Lincoln, Neb., Feb 1, 2018 / 16:38 pm
Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb. is in talks with local members of the dissenting Catholic group Call to Action to lift a two-decade-old excommunication if they sincerely profess the Catholic faith.
“Bishop Conley is not trying to be soft on dissent with in the Church,” clarified Father Nicholas Kipper, a spokesperson for the Lincoln diocese.
He noted that the bishop “has serious reservations against positions held by Call to Action nationally that would be in contradiction to the teachings of the Church.” However, some members may disagree with the national group on these issues, and may be in adherence with Church teaching.
“What [some of the members] wanted to do was to be in union once again with the Catholic Church,” Fr. Kipper told CNA. “Bishop Conley, of course, wants this as well. His goal as a bishop is to bring people to the Church, thus bringing them to union with Christ.”
Call to Action took inspiration from a 1976 conference that was an initiative of the U.S. bishops. The group was eventually taken over by leaders with more extreme views who fought against Church doctrine. The national organization has backed dissenting theologians and often rejects Church teaching on women’s ordination and sexual morality, among other topics.
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Conley’s immediate predecessor, placed an interdict on members of the national Call to Action group and the local Nebraska chapter in an April 15, 1996 announcement. Excommunication took effect for those who persisted in membership one month later.
Several other groups fell under the excommunication: members of the pro-abortion rights groups Planned Parenthood and Catholics for Choice; Masonic groups and their affiliates; the pro-euthanasia group the Hemlock Society, now known as Compassion & Choices; members of the Society of St. Pius X and its local affiliate, Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel.
“Membership in these organizations or groups is always perilous to the Catholic Faith and most often is totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith,” Bishop Bruskewitz’s message said.