the NFCYM, or at least its annual conference.  There are probably many others.

Other groups offer a different and a better way. Curtis Martin and his Fellowship of Catholic University Students put on an annual conference for several thousand students that is respectful and thoroughly orthodox. His group is growing exponentially. The Steubenville youth conferences draw many thousands of young Catholics, too, where they hear about the love of Christ and the call to purity, chastity, and self-sacrifice.

Scott Hahn, once a charismatic himself, told me the charismatic movement was one lane coming into the church and six going out. What is the calculus for Catholic youth ministries? How many lanes in? How many lanes out?

The next national conference of McCarty’s group is in November in Indianapolis. Let us hope some fearless and faithful videographers attend.

Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy.


Selected out of 117 comments

When the absolute last of the dissenters among the ordinary laity have either come back to orthodoxy or else left the Church entirely, I fully expect that the Church’s own bureaucracy will remain populated largely by dissenters until they all die off. –Matt Landry

Mr. Ruse, while there are many things that could be said about this article, I feel the need to address two:

1. Your ignorance of the ministry and profession of youth ministry, and 2. your biased lens and divisive approach.
1. Your ignorance of the ministry and profession of youth ministry. It is quite apparent that you do not have any firsthand experience of youth ministry or NFCYM. Of course there are other ways to catechize adolescent youth. However, the NFCYM – the arm of the USCCB for youth ministry – teaches and forms youth ministry leaders in the vision for youth ministry of our bishops found in their 1997 document, Renewing the Vision. See the document here: http://www.usccb.org/about/lai…. Catholic youth ministry today is based on decades of experience, ecumenical dialogue and a multitude of current and scientific research on adolescents today and on what is commonly referred to as “youth culture.” NFCYM seeks to train and equip youth ministry leaders in parishes, empowering them to engage today’s teens through a comprehensive structure and to journey with them as they grow as disciples of the Lord, something that is very difficult in the face of parish budgets that largely ignore this vital ministry altogether. In sum, read Renewing the Vision, do some research, and do not speak on a topic of which you have almost no knowledge. Criticize the guy who spoke on Facebook if you must, but don’t speak ill of youth ministry just because you stereotype all youth ministry leaders into the category of hippy. You have spoken without any real knowledge of the ministry and profession of youth ministry.

2. Your biased lens and divisive approach. NFCYM, as a good embodiment of the Church, includes collaborating member organizations that, while all promote the advancement of quality youth ministry that is in harmony with the bishops’ vision, nonetheless represent various Catholic groups and Catholic theologies. In simple (and non-helpful) terms, this means both conservative and liberal groups WITHIN the Church. For you to harshly judge Dr. Bob McCarty and the entire NFCYM organization, and by extension the USCCB, and even youth ministry in general, based on the comments of one individual is not only unfair but wholly un-Christ-like. Put plainly, you are being divisive rather than building the Body of Christ. Go interview the conservative youth ministry organization LifeTeen, an NFCYM collaborating member. Ask them about youth ministry and its importance in the life of the Church before talking negatively about youth ministry. And go to the source, to NFCYM, to Bob McCarty, to whomever has allegedly made these comments (your article was based on pretty poor reporting – not a lot of facts and quite a bit of “some parents told me…”) and give us the facts from the horse’s mouth. I agree that the person’s (again, I have no idea who) comments sound out of turn and certainly give reason to ask questions. But as Catholics, we are called to do so in both truth AND charity. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35). All you have done is make your regular readers skeptical of a great Catholic organization and, more importantly, skeptical of a ministry that is integral to the life of the Church – integral, that is, if you believe what our bishops have to say. -Mike Buckler

Are you really so indifferent that a senior staff member of McCarty’s outfit is a public dissenter on Catholic teaching? You criticize him “if I must.” Why won’t you? My article was actually based on reading the gentleman’s Facebook page myself. I chose not to name him but I could have. I could have named one of your peers who placed a video on YouTube of a blasphemous skit from one of your conferences. It was enough that a senior staff member felt so comfortable in his dissent that he put it on Facebook. Don’t you care about this? If not, why not?

