Editor's Note: The following is a statement from the Twin Cities-based Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), of which The Progressive Voice is a founding member organization.
Archdiocesan Catholics want a voice in the direction of their local church. We want a local church inclusive of all age groups, all cultures, and points of view, where communication promotes spiritual growth. We want to manifest God’s love for the world as was Jesus’ mission.
It’s not that we don’t value the role of the Archbishop as spiritual/institutional leader. We appreciate the value of that role very much. The world-wide institutional network of dioceses that is the Roman Catholic Church, with the Bishop of Rome as its symbol of unity and the bishops in regional conferences working together, creates an unparalleled structure for spreading the good news of God’s love for humanity, the message of Jesus. How bishops understand and live out their role matters. It makes the difference between a local church that manifests the Spirit and a lifeless one.
We, the laity, have a role to play in the institutional church too along with the Archbishop and the ordained clergy. Vitality in any organization comes from all its members taking ownership, in open communication, working toward common goals.
Through our Catholic practice we have become profoundly aware of the need for institutional change so that the Church can fulfill its mission. We are calling the disconnects we see between the Gospel message and institutional policies and practices “concerns of conscience.” We the people want to partner with the Archbishop and the ordained clergy to voice our concerns of conscience, and to embody the loving community that manifests the Gospel message. We see this as our baptismal responsibility.
Council of the Baptized
To further our goal of participation, CCCR has founded a charter Council of the Baptized, a 21 member panel, to receive input from the people of the Archdiocese, to deliberate on questions of conscience they present, and to prepare and publish consensus statements in their name. Click here for the Charter document.
Nominations for the 21 seats on the Council of the Baptized are now open. Think of the people you know who are wise, open-minded, thoughtful, and compassionate. You may nominate up to three persons. You can nominate them on-line or you may print the nomination form, fill it in, and mail it to the address listed on it. Click here for a nomination form.
Nominations will be open throughout the months leading to the Synod of the Baptized on September 17, 2011, where it will be one of the main tasks of the participants to nominate Council members. Nominations will remain open until September 24, 2011. At that time, CCCR/ACT will sort and collate the nominations.
The sorting will be by geographical quadrants. There is nothing rigid about the geographical designation: the East/West divide is generally between St. Paul and Minneapolis and the North/South divide is Interstate 94. Choose the quadrant of your parish or your home. We have used the Archdiocesan deanery system as a convenient way to divide parishes into quadrants. In 2015 the deanery system will become a convenient way to group parishes for elections. Click here for your parish and the deanery and quadrant it is in. You may nominate people from any quadrant.
The Council Charter calls for 3 phases of the Council’s establishment. We want it to be as representative as possible of all the people who want their voices heard. Ideally we would have elections at the parish and deanery level. But we will not be able to set up mechanisms for elections right away. Rather than wait till we can make that happen, this year CCCR/ACT will select members by a process of discernment from the nominations by all those who choose to join us before or at Synod 2011. By 2015, the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II, we hope to have elections from parish groups to the deanery level and from the deanery level to the Council
In 2011, then, the 21 member panel will be comprised of 16 quadrant representatives-- 4 members from each quadrant. Each member will have a 3 person support team chosen from the same quadrant. The remaining 5 members will be at-large, chosen for the skills and qualities the Council needs to do its work.
We project that the process of discernment shall be complete by the end of 2011 and the first Council of the Baptized will be seated in January, 2012. It will be ready and open to take the concerns of conscience you wish to present for consideration--in writing, signed with your name or the names of the people in your group
The first topics to be considered by the Council will come from the concerns of conscience brought forth at the Listening Sessions being held now throughout the quadrants. Those concerns will be brought to the Synod for Synod participants to discuss and add their own. Synod Table Leaders will gather after the Synod to work on presentations to the Council.
We need you to pray for guidance for us during this time when many decisions are in the making. We want our first Council to model the kind of community we want our local church to be—collaborative, welcoming the gifts of young and old, full of hope and joy.
See also the previous PCV posts:
The Call of the Baptized: Be the Church, Live the Mission
Synod of the Baptized Uncovers Deep Well of Hope
Listening Sessions Underway in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Local Church
Recommended Off-site Links:
The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform
Can the Catholic Church Change? – Michael Leach (The Huffington Post, March 30, 2011).