Archdiocese of Detroit: Stay Away from Liberal Catholic Conference

By Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press
October 13, 2010

The Archdiocese of Detroit is warning Catholics in metro Detroit — including priests and ministers — to stay away from a national conference of liberal Catholics to be held in Detroit next year. And Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron is calling upon organizers of the conference to cancel their plans, saying they are in opposition to the Catholic faith.

The American Catholic Council, which calls for church reforms and greater openness, is set to hold a national gathering in June 2011 featuring progressive Catholic leaders near the 35th anniversary of the 'Call to Action,' a Detroit gathering in 1976 that urged reform and was held by the late Cardinal John Dearden of Detroit.

The liberal group claims there is too much secrecy and hierarchy in the Church; it also calls for greater acceptance of gays and lesbians, and women in leadership roles. It wants women and married priests.

"Serious sexual and financial abuses have resulted," from problems in the Catholic Church, the group says in a newsletter.

Their conference next year is to feature a range of Catholic speakers who have been critical of the Vatican, including controversial Swiss priest Hans Kung. The liberal group says its efforts are done in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, whose 50th anniversary is also next year.

But in a statement released Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Detroit slammed the American Catholic Council, saying "the goals proposed are largely in opposition to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council."

The Archdiocese, which oversees 1.3 million Catholics, says that some of the scheduled speakers at next year's conference "espouse positions which are clearly contrary to Catholic faith."

"The Archdiocese of Detroit cautions any Catholic against participating in the American Catholic Council local listening sessions and national gathering in June 2011," the archdiocese said in its statement. "Catholic parishes, schools, and institutions are not to host any meetings, gatherings, or listening sessions associated with the planning of the June 2011 American Catholic Council. Priests, deacons, and ecclesial lay ministers will want to avoid lending support to such a misguided effort."

Archbishop Vigneron said "this national gathering…distorts the true Spirit of Vatican II."

Vigneron "asks us all to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we may embrace authentic development of faith and morals, and shun efforts which threaten unity," the statement said.

A spokesman for the American Catholic Council was not available to comment Tuesday, but their website says the conference is set for June 10 to 12, Pentecost weekend. The group says on its website it wants to "celebrate the ideas of Vatican II."

Contact Niraj Warikoo: or 313-223-4792


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