Thursday, August 13, 2009

CCCR Responds to Censure by Chancery

The following letter has been issued by the co-chairs of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) - of which the Progressive Catholic Voice is a member organization.


Dear Friends of CCCR:

The Archdiocese has issued another statement regarding the status of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR). The first one was on the occasion of our founding prayer breakfast on April 18, 2009. The most recent statement appears in the Catholic Spirit of August 13, 2009. It seems there are some issues that need clarification.

The published statement bears the coat of arms of the Archdiocese but there is no name of the person issuing it. We are presuming that it was issued with the authority of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt. No one from the Archdiocese has spoken with us directly.

The Archbishop is entirely correct that CCCR does not act in any official capacity for the Archdiocese nor is it in any way sanctioned by the Archdiocese. Nevertheless, we are Catholics who reside within the Archdiocese and we are committed to using whatever gifts God has given us in service of our local church. In announcing our Synod of the Baptized for September 18, 2010, we presumed, as an independent organization, that we could name our local church without including the information that we had not been authorized to do so. We apologize to anyone who thought we were claiming authorization.

After the first Archdiocesan statement in April, issued by the Chancery Office, we informed the Vicar General of our identities and our activities and asked for conversation with him. Our last letter asking for a meeting was sent Monday, August 10.

The Archbishop has nothing to fear from us. We want to be in communion with him. But communion is not a juridical relationship, it is primarily a relationship of spirit. Real communication is necessary for communion.

If the problem is that we are calling our 2010 conference a “synod” and only bishops can officially call a synod in ecclesiastical practice, he need only ask us to consider renaming it. To us, our use of the word “synod” signifies the participation of all the baptized, not just the ordained baptized, in the process of directing the local church. Since Vatican II, we have been unwilling to abdicate our baptismal responsibility for the direction the church takes.

Better even than asking us to reconsider the name, the Archbishop could offer to partner with us in calling a Synod of the Baptized. Instead of using his power to crush us, he could join with us to invite the whole Archdiocese to think about and discuss how we can further the mission of Jesus together.

That is precisely what we are attempting to do in the work/study groups the Archbishop “lovingly” warns people to shun for their own good. One of the work/study groups is discussing Catholic spirituality, what characterizes it, and how it can be nurtured within the local church. One of the groups is entitled Catholic Identity/Christian Identity. It is attempting to articulate the values of the institutional church that may be undercut by contemporary culture. Another group is discussing social justice and how the local church can improve in its commitment to the marginalized. Still another group is focusing on the importance of the role of bishop in the local church and the necessity of the relationship of leader to the body of the church. We are discussing human sexuality, church governance and authority, the “emerging” church, children and families, and clericalism. We have so far made no statements or recommendations for reform on any of these topics. Does discussing the questions threaten the Archbishop’s authority, church doctrine, or the well-being of the local church? We hope not.

We ask you to write to the Archbishop asking him to re-think his censure of us and asking him to back us in our effort to live up to our baptismal calling. We are asking for a meeting with him and will keep you informed.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis
226 Summit Avenue
St Paul, MN 55102

Send us a copy of your letter, if you want, at 2080 Edgcumbe Road, St. Paul, MN 55116.

CCCR Board Co-Chairs
Paula Ruddy
Michael Bayly
Bernie Rodel


  1. It is sad but I think you just need to face facts. The Archbishop doesn't want you to have a place at the table. You are all nobodys to him. He is the Prince and you are the peasants so I don't really think he wants to listen. Sorry.

  2. If the Archbishop is REALLY the Prince, I'll never ever kiss a frog. The Synod of the Baptized is over. There were many people at many tables. They're not going to go away. The day was great. Affirming. Challenging. Well organized. All of us there listened.