Some members of Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful appear to be taking steps to make formal that has been informally a desire of many hearts for some time – the creation of an “American Catholic church”:
In January, ex-Jesuit Robert Blair Kaiser, co-president of TakeBackOurChurch.org, formally announced the American Catholic Council, “aimed at creating a new kind of Church, both Catholic and American.” The proposal for such a council goes back to the summer 2007 newsletter of the Association for the Rights of Catholic in the Church – ARCC.
Reminiscent of the first Call to Action conference, convened in Detroit in 1976 amid bicentennial high hopes of creating a “democratic Catholic” church, the American Catholic Council will also meet in Detroit in the fall of 2011, the 35th Anniversary of that first Call to Action conference and the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Again, like the original Call to Action Conference of 1976, the American Catholic Council is being preceded by several years of preparation that include “hearings” and “recommendations” about Church “problems.”
Of course, any “church” set up outside the authority of the legitimate successors to the apostles – the pope and the bishops united to him – is de facto in schism. Yet the instigators of this movement are trying to side-step the “schism” charges:
Kaiser and Miller say there will be nothing schismatic about creating an American Catholic Church, modeled after all on “the Maronites, the Melchites, the Byzantines, the Copts and sixteen other autochthonous churches in the Middle East that are loyal to the pope, but glory in their own governance, their own married clergy, and their own liturgies.”
Frankly, this is an insult to the various Eastern Catholic Churches that are in union with Rome. Unlike this proposed “American Catholic church,” those Churches hold to the same faith as the Roman Catholic Church. As St. Paul write, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). The Eastern Catholic Churches and the Roman Catholic Church make up “one body” because they hold to “one faith”; the new “American Catholic church,” however, appears to reject many parts of the “one faith,” such as the moral teachings on abortion and homosexuality.
I also found the following statement rich in irony:
Kaiser and TakeBackOurChurch.org co-founder Robert Miller are extremely supportive of the idea, speaking about it at Call to Action and associated groups’ conferences for some time, promoting an autochthonous – that is, “native” – American Catholic Church. Being American and therefore, presumably, holding democratic ideals as a cultural birthright, this new, American Catholic “church” would elect its bishops and write a constitution for itself “that carefully puts aside the Rome-based secretive, half-vast, culturally-conditioned legalisms codified in canon law in return for the kind of servant Church envisioned at Vatican II.”
These people reject the “culturally-conditioned legalisms” of Rome, yet they desire above all things to have a church which is 100% culturally American. Granting their argument that current Catholic laws are “culturally-conditioned” by Rome (which I think is a dubious statement), I would much rather follow laws that are culturally-conditioned by a culture with 2,000 years of Catholic history behind it, rather than laws culturally-conditioned by a 200-year-old Protestant and narcissistic American culture.
(I also wonder what they mean by “secretive, half-vast”. The code of Canon Law has been published for all to read – what is “secretive” about that? And what in the world is meant by “half-vast”? Is that like “half-fat” or “slightly pregnant”?)
Please pray for the instigators of this movement that they might recognize that true Christian discipleship lies in obedience to those Christ has put in authority in the Church.