Catholic Group Raising Its Voice

By Rita Ciolli
Newsday [Long Island NY]
November 22, 2003

Frustrated by Bishop William Murphy's latest refusal to recognize Voice of the Faithful, the lay Catholic group Sunday will start weekly vigils outside St. Agnes Cathedral that will continue through the holiday season.

"We want to overturn his unjust denial of our use of parish buildings that we built and maintain," said Bill McCully of Babylon, a director of the Long Island chapter of the national group that rose in response to the priest sex abuse scandal. McCully said the group will begin praying at 10:30 a.m. for abuse victims as well as priests and will distribute literature at the Rockville Centre cathedral.

Murphy, in his written response last week to the diocese's three "listening sessions" held in June, reaffirmed his ban on allowing the group to meet on church property. It was at those sessions that many Voice members asked him to lift the ban. However, in his statement, Murphy said he remains troubled by one of the group's goals, which is to change the structure of the church.

"I have a deep reservation about this and I have not been able to have my reservation resolved. To change the structure of the Church is an ambiguous concept ... " wrote Murphy.

The group is banned from the use of church property in 10 dioceses. Bishops in two dioceses, Brooklyn and Cincinnati, have reversed their bans.

Part of Murphy's reluctance to allow the group to meet on church property is his concern that it doesn't support all church teachings. Joanne Novarro, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said the bishop still hasn't had clarification from the group about its positions.

However, Dan Bartley, co-chair of the local group, said that on March 26 the group gave Murphy a copy of its statement of beliefs, which reads in part: "We accept the teaching authority of the Church, including the role of bishops and the pre-eminent role of the Pope as the primary teachers. ... We believe what the Catholic Church believes."

"Why Murphy refuses to accept the truth about our organization is unknown," Bartley said. "Why he rejected our many attempts at collaboration is also unknown."


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