We want to be a forum for dialogue to promote peace and reconciliation

As National Chair of ACTA, I read with interest Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith’s blog about our organisation earlier this week. But Fr Lucie-Smith has got ACTA completely wrong.

ACTA is in no way a pressure group for doctrinal change and in the short time it has been in existence the movement has tried consistently to win the confidence of bishops and other authorities in the Church. However, misunderstandings can happen and when that is the case we need to keep on talking to each other in order to make our respective positions clear. We sincerely hope that Bishop Michael Campbell will be willing to work with us to bring this about despite the reservations he has recently expressed.

Fr Lucie-Smith takes the views that one ACTA member’s views represents those of the movement as a whole. He writes. “First of all, ACTA is a pressure group, and it is a pressure group for doctrinal change, which is apparent from the ACTA spokesman’s mention of gay marriage” during a radio interview.

Members of ACTA are totally free to respond to the reflection on the gift of marriage and family life issued by the bishops’ conference in any way they deem fit. But the stance of the Church is clear. I would guess (this is simply not an issue for us) that many members of ACTA would share Pope Francis’s view, as I understand it; that gay partnerships may be the way ahead whereas gay marriage is not.

ACTA’s real objectives are structural and participatory. We want to increase the input into the Church from non-ordained and ordained and we seek to create forums for doing that. As Fr Lucie-Smith accepts, no one can oppose openness and dialogue. Indeed, dialogue in the Church is positively recommended in Chapter IV of the Vatican II constitution, Lumen Gentium, and is a constant theme in the comments made by Pope Francis, who stresses that dialogue may well involve voicing disagreement.

We are a movement from below, not from above, which enables us to be a channel for impartial opinions. Thus our two main research areas so far have been the liturgical translations and the development of pastoral councils.

In this holiest week of the Church’s year, let us hope and pray that peace and reconciliation will win out against conflict and mutual misunderstanding.