1996 Dec. 1 – “Iowans join Catholic reform effort” by William Simbro, DM Sunday Register p. 4B

1996 Dec. 1 – “Iowans join Catholic reform effort” by William Simbro, DM Sunday Register p. 4B


They aim to gather 9,000 signatures in support of such measures as opening ordained ministries to women and married people.

Photo: caption “The Rev. Frank Cordaro passes around a petition Saturday at Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting. The gathering was part of a national drive for Catholic Church reforms.”

by William Simbro

          Eighteen Catholics — including two priest — gathered at a Quaker meeting house Saturday to launch the Iowa phase of a national campaign seeking sweeping reforms in the Roman Catholic Church.

          A combination prayer service and press conference at Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, 4211 Grand Ave, kicked off an effort to garner signatures from 9,000 Iowa Catholics on the document, “We Are Church: A Catholic Referendum”. It is a project of Call To Action, a movement that for 20 years has challenged the church;s hierarchy to adopt reforms.

          The Rev. Frank Cordaro, often called the most radical priest in the Des Moines Diocese, led the event. Cordaro said the goal is to obtain more than a million signatures nationally from today –the first day of Advent season — to May 18 celebration of Pentecost Sunday.

          Cordaro said the proposed reforms included allowing lay people to have a voice in selecting bishops and pastors; opening all ordained ministries to women and married people; and ending the practice of mandatory celibacy.

Ban by Bishop

          He said the Quaker site was chosen for the Saturday event because Bishop Joseph Charron of the Des Moines Diocese has forbidden any Call to Action activity on Catholic Church property and has refused to discuss the reform issues.

          Monsignor Lawrence Beeson, a top aide to Charron said Saturday that the diocese sent the following statement to all its priest Wednesday:

“It has come to our attention that Iowa Call to Action is holding a news conference Now. 30 about its petition drive. Because this group advocates positions contrary to church teaching, Bishop Charron has indicated that Call to Action meetings or events are not to be held on church property.”

          Beeson declined to elaborate. Charron was on a holiday weekend trip.

          Cordaro said that in some dioceses, Catholics face excommunication for being involved with Call to Action. “Our church says to shut up and don’t talk abut it,” he said. However, he said five American bishops and many priest and nuns are members of the reform movement.

Nothing To Fear

          “No one has anything to fear from us,” Cordaro said. “We love the church. Fear not, this is no way to run a church–no fear. We have a good church. If the reforms were adopted, we would have a much better church.”

          He said “all the polls” of Catholics show that most of them support reforms.





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