National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  July 4, 2003

St. Louis lay group under fire

Faithful St. Louis, formed a year ago by lay Catholics concerned about the clergy sexual abuse crisis and issues of accountability in the church, has not been banned by the St. Louis archdiocese, but it has not been accepted either.

About 400 people attended the group’s third meeting March 22. Seven weeks later, it was still being criticized in the archdiocese’s newspaper, St. Louis Review, “as dissenting voices seeking to refashion the church into their own images.”

“It is hard to see how this group is in anyway faithful to the church,” the Review said in an editorial April 11.

This astounds Kenneth Parker, who is on the leadership committee of Faithful St. Louis. “We’re very much, very deeply committed Catholics,” he told NCR. “When you see things that have gone very wrong in the public life of the church, you reach a point where you realize that if you don’t become involved in change then you are abetting the status quo.”

Parker rebutted the Review piece in a letter sent to the newspaper as well as the archbishop, auxiliary bishops and clergy in St. Louis. The paper did not print the letter.

Parker wrote that Faithful St. Louis “organizers and participants long for true dialogue on issues central to the life and mission of our church. The faithful Catholics who gathered did not meet to oppose the institution of the church. They gathered to confront a theological error that Avery Cardinal Dulles labeled ‘institutionalism’ -- an understanding of the church, which insists, the ‘institutional element is treated as primary.’ ”

Parker quoted Dulles’ 1974 book Models of Church, “A Christian believer may energetically oppose institutionalism and still be very much committed to the church as an institution.”

-- Dennis Coday

National Catholic Reporter, July 4, 2003

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