Which religion is promoted at Catholic congress?
By Stephanie Block
The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress is quite a fixture. Catholics have been complaining about it at least since 1993 (which is as far back as my file on the subject goes, though, from the look of the articles written in that year, I’d guess this wasn’t a new issue). The most glaring fact about the Congress has been its blatant relationship with the dissident Catholic movement, Call to Action. Just which religious is being espoused here? This year’s Congress is due to be held February 26 – March 1, 2009.
A Bit of Background
Call to Action’s first significant accomplishment was the hijacking of a United States Catholic Bishops Conference in late October 1976. The conference was a triumph of Alinsky-style organizing, choreographed by the Alinsky disciple, Monsignor Jack Egan of Chicago. Delegates from across the US rubber-stamped nine position papers that had been prepared by the organizers in advance, during well-publicized “hearings” around the country.
Handpicked, “progressive” participants and tightly controlled use of the microphone ensured that there was no Catholic objection to ratifying these position papers, which demanded that:
Call to Action continues to support these positions.
On Pentecost in 1996, the group launched its “We Are Church: A Catholic Referendum,” repeating the same demands whilst provoking Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, to excommunicate all Call to Action members within his diocese, a move which the Vatican upheld.
By contrast, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony was reported “to hold no position on Call to Action…” though he made no effort to hinder distribution of “We Are Church” petitions around the Archdiocese, including a function he attended. More significantly, over the years, scores of Call to Action speakers have addressed the annual Los Angeles Archdiocesan Religious Education Congress.
This Year Is No Different
The 2009 Congress continues the tradition of anti-Catholic speakers, beginning with its keynoter, the non-denominational Evangelical minister Jim Wallis. Reverend Wallis is a progressive political activist who founded and edits Sojourners magazine and directs an organization by the same name. In anticipation of the 1996 elections, Wallis convened what was, at the time, called an “evangelical para-church political action group,” Call to Renewal, which included several Catholic “collaborating organizations” – specifically the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the United States Catholic Conference – Department of Social Development and World Peace, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Pax Christi-USA, Maryknoll Justice and Peace, and Catholic Charities, USA.
In 2006, Call to Renewal merged boards with Sojourners and, anticipating the 2008 presidential elections, Wallis began a more ambitious political project, Faith in Public Life. Faith in Public Life, like its predecessor Call to Renewal, was designed as a “faith” response to the “religious right.” Organizational rhetoric complains that the “religious right” has abandoned the issues of “social and economic justice” for a “narrow focus” on abortion and homosexuality. What it doesn’t advertise, however, are that many of the groups in its network are abortion and homosexual rights advocates.
Another speaker at the Archdiocesan Congress is the Rev. Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest. Rohr has travelled around the country with Jim Wallis, presiding at ecumenical Communion services, called “Thomas Masses,” for Wallis’ progressive, political rallies. Liberationist Rev. Virgilio Elizondo, founder of The Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) is also a scheduled speaker. Elizondo has, in the past, stated publicly that spirituality is not based on dogmas, doctrines, laws, or directions but that, “We are called to be architects of a new earth and a new heaven.” The list goes on and on.
Well-known Call to Action speakers include Rev. Patrick Brennan, Rev. Michael Crosby, Sr. Fran Ferder, Thomas Groome, and Dr. Megan McKenna. Other dissidents include Sr. Barbara Fiand, Dr.Tom Beaudoin, Rev. John Cusick, Rev. Ken Deasy, Monsignor Ray East, Rev. Richard Fragomeni, Greer Gordon, David Haas, Rev. Marty Haugen, Rev. John Heagle, Rev. Brian Massingale, Fr. Chris Ponnet, and Sr. Barbara Reid.
One has to wonder, considering the ongoing paedophile scandal that embroils the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, why Cardinal Mahony insists on supporting this doctrinally scandalous escapade…oh, wait. Did we just answer the question?
This article was taken from Spero News, February 25, 2009.
Stephanie Block is the editor of Los Pequenos - a New Mexico-based publication. Her columns are made possible by the sponsorship of generous individuals who believe information about the development and dissemination of progressive ideology needs to be more widely understood. Please fell free to share -- acknowledging authorship -- these articles with others. If you would like more frequent publication of Stephanie Block's work, tax-deductible donations can be sent to: Catholic Media Coalition - PO Box 427 Great Cacapon, WV 25422 Attn: Progressive Watch