Yesterday when I was talking to my husband about a few of the Call To Action members who had made a particular impact on me, I did a Google search to see if I could pull up bios or information about their work. One of my hits brought up a site labeled Dissenting Authors and Speakers. It’s an unfortunate reflection on how much (little?) I trust the institutional Church that when I saw the name of the site, I actually thought it was a positive one — it called to mind Robert McClory’s Faithful Dissenters (which I haven’t read, although its title alone gives me comfort.) I thought it might be a place where marginalized people could find others who gave voice to their experiences.
However, I quickly saw that the site was in fact a “warning” about people who “claim” to be Catholic but who are “really” dissenters. In a voice that rings of fanaticism, Our Lady’s Warriors claims:
Solemn Warning! The following people are those who claim to be Catholic but dissent from the Truth as handed down from Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, the Divine Word, to His Apostles and their successors. Unfortunately, even clergy are included on this list. However, since the beginning of Christianity, history shows that even heresy can begin with clergy, one notable example being the priest Martin Luther who started all of Protestantism.
To their credit, whoever put together the site lays out exactly how s/he/they decide who makes the “dissident” list. Still, it raises my ire to see a third party deciding who “gets” to call themselves Catholic and who doesn’t. This is another example of how widely divergent the Institutional Church and the person of Jesus have become. Do you suppose Jesus carried around a list of “dissidents”? Oh, wait, Jesus was the dissident!
For easy browsing, the list has been divided into particular areas of “dissent” or “heresy.” Oddly, there is no category for “sexual abuse” or “pedophiles” or “rapists” or those who protect them, despite the fact that the Catechism is quite clear on the moral depravity of such acts:
Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of the responsibility for their upbringing. – the Catechism, 2389.
Perhaps this is because the priests who sexually abused children and the bishops who covered it up were not “authors or speakers.” Indeed, the whole problem lay in the fact that no one within the institutional Church was speaking up. Luckily, another list exists to alert the faithful about who the truly dangerous Catholics are — the ones who devastate the lives of those entrusted to their pastoral care. Unfortunately, this list is much, much longer than that of the “dissidents.” It’s the abuse accusations list I would tack up on Church doors and pass out in CCD class. This is the list that may offer the lay people some protection, where the Church fails to offer it.
If I were important enough, I’d make the first list (and be proud to be in such good company!) for my “dissident” views that include things like feeling abusers shouldn’t be off the hook just because they’re ordained. But being put on some list is not enough to wash the Catholic out of someone; we have Catholicism stamped on our souls, imparted to us through baptism or parents or parish priests or our own quiet study. No list can take that away — and we are not the Catholics you need to fear.