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Press Release, May 15, 2004

3150 Newgate Drive
Florissant, MO 63033
John Sheehan, National Coordinator,  413-527-9929
Leonard Swidler, President,  215-477-1080

Secret Machinations

The Association for the Rights of Catholic in the Church (ARCC) deplores the deceptive tactics of bishops. Some U.S. bishops, including two cardinals -- Rigali of Philadelphia and Egan of New York -- have been secretly organizing to undercut the work of the National Review Board (NRB) of twelve laymen and laywomen charged with monitoring the U.S. bishops' compliance with the child protection policies the bishops themselves had approved last year.

Just as the proceedings of Vatican II were initially supposed to be held in secret, so still today some Church leaders consider it their right to maneuver behind the scenes when their presumed privileged status is challenged. Stonewalling and other secret machinations clearly violate the call of the People of God for openness and transparency in the way bishops deal with other members of the Church and the public in general. Political leaders guilty of such practices would be subject to censure or even impeachment. Surely Church administrators should be held to at least the same standard of behavior.

Since the NRB is composed of members of the laity these deceptive tactics can also be viewed as yet another example of the bishops' mistrust of the laity, exemplified by the negative reaction of many bishops to VOTF and the dismissive characterization by Archbishop Chaput of the NRB as merely an "important advisory board at the service of the bishops," with no supervisory authority. According to Justice Burke, one bishop has even accused some members of the NRB of not being "good Catholics."

ARCC calls for all bishops to cease and desist from secretive activities and to pay more than lip-service to the Church's teaching: "All the faithful, by virtue of their Baptism, enjoy a radical equality" (CANON 208).

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