Liberal American Catholics may have to take a few lessons from their conservative counterparts if they want to reach more sympathizers in the church.
American Catholics involved in such liberal caucuses as Call to Action planned a drive 2 years ago called “We Are the Church,” where they planned to collect more than one million signatures to petition church leaders to accept such positions as optional celibacy for priests, women’s ordination and the “primacy of conscience” on sexual questions.
But when American Catholic leaders presented their petitions to the Vatican along with other liberal Catholics from other countries, they had only collected 37,000 signatures [Although, worldwide, the petition drew 2.5 million signatures].
Crisis magazine (January) reports that when conservative Catholic groups learned about the We Are The Church petition, they drew up their own petition called “We Are Catholics.” The petition, written up by two Catholic high school students, supported the pope on the contested issues. When Fr. Paul Marx of the conservative pro-life group, learned of the conservative petition, he posted it on the World Wide Web. The “We Are Catholics” petition (eventually presented to the pope) gathered more than 90,000 signatures in the U.S.–57,000 more than the “We Are The Church” document.
[The different outcomes on these petitions does not necessarily mean that American Catholics are becoming more conservative in belief. Rather, the failure of the We Are The Church petition to reach its desired goal may show that the liberal segment of the church has problems mobilizing its members to action as compared to conservatives. The conservative Catholic’s significant presence in the media, such as Mother Angelica’s TV network and in their many publications, as well as the Internet, suggests that conservative leaders have developed more points of access to their constituency than liberal Catholics.]
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