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Bishops Tighten Control

Richmond’s new Bishop, Francis Di Lorenzo, who replaced Bishop Walter Sullivan only four months ago, has discontinued the diocesan “sexual minorities” commission which had advised Sullivan on gay and lesbian concerns. Di Lorenzo also appointed a theological watchdog, Fr. Russel E. Smith, who must grant approval for all parish speakers. “Every case will be decided according to the same standard: orthodoxy” said Smith whose duties include investigating complaints that lay people are preaching at worship. DiLorenzo also removed a woman from the diocesan women’s commission because she supported women’s ordination. (America, 8/13/2004).

Bishop Robert Vasa of the Baker Oregon diocese is requiring parishioners involved in parish catechetical and liturgical ministries to assent to an “Affirmation of Personal Faith” or withdraw from ministry. The Affirmation includes a list of a dozen doctrinal
statements including teaching on contraception, chastity, homosexuality, marriage, abortion, Mary, hell, purgatory, the Real Presence, and the authority of the church. Many see no room for individual conscience and the regulation has polarized Catholics in the diocese. In one parish over 24 people withdrew from ministry rather than give their assent. Fr. James Coriden, a canon lawyer at Washington Theological Union found it to be “unparalleled in our day to ask for statements of personal faith of such length, detail and complexity...what is odd here is the long list and odd selection of truths or affirmations.” Paul Dean, a youth minister offered to affirm the Nicene Creed instead because “My personal conscience will not allow me to affirm a document that does not accurately reflect the totality of church teaching on moral decision-making
and forming one’s personal conscience.” Dean’s situation is still unresolved. (National Catholic Reporter p. 13 July 2, 2004)

Fall 2004

 

 

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