Rockville Centre Bishop William Murphy announced a major shakeup of religious education yesterday that reconfigures the program that produced a generation of lay Catholic leaders, as well as many members of Voice of the Faithful, an activist group that has demanded the bishop’s resignation.
Murphy said the restructuring would "not mean a major change in the content of what we offer, which is the teaching of the Church," in a column in this week’s diocesan newspaper.
But critics said they feared the changes – coming two weeks after he named a new seminary rector known for strict orthodoxy – signal a retreat from what they describe as the progressive, post-Vatican II model that had flourished under the late Bishop John McGann, to a more top-down setup.
Funny thing is I think that Christ actually intended the Church to be a top-down setup with. Jesus as head of the Church. Maybe this exactly describes so much of the progressive model which is a down-top setup. Whatever you want theology to be is suppose to be passed up through the hierarch and accepted by Christ himself.
Yesterday’s announcement offered few details on how programs for adults, as well as those for children, may change. But sources said the bishop had been critical of the Pastoral Formation Institute, a two-year adult program that taught Catholic theology with an emphasis on spiritual and personal development. Although the institute produced almost 1,600 graduates, many of whom are present-day parish leaders, it also incubated many of the members of Voice of the Faithful, a group formed in response to the sex abuse scandals which has been highly critical of the bishop.
"He wants everyone to be on the same page theologically," said one educator who was briefed on the changes and asked not to be named. "So if you’re doing marriage preparation, for instance, everyone will focus on the church’s teachings on natural family planning. Accountability is a big piece of this." [Source]
This is a novel concept – the universal Church teaching a universal theology. To get an idea just what kind of VOTF leaders this program produced take a look at this inside look at the VOTF chapter in Long Island.