I will just repeat what Scot Hahn said about the charismatic movement. It is one lane into the Church and six lanes out. I do look around our parish and ask myself where are all the teens? This after decades of your “scientific” approach. I began my skepticism of this “great Catholic organization” as I came to understand that Bob McCarty has given a whitewash to the very clear and longstanding connection between Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts. There is trouble in this organization and someone in authority ought to do something about it. -Austin Ruse

The church absolutely has a right to intervene in politics. And the church teaches that marriage of any kind can only be between a man and woman. Anything else places you in dissent –Austin Ruse



Dissenting Catholics’ Modernity Problem


By Samuel Gregg,
October 28, 2011

Judging from the hundreds of thousands of Germans who attended and watched Pope Benedict XVI’s September trip to his homeland (not to mention the tsunami of commentaries sparked by his Bundestag address), the pope’s visit was — once again — a success. And, once again, it was also an occasion for self-identified dissenting Catholics to inform the rest of us what the Church must do if it wants to remain “relevant.” To no-one’s surprise, their bottom-line remains the same. The Church is “out of touch.” Why? Because it’s insufficiently “modern.”

By “modernizing,” progressivist Catholic activists (who, incidentally, are increasingly hard to find below the age of 60 these days) aren’t normally proposing better ways to evangelize. Instead, they usually mean changing Catholic doctrines in ways that directly contradict what the Church has always taught so that the Church becomes more, well, modern.

It would be all too easy to focus on some of the less-than-noble motivations underlying many such propositions. In many instances, it’s frankly a case of wanting the Church to affirm choices that it has always regarded as intrinsically evil. In other areas, it reveals a view of the sacraments as instruments of power rather than as what the Catechism calls “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church.”

At another level, however, the “we-must-be-more-modern” argument reflects the workings of a logic that privileges whatever is considered “contemporary” (an ever-moving target) over the knowledge imparted by Christ to His Church from its very beginning.

Such reasoning often runs along the following lines. In modernity, X is considered not good; ergo, the Church must accept X is not good. Or, modern people regard X as good or licit; ergo, the Church should teach X is good or licit.

You don’t need to be a professional philosopher to recognize that these are what logicians call non sequiturs: arguments in which the conclusions don’t follow from the premises. The fact that something is considered modern tells us nothing about its goodness or evil, let alone whether it conforms to the truth found in Divine Revelation. It also produces very strange arguments such as the claim made in 1968 (of course) by the ex-Jesuit theologian John Giles Milhaven, that “modern people” (whoever they are) by virtue of their “modernity of spirit” (whatever that means) enjoyed a type of “standing dispensation” from God to pursue what they “feel” to be good.

Such talk could be easily dismissed as reflective of the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s. There is, however, an even deeper, specifically theological problem driving these non sequiturs: the substitution of Catholic faith with what might be called a “feeling faith.”

After Vatican II, many Catholic theologians began attaching enormous significance to people’s experiences or intuitions as part of the intellectual apparatus they deployed to explain why they now believed the Church’s settled teaching on any number of issues required “updating” (i.e., overturning).

Whatever their precise formulation, beneath the surface of such rationales we can detect post-Enlightenment tendencies to (1) locate the ultimate basis for one’s views on some combination of experience, intuition, and whatever one feels to be true; and (2) distrust reason’s ability to know more-than-empirical truth.

Experience, feelings and intuition are not unimportant. They can often incline us toward the good and against error. But they don’t provide us with reasons for believing and doing A rather than B. Nor does reference to feelings help us to resolve disagreement rationally. Instead, we’re left with my feelings, your intuitions, and everyone else’s experiences.

It’s not difficult to see the problems with reconciling such positions with the Catholic understanding of Christian faith. For one thing, they marginalize the conviction that the fullness of Christian truth is to be found in the reasonable faith entrusted to and proclaimed by the Church. And the faith of that Church goes beyond the particular views held by us today to embrace the right belief (orthosdoxa) of the whole communio of believers, the living and the dead, from the apostles onward — the truth of which is confirmed by the consensus of the Church Fathers, the lives of the saints, the witness of the martyrs, and the teaching authority of the successors of Peter and the other apostles.


This message was core to one of Benedict’s key addresses in Germany, in which he quietly highlighted the distinctly provincial understanding of Catholicism articulated by dissenting groups such as the “We Are Church” movement in Germany and Austria. To truly speak of the Church, Benedict insisted,

requires us always to look beyond the particular, limited “we” towards the great “we” that is the Church of all times and places: it requires that we do not make ourselves the sole criterion. When we say: “We are Church” — well, it is true: that is what we are…. But the “we” is more extensive than the group that asserts those words. The “we” is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places. And so I always say: within the community of believers, yes, there is as it were the voice of the valid majority, but there can never be a majority against the apostles or against the saints: that would be a false majority.


A similar argument was at the core of Thomas More’s explanation of why he could not, in good conscience, accept Henry VIII’s separation of the Church in England from Rome.

More broadly, Benedict’s point illustrates that embracing the Catholic faith in its fullness means acknowledging the limits of the knowledge attainable by making the contemporary our primary reference point. Indeed, to assume that the “we” of today somehow enjoy insights that nullify what the Church has always believed on matters of faith and morals is to go some way toward denying that God ever revealed anything definitive to the Catholic Church at all. More honest dissenters have long recognized this as the logical trajectory of their position.

