Since November of last year, the Lepanto Institute has been focusing its attention on the actions of a small, but influential cabal of heretical priests seeking to upend the Glory of the Holy Catholic Church. But the Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) is only one piece of the puzzle. We have discovered that the AUSCP is a part of a much larger and more global effort to spread the heresy of Modernism throughout the Church.
- Lepanto Institute commissioned an Organizational Profile on the AUSCP
- We reported that the AUSCP is pushing for “priestless parishes” and the ordination of permanent women deaconesses
- We reported on the USCP’s 2018 Assembly, spotlighting their modernist priestly formation suggestions and invitation to the notorious Fr. Richard Rohr to speak to their members.
- We reported how AUSCP is attempting to funnel money from parishes to spread their modernist program.
And this is just scratching the surface!
Walking on the edge
These previous reports beg the question why no official action is being taken against this growing threat to Holy Mother Church. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that AUSCP is openly supported by a number of high ranking bishops in the United States, such as Archbishop John Wester who serves is AUSCP’s “episcopal moderator,” and Cardinal Blaise Cupich, who opened his diocese to the AUSCP while expressing his support of their mission.
The AUSCP is keenly aware it must remain in the good graces of the US bishops to continue to operate in the full light of day. It has taken care not to advocate positions such as the full ordination of women to the priesthood. Such a move would jeopardize their alliance with progressive bishops. As former AUSCP board member Fr. Bernie Servil told the National Catholic Reporter when asked about not pushing for women priests, “There are limits to dissent because all the priests are in good standing [with their dioceses].”
The thing is, the AUSCP has gone to great lengths to hide their true motives by projecting the impression that they are “merely” progressive while remaining loyal. However, new information reveals that the AUSCP has directly undermined the authority and dictates of bishops. But worse than this, the AUSCP is actively involved in a well-funded and long-standing international effort to radically change the face of the entire Catholic Church.
Hosting banned heretics
In 2013, AUSCP hosted a known dissident priest in several dioceses where he was expressly forbidden to speak by the local bishops.
In 2013, Fr. Helmut Schuller, head of Austria’s dissident “Pfarrer-Initiative,” scheduled a tour of 15 U.S. cities called “A Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Fr. Helmut Schuller.” According to Maureen Fiedler of NCR:
“Schuller has been the leader of more than 400 priests and deacons who issued an “Appeal to Disobedience” in 2011, calling for (among other things) admission of women and married people to the Catholic priesthood.
This statement went beyond mere words. The group announced it would actually implement changes often forbidden in Catholic churches, such as allowing laypersons to preach, giving Communion to the divorced and remarried or those of other Christian churches, and giving laypeople a large role in running local parishes.
Moreover, they are outspoken proponents for allowing married men and women into the priesthood and for LBGT rights.”
Fr. Schuller’s speaking tour was publicly sponsored by a number of the usual dissident suspects, such as, Call to Action, Dignity USA, Voice of the Faithful, FutureChurch and the Women’s Ordination Conference. However, one organization was quietly supporting and promoting this tour behind the scenes. This organization was none other than the AUSCP.
In January of 2013, according to AUSCP board meeting minutes obtained by the Lepanto Institute, AUSCP’s board met and approved the following item : “ACTION: AUSCP will publicize tour of Helmut Schuller of Austria to our members.”
AUSCP followed up on this with a post in their member newsletter promoting the tour and stating, “AUSCP is doing what it can to publicize the tour and AUSCP members in Detroit are actively involved in hosting Father Helmut.”
