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Arizona Bishops Fail to Warn Flocks of CTA Danger

by Scott Ballor

PHOENIX- Two Call to Action events were held in Arizona, one in Phoenix on March 28 and one the following day in Tucson on March 29, 1998. These were the first public manifestations of CTA in the State of Arizona, and they amounted to a coming-out party for CTA operatives and sympathizers. Both conferences featured Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ, the founder of FutureChurch. This organization is pushing for the ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood in direct opposition to Pope John Paul II and his Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which states that the Catholic Church has no authority to do so. The topic of these two conferences, which were sponsored by CTA Arizona, was "The Future of Priestly Ministry in a Compassionate Church."

Members of the Phoenix Area Roman Catholic Faithful and the Holy Family Society of Tucson attended both of these conferences in order to gather information and defend the Roman Catholic Faith. The Phoenix event was held at the Crown Plaza Hotel and did not have the formal approval of Bishop Thomas O'Brien; however, several of his priests and deacons were in attendance. The Tucson event was held on Church property, St. Odilia's Catholic Church, and apparently had the approval of Bishop Manuel Moreno. Neither bishop warned his flock of the danger inherent in these conferences! They were like shepherds who saw the wolves coming; yet, they did not protect their sheep from attack. The bishops of Phoenix and Tucson could have taken a lesson from Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln who excommunicated members of Call to Action in his diocese.

Approximately 90 people attended the CTA conference in Phoenix; however, 10 of these were orthodox Catholic infiltrators. Sr. Schenk presented her skewed views on such matters as the dubium of Cardinal Ratzinger that upheld the conclusions of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis as infallible. Schenk called it the "Dubious dubium." She revealed her true motivation when she stated that "This is not really about ordination. There is a deeper issue here, and that is the inclusion of women's voices in the decision making structures of the Catholic Church...Frankly, that's what Jesus came to teach us, right? He came to teach us about sharing power, about calling forth power." When asked about Mother Angelica's powerful influence through EWTN, Schenk said "When we talked about women having more power in the Church, Mother Angelica wasn't what we had in mind." When asked about the viability of financial pressures to advance their agenda, Schenk said "Financial redirection is a very helpful tool. I agree with it 100%. Most people, though, want to support their parish, but it's just the Vatican that they can't stand."

Members of Call to Action in attendance also shared their ideas. One woman in a small group discussion said of Bishop Bruskewitz, "I wish he would slip on an icy street and break his neck." Another woman announced to everyone, "I am a woman Catholic priest, called by God; and I am, by virtue of that call, ordained. I decided, after months of prayer, to answer my call by saying and offering Mass. I chose to say yes to God's call and to act on it." Another CTA member encouraged disobedience by saying, "Don't fear! Catholics are afraid: they are waiting for permission. Many parishes did not wait for permission to

have female Altar servers. A bishop should not wait for permission to ordain women."

In Tucson, loyal Catholics outnumbered Call to Action types two-to-one. Among the thirty-five attendees, at least 7 were from Roman Catholic Faithful and the Holy Family Society. Outside St. Odilia's Church, more than thirty members of the HFS protested while 15 prayed in the church. The Holy Family Society had picketed outside of Tucson's St. Augustine Cathedral all day on Friday, March 27th. Before that, they sent a letter to Bishop Moreno on March 19, 1998, asking him to put a stop to this CTA conference on Church property. The letter stated, "As faithful Catholics of the Diocese of Tucson who follow the teaching of the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, we respectfully request that you immediately require the cancellation of this proposed CTA Conference/Meeting to be held on March 29th at St. Odilia's. The bishop did not respond; however, the Director of Communication for the Diocese of Tucson, Mr. Fred Allison, did state the diocesan policy that "no protest signs would be allowed on Church property." This policy could only have applied to a diocesan-approved event.

Sr. Schenk spoke for over an hour, then asked for questions. She was repeatedly challenged about her statements by the loyal Catholics in attendance. When the Pastor, Fr. John Brent Bardon, realized that orthodox Catholics were "scoring points," he took the floor and made a long-winded diatribe aimed at silencing orthodoxy. In making a point about his dislike for communion services in the absence of a priest, he said "Most people that I know won't eat in the bus station, because the sandwiches are four days old. Why should they eat out of a tabernacle where the Hosts are four days old. I understand about the Mystical Body of Jesus being there for ever and ever, but it is not MY Eucharist. It isn't MY life that came down to the Altar and got prayed over." He referred to bishops as "the pointy hats", and he slandered the loyal Catholics who were protesting outside. He said "There are some people in fundamental disagreement with us who are picketing, and some of them are children. Be cautious, while leaving, of somebody who takes this soldier of Christ thing too far and jumps at or around the car." After the conference, Fr. Bardon said that the Bishop had given permission for this event to take

place on Church property. He said " Bishop Moreno and I have asked to have Sr. Schenk come..." He was visibly angry at the suggestion that Call to Action was against Church teaching, and he grabbed a member of RCF by the arms in a challenging manner.

Inside the hall of St. Odilia's, RCF members video taped the literature table with many Call to Action flyers, pamphlets and brochures. One of the CTA Arizona board members ordered a halt to the video taping of this material. He then called a police officer who was parked outside. The officer confiscated the video camera after he was told that the RCF member had "Stolen church property." He later returned the camera upon realizing that no crime had actually been committed after all. This episode shows the desperate attempt to conceal the truth, that Call to Action is operating within Church structures to subvert Her teachings. This is a very dangerous organization, and all bishops should act to purge their diocese of CTA influence. On the contrary, Bishop O'Brien has recently appointed a Call to Action member, Carmelite Fr. Don Benjamin, as executive director of the Kino Institute, the teaching arm of the Diocese of Phoenix. All deacons and "lay ministers" in the Phoenix Diocese are trained at this institution headed by a Call to Action member.

Fr. Bardon died of a heart attack on Saturday, April 25. May his soul rest in peace!