Of course, Catholicism doesn’t have an in-principle opposition to the post-Enlightenment world per se, any more than it allegedly locates everything that is good and true in the 13th century. Any effort to associate the fullness of Catholic faith with any one historical period risks relativizing those truths knowable by faith and reason that transcend time and bind Catholics across the ages.



Perhaps such a relativizing is what many dissenting Catholic activists want. If so, they should concede that this would mean making the Church in their own image rather than that of Christ the Logos. And there is no surer way of making the Church truly irrelevant in a modern world that desperately needs more reason and light than emotivism and darkness.

Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, The Modern Papacy, Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and most recently, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America can Avoid a European Future.


Catholics urge Vatican Cardinal to skip dissenting conference on Vatican II


By Patrick B. Craine, July 23, 2012

OTTAWA, Ontario, July 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic activists are urging a Vatican Cardinal to skip a controversial conference at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University this September that features numerous speakers strongly opposed to Catholic teaching.

The “Vatican II for the Next Generation” conference, to be hosted Sept. 27-30 by SPU’s Vatican II and 21st Century Catholicism Research Centre, is intended to honour the 50th anniversary of the Council’s opening.

In addition to numerous speakers who question Catholic teachings on issues such as abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and women’s ordination, it will feature a keynote address by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Pro-life activist John Pacheco has launched an online petition to Canada’s nuncio, Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, asking that he ensure Cardinal Turkson is aware of the speakers’ controversial views. It has 240 signatures so far.

“We would hope that a Cardinal of the Church and representative of His Holiness would avoid an occasion of scandal which would be caused by his appearance and participation,” it reads.

Among the controversial speakers is Prof. Richard Gaillardetz, a theologian at Boston College who was rebuked by his bishop in 2008 when he wrote an op-ed arguing that Barack Obama was the “pro-life candidate” in that year’s federal election because of his social policy on poverty and healthcare. He has also questioned the definitive status of Humanae vitae, in which Pope Paul VI reiterated the Church’s condemnation of contraception, and the Church’s teaching on the impossibility of women’s ordination.

The conference will also feature a panel of “witnesses” to the Council who participated in its proceedings fifty years ago, which includes Gregory Baum and Bishop Remi De Roo.

Bishop De Roo, a Council father, is a trained teacher of the new-age ‘Enneagram’ and has been a featured guest at conferences of Call to Action, a notorious dissenting organization which has been denounced by the Vatican for its opposition to Church teaching. He played a key role in the Canadian Bishops’ adoption of the Winnipeg Statement in 1968, in which they opposed Humanae vitae.

De Roo also celebrated a bizarre giant Puppet Mass, with liturgical dancers at a Nov. 6, 2008 Call to Action conference in Milwaukee.

Baum, a former priest, is particularly notorious for helping rally opposition to Humanae Vitae, and has been a prominent activist for same-sex “marriage.”

In a 2009 talk at Saint Paul University, Baum accused Pope Benedict XVI of undermining Vatican II. “A conservative movement, sponsored by the Vatican itself, remains attached to the old paradigm, overlooks the bold texts of the conciliar documents and tries to restore the Catholicism of yesterday,” he said. “Vatican II may suffer neglect for a certain time, but as an ecumenical council it cannot be invalidated.”

A plenary session will feature Fr. Gilles Routhier, a theologian at Laval University whose testimony in a 2009 trial over the Quebec government’s controversial Ethics and Religious Culture program led the judge to forbid parents from opting their children out.

Prof. Catherine Clifford, the conference organizer, told the Catholic Register that critics have taken the speakers’ views “out of context.” “I think they misrepresent the work and damage the reputations of these people,” she said.

“I think we’re at a point in the Church where the laity really need to make their voices heard,” Pacheco told LifeSiteNews. “Faithful Catholics who are loyal to the Magisterium need to have their concerns acted on by the hierarchy – no matter what the cost.”

Saint Paul University did not respond to LifeSiteNews.com by press time.

The online petition is available here.


Wall Street Journal: “As the Flame of Catholic Dissent Dies Out ”


Posted on 15 January 2010 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf – My emphases and comments.


