When is a Catholic organization not a Catholic organization? When it's Renew 2000. If you go to their web site you will notice that it is very ambiguous and doesn't mention Call To Action or any other CTA umbrella organization, i.e. WomanChurch, Dignity, Futurechurch, Catholics for a Free Choice, etc. You won't see obvious members of CTA mentioned in their catalog of booklets. You may even find wording which sounds exactly what the Church teaches.
It can best be described as the old bait and hook technique of shady salesmen. You know, advertise a top of the line item on a fantastic sale, but get there and find they don't have it and sell you something else.
The bait: "RENEW 2000 is a very thorough spiritual renewal evangelization process designed for parishes to prepare for the new millennium. It incorporates the themes suggested by Pope John Paul II in His Apostolic Letter. Special attention is given to the needs of young adults, both single and married." (Renew 2000 web page)
Sounds great. It implies its in accordance with John Paul II's Apostolic Letter (but they don't mention it by name). But notice, incorporating themes 'suggested' by the Pope. And, of course, again, the main focus is toward the young.
However, appearances can be deceiving. The hook: " In our parish, there was a wide-spread dissatisfaction with the Session I Renew 2000 participant booklet, "God, a Community of Love"-even as there was enthusiasm over meeting together as small groups. The complaints were general: as a team leader having reviewed the materials in detail, I decided to try to put into words possible reasons for the unease of so many, along with some comments on the current Session II materials. Doing so is difficult: the problems are subtle ones of tone and vocabulary. In fact, the greatest problem of the materials was what they didn't say" (A REVIEW OF RENEW 2000 MATERIALS by Brock Fowler)
Mr. Fowler goes on to say: "As I was reading the materials, I often felt like I was back at Unity School of Christianity-a New Age-ish church where I spent some time on my way to becoming a Catholic. At various times, I was reminded the vocabulary that I heard former Catholics use while explaining why they left the Church, or from ecology spirituality (which is New Age/pagan, and goes by various names), or from those feminists who propose that the Church is a patriarchal instrument of oppression. It is important to use the language of faith, rather than a secular vocabulary, in a renewal effort aimed at the Catholic in the pew: " (Ibid)
One phrase used in the Renew 2000 web site which sounds extremely Catholic is: "The actual decision to walk with Jesus in his Church involves us in the painful process of turning away from old habits of selfishness and sin (John 12:24). If we want to follow Christ, we will have to leave the "wide road" of ease and superficial pleasure and try to walk on the "narrow road" that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14; 16:24). As Christians we are called to choose life."
Yet, the reality is far different. " Session II materials continue to use loaded language. For example, on p. 34, we are urged to identify ourselves with the Pharisees for the sake of honest self-examination (emphasis added): "These Pharisees gather the evidence, but they cannot believe because they are too rigid. Because the healed persons does not `fit their narrow definitions,' they choose to throw him out. In what way do I experience in me a self-righteousness or rigid way of thinking? (Pause)" Many believe that anyone who believes all the Church asks her children to believe is narrow and rigid. We are told that the Catholic view of the family is a "narrow definition" that needs to be expanded to include the full variety of unmarried sexual relationships. Failure to give on this, and many other points, is often called "rigid thinking." Interestingly, the Bible and Church history are full of martyrs who refused to compromise their faith: was that "rigid"? (A REVIEW OF RENEW 2000 MATERIALS by Brock Fowler)
So the pain seems to be from our letting go of 2,000 of Christian teaching and tradition and embracing a 'new' theology.
This seems to follow Call To Action tactics. Rosemary R. Ruether mentioned Jesus as a 'symbol' some may want to retain during a conference on "Women and Spirituality."
