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Dissident Catholics (and ex-Catholics) search for signs of hope after Detroit conference

June 15, 2011

Remember Matthew Fox? In the 1980s he came to prominence as a Dominican priest, preaching a form of eco-mysticism that was more attractive to New Agers than to the Vatican. At his Institute for Creation Spirituality, he teamed up with a woman who called herself Starhawk and identified herself as a “neopagan.” Again the Vatican was not amused. Eventually, on orders from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Fox was expelled from the Dominican order. He is now an Anglican priest.

Writing now for the Washington Post, Fox finds great promise in the conference organized by the American Catholic Council, held in Detroit this past weekend. He sees it as possibly the birth of a new “angry lay movement” that will “deconstruct the church as we know it.”

In the National Catholic Reporter, Sister Maureen Fiedler gives another optimistic report on the Detroit gathering, saying that she was “especially interested in signs of change and maturing in the movement.”

Maturing, indeed. Fielder admits: “This was a ‘graying’ crowd: the ‘Vatican II generation’ still hoping to fulfill the promise of that Council.” It was a very “white” crowd, too, she concedes; there was not much evidence of the ethnic diversity that organizers might have wished for. Still, despite the evidence that she presents, Fiedler is hopeful, because “new communities grow and create what is essentially a small parallel church.” Which is odd, because the community that she describes is not “new,” and a group characterized by old age and ethnic homogeneity does not seem a good bet to grow.


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jun. 15, 2011 7:25 PM ET USA

    Insofar as Fox is a "priest" of the Episcopal diocese, admitted by "bishop" Swing in 1994, it is technically correct to identify him as an Anglican. But most folks who call themselves Anglican in the US, rather than Episcopalian, would probably not consider him in communion with themselves. Anglicans are the closest to Catholic in thinking and sympathy, and not at all in tune with the Earth Mother, whoever that is.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Jun. 15, 2011 6:30 PM ET USA

    I wonder if the Rev. Fox will take advantage of the Holy Father's offer to the Anglican faithful to return to full unity via the new Ordinates? But, alas, Starhawk will probably object.