As the Flame of Catholic Dissent Dies Out


By Charlotte Allen, January 14, 2010

Mary Daly, a retired professor at Boston College who was probably the most outré of all the dissident theologians who came to the fore of Catholic intellectual life in the years right after the Second Vatican Council, died on Jan. 3 at age 81. [Daly was so outré that she was out of the Christian religion, no?]  Back in the 1960s and 1970s, which might be called the golden age of Catholic dissidence, [I think you can extend that through the 80’s into the early 90’s.] theologians who took positions challenging traditional church teachings—ranging from the authority of the pope to bans on birth control, premarital sex, and women’s ordination—dominated Catholic intellectual life in America and Europe.




[Let us not forget the South American Liberation Theology strain.] They seemed to represent a tide that would overwhelm the old restrictions and their hidebound adherents.

Now, 45 years after Vatican II concluded in 1965, most of those bright lights of dissident Catholicism—from the theologian Hans Küng of the University of Tübingen to Charles Curran, the priest dismissed from the Catholic University of America’s theology faculty in 1987 for his advocacy of contraception and acceptance of homosexual relationships—seem dimmed with advanced age, if not extinguished. They have left no coherent second generation of dissident Catholic intellectuals to follow them. [That is because they left no coherent ideas.]

Prof. Daly certainly pushed the envelope. In 1968, she published “The Church and the Second Sex,” a book that accused the Catholic Church of oppressing and “humiliating” women by excluding them from its “patriarchal” hierarchy. The title of her most famous work, “Beyond God the Father” (1973), is self-explanatory. At some point afterward, Prof. Daly, despite being raised Catholic and earning degrees in theology and literature from three different Catholic colleges plus the University of Fribourg, left the church to embrace ever more belligerent brands of feminism.

She got into trouble with Boston College, the Jesuit institution where she had taught since 1966, for barring men from her advanced classes in women’s studies. In the wake of a sex-discrimination complaint launched by a male student, Prof. Daly and her employer engaged in a round of litigation during the late 1990s that culminated in her voluntary retirement in 2001. She spent her last years promoting vegetarianism, anti-fur activism, a protest of Condoleezza Rice’s 2006 commencement speech at Boston College, and the coining of male-baiting neologisms (an example: “mister-ectomy”). [What a charmer.]

The trajectory of her life story is not unusual among Catholic dissidents. The Young Turk of Vatican II—and pet of the progressive Catholic media of the time—was Hans Küng. A Swiss-born, movie-star-handsome priest whom Pope John XXIII had made a peritus, or theological adviser, to the council, Father Küng swept through a tour of U.S. Catholic universities to accolades in 1963. And his 1971 book questioning papal infallibility—which got him stripped of his license to teach Catholic theology in 1979—turned him into a living martyr among progressives. He is still at Tübingen (last heard from in October blasting Pope Benedict XVI’s overtures to conservative Anglicans as “angling in the waters of the extreme religious right”), but he’s 81.  [And really boring.  Remember that Kung’s position is that Vatican II didn’t go nearly far enough in causing a break with the Church’s past.]

The Belgian Dominican priest Edward Schillebeeckx, who had worked unsuccessfully to persuade the assembled bishops of the Second Vatican Council to downgrade the authority of the pope—and who was condemned in 1986 for holding that there was no biblical support for the ordaining of Catholic priests—died in December at age 95. [His theology distorted the ecclesiology of who knows how many seminarians and priests.] The Rev. Charles Curran, who was a controversial figure at Catholic University as early as 1967, when he was temporarily removed from his tenured position over his views on birth control, and who moved to Southern Methodist University after his final dismissal from Catholic two decades later, is now 75.  [If I am not mistaken, his severance from Catholic University provided that he would still receive his salary… all these years.]

Another prominent figure in liberal Catholic intellectual circles is Sister Sandra M. Schneiders, who is famous for her assertions that Jesus was a feminist and that God should be referred to as “she” as well as “he,” as well as for her advice that progressive orders of nuns treat representatives of a planned Vatican investigation like “uninvited guests.” She is also past retirement age and is listed as “professor emerita” at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif.  [Lately she has had a risible series in the ultra-dissenting fishwrap NCR on religious life.]

So where is the second generation of brilliant progressive Catholic theologians? There are plenty of liberal lay Catholics. [Who really don’t know why they are liberals, but… they are.  And they are of a certain age.] The church’s ban on artificial birth control is nearly a dead letter, a majority of Catholics say they believe their church should ordain women, and 40% have no moral objections to abortion, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. But dissident Catholicism seems to have lost steam as an intellectual movement, and not only because the issues relating to sex and papal authority that originally sparked Catholic dissidents have not changed in nearly 50 years.  [And they are dying off.]

