Is Call to Action passe? Depends on who you ask...

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The New York Times ran a story today on Chicago-based Call to Action, presumably the largest left-leaning church reform organization in the United State (maybe the world?). With 25,000 members, it is pretty big.

The Times story focused on CTA's current petition drive in support of Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois, a favorite among liberal types both for his efforts to shut down the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia and for his outspoken advocacy of women's ordination to the priesthood. On the latter he now faces expulsion from his order, unless he recants his public statements in support of women's ordination.

Petitions, of course, are mechanisms of democratic institutions, and the Roman Catholic Church as it is currently organized doesn't have much democracy left in it, unless you are a member of a religious order (and so vote for your own leaders) or a cardinal (and so vote for the pope).

Which makes one wonder about the future of Call to Action and other reform-minded groups: Given the current ecclesiastical climate, change that would introduce greater lay roles in decision-making of any kind seems a distant dream. I for one would welcome a more participatory church--and I don't think there is anything in the church's divine institution that would prevent such a change. Indeed I think church history is rife with examples of more meaningful participation by, well, non-bishops. At the same time, I am beginning to lose hope that we may see any movement on this in my lifetime.

Too grim? I imagine the folks at CTA think so...