Liberals discuss, conservatives rail

A few readers sent along a Detroit Free Press story by religion reporter Niraj Warikoo about the American Catholic Council, a group of reform-minded Catholics that held its first national conference in Detroit this week. Here's the lede:

The top Catholic leader in Michigan slammed a big liberal Mass today in Detroit, saying it had significant abuses and he ordered a review of a Ferndale priest who led the services before 1,500 Catholics, a church spokesman said.

The phrasing seems a bit awkward to me. Is the Mass itself liberal? How so? Or was the group comprised of liberals? Or both? We get a hint here:

"There were several, serious liturgical abuses at that service," said Ned McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese. "It's disheartening that a Detroit priest would preside over a service with so many...serious liturgical abuses. There will be -- has to be -- a careful and thorough review."

Sounds dramatic, eh? What were these abuses? Well, you won't find out by reading the article! Also, check out this exchange:

[Rev. Bob] Wurn [sic] told the Free Press afterwards he was aware that Archbishiop Allen Vigneron had explicilty warned all priests and deacons to not participate. But Wurm said he's not worried being punished.

"I don't see that happening," Wurm said. "I'm older than he (Vigneron) is."

I have no idea what that means. I mean, I'm not Catholic but I'm pretty sure that "respect for the aged" is not a good defense for liturgical abuses and what not. The article presents this dispute as a debate among equals as opposed to a situation with a pretty clear line of authority.

Anyway, the best part of the whole story are the competing summary paragraphs of two groups that met in Michigan. Here's the summary for the reformist group:

The Mass was part of a weekend conference that's drawn some 2,000 liberal Catholics from around the world who are upset at the rightward turn of the Catholic Church. They want lay people to have more say in church decision making. Many also want discussion about women, gay, and married priests, and greater accountability on the issue of child abuse by priests. The conference came on the 35th anniversary of a conference in Detroit led by the late Cardinal John Dearden, former Archbishop of Detroit, a leader seen as progressive by liberal Catholics. To them, he represented the spirit of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, which they say recent leadership has abandoned.

What rightward turn? I don't know. It's just an assertion. But note that the conference participants "discuss" good things and represent nebulous other good things.

Now, check out the summary for the other group:

A conservative conference endorsed by the Archdiocese, Call To Holiness, was held over the weekend in Livonia and put more of an emphasis on social issues. They said their conference was legitimate, unlike the liberal one, because it was endorsed by the Archbishop and was loyal to Rome.

Speakers at the conservative conference railed against abortion, contraception, yoga and the gay rights movement.

Ha! You can't make this stuff up. Liberals "discuss" and conservatives "rail," don't you know?

Be sure to check out the slide show complete with Womenpriest pictures.

Image via Te Deum laudamus.

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