Where that Connecticut Catholic bill came from

by Walter Olson on March 12, 2009

I posted yesterday over at Secular Right about the origins of that strange, deplorable proposal in the Connecticut legislature to prescribe control of the Roman Catholic Church by boards of laypeople. The proposal is just as bad and unconstitutional as it has been rumored to be, but its origins are rather different than you might think from reading some conservative publications.

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Department of weird coincidences
03.14.09 at 7:19 am

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1 dad29 03.12.09 at 8:41 am

Umnnhhh….VOTF is an agitprop group which has an agenda reaching far further than merely monetary control.

There’s no dispute that there are Church money scandals–being from Milwaukee, I know about that stuff.

But the agenda of VOTF is substantially at odds with the heirarchical order of Church governance; and if you look far enough into their papers, you find the typical laundry-list of “reforms”–beginning with the artificial contraception question, which is the Holy Grail for these folks.

2 Brad Ford 03.13.09 at 12:51 pm

Just because the VOTF calls itself a “Catholic” organization does not make it true. At some point, a person (or group) strays so much from the core religion that they can no longer claim membership in the original entity. Essentially, the VOTF is a new, protestant movement masquerading as a Catholic organization.

3 bfs 03.14.09 at 10:13 am

Tracing the origin of the bill to Voice of the Faithful is not only consistent with “the view that the bill somehow constitutes ‘retribution’ for the Catholic Church’s Culture War stands,” it is additional support for that view.

4 Walter Olson 03.14.09 at 10:46 am

Sorry, dad29 and bfs, but I disagree. I hold no brief for VotF (and basically agree that if they can’t reconcile themselves to their church’s manner of governance, they should consider going Protestant), but to imagine that their “Holy Grail” is contraception or related Culture War issues is easily dispelled by a few minutes of Googling their history and checking around their website. I think it’s clear that the number one and number two issues that have motivated their membership are 1) the Church’s sexual-abuse scandals and 2) clashes between laity and hierarchy on a wide range of governance issues.

I don’t think most anger over the Church’s sheltering of child abusers constitutes a mere pretext for anger over its stands on things like contraception, divorce, women priests or homosexuality. Nor do I find it easy to believe that lay-clergy tensions, such as the publicized years-long occupation of several shuttered Catholic churches around Boston by discontented laity, are a mere mask for Culture War clashes. If you think otherwise, I doubt we’ll convince each other.

Incidentally, I should note that a press release from Voice of the Faithful flatly denies that that group either drafted or sponsored the bill in Hartford. That is not inconsistent with what I wrote about the group being the most prominent organizational constituency for the idea, as reflected in its holding of seminars promoting trusteeship concepts with presenters like Prof. Paul Lakeland of Fairfield U. (who, with the bill’s main backer, Greenwich businessman/lawyer Tom Gallagher, appeared at a news conference in Hartford this week to explain the rationale for the bill).

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