Thursday, February 07, 2008

For Those Who Think I Was Too Harsh About The LA Congress

Read this article from the California Catholic Daily

Mostly the same old line-up
What to expect at this year’s Los Angeles Religious Education Congress

“Lift Your Gaze … See Anew,” is the theme for this year’s (Feb. 28-March 2) Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. Though sponsored by the Los Angeles archdiocese, the congress, held yearly in Anaheim, has become notorious for its offering of speakers who openly dissent from Church teaching. This year’s speakers include Richard Gaillardetz and Scott Appleby, who both have expressed doubts about the binding authority Pope of John Paul II’s 1995 declaration, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, that said the Church hasn’t the authority to ordain women. The claim that the document was infallible because it expresses the universal and ordinary magisterium is problematic, said Gaillardetz in a 1996 Louvain Studies article, since, in his view, the pope was not teaching in union with the bishops. In an interview with in the July 2002 U.S. Catholic, Appleby opined "that we are on the brink of sacrificing the Eucharist to the insistence on an all-male, celibate clergy. I wish we had a sufficient number of priests, but we clearly do not." As ever, this year’s congress will feature speakers associated with Call to Action, a group that dissents from Church teaching on homosexuality, women’s ordination, and contraception, among others. One of these speakers, Fr. Michael Crosby, at the 2006 congress decried the Church’s “clericalism, sexism, and heterosexism.” The Church, he said, has “unequal power relationships between lay and clerical castes, between women and men, between homosexual and heterosexual people. We have structured, institutionalized sexual apartheid, which is sinful!" Other Call to Action speakers featured at this year’s congress are Sister Fran Ferder and Sister Barbara Fiand. In 2002, Ferder told the National Catholic Reporter that, "central to a more inclusive, open system, is, of course, the need to welcome sacramental ministers from all lifestyles and both genders.” Another congress speaker this year, Fr. John Heagle (who with Ferder co-directs TARA -- Therapy and Renewal Associates -- in Seattle), told The Social that the Church needs to listen to the “love stories of all the people.” In the past, he said, moral theologians failed to listen “to the voices of married persons, single people, or the gay and lesbian community as well.” Megan McKenna returns to the congress this year. Self described as a “writer, theologian, storyteller, missionary,” McKenna has observed that bishops used Pope John Paul II “to push issues of sexuality, marriage, and issues related to birth/gender and abortion -- worthy causes, but in the light of the plight of the world, or the teachings of Jesus in the Scriptures, not the issues that we will be judged on if we are Catholics/Christians.” A workshop, “Is There Salvation Outside the Catholic Church? Are Other Churches ‘True’?” will be led by Fr. Alexei Smith, director of the Los Angeles archdiocese’s ecumenical office; Fr. John Bakas, dean of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles; and an Episcoplian, the Rev. Gwynne Guibord. Until 2002, Guibord was the ecumenical liaison officer for the Metropolitan Community Church, an openly homosexual group. When the MCC abolished her office in 2002, Guibord, who was in a "committed relationship" with another woman, approached Los Angeles Episcopal bishop John Bruno and became a postulant. Two years later, Bruno ordained Guibord a deacon; she was ordained an Episcopal priest in January 2005. The former rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Fr. Richard Coleman, will address physician-assisted suicide at the congress. Though in the past Coleman has spoken in favor of the civil recognition of life-long homosexual relationships, his treatment of assisted suicide has been well in line with Church teaching. Addressing the subject of conscience, as well as euthanasia, will be Fr. Richard Benson, moral theology professor and academic dean at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. Benson’s articles, published in the Los Angeles archdiocesan newspaper, the Tidings, have displayed fidelity to Church teaching.
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