Mary Ruth Monsour's warning of the establishment here in Australia of the US body Voice of the Faithful ("Dissident US group establishing a foothold in Australia", September AD2000) is timely and certainly should concern loyal Catholics.
It is worth noting that there already exist here in Australia, organisations whose aims are very similar to those of VOTF and include working for the "restructuring" of the Church". Some of these include: Women and the Australian Church (WATAC), whose "Issues and Concerns" include "to work to change oppressive Church structures in Church and society and in particular to address the issue of the ordination of women".
Australian Reforming Catholics (ARC) has a Charter which includes the vision of "a Church in which all positions of ministry and leadership are open to all".
Catalyst For Renewal (CFR), as indicated in the above article, has announced its support for VOTF. Featuring on CFR'S website among the "sample conversation themes", under the heading "Church", is the following: "What are we talking about? A new ecclesiology underlies just about everything else we would want to consider, such as priesthood and associated issues; authority, power and wealth in the Church; divorce and remarriage; the structure and life of parishes; the election of bishops; the role of the Church in the civil order; new forms of ministry; the place of various segments of the population in the Church, e.g., young adults, women, gays, professional people, young parents, the aged, etc, the pastoral rather than legalistic approach."
Some of the weekly Newsletters of the Commission for Australian Catholic Woman (CACW), which we began receiving via email in July 2002, as well as promoting material for the above groups, featured the websites of dissident US organisations such as FutureChurch and Call to Action. More recently the Newsletter has been focusing on employment, professional leadership training for women, gender equity, Women's Rights (including support for the ratification of CEDAW, which promotes reproductive health, a euphemism for abortion rights), social justice (including Native Title) and environmental issues, such as promotion of the International Year of Fresh Water and of course inclusive language.
Faithful Catholics should support those bishops who, by ensuring that the faith is protected from the influence of dissident groups, are acting as true shepherds to their flocks.
ST MICHAEL'S GROUP