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June/July 1985

RENEW is the creature of Archbishop Peter Gerety of Newark, New Jersey, USA, who drew the concept of RENEW out of his experience of the notorious Call-to-Action Conference (CAC) held in Detroit in 1976 and in which he played an unpleasantly subversive part. Archbishop Gerety learnt from that disgraceful Conference the methods of Democratic Centralism and Group Infiltration and Control, which his disciples in charge of RENEW seek to make use of in their attempt to build a new man-made and man-centered (basically Gnostic) post-conciliar Church. This background piece is extracted from a series of related articles in The Wanderer.


The Genesis of RENEW


"Not for the first time, however, does it appear that the bishops, in their concern to be contemporary, have lent their authority to a phase of modern history which is already rapidly passing, and have been forced to ignore what is best in their own tradition to do so."
  -James Hitchcock, analyzing Rembert Weakland's economic
pastoral in the February, 1985 Catholicism in Crisis.

Pascal says somewhere in his Pensées that, for him, one of the most convincing arguments for the truth of the Catholic faith (with which - as those who know the history of Jansenism are aware - he had much difficulty) is the manner by which on so many occasions throughout history its demise appeared obvious to any detached observer. Time after time, beginning with the crucifixion of its Founder, attacks on the Church from within and without seemed for a while so overwhelming and comprehensive, that the Pharisees, the pagans, the Roman emperors, the Arians, the Moslems, the Lutherans, the deists, the Communists, and by 1975 the neo-Arian Modernists - to name a few - came to relax, in the conviction that they, finally, had discovered the one truth sufficient to render Roman Catholic dogma a curious artifact of history.

Only to discover that they had relaxed too soon. Nonetheless, history, as is its wont, chose to repeat itself once again in the decade between the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 and the Holy Year called by Pope Paul VI ten years later. As noted last week, Catholics were stunned by the savage onslaught against both them and their Church from just about everywhere in that period; and they were utterly unprepared to deal with the wholesale repudiation of Catholicism on the part of so many priests and nuns - particularly as this repudiation was so often advanced in the name of Catholicism; or in any event the "spirit" of Vatican II. It was not historically unprecedented for the Pope to decide, as Paul VI apparently did, that it would be imprudent to discipline, expose, or excommunicate those who used their clerical or episcopal authority for little more than attacking Catholic truth. Nor was it unprecedented for such people in consequence to take advantage of the Pope's hesitancy, not only by openly allying themselves "with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church", in the words of Pascendi, but by systematically persecuting and ousting from positions of authority, and either ignoring and-or viciously ridiculing (a tactic particularly favoured against the Successor of St. Peter himself) those who could not be ousted.

The Modern Age

Indeed by 1975, once again, the final rout and destruction of. the Roman Catholic Faith seemed well underway. In the words of Joseph Sobran, forces utterly antagonistic to Catholic truth had control of "the major television networks, the universities, the leading newspapers and magazines, the movie industry, and the public education system; in addition the court system, dominated by the same forces (had) banished rival forces, especially religion, from important areas," not to say from the seminaries, the Jesuits, most of the Religious orders, both male and female, the bureaucratic structures of the USCC, and the dioceses and not least the diocesan press. The Pope, to be sure, kept saying strangely anachronistic things about the importance of chastity for example, but in those days everyone understood that it was only a matter of time before even Peter would come to see the glorious exigencies of the modern age.

Heady times, in short. There were, however, a few problems. The most acute among these seemed to be the palpable lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Catholic laity. Virtually encouraged to sin by so many of their shepherds, the fact that many did so, was no longer considered something of a standard historical feature of human nature; but rather a conscious commitment to the New Theology. Still, by 1975, with the widespread undermining of Catholic teaching well on the way to accomplishment, the neo-Arians began to feel that merely committing adultery on occasion was not quite enough. No, having dispensed with the bother of Catholic morality and devotion, the Arians started thinking it important they do something active (I had almost said positive) with the vast bureaucratic and parish structure they had stolen. At the time there appeared to be no indication of any kind that the Arians worried about, oh, a Pole being elevated to the Papacy shortly, and terrifying everyone with the news that the Faith bequeathed by Christ was - surprise again! - not quite as dead as they had thought. This may have occurred to the Father of Lies (though even he must have been taken off guard for a moment by John Paul II); but his agents, his human ones if we might so call them, apparently only wanted to institutionalize what to that point was little more than a Modemist academic coup d'etat; albeit one backed approvingly by the secular-political power structure.

