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 here. 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.”


In the Vineyard
April 20, 2006
Volume 5, Issue 8
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Letters to the Editor


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