April 24, 2005

Far From Rome

Los Angeles Times

By Josh Getlin, Times Staff Writer

Three years ago, Father Walter Cuenin and his parishioners at Our Lady Help of Christians participated in the Catholic equivalent of the Boston Tea Party helping launch a revolt against church authority.

As they protested Cardinal Bernard Law's failure to act against priests accused of sexual abuse, the parishioners ignored warnings from church officials and refused to join in a $300-million archdiocese fundraising drive, saying that to do so would violate their conscience.

At one point, Cuenin and 57 other priests signed a letter calling publicly for Law's resignation. Their efforts contributed to his decision to step down.

As the worldwide church celebrates the election of Pope Benedict XVI, many here are declining to take part.

"What happened in Rome was a story on television," said Rosa Buffone, a psychotherapist who helps direct the church's Gay-Lesbian Faith Sharing Group. "It certainly won't be affecting my life here in this parish."

Many of the 10,000 parishioners at Our Lady respect the church's authority but dissent on issues such as abortion and birth control, homosexuality, the role of the laity, the place of women in the modern church, celibacy for priests and how to handle lingering issues from the sexual abuse scandal.

Posted by kshaw at April 24, 2005 07:03 AM