Yes, the laity must be "empowered", it was decided, in, particular with the ideas of neo-Arianism; one of which, of course, is that since Christ wasn't really, you know, historically the Son of God, but rather just a story some Christians thought up to make themselves feel good, it is thus only organized power that makes much difference in - as the Arians might put it - the game they call life. Not least, this also seemed important as a means of possibly blocking the haemorrhage of Catholics who had not only stopped attending Mass - which was at first encouraged, as a mature expression of independence from authoritarian structuralism - but who had in addition stopped contributing to the collection plate. This of course was not good, since if continued, it might eventually have a serious impact upon the organization and financing of workshops. No, it was clear the time had come to destroy and anathematize once and for all those few remaining Catholics still loyal to the teaching of Christ; to reproach and discipline those whose enthusiasm for all the changes seemed wanting; to energize those whose acquiescence had to date been but passive; and positively to extol those self-sacrificing members of the laity willing to take a leadership role in the building of the Church of the future - even if this meant simply letting various bureaucrats speak in their name.

Working Papers

And so, in 1974, it was decided "that grass-roots meetings with experts by a USCC-appointed panel would develop a good synthesis of Catholic views on how best to energize Catholic consciences on social justice matters" [Battle for the American Church, Msgr. George Kelly, 1979, pp. 300-381]; that "hundreds of thousands of Church dollars" [The Final Conclave, Malachi Martin, 1978, p.75] would be spent on this project; that it would be organized by Fr. Hans Kung's good patron John Cardinal Deardon of Detroit; and that, in Detroit, its conclusions would be presented in conjunction with the bicentennial celebrations of American independence, in October of 1976, under the ringing title of the Call-to-Action Conference, or CAC, as it has become known.

There was more. The Detroit gathering was to be "preceded by a two-year nationwide consultation", which indeed took place, leading to what CAC fans called no less than "the broadest consultation of the laity that the U.S. Bishops have ever engaged in"[Newark Advocate, 28/10/76]. This "consultation" took place "with the very active help of Archbishop Peter Gerety of Newark"[Martin, op.cit], whom Cardinal Dearden chose to chair six preparatory meetings which began in January of 1975, and which, over the two-year period, were held in Washington, San Antonia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Sacramento, and in Newark. "The resulting 'working papers' would then be used by diocesan delegates to the Detroit convention from which would derive recommendations to the Bishops and to the general Catholic body"[Kelly, op.cit.]. According to the official booklet on the subject from the United States Catholic Conference (USCC), these "working papers" were to be composed by "writing committees", who would frame the "working of the resolutions and the recommendations"[Ibid. p.385]. These "writers were selected by the USCC staff"[Ibid.], and though the American Bishops were responsable for the choice of delegates, they exercised this responsibility, as they so often have since 1965, by leaving "the choice (of delegates) to various sublevel diocesan committees. It is not unusual for bishops to sign papers of approval with no fuss and not much attention when they are placed beneath their pens by diligent secretaries"[Martin, op.cit., p.76].

As everyone now knows, "those committees are to a large degree, peopled with… radicals who are left wing in politics, liberated in their views of sexuality, culturally separated from the past history of the Roman Catholic Church," so that "the overwhelming number of delegates belonged to the left-wing"[Ibid.]. In short, neo-Arian heretics. In any event, "the diocesan delegates were given a preset list of topics for buzz-group discussions. The main topics were to be the ordination of women, the marriage of priests, use of contraceptives, divorce and re-marriage, the role of the Hierarchy, amnesty, disarmament, and criticism of the capitalistic system." These were alleged to be the major questions gleaned from parish consultations over two years. While some knowledgeable delegates never heard these items discussed anywhere in their dioceses, the prescribed agenda could not be broken. In addition, the personal reflections of the buzz-groups were passed on to the national office through previously chosen discussion leaders"[Kelly, p.387]. Despite all this, the neo-Arian press kept up a drumbeat of intimidation by charging, as the 19 April 1975 edition of the Jesuit weekly America magazine proceeded to do, "that the Bicentennial operations were on their way to becoming a defense of ‘bourgeois capitalism’," when what was needed was "a radical ‘Call-to-Action’ convention, not a ‘balancing act’, between liberals and conservatives", but rather one that would face its "continuing complicity with oppressive structures . . . including those of the Church".

