Detroit prelate wants Catholic assembly canceled

Perhaps it was only a matter of time.

The Archdiocese of Detroit has warned Catholics to stay away from a national conference of liberal Catholics to be held in Detroit next year. Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron, meanwhile, has call upon organizers of the conference to cancel their plans, saying they are in opposition to the Catholic faith.

Vigneron has his sights set on limiting the impact of the American Catholic Council, a movement aimed “to bring together a network of individuals, organizations, and communities to consider the state and future of our Church, according to the council’s web site.

For those not familiar with the council or its planned conference, set for next June in Detroit, the following are questions and answers taken from the council’s Web site:

Who is behind this gathering?

Catholics, committed to the principles of Vatican II. We ground ourselves in our common baptism giving us rights and responsibilities to continue the mission of Christ on earth. We are a movement of individuals and representatives of organizations committed to the fullness of the Catholic Church. As Vatican II Catholics we are united under a new banner, the American Catholic Council.

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What are the principles of Vatican II?

The Church is the community of all baptized faithful—all of whom have rights and responsibilities as Catholic Christians. The Church should be engaged with and in the world. The Holy Spirit is alive and working in all of the baptized faithful. The Church (and particularly its liturgies and sacraments) should be open, understandable, responsible, and inclusive. The Church should be a model of the Gospel–in process as well as mission.

What are your goals?

To foster and facilitate assemblies of Catholics on local and regional levels, to learn about the roles and responsibilities of all Catholics, as envisioned by Vatican II, and then to meet in a Council to give voice to all Baptized Catholics. At this Council, we hope to proclaim our common belief of those rights and responsibilities.

When will it happen?

Pentecost weekend, June 10-12, 2011. This is the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and the 35th anniversary of Call to Action in Detroit which examined the impact and implications of Vatican II on the US Catholic Church.

Where will it happen?

Detroit, Michigan—in a newly refurbished convention center and newly renovated hotels along Detroit’s renaissance showplace riverfront.

Who will organize it?

The ACC Planning Committee, taking into consideration input from local and regional assemblies.

Who can attend?

Anyone genuinely interested in respectfully addressing the future of the Catholic Church in the USA can attend the local or national gatherings. We value hearing the voices of a wide spectrum of committed Catholics. We expect to see attendance from all over the USA with observers from other countries as well.

What do you want to do? What’s the agenda?

We want to reinvigorate the promise of Vatican II to create a more responsive, accountable Church that calls on the active participation of all people and a Church that more closely models our experience in the U.S. And we want to provide a set of principles outlining the rights and responsibilities of all Catholics. We can start by listening to the authentic experiences, the concerns, and the voices of all of the people of God. It is this listening process which is at the foundation of the assemblies and the eventual council.

How will you structure the meeting?

We will have presentations by thoughtful Church historians and theologians. We will then invite all to reflect on their experience of following Jesus and being Church. Through this dialogue, we will finalize a statement of our rights and responsibilities and develop strategies for change. Our goal is to produce recommendations that will move our Church into the 21st century and reflect the best thinking of the people of God. And we will celebrate.

How will you structure the local meetings?

Grounded in prayer, these assemblies of Catholics will provide opportunities for people to learn, to share their stories, and to offer suggestions for the future of their Church In 1975-76, Cardinal Dearden and the U.S. bishops held such meetings. We will do the same.

How will you structure the local meetings?

Grounded in prayer, these assemblies of Catholics will provide opportunities for people to learn, to share their stories, and to offer suggestions for the future of their Church In 1975-76, Cardinal Dearden and the U.S. bishops held such meetings. We will do the same.

How and where will you find these speakers?

We have issued “a request for papers” to encourage men and women to come forward with their thoughts and inspiration. Many of these are already on our website. In listening assemblies around the country, we hope to hear new American Catholic voices. We invite you to envision how a post-Vatican Church might look at its best. A tentative program of the National Event will be issued early in 2010 and we will begin accepting early discounted reservations.

How will you structure these local meetings?

Grounded in prayer, these assemblies of Catholics will provide opportunities for people to learn, to share their stories, and to offer suggestions based upon personal experience for the future of their church. In 1975-76, Cardinal Dearden and the U.S. bishops held such meetings. We are doing the same.

What will come out of the meetings?

A collection of the voices of committed Catholics and the position papers of experts will set the specific agenda for an effective national Council. As a result of the Council, we expect to have an action plan for a more responsive, accountable, and participatory Church in the USA and to offer this plan to the people of God for implementation.

Who will pay for the assembly?

The people who come will pay a registration fee, so the Council will ultimately pay for itself. Individuals and foundations are being asked to provide “seed money” to finance preparations, deposits, and scholarships.

Do we need any seed money?

Yes. If you know of anyone who might like to contribute, please let us know. E-mail johnhushon@aol.com or jmwhauter@aol.com. Or go to our website, AmericanCatholicCouncil.org. We have developed a sponsorship/underwriting list—to minimize the cost of attendance as well as providing seed money. ACC is IRS 501c3.

No doubt, we will be hearing more about the gathering in the months ahead – and are likely to hear more from Vigneron as he expresses his concerns.


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