Some stunning news from the "other" Catholic diocese in my state. The Virginian-Pilot reports today that the Richmond Diocese rejected Pax Christi's request to hold the launch of its Hampton Roads chapter at Holy Family Catholic Church in Virginia Beach.
The chapter was launched last week with speeches from none other than Bishop Walter Sullivan, the retired leader of the Richmond Diocese and a past president of Pax Christi, and Marie Dennis, the global-concerns director for Maryknoll, the Catholic missionary order, and co-president of Pax Christi International. Not having access to a Catholic venue, the kickoff event was held at Virginia Wesleyan College, a Methodist school in Virginia Beach.
Asked Tuesday why the event was rejected, Vincent Sansone, the diocesan theologian who vets proposed speakers, said that Pax Christi is not a diocesan organization. The vetting requirement was decreed by current Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo weeks after he succeeded Sullivan as the diocese's leader in 2004. The diocese's guidelines state that speakers must be "in good standing in the Church" and provide proof they've taken a course in protecting against child abuse. They also must provide a resume and a letter from their bishop or pastor "attesting to their orthodoxy."
Richmond's own former bishop is not sufficiently orthodox for them???
Ironically, as Whispers in the Loggia points out, while DiLorenzo is trying to exclude Richmond's local Pax Christi, the Pope has nominated Pax Christi International's other co-president Monsignor Laurent Monswengo Pasiya to head one of Africa's largest territories, the Archdiocese of Kinchasa. The blog also says that Monswengo is expected to be elevated to cardinal.
As a coda, I'm happy to report that in Arlington we have no such problems. Local Pax Christi folks have complete access to Our Lady Queen of Peace, thanks to the shepherd of its Hispanic community, Fr. Joe Nangle, OFM, a long time local Pax Christi leader.