The first-generation dissidents were products of a strong and confident traditional Catholic culture against which they rebelled, one whose intellectual standards grounded them in the faith they later came to question. Sister Schneiders, for example, earned four degrees from Catholic institutions, including the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Yet most Catholics of her generation have not passed on the tenets of their faith to their children[I think we have to say “most liberal Catholics” didn’t pass on the faith.] the offspring of the Vatican II generation tend either to be churchless or not to go to church—or, in the case of academics, to their students. It’s hard to rebel when you don’t even know what you are rebelling against.

Not that conservative Catholicism is in any better straits; it’s a vibrant but niche branch of the religion, and its leading intellectuals—Robert George, Mary Ann Glendon—aren’t theologians. But it is fair to note that when Prof. Daly died, she left behind no young Mary Dalys to continue waging her quixotic war against the faith that shaped her, whether she liked it or not.

Ms. Allen is a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s Minding the Campus Web site.

See 32 comments at Fr John Zuhlsdorf‘s blog


Top Amchurch Catechists Subvert Church’s Doctrine and Discipline


By Paul Likoudis [undated, but prior to 2008]

Los Angeles — One theme articulated over and over again at Roger Cardinal Mahony‘s recent annual Religious Education Congress is that the Catholic Church and its doctrines and discipline impede Church renewal and the enjoyment of a personal religious experience.



That was the message hammered into the heads of catechists and religious educators by speaker after speaker at the mid-February congress, and most effectively by two of the U.S. bishops’ most highly regarded catechetical and renewal experts, Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., and Bill Huebsch, a catechetical consultant to the bishops and Benziger Publishers.

But aside from the predictable Church-bashing from Mahony’s stable of religious education experts, there is the sheer banality of Rohr’s and Huebsch’s ecclesiology and their low opinion of the catechetical enterprise — even while financially benefiting from it.

Rohr, for example, spoke at length of the Church as a tyrannical and corrupt “dating service,” while Huebsch told some 700 catechists that their most important text is The Joy of Cooking and their most crucial task is learning how to dine well.

“What you see here,” one participant told The Wanderer, “is parasites, with their own agendas, feeding off the bloated, rotting carcass of Amchurch.

“It is an ironic, and tragic, spectacle to see speaker after speaker railing against the Church, all in the name of Jesus and the ‘power of transforming love.’ Were the Church not funding this charade, you could easily imagine the corporate sponsors urging their audiences to have a personal, emotional, virtual relationship with Michael Jackson or Madonna, Julia Roberts, or some other celebrity of the day.

“Why drag Jesus’ Name through all of this?

“If Rohr and Huebsch had their way, or achieved any of their goals, the Church would simply vanish.”

The banality of Mahonyism — the ideology represented by the speakers Cardinal Mahony hosts year after year at the nation’s largest gathering of religious educators, catechists, and Catholic teachers — is exemplified by professional catechist Bill Huebsch, who contrasted the “messy love” taught by Jesus with the harsh doctrines taught by the Catholic Church.

“When God came, He didn’t come as a catechism,” he said. “God did not come as a moral code or a doctrinal system or theology school. He came as a person. God is love…

“This love is messy — not an easy love. Following the law — law has boundaries that are very clear. Who’s in, who’s out? Who’s allowed to come to Communion, who’s not? Who’s a practicing Catholic, who’s not? Love is not…. When you love someone, you don’t ask, ‘Are you a good Catholic?’ Love transcends that. Theology is precise; love is not. Love is ragged around the edges. Doctrine can be collected in a book, love cannot. Love is beyond the boundaries of that. Love transcends it all. When we give a dinner party at our home, we don’t ask, ‘Are you in a valid marriage?’ ”

Huebsch went on to tell the story of a friend who died of AIDS, who was buried out of the Unitarian Church, and the lover/partner of the deceased gave an eloquent eulogy in which he explained that the most important thing he learned was: “Dust less and use the china more.”

“How many of us are going to die with unchipped china?” Huebsch continued.

“We catechists have to learn to dine. We catechists have to learn to dine to experience the kingdom of God. Period. And this is not a minor thing. This is a big thing. This is a challenge for us as catechists. …

“Sitting at the table, inviting people in — neighbors, colleagues– sitting around the table an amazing thing happens. The Risen Lord appears.”

Huebsch’s talk was titled, “The Spirituality of the Catechist.”

Huebsch’s 90-minute workshop for some 700 would-be catechists– though much of the time was allotted to his telling barnyard jokes about the amorous cats and chickens on his hobby farm in northern Minnesota — illustrates the determination of the professional catechetical establishment over the past 35 years to avoid or frustrate any transmission of the basic truths of Christianity, its dogmas, moral teachings, history, and Scripture.

In a word, none of the above shall be given to young people.

