Seems that the bill introduced in Connecticut to put lay boards in charge of Catholic parishes has its roots in Voice of the Faithful. The Fratres blog and the National Catholic Register have interesting articles outlining the connection. For those who haven't kept up with VOTF, the group aims to democratize the Church along the lines of protestant denominations. You know -- lay election of pastors and bishops, lay control of parishes, ordination of women, etc. Like Rahm Emanuel VOTF believes in never wasting a crisis. Thus the sex abuse scandals are useful, not as a call to restore orthodoxy and fight dissent, but an opportunity to further undermine the faith of our fathers and bring the Church more into line with the vision of Martin Luther and his fellow revolutionaries.
Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, addressing a group of Catholic school principals, warned, "If this bill were to be enacted, your bishop, would have virtually, virtually no real relationship with the 87 parishes…they could go off independently, some of them could break off from the Church if they wished, and go their own way as has happened, for example, with the Episcopal Church. And the pastors would be figureheads, simply working for a board of trustees." The power of the purse is the power to control.
That's exactly why dissent groups like VOTF and Call to Action want laity to control Church finances. Unfortunately for them, Bill 1098 is unconstitutional on its face and the Connecticut bishops aren't their only adversaries. In an article on Courant.Com's Capitol Watch page, Senate Republican leader John McKinney is calling on democrats to cancel the hearings. "That bill is patently unconstitutional,'' McKinney said Monday. "I don't know any lawyer who would argue otherwise.'' McKinney, an Episcopalian, called the law "offensive to Catholics and non-Catholics alike."
I'm really interested in finding out more about Tom Gallagher, the "devout" Catholic who started all this. I found an article he wrote on Church finances in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), the Catholic dissenter's favorite mouthpiece. That doesn't necessarily disqualify his views, but it certainly puts him in the company of many who have attacked fundamental doctrines of the Church. Is he only concerned about financial accountability or does he share NCR's pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-same sex marriage, etc. views? Does he see Church finances as the lever and fulcrum to shift the Church toward the VOTF model? It's a possibility in search of supporting data.
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