Pressure Groups Push for Revolution Inside the Catholic Church
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property—TFP sent the letter below to the nation’s bishops to express its concern about reformist pressure groups taking advantage of the present crisis to foment revolution inside the Church.
June 1, 2002
Mr. Thomas McKenna, the American TFP’s Vice President, recently sent you and all the other bishops a copy of a full-page ad we published in The Washington Times on April 11 titled “The Church, Holy and Immortal, Shall Prevail!” This was the first phase of a nationwide campaign to defend the Church in face of the current upheaval. The many bishops who responded were all supportive. In the campaign’s second phase, the statement was sent to all 48,000 priests in the country and to 9,000 religious. Currently, our campaign is in its third phase. The statement continues to be published in other papers and distributed in flier form. About 400,000 copies of the enclosed flier have gone out.
In following the news from around the country, we have become painfully concerned as to how the crisis surrounding the sexual-abuse scandals is unfolding. We would like to share these concerns with you and all members of the U.S. hierarchy.
Although the crisis lies more immediately within the spiritual sphere, it also affects profoundly the whole temporal sphere within which the TFP acts.
We are worried, seeing how a reformist pressure movement is beginning to take shape within the ranks of the laity. This movement is taking advantage of the crisis to foment revolution inside the Church, and it enjoys extensive coverage from the secular media.
This subversive intervention is all the more improper if we consider that the real solution has already been given by appropriate authority in the April 23-24 meeting of the American Cardinals with the Pope in Rome. The “Final Statement” issued at the conclusion of this meeting presents clearly both the problem and the effective measures that must be implemented to resolve it. Point 5 of the part on Principles, for example, states:
“5) Given the doctrinal issues underlying the deplorable behavior in question, certain lines of response have been proposed:
“a) The Pastors of the Church need clearly to promote the correct moral teaching of the Church and publicly to reprimand individuals who spread dissent and groups which advance ambiguous approaches to pastoral care;
“b) A new and serious Apostolic Visitation of seminaries and other institutes of formation must be made without delay, with particular emphasis on the need for fidelity to the Church’s teaching, especially in the area of morality, and the need for a deeper study of the criteria of suitability of candidates to the priesthood.” (Zenit, 4/25/02)
We see the crisis being presented quite differently, however, by an alliance of the secular media and reformist pressure groups. From child abuse, the problem becomes Church government and doctrine.
This metastasizing of the problem is illustrated by an affirmation reportedly made by Dr. James Muller: “Pedophilia is only a symptom of a disease. The disease is absolute power” (as quoted by Mary Rourke in the Los Angeles Times, 4/23/02). Dr. Muller is the president of Voice of the Faithful, a movement that somehow resembles a poisonous mushroom, for it appeared overnight; it is growing fast thanks to the media and assistance from such long-standing groups as Call to Action; and it holds positions that clash with Church teaching.
To advance its agenda, the media-reformist alliance must first shake the trust of the faithful in their priests and bishops. To achieve this a veritable army of muckrakers was set in motion whose claims and findings are constantly paraded in the public eye. Additional pressure is being brought to bear by orchestrated efforts to seriously undermine Church funding—apparently a Call to Action idea (see Rourke)—thus crippling financial resources already burdened by a growing number of lawsuits seeking damages for sexual abuse. In a vain attempt to legitimize their subversive actions, reformists cast themselves as American patriots, with allusions to “the Boston Tea Party” and the use of slogans like “no donation without representation.”
It is from within, and conditioned by this hurricane of pressure, that reformists make their demands: empower the laity; eliminate, curtail, or render meaningless all priestly, episcopal, and Papal authority; make priestly celibacy optional; ordain women; change Church teaching on birth control, divorce, abortion, and homosexuality; and so forth.
In a May 27, 2002, article in America, retired Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco compared the present crisis to the Reformation and the French Revolution. Indeed there are analogies, both between those two historical upheavals (cf. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, 1993, p. 17), and between them and the reformists’ agenda today.
For example, reformist pressure groups would love to see the bishops use the Dallas meeting to abdicate from their rights and responsibilities following the example of the French nobility during the French Revolution, on August 4, 1789.
Reformists entertain hopes that Dallas will lead to the creation of lay boards at the national, diocesan, and parish level to “oversee” the clergy. Reformist pressure groups such as Voice of the Faithful advocate “a general assembly of lay people to be consulted, potentially, on everything including finances, personnel and liturgy”(Pam Bullock, The New York Times, 5/31/02; our emphasis). This “general assembly of lay people” would mirror the Estates General that initiated the revolutionary process that toppled the French monarchy.
Reformists want to create a type of national lay advisory board on sexual abuse, which might parallel the “Committee of Public Safety,” the group of revolutionaries that radicalized the process, leading in a short time to the Terror.
Today’s reformists look at the clergy the same way the Jacobins looked at the aristocrats during the French Revolution, in other words, as imbecilic, arrogant, oppressive, and corrupt (e.g., Fr. Andrew Greeley, America, 5/27/02).
The analogies continue. Reformists see today’s laity as the Jacobins saw the sans culottes (the revolutionary plebeians): they alone are capable of leading, they alone are virtuous and immaculate. Ironically, the bloodstained plebeian Robespierre was known as “the Incorruptible.” Of such stuff, revolutionary myths are made.
Based on our broad contact with American Catholic public opinion, we conclude that these reformist pressure groups do not represent average American Catholics. The latter are often silent, but they love the Church, as holy and immortal today as ever. They love everything associated with the Church. They love the Papacy and the Church’s hierarchical structure.
Obviously, this silent majority of American Catholics is deeply hurt by the present crisis. Their hearts bleed profusely for the victims of so much criminal abuse. Theirs, however, are not the hearts of revolutionary firebrands, but the hearts of sons, the hearts of daughters. American Catholics are hurt, but they are not rebellious.
In and beyond Dallas, the struggle continues between the Church and the media-reformist pressure groups alliance. The American TFP is doing what it can to bring hope and perspective to Catholics across the land. We are moved to do this out of love for the Church, whose hierarchical structure was divinely instituted by Our Lord.
Dallas, however, is the immediate concern. As Your Excellency meets with other bishops to address the crisis, the American TFP’s directors, members, friends, and supporters around the country will be praying for you, asking the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, to assist you with His gifts, granting you wisdom and strength to resist heroically the subversive agenda being pushed by the media-reformist alliance.
Asking for your blessing and prayers for our efforts, I remain,
In Jesus and Mary,
Raymond Earl Drake
Published in The Dallas Morning News, Thursday, June 13, 2002.