Indeed, when reviewing one article of the General Catechetical Directory, n. 235, Huebsch observed: “This book says not everything you need is in the book — so put it down”–in other words, in Huebsch’s view, there’s nothing in the book of any practical use except for one line, which instructs catechists to “prepare to share their faith in Jesus.”


Here’s The Deal

At one point, he exclaimed: “You know, here’s the deal. In catechist spirituality, to be a good catechist, the most important thing you need is not a degree in theology, it is to notice what is going on in your own life. And most of us go from day to day and we never notice what’s going on in our lives. We just keep turning the days over and we just never pause and look back and say — what happened to me? How was God’s hand in that? That’s the bedrock of a spirituality for catechists, my friends….

“And the bedrock of your catechesis is helping people stop and see what is happening in their lives and finding the hand of God in that.

“You could pour the doctrines of the Trinity into the heads of fifth graders — if that’s what you teach — if they can’t see the hand of God in their lives it makes no difference whatsoever. You cannot be saved by the doctrine of the Trinity. You can be saved by the love of the Trinity, and that love we experience in our lives when we stop and look for it.”

Huebsch’s apparent message to the catechists is that they, themselves, do not have to bother studying or knowing the doctrinal or moral teachings of the Church; all they have to do is have a feeling relationship with a culturally presented image of Jesus as a social justice activist who dined with sinners, and had no particular world-view.

A catechist with Huebsch’s view is guaranteed to be ineffectual in handing on the faith to young people.

“Because we’re so busy,” Huebsch said of catechists, “we don’t let the kids stop. We think the goal in the religious education hour is to get through the end of the lesson without causing a riot in the fifth grade.




“That is not the goal! The goal is to get the young people, or adults we work with, to identify the experiences of God in their lives. That’s the goal.”

Huebsch introduced himself as a “Vatican II Catholic.”

“I celebrate the Holy Spirit’s work at that council,” he said. “It produced a reform, which was stunning.”


The Renewer

Huebsch’s definition of himself as a “Vatican II Catholic” exemplifies a common mindset among many modernist Catholics who reject the whole history and reality of the first 1,930 years of the Church, and proselytize in favor of a Church they think was re-founded in 1965.

Few high-stature American priests exhibit this mistaken mindset more profoundly than Fr. Richard Rohr, who has had a “successful” career as a professional renewal consultant for countless parishes, dioceses, and religious orders around the globe over the past 31 years, as he told a full crowd in the arena of the Anaheim Convention Center.

Fr. Rohr was introduced as a man uniquely “in touch with a vision of the new millennium” and a “prophet for our times.”

Rohr then began, “I can never promise you, obviously, that what I am saying is perfect, true or right, but I hope you join me in this quest.” The title of his talk, “Religion as Membership vs. Religion as Transformation,” he explained, “is a little bit abstract,” and yet he encouraged his audience to listen carefully “to see if it all names our experiences.”

To fully appreciate Rohr’s address, as reported here, one must imagine his manner of speaking, its New Age pauses, emphases, the oohing and ahhing, the professorial hmmms, and the uncontrollable outbursts of laughter whenever he pronounces a distinctly “Catholic” word.

There is also a strong sense of sadness in his voice. Over and over again he acknowledges that he has been peddling a product — Church renewal — for more than 30 years that doesn’t work, and yet, he has people, such as Cardinal Mahony, who keep paying him to peddle it.

Rohr’s first acknowledgment of failure came early, when referring to the New Jerusalem community he founded in Cincinnati in 1971. The community’s first members, he said, were all committed to changing their lives, and “changing the definitions of what life means.” But now, 30 years later, “instead of changing lives, we’re emphasizing different things.” The community, he said, has become paralyzed by “group boundary issues,” such as “are you in or are you out,” “membership requirements,” “questions like annulments,” “rules for Communion/intercommunion,” “questions of access to God.”

“That’s not what the Gospels are saying,” he lamented, as he launched into his critique of what he calls “belonging systems.”

“Belonging systems” — such as the Catholic Church, which he subsequently compares to an incompetent but tyrannical dating service — “do not lead to transformation, and in fact they often become an inoculation to transformation or even a substitute for it,” he said.

“Just the fact that I am accepted and belong according to the Church rules, I can assume that I’m in love with God or know God or met God….

“We confuse the dating service with the date — all right? [laughter] — I just thought of this morning — everything about the dating service. Does the dating service like me? Do I pass the rules? Did I fill out the forms of the dating service correctly? And I think that’s a fairly good analogy for the Church: a dating service. But we think because we passed the test of the dating service and they said, ‘Well, you are compatible’ we think we’ve really gone on the date. And I think a lot of our people haven’t. I don’t think they’ve gone on the date at all. I don’t think they’re in love yet. I don’t think they’ve fallen into the hands of the living God. Hmmm. In other words, what it appears is that a lot of it is religion — about being a good Catholic — which I’m all for — but not necessarily being transformed into the mystery of God….