Renew 2000 has a booklet on "SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES:A Vision of Hope" If they were speaking of such 'communities' as the Legion of Mary, or other ministries in the Church, there would be no problem. However, it appears that Renew 2000 is more in line with Call To Action. "RENEW 2000 and small faith communities: Imagining Future Church' ": RENEW 2000's diocesan director from Illinois will speak on the small faith community process, the expected result of which is to replace the Church with a "community of communities" and non-male leadership…... The RENEW 2000 materials that I reviewed (Small Christian Communities, Called to Lead, and several shorter texts) appear orthodox at first glance.
The name "Call to Action" appears nowhere in the materials. But the section entitled "Feminist Spirituality" is unadulterated CTA anti-Church agitprop. In it, one reads: "The foundations of feminism are basically religious...."; "Many Christian women and men who recognize the relationship between many feminist goals and the realization of God's reign are developing a spirituality which integrates a feminist consciousness.... There has been an exclusive emphasis on male imagery when talking about God. When God is imaged as only masculine, we lose the particular expression of God that is feminine." " (Paulists' RENEW 2000 Is Just A Front For Call To Action By Beth Roney Drennan)
" ChristSophia, a female Christ with a pierced nose, is promoted in a 1992 video series featuring RENEW 2000 coordinator and coauthor of the primary RENEW 2000 text Margo LeBert. LeBert is coordinator for RENEW 2000 and has been "American coordinator for the international office of RENEW in Plainfield, N.J." She coauthored the primary RENEW 2000 text, Small Christian Communities. A few years ago, LeBert was featured in a video series called InnerAction. InnerAction and Call to Action are associated with many of the same theologians, writers, and groups. Most disturbing, however, is that the InnerAction program in which RENEW 2000 coordinator and author LeBert appears approvingly features a large, full-color icon of "ChristSophia," a female Christ with a pierced nose holding a naked, faceless fertility goddess doll with huge bare breasts.
This program recommends "to the Christian community" a new "ritual," including 16 "special chants" to the earth, to plants, to the "sisters" (special powers that help people), to powers that bring rain, to the four being powers, and to the spirit of Handsome Lake (InnerAction Cultural Blessings participant magazine, pp. 8 and 27).
Another presenter in RENEW 2000 coordinator LeBert's InnerAction series is Fr. Richard Rohr. He also heads a CTA-associated organization (Center for Action and Contemplation) and founded another (New Jerusalem). Rohr, who has presided at the "weddings" of same-sex couples, also writes books about "enneagrams." "Enneagrams" and their concomitant "enneagram trances" are not in the Catechism, but an Internet search of the word reveals that enneagrams are a part of (again!) the WICCA (witchcraft) and paganism web sites." (Ibid)
The list goes on and on. One thing that was of note was how Renew 2000 seems intent on covering their Call To Action connections. One can only find them after extensive research and digging. And I wouldn't have found it without the help of my Catholic friends on the Romcath e-mail list group.
For a full expose' on Renew 2000, I recommend going to the Peters Net Web site and searching their database for Renew 2000. (http://www.petersnet.net/)
Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., openly declared Call to Action and their affiliates to be heretical and their members excommunicated. Renew 2000 appears to be their attempt to get back in via the back door.
Among the causes which have helped to create massive external debt are not only high interest rates, caused by speculative financial policies, but also the irresponsibility of people in government who, in incurring debt, have given too little thought to the real possibility of repaying it. This has been aggravated by the fact that huge sums obtained through international loans sometimes go to enrich individuals instead of being used to pay for the changes needed for the country's development. At the same time, it would be unjust to impose the burden resulting from these irresponsible decisions upon those who did not make them. The gravity of the situation is all the more evident when we consider that “even the payment of interest alone represents a burden for the economy of poor nations, which deprives the authorities of the money necessary for social development, education, health and the establishment of a fund to create jobs”.(61)
Here I wish to recall what I wrote in the Message for the 1998 World Day of Peace — that the plague of corruption needs to be denounced and combatted forcefully by those in authority, with “the generous support of all citizens, sustained by a firm moral conscience”.(63) Appropriate supervisory bodies and transparency in economic and financial transactions are helpful and in many cases stop the spread of corruption, the dire consequences of which fall in the main upon the weakest and most marginal members of society. It is also the poor who are the first to suffer as a result of delays and inefficiency, by not being properly defended, because of structural deficiencies, especially when corruption affects the administration of justice itself.