Special Interest Groups

By the time everybody descended upon Detroit, however, for all the talk of the laity, "40 per cent of those attending were clergy, another 40 per cent were women, mainly nuns", and "special groups present and very active were ex-priests, ex-nuns, homosexuals, pro-abortionists, Christian Marxists, Christian socialists, and Christian pacifists"[Martin, op.cit., p.76]. Not surprisingly, "a hefty majority listed themselves as actually employed by the Church"[National Catholic Register, 5 June 1983]. The resolutions and recommendations that came out of CAC were, of course, "the direct product of working papers with a predetermined viewpoint", which "represented mainly a segment of lower-echelon interest groups"[Kelly, op.cit., p.385]. And just what were those resolutions and recommendations?

Well, they "were anything but timid", as Peter Gerety’s arch-diocesan Advocate exulted, especially their "clear call for women priests and married priests", which, as the Advocate made a point of noting (given how this reflected its own editorial fanaticism) were made "despite repeated official statements" from the Holy See and the Holy Father "opposing ordination of women or a change in Church discipline on priestly celibacy"[Advocate, 28 October 1978]. Thus, to be sure, the delegates quickly issued "a demand for more bureaucracy in the Church"[Kelly, op.cit., p.385], since they ran the bureaucracy. "Cheering and clapping like George McGovern's zealots routing Mayor Daley's helots at the 1972 convention, they rammed through resolutions calling for the open election of bishops and pastors, the ordination of women, married priests, the acceptability of divorce and contraception, and equal rights for homosexuals even when teaching in the schools" - according to The New York Times, believe it or not [Sunday Magazine, Thomas Fleming, 16 January 1977]. But you may believe it, for the Times, being a good friend of Israel and all, was rather nervous about CAC's call for "unilateral disarmament and a total ban on arms sales abroad"[Ibid.] Even Msgr. George Higgins found that one a bit much, and so announced that "as a defender of the right of Israel to exist he could not back such a resolution"[Advocate, 4 November 1976]. As there was no word about the Monsignor's opposition to any of the other resolutions, one can assume he is far less concemed about the right of Roman Catholicism to exist.

"Some delegates were quite frank about ... regard(ing) the Catholic Church in America as a potentially useful auxiliary of the extreme left-wing of the Democratic Party, but good for little else; others were more radical in their aspirations", according to historian Russel Kirk ["The Mice That Roared", National Review, 10 December 1976]. "The witch hunt," in the words of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, "was meant to harass and weaken the entire ecclesiastical structure", and the delegates "revealed themselves ... fully ignorant of Catholic dogma, morals, Canon Law, philosophy, culture, and history, but the most dismal aspect of their ignorance was that they did not give a tinker's dam about it"[Father Vincent Miceli, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, March 1977].

Yes, as Malachi Martin observed, "the late professional agitator and chaos theorist Saul Alinsky would have been pleased with the way Call to Action was managed." Actually, Martin may well be mistaken here, since Alinsky would more likely have been chagrined to see tactics which have been functioning so effectively in private exposed in all their fascist glory to the light of day. Nonetheless, Martin was on target in calling CAC "an object lesson in Alinsky-style parliamentary tactics: all oppositions to liberal ideas is cut off, silenced, steam-rollered; all unwelcome motions from the floor are tabled, any opposing group action is met with a vociferous claque"[Martin, op.cit., p.75].

"'You came here to listen, not to talk!' said one militant priest to an unhappy bishop who had attempted to utter sense at one of the workshop sessions"["The Mice that Roared", op.cit.].

Observations to Remember

Ah yes, RENEW. We are getting to that. We ask that you keep in mind the Call-to-Action Conference as you read on; and in particular we ask, should you ever attend a RENEW session, that you keep Martin's observations immediately above in mind.

And not least, we ask that you keep in mind the man who gave his imprimatur to a catechism so heretical that the Vatican had no choice but to publicly humiliate him (which we know they are loath to do) by forcing him to remove it: Archbishop Peter Gerety of Newark.

People who live in Newark, or who have read the "Newark Chronicles", know what a bully the man is: and they know with what dedication he has persecuted those priests and Catholics in his Diocese with the temerity to challenge the neo-Arian takeover. Indeed, one is tempted to present a summary here of the 18 chapters that comprised the "Newark Chronicles", for those who have not read them. What makes such a summation unnecessary is that Gerety's behaviour during CAC captures quite precisely what Catholics in Newark have had to suffer since he became their Ordinary in 1974.