“Belonging systems give us a false sense of having arrived — no one is calling me a heretic or a sinner so I guess I’ve met God.”


Smells and Bells

Rohr proceeded to talk about the tensions he has discerned between the Books of Leviticus and Numbers and the Book of Exodus, explaining:

“The Church of Leviticus and Numbers is all about candlesticks, I say. How many candlesticks? And some people are really into that — smells and bells. In fact, there seems to be a whole return to it, you know. You think Jesus came to earth for smells and bells and dressing up — uh? “There’s not much indication in Exodus that that’s the issue at all. But, see when you’re not on a journey anymore and you settle down in tents how many candlesticks you’ve got becomes really important. That’s all you’ve got to worry about, y’know. What the priest is wearing–and whether it’s the right color. You see how these things, the Mickey Mouse things–I guess this is the right place to say it–huh?–can become a substitute for the real thing–the only thing–the one thing necessary… “The tent meeting far too often became in the Pentateuch the substitute for the wandering and dangerous journey… “For us, our primary refuge place is, of course, Jesus. It’s that relationship, that kiss, that date … and everything else is a substitute for it. None of us — would any of you, let a dating service independently decide or create the criteria for who you are in love with or how the relationship happens? I don’t think so…. “Now it seems to me that what happens when you make this shift, is that the real issues you look at change. The moral requirements for membership in a group usually have to do with reward/punishment systems, very often reward/ punishment systems after death, which keeps all the power out of the new, all the power out of the present. Some have said, and not without too much exaggeration, that a lot of the history of the Church has been a funeral society — much more preparing people for the next world than it is in teaching people how to meet God in this world…



“A religion of transformation is much more concerned about the now. The power is in the now. The saints called it the grace of the present moment or the practice of the presence of God. Brothers and sisters, how you do anything is actually how you do everything. Really. The key is to watch how you’re doing right now. This is it! This is it! It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven. It’s Hell all the way to Hell — ha, ha. And if you’re fighting and contentious and argumentative and needing to win and needing to be right and needing to control and needing to fix and needing to change before you can be happy — in fact, if you need to change anything before you can be happy, then you’re not happy. It has nothing to do with changing anything because happiness is an inside job.

“That’s transformed people who can talk that way,” Rohr continued. “It’s a different notion of religion. It happens now. That allows you to see everything belonging, everything connecting. That it’s all right here, right now. How I do anything is how I do everything.

“Now, only God can lead us to that new place. You can’t do it by willpower. You can’t do it by effort. You can’t do it by reading seminary textbooks — or passing courses. They don’t get you there. It’s a journey that God takes you on and God takes you through. It’s a journey that includes more than one death — the death to the things that we think we are.

“The more requirements for membership in a group have to do with following the rules of the group — which, by the way — don’t hear me ‘either/or’ — these are good rules — all right — we need them for social order; we need them to maintain the ideal; we need them to keep some sense of being together on a journey — but don’t ever make the jump that that of itself means accessibility to God. That that means availability to God because the great, great news is that, in fact, we come to God not by doing it right but ironically, shockingly, unbelievably, by doing it wrong.”


Deal With That!

Rohr continued: “And if you’re gonna call me a heretic, you better throw out the story of the Prodigal Son, better throw out the story of the Publican and the Pharisee, you better throw out the story of the Weeds and the Wheat. You’ll always have one who does it right and gets it totally wrong and one who always does it wrong and gets it totally right.

“Deal with that!

“Why did Jesus tell stupid stories like that? Why? He was not a good founder of a religion…Where we want clear black and whites, clear reward and punishment systems about who’s in and who’s out. That’s the nature of the group. That’s what you have to have to create belonging systems. And it’s not bad. But you can see why the rabbis and the scribes and chief priests were not too comfortable with Jesus. Because He didn’t put the belonging system first. He put the transformation first. And then you have this gathering together of the transformed people, then you have a belonging system that is not self-serving, that is not self-maintaining, that is not always pointing to itself but like John the Baptist, always pointing beyond itself, fingers pointing to the moon. Pointing to the mystery.”

The big mistake the Catholic Church has made, Rohr continued, is that it has placed too much emphasis on the “belonging system,” and now its efforts have backfired, as statistics related to the high attrition rate of Catholic school-educated young people from the Church demonstrate.