In this area too, so relevant today, the action of believers is more important than ever. Alongside legislative and governmental bodies, all people of good will must work to ensure the effective protection of the environment, understood as a gift from God. How much ecological abuse and destruction there is in many parts of America! It is enough to think of the uncontrolled emission of harmful gases or the dramatic phenomenon of forest fires, sometimes deliberately set by people driven by selfish interest. Devastations such as these could lead to the desertification of many parts of America, with the inevitable consequences of hunger and misery. This is an especially urgent problem in the forests of Amazonia, an immense territory extending into different countries: from Brazil to Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.(67) This is one of the world's most precious natural regions because of its bio-diversity which makes it vital for the environmental balance of the entire planet.
NEXT MONDAY: Installment nine - Chapter Three: THE PATH OF CONVERSION The urgency of the call to conversion
But Mary is obedient. Her Master has commissioned her to carry the news to His Apostles. And she is headed straight for the house of the Last Supper. The other Marys have been left far behind. They do not appear to be anywhere in sight, and the Magdalene does not think of them at present.
The city is stirring to life now, as dawn has filled the whole eastern sky. Many curious eyes look after the flying figure of a woman dashing up one street and down another. They question in their minds, most just shake their heads, and go about their normal daily routine. But several recognize her as she passes, for she has not bothered to keep her veil tightly about her face as she runs, and I hear, "It is her, Lazarus' sister." "What can she be in such a hurry for?" "Could be trouble. She was on of His followers. Now that He's gone, there won't be any more trouble between the Temple and Pilate.
Mary, breathless, reaches the house of the Last Supper. Breathing hard, she pauses only for a moment to catch her breath and then knocks. It is not a timid knock as all have been want to do since the Passion of Our Dear Lord. Her knock says clearly that it is urgent she gain entrance, and so eager is she that she repeats the knock at once.
The door squeaks open an inch or two, no more. Angled as I am to Mary's side I see the two piercing eyes of a worried, frightened Peter inside. He sees the woman and is about to open the door a little wider to admit her, but Mary is not about to wait for him. She pushes against the door, surprising Peter, and the door swings fully open and daylight streams into the darkened house where all the shutters remain tightly drawn, save the room where the Blessed Mother prays and gives praise to the Trinity.
"Mary, what has happened?" Peter is truly alarmed. With one hand he grasps the door and bangs it shut, immediately casting them into a semi-gloom, while with the other he grabs Mary's arm with great strength born of his human fear.
"I have been out!" Mary gasps, looking squarely at Peter. "I have been to the garden where His body was laid."
The news shocks Peter, who lets go of her arm. Now he is thoroughly convinced that the Sanhedrin or Pilate's troops have caused either Mary's haste.
Mary rushes up the narrow stairs, headed for the room where the other Apostles are gathered. Peter pulls himself together and enters the room right behind her.
The sight of Lazarus' sister causes the Apostles to come to their feet. Most had been asleep. Some sat dozing, trying to pray. But they find Lazarus' sister in the very center of the room, and not one misses the fact that she is absolutely glowing, her whole being animated with renewed life. They do not speak, but watch her as, carefully. Mary turns slowly a full 360 degrees to let her eyes see each Apostle.
"I was there," she begins.
"She went to the tomb," Peter gruffly interjects. "We'll have trouble now from the guards stationed there."
"No! You don't understand. I have not come to tell you of trouble."
"What have you come to say then?" asks John in a mild voice, almost with a dream-like quality. He, of all the Apostles gathered here, is the only one who is truly at peace. He is not fearful as the others are of being discovered by either Roman soldiers or Sanhedrin guards.