Archbishop Myers wary of McChesney

Archbishop Myers wary of McChesney

Arcbishop John Myers of Newark has expressed a lack of confidence in the US bishops’ conference’s child protection advocate. Myers, responding to an invitation to speak at a Voice of the Faithful event along with Kathleen McChesney, said: “I can only say that her decisions and the conduct of her office leave more than a few Bishops for whom she technically works in a state of perplexity.” The letter doesn’t get any more specific, but an archdiocesan spokesman said Myer’s disappointment with McChesney relates partially to her several meetings with Voice of the Faithful groups.

Myers has banned VOTF from forming chapters and meeting on church property in his archdiocese. It’s interesting that the newspaper article gives a slightly more honest appraisal of VOTF than some other newspapers:

Voice of the Faithful, which claims more than 25,000 members nationwide and contends it is mainstream and loyal to church teachings, has attracted many liberal Catholics open to far-reaching changes that Myers has condemned.

It contends that it is faithful, although that has yet to be proven adequately.

In his letter, Myers wrote that he has been investigating the group and has determined “it is aligned or being aligned with groups in the Church which are clearly in dissent from formal Church teaching. I think it would be a serious mistake for the Church to promote in any way an organization which is counter to its own teachings.”

That seems to be the crux of Myers’ problem with McChesney: that she would lend credence to a group that undermines the Church’s teachings.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Todd,

    You obviously haven’t been reading this site very long. I’ve been documenting VOTF’s associations with groups like Call to Action for a while. And there is the matter of the heterodox materials that it posts on its web site as recommended reading. and to counter protests that they are being “middle of the road” by presenting both points of view, there is no corresponding orthodox treatment.

    I’m sure Myers is doing his homework, but he doesn’t have to prove it to everyone who writes to him. That you got an answer at all surprises me even more.

    It’s not traditionalist factions that are doing the cover ups. As we see in the case in Richmond today, it’s the liberal factions who are covering the tracks of those who are of like mind to them.

    It is not for the Church to prove that VOTF is heterodox, but VOTF to prove that is orthodox to the contrary of the evidence it has presented by its convention last year in which almost every speaker contradicted Church teaching and the ridiculous “constitution” for the Church that they proposed and never refuted.

  • 25,000 members out of 50 million or so Catholics should not grant VOTF special status. It is just one voice out of many. It just happens to be one that is has been getting a disproportinate amount of press. It is not the only reform group or lay group in the Church. There are hundreds of others who are more interested in fixing things from within than in getting press for itself at the expense of the unity of the Church

  • Todd,

    Yes, things can and should change. But the things VOTF proposes to be changed won’t fix anything and will only make it worse.

    And I dispute your contention that bishops who did cover ups with orthodox. Orthodoxy means literally “right practice.” What they didn’t wasn’t any more in line with Gospel Truth than wanting to undermine Church teaching.

  • Joe, you’re right. I mixed up orthodox and orthopraxis. But what I meant was orthodox. And there is a connection between the two. It’s when they don’t connect in someone’s action that it becomes hypocrisy. Someone must be both to be a true Catholic. I don’t care about factions. I don’t buy into the political distinctions of conservative, liberal, traditionalist, and so on. To be honest, none of them adequately describes me. All I want is to be true to Jesus Christ. Everything else is pointless.

    Have you read the suggested constitution? It’s not just about the governance of the Church in US. It’s about modeling the Church’s governance on the US government, right up to term limits and elections for Pope. If you think things are bad in the Church now, wait until you have elections and campaigns.

    In fact, if you want to see where it would lead, check out the Anglican Communion.

  • Todd,

    I’ve seen VOTF’s internal communications and heard the minutes of their meetings and seen the text of talks given by invited speakers. That’s evidence enough for me. I won’t bother reprinting it here. Do a search in my archives and then check out Carol McKinley’s bog for even more.

    The group’s leadership has spoken for itself. They are a minority group that wants to pretend it speaks for everybody. Even in situations where some pro-VOTF parishioners want to form a chapter and have a meeting to “vote” on whether to do it, time and again, those who want to speak against the idea are refused and when the vote goes against VOTF, they form a chapter anyway.

    If this is the model for structural change and collaboration that they propose, then I’ll find a different one. I’ll judge them not by what they claim, but by what they do.

  • Tod wrote:

    “VOTF proposals should be examined carefully, then judged on individual merit. They no more have all the answers than the bishops do. But hand-wringing over peripherals deflects us from the core issues.”

    If you’d like, Todd, I’d be happy to send you and anyone else the original “Voice of the Faithful” proposal—a clear proposal outlining a Roman Catholic Church based on the Constitution of the United States.

    It has disappered from the web-site…maybe because it was “examined carefully” and found wanting.

    Unlike, say, archdiocesan records keepers, virtual groups such as VOTF can say one thing one day, and simply delete it the next.

    Many people, however, have saved what VOTF has proposed. I invite you to examine it.

    Again, you and anybody else are more then welcome to view the group’s vision of the Church. It _is_ a core issue.

    In the Risen Christ,


  • Todd,

    You’re not getting it and you seem to be intentionally avoiding getting it. At this point, I think it would be pointless in continuing this conversation.

  • Todd the problem is that VOTF tries to put forth that it is THE Voice of the Faithful. If one seeks to be THE voice one must be totally inclusive. One may not exclude those with whom one disagrees. When an organization excludes, that can only mean one thing: it has an agenda and it expects loyalty to that agenda. So if one looks at who is excluded, one can deduce the agenda. From what has been reported here and elsewhere, VOTF excludes those who uphold Church teachings especially those regarding apostolic succession.

    The fact that VOTF excludes is further evidence that they are a minority viewpoint.  The important thing is for every other lay group and ordinary lay person to make it clear that their voice is just as important a voice in the Church.  If the Bishop meets with VOTF, he should have to meet with the Kof C, Opus Dei, Blue Army of Fatima, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Holy Name of Jesus, Altar Society, Secular Franciscans and EVERY other lay organization with the Church including parish councils. The same is true at the parish level. If a VOTF chapter exists they should have no more voice or say in the parish than any other organization. They should not be allowed to be a voice of division. Just one voice among many. 

    The trick will be avoiding the sense that being in VOTF accomplishes something. We Americans are addicted to functionalism. If something is functional it must be good. The cure is making sure that other lay groups have the same access and abilty to be functional and that the laity understand that our vocation is to our families and the world.

    There are many good organizations that are not allowed to use parish property because of liability concerns or the parish priest not having the time to monitor them or not being particularly interested in them. I don’t understand why this group should be allowed access when other groups are often denied access. Why should this group be allowed to sap priests already precious time with their power ploys and divisive antics.

  • Todd,

    Again, you’re wrong. No group has the inherent right to assemble on church property. The Church can and does refuse to recognize certain groups as Catholic and/or as beneficial to the faith. Just because “Catholics” for a Free Choice claims to speak for pro-abortion Catholics doesn’t mean it gets to meet on Church property. Sheesh.