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January 1988


A second leaflet produced by Catholic Australians revealing the ultimate goal of RENEW’s co-ordinated assault on the Faith and parish life.

RENEW: Building a People's Church



RENEW is a subtle attempt to give respectability to this "new church". The Brisbane Catholic Leader in its issue of 21/6/87, announced the launching of RENEW in the Cairns diocese with a report beginning : "A sense of a new Church is emerging in far north Queensland".

This new "church" is to be a people's church - a church built on people, unlike the true Church built on the Rock of Peter. The Melbourne Advocate of 11/6/87, reporting the launching of RENEW in the Melbourne archdiocese, quoted the statement that "RENEW is centred on people".

Prominent throughout this RENEW Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral were performances by a group of dancing girls, in defiance of a Vatican prohibition on "liturgical" dancing at Mass and echoing the similar disobedience in the presence of the Pope himself during his 1986 visit to Australia.

Similarly, the special RENEW programme for youth advocates the use of the third rite of Penance in disobedience to the Church's instructions.

Disobedience is a characteristic of the RENEW mentality, springing from its people-centred approach, implying that we, the people, are the "church", so "it is our church to change as suits us."

It is curious that, although RENEW countenances such acts of disobedience, its promoters are quick to claim that anyone who criticises or opposes it is being disobedient to their bishop.

This is a dishonest attempt to coerce loyal Catholics into accepting RENEW. Bishops have not required Catholics to take part in RENEW, and have no power to do so, although they have put strong pressure on some priests dubious of its value. Lay people have been simply invited into RENEW, and to decline an invitation is not disobedience.

Faithful Catholics are naturally reluctant to go against the wishes of their bishop (or even their parish priest). After all, the bishop shares in Christ's authority, which He gave first to Peter. And it is only in communion with the Successor of Peter that bishops can exercise their authority.

They have a duty, in union with the Pope, to teach and guard the faith of the Church "that comes to us from the Apostles".

Catholics, therefore, must respect the authority of their bishop, but they have the right, and indeed the duty, to demand that he use this authority to uphold and defend the teaching of the Church.

RENEW is certainly not doing this.

In fact, as a people-centred programme, it subverts the role of the Hierarchy, giving small lay "communities of disciples" a mandate to be a law unto themselves in the pooled ignorance of an orchestrated group.

In fact, one of the principles of RENEW, stated in the Why, What, How? booklet (p. 17), is the renewal of church structures at the parish and diocesan level. But these structures are determined by the Church in her Code of Canon Law, the legal basis for implementing the decisions of Vatican II in her day-to-day life.

Most people find it hard to believe that not only does the RENEW programme undermine the structure of the Church and the faith of Catholics, but that this is the very purpose for which it was designed.

Many, however, with sound Catholic instincts (the so-called sensus fidelium) sense there is something wrong with RENEW, despite its beguiling appearances. Something set the alarm bells ringing.

In some areas, RENEW organises have been hard put to get people to come to the small group home meetings. In some cases, people have deliberately avoided Masses at which RENEW is promoted, even to the extent of driving to another parish.

It has been claimed that those opposing RENEW are being divisive, but it is RENEW itself which is introducing elements at odds with the faith, and so creating divisions in homes, presbyteries and parishes.

Although part of the sales pitch of RENEW is that it is centred around the Sunday Mass, this approach enables it to, spread its infection to the greatest number of people at once - and the faithful ones at that. The RENEW materials indicate it wants Catholics to regard the Mass simply as some sort of celebration of their own faith.

In parishes with several Sunday Masses, a people-centred programme would surely provide at least one Mass free of the gimmicks and distortions of RENEW.


RENEW likens the Mass to a four-course meal with some symbolic activity. The Catholic Faith is that the Mass is the Sacrifice of the Cross, made present in all times and places by Christ our High Priest offering Himself to the Father through the person of the priests at the altar, and giving us His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

RENEW is based on people and their personal experience, which is to be acknowledged as valid for them and revealing God to them. The Catholic faith is based on Jesus Christ and His Revelation.

RENEW emphasises sharing faith in small "communities of disciples". The Catholic Faith speaks of the faith that comes to us from the Apostles.

RENEW asks us to reflect on Scripture and respond to it in our own way. The Catholic Faith tells us that the Teaching Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture. Private interpretation was the error of the Protestant Reformation, which held that Scripture alone was enough ignoring Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium or Teaching Authority of the Church.

(In the Reformation in England, Catholics who followed their bishops found themselves out of the Church. Only one bishop, St. John Fisher, resisted the new man-made "church" and remained loyal to Rome. He died for his faith. Orthodoxy is not decided by numbers, but by truth and obedience.)

RENEW introduces atheistic secular humanism into the Church under the guise of psychology, adopting value-changing processes in its small groups. The Catholic Faith has nothing to do with manipulating people's minds, attitudes and emotions.

