LETTERS to the Editor
Readers of the 4/6 Vineyard were asked their thoughts on a question raised
by Purdue University sociologist James Davidson, “Is there a gap between
the faith and the Church?” The article appeared
We thank our correspondents for their thoughtful responses.
Obviously, that article by James Davidson distorts VOTF's position. It is
precisely because of our Faith, that we need to bring about some changes
in the Church.
That has always happened, and hopefully always will! The structures and actions
of the church need to live up to and respond to our faith in it.” Fr.
Leo Sprietsma, OFM
There is a mighty divide that began when the clergy deemed the laity to be
too involved in church business. In New York, Bishop John Hughes abolished
the board of trustees at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in 1838 by comparing them
to the English penal laws in Ireland that persecuted the church. His Irish
immigrant congregation identified with his description. Originally, priests
served spiritual needs and trustees were responsible for the physical operations
of the church including the priests' stipends. Hughes would become his own
best fund-raiser traveling to Europe to solicit funds and establishing a common
fund to serve the few churches. So began the saga of the parish priest as manager
in a growing corporation. Today, we witness many clergy incapable of financial
management or overzealous in church finances with spiritual guidance low on
their goals. With fewer priests, this fact is becoming more evident to congregations
that never seemed to pay attention to where their money was going. The story
at Immaculate Conception in Scarsdale, NY is a prototype to what the future
holds---congregations going on a financial strike to get the Archdiocese of
New York to listen.” Terri Cook
“Thank you for asking the question. I may be rather parochial in my
view, but my identification with church has split in three, in a sense. On
the one hand, I identify with my parish church, and especially with a small
group from this parish with whom I enjoy support, prayer and a sense of community.
On the other hand, I have some identification with my diocese, where matters
of clergy sexual abuse are handled well, even though some other actions of
the diocese are less than what I wish. And then there is the identification
with the church as a whole, which has definitely weakened as a result of my
understanding of how the church has handled sexual abuse charges internationally.
Having said that, I think the universal church is still doing a decent job
of standing for social justice issues, for instance. Not so good a job of responding
to the vocation crisis by being willing to ordain married priests and women.
For me, it's an issue by issue matter. And a bishop by bishop matter. I have
my dissatisfaction with several aspects of the Church, and I guess I would
hope that as VOTF and others press for greater accountability that this becomes
part of the way the Holy Spirit is re-vivifying the Church, a painful part
and one that I wish weren't necessary, but I think history shows that an awake
Church can benefit from hearing criticism and acknowledging the truth of it.”