As the Tipping Point tour kicked off, several U.S. Bishops including Boston’s Cardinal O’ Malley, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Chaput, and Detroit’s Archbishop Vigneron banned Fr. Schuller from speaking in their dioceses. Remember, as shown above, the AUSCP was hosting Fr. Schuller in Detroit and as priests “in good standing,” their duty would be to obey and cancel the engagement. However as reported by Call to Action, the AUSCP’s Fr. Gerry Bechard simply moved the venue out of the local parish to a high school:
“DETROIT, FRIDAY JULY 26 – Over 800 folks heard [Fr.] Helmut [Schuller] in Detroit after an archdiocesan ban of the program at SS Simon and Jude Parish appeared on front page of Detroit Free Press Friday AM. Instead, Fr. Schuller gave an EXCELLENT presentation at a local high school and received a standing ovation. Sr. Chris Schenk welcomed folks in the name of all sponsoring groups, thanked the Elephants in the Living Room and local Association of US Catholic Priests for their sponsorship. She also thanked the hierarchy in Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit for all the great PR (the crowd loved that). Afterwards, Fr. Gerry Bechard, the Pastor of Ss Simon and Jude hosted a reception for everyone at the parish hall.
An estimated 40 – 50 priests attended the presentation.”
Fr. Schuller was also invited and gave a presentation at the 2013 AUSCP
Assembly along with another officially silenced heretic, Fr. Tony Flannery, who founded the Irish Association of Catholic Priests. It should be noted that after Fr. Flannery was formally silenced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012 for flouting Church teaching on women’s ordination, the AUSCP issued a statement of support signed by AUSCP leadership and a large number of its members. This statement also expressed support for excommunicated and defrocked priest, Roy Bourgeois.
The AUSCP’s disregard for the authority of the Church and Her bishops is not incidental. While it may seem counter-intuitive to stand in stark disobedience to bishops and even the Vatican, just to support two canonically penalized priests, there is a very clear explanation. Both Fr. Schuller and Fr. Flannery happen to be the leaders of their respective countries’ priestly “reform” associations and part of a larger coalition to which AUSCP belongs!
The international agenda
The AUSCP is a participating member of the International Church Reform Network (ICRN). According to the ICRN website, the ICRN is an international network of priest and “reform” movements including:
- National Council of Priests of Australia
- Catholics for Renewal, Inc (Australia)
- Austria Pfarrer Initiative Österreich
- Austria Wir sind Kirche / We are Church Austria
- Pfarrer-Initiative Deutschland
- Wir sind Kirche / We are Church Germany
- A Call to Action (UK)
- International Movement we are Church
- International Women Ordination Worldwide
- Association of Catholic Priests (Ireland) ACP
- We are Church Ireland
- Noi siamo Chiesa– we are Church Italy
- Society for open Christianity for the 21st century OK21
- Pfarrei-Initiative Schweiz
- American Catholic Council
- Association of US Catholic Priests AUSCP
- Call to Action USA
- Dignity USA
- FUTURE CHURCH
- New Ways Ministry
- Voice of the Faithful
- Women Ordination Conference
In 2016, The AUSCP played a major role in ICRN’s International Conference which took place in Chicago. According to a report on the conference by the Pfarrer-Initiative, AUSCP was on the conference steering committee, participated in discussions on homosexual inclusion and women’s ordination to the priesthood and helped draft statements issued by the conference itself.
- Exhibit 1: Steering committee membership
- Exhibit 2: Discussions on homosexual inclusion and ordination of women to the priesthood
- Exhibit 3: statement drafted by AUSCP member Fr. Michael Crosby
- Exhibit 5: List of AUSCP participants, Fr. Schuller and Fr. Flannery also participated
The press statement following this conference included the above points and listed AUSCP head Fr. Bob Bonnot as a contact.
Clearly, the AUSCP is engaged in an international effort to undermine the authority of the hierarchy and wreck the immutable teachings of Holy Mother Church. These are not the acts of mere “progressives,” but true enemies of Christ and His Mystical Bride, so it is inconceivable that any bishop or cardinal could invite this den of heresy into their dioceses. In charity, we can suppose that they do so out of ignorance. But they won’t be in ignorance any longer once they read this report, and remember: To act wrongly out of ignorance is a mistake, but to act wrongly with full knowledge is malice.
We urge you to pass this information along to your bishop, and stay tuned to our continuing coverage of the upcoming 2018 AUSCP Assembly!