The Rainbow Sash Movement believes that reform in the Church is needed. The question then becomes is such reform motivated be conferences of liberal Catholics and conservative Catholics, or by the Holy Spirit. This will be the 35th anniversary of the 1976 Detroit Conference which is being remembered.
This weekend a group of liberal Catholics are gathering in Detroit to call for reform under the name of the American Catholic Council (ACC). The Council wants to “engage all Catholics in the United States in a dialogue about what the problems of the church are,” said co-organizer John Hushon, a Catholic attorney from Florida. Certainly this is a lofty goal, but unless this conference recognizes both the authority of the local Archbishop, and the Teaching Magisterium how affective can such calls be.
The Archdiocese of Detroit is supporting a more conservative conference in Livonia, which will feature speakers who will critique the American Catholic Council’s vision and explain the church’s views.
In a letter sent Friday to local priests, Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron of Detroit said he made “attempts to engage in a dialogue with (the American Catholic Council) about this planned event,” but “the organizers of this conference have not replied to me directly.”
There is no doubt in our mind that both sides believe in what they are doing. However, we have heard all this before since the 1976 Conference which led by than Cardinal John Dearden, the former archbishop of Detroit. But does this present conference offer the same spirit of dialogue as did the founding conference, or has it been hijacked for the purpose of promoting another agenda.
The 1976 Conference in Detroit promoted dialogue of various opinions in the hope finding a common ground. However, the dueling nature of both Conferences only highlight the division in the Church. Some Catholics believe that both of these conferences reflect two competing visions of the Church who claim to promote concerns of a majority of Catholics.
The Rainbow Sash Movement has chosen not to take part in this conference this year because we believe we need fewer words and more actions. This Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost by entering Cathedrals around the nation wearing Rainbow Sashes. The Sash is a symbol of self-identification, and we will publically celebrate the message of inclusiveness that Pentecost promotes in its Gospel message.