The gamut of opinion, from A to B

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 11, 2003

The Boston Globe breaks the story that the leaders of the US bishops' conference recently convened a secret meeting with various prominent Catholic leaders, to sound out their views on the future of American Catholicism.

Hmm. That's interesting. And we weren't invited. Who was?

Among the participants were several Bostonians, including Mary Jo Bane, a professor of public policy and management at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Dr. Michael F. Collins, president and chief executive officer of Caritas Christi Health Care; Dr. Mary Jane England, president of Regis College; Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities USA and former head of Harvard Divinity School; Sister Mary Johnson, an associate professor of sociology and religious studies at Emmanuel College; the Rev. J. Donald Monan, chancellor of Boston College; and R. Robert Popeo, chairman and president of the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo.

Read through that list, and find the name of someone generally identified as "conservative" in theological orientation. Find someone who is known for defending controversial Catholic teachings. Good luck.

At their Dallas meeting last year, the bishops were criticized for scheduling presentations from two prominent liberals, R. Scott Appleby and Margaret Steinfels. So at this secret meeting, they heard again from Appleby and Steinfels spoke again!

What was the point of this meeting? Maybe the liberal theologian Monika Hellwig captured the sense of the group when she told the Globe: "There are some things that will not move without Rome. But we can make some efforts to move Rome..."

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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