Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Launching a Council of the Baptized in St. Paul and Minneapolis

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).


  1. This seems rather too much like a new style college of cardinals. Maybe not the best direction to take.

  2. Robert Caruso offers the following observations:

    This may be a well intentioned approach, but it is not how the Roman Church functions doctrinally or juridically.

    Vatican II documents, especially "Lumen Gentium," upheld the infallibility of the Pope and the episcopal-centric governance of the church. The Roman Church is not doctrinally built to be a conciliar church in the manner that CCCR wants it to be.

    I support much of what CCCR asserts about the spirituality of conciliarism, however, it is not a Roman Catholic approach. The conciliarism CCCR espouses died in the West at the Council of Constance (the same council that burned John Hus at the stake for wanting the Bible and liturgy translated into the Czech vernacular). This conciliarism you speak of thrives within the Eastern Orthodox and Old Catholic Churches in Europe, and is a major part of their Catholic traditions.

    The conciliary understanding of the church you support is a completely different way of understanding the church, where priority is given without question to the local in manifesting the universal. Vatican II attempted to produce this kind of "communion ecclesiology" and failed because it upheld much of the ecclesial doctrine of Vatican I. It is impossible to have a priority of the local Church when papal powers are defined infallibly and are independent from the local churches and college of bishops throughout the world. In a nutshell, Vatican II is a universal ecclesiology veiled in a pseudo eucharistic (or local) priority of the Church Catholic.

    It is time to turn our energies to the conciliar Catholic traditions that proclaim the gospel and foster an ethos of the church that we embrace. Rome, through this new pope, is going down a road where it will not change for some time.

    One last thing: A lot of the related articles from The Progressive Catholic Voice resemble the beginnings of what occurred with the Old Catholics in Europe. The Conference of Munich (1871) was comprised of Roman Catholic clergy, theologians, and hundreds of laity. They were all discussing the same content you're discussing. It was never their intention to form "another church," but rather to reform the Catholic Church from within. What they did not realize at the time was that their actions were the beginning of a manifestation of the Catholicism that remained faithful to the tradition of the first ten ecumenical councils. This could be the beginning of something similar here. What an awesome opportunity to see the birthing of a conciliar Catholic Church in the U.S. -- whether or not it is in communion with Rome at this time is beside the point. I support your journey!



  3. This sounds like the beginnings of a schism. You seem to think the Church can change the teachings of Christ to fit your cultural proclivities. It cannot. The Church doesn't have the authority to ordain priestesses, it can't condone same sex marriage, it can't condone fornication, it can't condone cohabitation, it can't condone masturbation, and it can't condone all the other heterodoxy you espouse here. You will not be able to contracept or abort at will. The Church stands apart from the whims of society in its teachings on doctrine and morals. What I see is that you are not Catholics you are Protestants masquerading as Catholics.

  4. "We want a local church inclusive of all age groups, all cultures, and points of view, where communication promotes spiritual growth."

    Join the Lutherans - they need minions like you!

  5. We, the laity, have a role to play in the institutional church too along with the Archbishop and the ordained clergy.

    "This Sacred Council, following closely in the footsteps of the First Vatican Council, with that Council teaches and declares that Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent forth the apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father;(136) and He willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world." Lumen Gentium 18 Note: No laity!

  6. "Through our Catholic practice we have become profoundly aware of the need for institutional change so that the Church can fulfill its mission."

    What makes so you preferential to the Holy Spirit that He endows you with this special insight?

  7. You're about 40 years too late on this one guys. The Church, unfortunately, already tried all your modern errors on for size. As a result, we got dwindling Mass attendance, rampant heresy, and outright apostacy, leading to proto-schismatic groups such as yours. Read the Fathers of the Church and (more importantly) pray to the Holy Ghost that you will be fully converted from your sinful error and be brought back into full communion with the One, True Church.

  8. Dave is right on. The teachings of the Church are not based on modern ideologies or opinion polls.