For you see it was not only by organising the regional meetings that Peter Gerety became the ring-master of CAC: Deardon also made him chairman of the rules committee. As such, it is perhaps not an overwhelming surprise that "Newark’s delegation wound up in the prime seating area directly facing the podium, practically on top of the seven microphones from which amendments or other interventions might be made", for it is in such manner that the Archbishop always works: and why "Newark’s delegation helped shape conference proposals"[Advocate, 28 October 1976].

From there, as Gerety's Advocate continues to inform us, "the first thing Archbishop Gerety did as chairman of the rules committee was to rule in favor of seating delegates from ten organisations that had previously been turned down" during all that broad-based input from the laity. Among the organisations he at the "last minute" approved were the Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) and the sodomite outfit Dignity, which likes to blaspheme the Holy Eucharist by choosing drag queens to act as "Eucharistic ministers" passing out the Precious Blood of Christ during Masses. What is particularly striking about this particular manoeuvre is that it was "the first significant instance of a Prelate cooperating to enhance the ‘Dignity’ image"[CCPA News and Views, April 1983]. So much so, in fact, that "inside the hall, the most conspicuous booth was that of Dignity"["The Mice That Roared", op.cit.], for whom Gerety "subsequently got into the conference recommendations, a call for support of its work by the Bishops"[Advocate, 28 October 1976].

"No one was permitted to speak more than two minutes in the workshops. On the floor of the Assembly, only the briefest debate was allowed for a number of important resolutions." The "working papers" - all prearranged, recall - "were converted with few changes into resolutions: and even more startling manifestos, not mentioned in the working papers, were passed by voice vote in the frantic closing house"["The Mice That Roared," op.cit.]. "Opponents of ruling radicals were often told 'to stop making debating points', to cease referring to encyclicals, Council documents, and traditional teachings"[Miceli, op.cit.]. Philadelphia's John Cardinal Krol promptly denounced CAC as an affair which had been "manipulated by a few people who ... received the support of a naive group of little ladies"[Detroit Free Press, 23 October 1976].

The Limbo of Committeedom

But Peter Gerety disagreed. "As mixed reactions to the Detroit Call-to-Action Conference were registered by members of the Hierarchy", the diocesan Advocate tells us "the voice of Newark Archbishop Gerety was most positive"[Advocate, 4 November 1976].

"This was one of the greatest days in the Church", he told The New York Times of 27 October 1976, "a good indication of what the people in this country are feeling", which reflected an "enormous sensitivity to the Christian imperative in the area of justice and right"[Advocate, 4 November 1976]. What's more he added, "most of the recommendations are supportive of what the Bishops have been teaching", said resolutions being no less than "a vigorous and sincere call for justice in our Catholic community", not to say proof that parishes "have been listening to the teaching of the Pope and the Bishops on the ... message of the Gospels"[Ibid.].

The Bishops, of course, did not agree. "It was no secret that a number of bishops would have liked to sweep the whole thing under the rug", which they proceeded to do, despite Gerety’s move to head "off any such move when at the Bishops’ spring meeting in 1977, he acted to ensure that the Call-to-Action Conference (would) result in the five-year social action program it was designed for"[The Bishops of Newark: 1853-1978, Seton Hall University Press, by Anne Buckley, p.72].

Cardinal (then Cincinnati Archbishop and chariman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops) Joseph Bernadin, however, reads The New York Times. He knew that CAC as CAC had failed; and that if, someday, its goals were to be achieved, then a lighter touch would be necessary. More, as it were, like a garment than a meat cleaver. As such, he "was chiefly responsible for deflecting most of the recommendations into the limbo of committeedom"[Toward the Establishment of a Liberal Catholicism in America, University Press of America, 1983, by Joseph Varacalli]. Archbishop Gerety, meanwhile, fought harder and longer than any other bishop to keep the heresy of the CAC alive, but even he came eventually to see that it could not be done; that is, not by that name.

Still, if Cardinal Bernadin reads The New York Times, Archbishop Gerety had tasted all the exhilaration of stage-managing the possessed furies of the neo-Arian bureacrats. He had learned how easy it was to organize and control a few people, and then claim that they speak for the popular will, or in Church parlance, "the laity".

"It was a fine first (our emphasis) effort at getting reflections of the sentiments on questions of justice and peace from a very large segment of the Church", Gerety announced. "Those chosen as delegates were the most aware of the Gospel message"[Advocate, 4 November 1976]. His Auxiliary John dougherty claimed "they were people who had 'emerged' as leaders by reason of their own concern for the Church and the people"[Ibid., 28 October 1976]. And so, Gerety added, "we do have a large educating task ahead of us to help the generality of our people to that consciousness".

RENEW was about to be born.


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