He told of his recent experiences in Australia, where 95% of students educated through 12 years of Catholic schools dissociate from the Church, acknowledged that Protestants do a “better job” of getting people excited about Jesus, and then suggested that the Catholic Church does a better job of “sustaining people for the long haul.”

“I really do [think that],” he said. “I think Catholicism is great at that. Catholicism is great about leading people deep, and holding them in there, but you have to ask are we holding them into life–hmmm–or are we holding them into death? Hmmm? What are we holding them into?

“If they haven’t been transformed, if the veil has never been parted, if there’s never been an ahhh-ahhh moment where the ahhh-ahhh–I’m loved–where I accept that I’m accepted, where I accept that it’s radically okay that God is God and God is in me and God is in you and this is God’s world–and all I can do is somehow surrender to it and then, like the Little Flower, we understand that all true religion is gratitude and confidence. That’s all.

“Where you don’t see confidence, you see all kinds of fear, all kinds of anxiety, you know they haven’t got it yet. When you don’t see gratitude–where I just wanna kneel and kiss the ground or kiss anything–everything becomes kissable because it’s good. It’s all okay at the core–at the foundation.

“If you don’t know that yet, brothers and sisters, you don’t know. Because that’s it. It’s all about that. Transformed people know that! And, and, and, and, I just give that as sort of a simple litmus test so that maybe, maybe you can see where you are on the journey.”

Another statistic that makes Rohr unhappy is that there is very little connection between those Catholics who attend Mass daily and those who are in “active ministry.”

“Figure that one out. I can’t… I can’t…I don’t get it. How did we get ourselves into that statistic?” he wondered.

Another statistic that disturbs him greatly is that lapsed Roman Catholics are now the second-largest “religious” denomination in the country. “They [the U.S. bishops] say, “What kind of shepherds have we been to get this statistic?’

“How can we do it better? … The answer is transformation,” Rohr suggested.

Transformed people, he continued, “are those who get it ahead of time. And you’re more usable to God. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t love all God’s people. But God needs some usable instruments that get it. So they can live lives of confidence and gratitude. I hope, brothers and sisters, that whatever I’m babbling about here will somehow make you more usable to God. That’s all: more usable. He already loves you. You can’t talk God out of it. There’s no way you can climb up any ladder of spirituality or elitism or perfection. All you can do is collapse into the great mystery. It’s not about going up. It’s all about going down.”



Rohr told how he has been active in Church renewal programs for 31 years, as a consultant to dioceses around the world, religious orders and communities, “and I’m convinced many ministries have legitimated the false self and even fortified it with religious armor. It’s not necessarily in love with God; it’s just real Catholic. Religious people are even harder to transform.”

The strongest evidence of the failure of the Church’s emphasis on a “belonging community” was the “evils that came over Christian Europe in this century. … So many people have been churched, so many people who followed all the rules and jumped all the hoops, and when great evil came, they could not see it.”

Finally, Rohr exhorted his listeners to see the “better way” that Jesus has offered us — “not about belonging to a group, but belonging to a person….

“God came to you disguised as your life,” he exclaimed. “That’ the raw material. That’s the data: what has happened to you. That’s the experience. It’s there — or nowhere. Don’t run away from it. Don’t create some idealized, fabricated realities called religion avoid the great incarnation, avoid the great presence by which God is present to your life.

“This is the real presence, first of all. And if you are able to re cognize the real presence there, you will have no trouble with the bread. You will have no trouble with the real presence in the word. You will have no trouble with the real presence in history.

“But first we have to let this ordinary thing we call our lives be the meeting place for God. That is transformative religion.”


Richard Rohr


October 4, 2007

What do you think of Richard Rohr? He spoke at our Theresian conference and I was not able to go so I do not know what he is about. My friend is always sending me his meditations from his website and I do not know if I should be engaging in this reading. –Brenda

“Father” Rohr is a dissenter from the Faith and one disgusting person. He supports the dissenting organization Call to Action, and his stance on homosexuality and the Enneagram contradict Roman Catholic teaching. He speaks in a way that shows his disdain for the Catholic Church making fun of anything distinctly Catholic. This is a man who thinks his opinions outrank the Holy See and who wishes to re-invent the Church in his own image, or get rid of the Church altogether.

There is patently no excuse for any Catholic organization, any Catholic bishop, or any Catholic priest to allow this man to speak at their events. Those that do and this includes Cardinal Mahoney, should be ashamed of themselves allowing the Faithful to be contaminated by this man’s anti-Catholic dribble and will be held to account before God for their shameful behavior and teaching. Any Catholic should avoid this man.

Categories: False Mystics, Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India, Liturgical Abuses, new age, Ordination of Women Priests Movement in India, PROTESTANTISM

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