Thursday, August 26, 2010

Church reform activists get ready for Pope's trip to UK

The Guardian reports that:

"A Catholic speakers' bureau is being launched ahead of next month's papal visit to provide alternative views on controversial church issues such as child abuse, women's ordination, married priests and homosexuality. Catholic Voices for Reform will go head to head with Catholic Voices, an established group which has recruited and trained 20 media-friendly "ordinary" Catholics to articulate traditional church positions before and during Benedict XVI's four-day tour. The new organisation, unlike its older and more conformist counterpart, will call for a wholesale transformation of the papacy and the Vatican. It will offer the media a chance to hear the views of Catholics who are "deeply concerned at the present state of the church"..."

According to one of the constituency groups of Catholic Voices for Reform, Catholic Women's Ordination, the new entity will be launched via a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on September 7th at St. Andrew's Church on Short Street, London.

Reuters also reports that:

"Catholic Women's Ordination (CWO), will have its message plastered on the side of the buses as they travel along key routes, including past Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, where the pope is set to deliver a speech to Britain's civic society on September 17. The group has paid 15,000 pounds ($23,130) for 15 buses to carry the message "Pope Benedict - Ordain Women Now!" for a month."

"We do not want to be disruptive, but I think the church has got to change or it will not survive," CWO spokeswoman Pat Brown said.

Interestingly, Pat interviewed with the original Catholic Voices (the traditional one) and was rejected. She reported on her experiences and asked the reason for her rejection. She was told: “We wondered about your strongly held views on the ordination of women priests. This project is all about communicating better the Church’s teaching to people unfamiliar with Catholicism rather than opening up debates within the Church.” In other words, we want to pretend that there is no dissent in the Church and independent-minded Catholics need not apply.

From that experience came the impulse to form Catholic Voices for Reform: "We will fill in the gaps that Catholic Voices will not touch and be a group not afraid to tackle the difficult questions. CWO is initiating this media group and spokespeople, from other reform groups, have already agreed to be speakers. This will enable us all to talk on a variety of issues, especially the culture of silence and silencing of the loyal opposition to Vatican views. Clearly this will involve a wide range of issues, sexual abuse, homosexuality, women's position in the church, reform of the priesthood etc. and the present way the RC Church makes decisions and is governed. A call to find again the reforming values of Vatican II will be at the centre of our concerns."

Stay tuned because this trip should get very interesting...

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