RENEW presents a wrong idea of the Church - that the Church is, first of all, people, who come together to share their faith in Jesus Christ. The Catholic Faith is that the Church is Christ, and that insofar as we are united to Him in grace through Baptism, we become members of the Church, joining the communion of the faithful which is His Mystical Body.

A video film produced to promote RENEW and shown at Mass has a speaker saying that lay people must be the Church. At a time when the Church's teaching about herself, as expressed by Vatican II, is being distorted and denied by some theologians and others, a statement such as this is not calculated to convey the true teaching.

RENEW is permeated with the idea that "We are church", an unCatholic expression, for its implication is that "we" are what constitutes or creates the Church. This simply is not true.

The Church is Christ's; it came forth from His wounded side upon the Cross and was placed in the care of His Blessed Mother (to whom RENEW gives scant mention), to be sent forth by His Spirit at Pentecost to teach.

Teaching must be the essence of any spiritual renewal, and RENEW lacks teaching.

St. Paul's warning to the Corinthians (2 Cor 11:4) could well be directed to dioceses introducing RENEW:

"Any newcomer has only to proclaim a new Jesus, different from the one that we preached, or you have only to receive a new spirit, different from the one you have already accepted, and you welcome it with open arms."


A question that may fairly be asked is why, if RENEW is so flawed and misdirected, is it being thrust upon parishes?

The simple answer is that it looks good - if you don't look too hard.

Sincere bishops, priests, parents and others, concerned at the crisis of faith in the Church, have been looking for something to revitalise faith, and RENEW looks good, on the surface.

People have accepted it on the word of their priests. Priests have accepted it in trusting loyalty to their bishops, although some have recognised RENEW as an ideal tool to introduce the new "people's church" which is their goal.

Bishops have been persuaded to adopt it, usually on the advice of priests, nuns and others sent to America and indoctrinated in RENEW thinking by its originators in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, who have themselves toured Australia to sell it here.

But how could the bishops be deceived? Perhaps St. Paul gives us the answer in that same passage he wrote to the Corinthians:

"The serpent with his cunning seduced Eve, and I am afraid that in the same way your ideas may get corrupted and turned away from simple devotion to Christ." (2 Cor 11:3).

In an address on June 29, 1972, Pope Paul VI warned us that "the smoke of Satan" had entered the Church. That was 15 vears ago; the errors of RENEW are not new.

It is precisely because of the "mistakes" since Vatican II, to which Pope John Paul II referred in his address to the Australian Bishops in Sydney last year, that people have been conditioned to accept RENEW.

Faith-destroying ideas and techniques have penetrated most movements and organisations within the Church, and teaching has been replaced by a constant bleating about social justice.


Now the formerly piecemeal attack on Catholic teaching is being followed by a highly-coordinated assault in RENEW - not only in the small home groups but at Sunday Mass, where adults and children alike have RENEW thrust at them not only in the liturgy itself but in "take-home materials" to continue the "process".

RENEW is also being pushed in the schools and in youth groups, some of which have already adopted it in all but name. The "RENEW and Youth" programme in Melbourne states quite blatantly: "Young people have a bit of a head start on the rest of the parish. They have grown up in a Church that they have always experienced to be on about the same aims and principles that RENEW is based on."

And so that no-one should escape, there are "outreach task forces" to ensnare those who do not come to Mass.

Moreover, the great mass of printed RENEW material has been well produced and is attractively presented. That makes it tempting to adopt and, of course, expensive.

RENEW has been something of a bonanza for its orignators in the United States, and other countries which have wished to adapt it for themselves have had to pay for the privilege.

It is a financial windfall for Australian publishers, but a huge drain on parish and diocesan funds which comes from the pockets of the faithful.

Everything is provided in the package of "components", so parish co-ordinators do not need to think, but simply follow the printed directions. That is why even the wording of notices in parish bulletins is often identical.


Confronted with this ready-made renewal, the temptation to accept it as a package can be overwhelming, especially when it is accompanied by growing assurances of how successful it will be.

Reports from the United States and New Zealand, however, indicate that the only positive achievement has been to provide an occasion for lonely people to meet some of their neighbours.

The negative achievements have been a radicalising of Catholics in their attitudes to the Church, the encouragement of a spirit of rebellion, a rejection of doctrine and moral principes and a denial of the supernatural.


But his attack can be defeated by the one he fears most, Our Blessed Mother. She promised at Fatima in 1917 that her Immaculate Heart would triumph if we do what she asked - stop sinning, do penance in reparation for sin, be faithful to Mass and Confession, pray the Rosary daily, adore Our Lord in His Real Presence in our tabernacles and pray for the Holy Father and for priests. This is the true programme of spiritual renewal.

RENEW IS NOT CATHOLIC, and faithful Catholics should shun it.



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