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Dissident Catholics plan own Youth Day

The group called Challenge the Church has organised a five-day program to run concurrently with the World Youth Day festivities in Toronto later this month.

The 'reform-minded' pilgrims will gather in a small Anglican Church for a series of events that will include mass celebrated by a woman and a mock trial charging a church leader with "hypocrisy, secrecy, mistaken teaching and suppression of dissent."

Speakers at Challenge the Church will endorse ordination of women and a reformed church in which not only bishops but the Pope himself - or maybe herself - is elected.

"I hope this will be a joyful experience and we can blow the lid off," said Sister Veronica Dunne, one of the organisers. "This will be a real expression of faith and of God transforming our lives, and will highlight God's presence in the community."

Challenge the Church members say World Youth Day will offer only a top-down, male-dominated view of Catholic faith and that controversial issues such as women's role in the church, birth control, married clergy and sex-abuse scandals will not be addressed.

"We feel young people are looking for opportunities to discuss these issues and suggest solutions," said Rosemary Ganley, assistant editor of the Catholic New Times.

But Fr Tom Rosica, executive director of World Youth Day denied that there would not be a place for those who disagree with official Church teaching.

"All are welcome, especially those who feel marginalized or who are hurting," he said, insisting the teaching sessions will be more open than Challenge the Church is painting them to be. "Anything can be discussed."

Challenge the Church
World Youth Day 2002

The Star (Toronto)

16 Jul 2002