A Call To Action is a group of Catholics, ordained and lay, open to discussing issues outside Church teaching. In a nutshell, that’s how I would describe them. The vast majority of Catholics would not be overly worried about A Call To Action, talk to the parishioner on the Clapham pew and the group will be seen as doing no more than exploring.
But to some they are a source of tutting and pearl clutching. And I will admit, I was one of those people. I registered with their website, I have, to be generous to myself, debated with contributors and I have been honest with them that I have no time for the dialogues they wish to open.
But by discussing these matters with the members of A Call To Action I have had to take a step back. I was being very flippant in my dealings with them and that’s not what any of us are here for. It took me back to my feelings about the Soho Masses. I had a very negative view not only of the Masses, but also the attendees, until I spoke to one. He actually approached me to talk about it and I found myself talking to someone looking for spiritual guidance and support. This was not a time for me to judge, but to serve, as I have been ordained to do.
I’ve now had in depth conversations with three members of A Call To Action, two in person and one via email, also one of the most faithful, Christian, loving, generous people I know is very involved although she and I have not discussed the matter. What I find when I speak to the members is earnestness, a wanting to explore, to learn and to understand.
Sadly on the other side of the spectrum we have the rabid right wing, and I make no apology for my turn of phrase. I could be flip in my dealings with them too. I might say ‘obviously they are so threatened by A Call To Action they need to cut them off at the pass’ or ‘they must feel so insecure in their own faith they’re scared this mob might convert them’, but they don’t like what they see from A Call To Action and that must be handled too, but it will need the same openness with which A Call To Action approach issues before it can be handled.
I’ve been disappointed by the behaviour of the right. Infantile comments about the age of the membership abound for a start. All those I know who are affiliated are younger than my 54 years. Just as they hold up Mark Davies and Philip Egan as the only hope for Catholicism in England and Wales, they’ve taken to deriding Kieran Conry for his allowing A Call To Action to act in his diocese. I have not seen any other bishop who has afforded them time being treated to unkind comments and anonymously authored parody blogs*. It’s all got rather subjective.
But Bishop Conry is doing what all orthodox clergy will do, remembering his ordination promise to serve the people of God, not to refuse them or blog about them, or blog about those who do serve them.
A Call To Action is holding a meeting in the parish where I live, not the parish that I serve, in two weeks time. It’s a walk from home, but I will not be attending, I have no interest, although it’s my weekend off and the ad hoc Vigil of Sunday Mass at 5pm might be useful. But nor will I be out there with a placard, calling them names and wishing the Church to censure them.
When they start discussing they are going to be lead to the truth, the whole thing will evaporate and the attackers will look for someone else to attack, and I sure it won’t take them long. A Call To Action are our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must care for them and pray for them. They have not separated from the Church, perhaps some need to know where they fit in, orthodox clergy will serve them by finding where that is.
* “Parody” last bastion of the bully (with apologies to Dr Johnson)