Members of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) Lay Network have “voted” and selected three priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to be bishop/archbishop.
The three priests who rose to the top of a slate of seven are Frs. J. Michael Byron of St. Pascal Baylon, St. Paul; Paul Feela of Lumen Christi, St. Paul; and Timothy Wozniak of St. Thomas Becket, Eagan. None of the priests on the slate were consulted, nor did they give their consent to be included in this initiative. Those that voted believe these men would be able to unify polarized factions in this archdiocese and bring Catholics together to accomplish the Church’s mission. (Learn about the selection process at www.cccrmn.org.)
Lay Catholics can’t actually elect their own leadership (hence, vote in quotes), but the CCCR’s Bishop Selection Task Force created the opportunity for local Catholics to “vote” for several reasons:
• To help local laity identify the priests in this archdiocese in whom they have confidence to be effective leaders
• To promote lay Catholics’ ability to raise a unified voice in support of a healthy, sustainable local church
• To begin to re-establish the teachings set forth by the Second Vatican Council, which called for lay Catholics to actively participate in their church
• To help increase the Vatican’s awareness and understanding of the needs of this archdiocese
Of the 1,540 local Catholics registered in the CCCR Lay Network and, therefore, eligible to vote, 410 votes were received. “I’m delighted with the response,” said Bob Christensen of the Bishop Selection Task Force. “That’s almost 30 percent participation – pretty impressive for the first time we’ve done anything like this.”
Lay Catholics, whether or not they voted in the selection process, are now being urged to write to the papal nuncio with their recommendations for leadership. The papal nuncio is the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., who decides which names will be forwarded to Rome when bishops and archbishops are needed in this country. Those who write may recommend the priests identified by the vote, other priests they feel are credible choices for bishop/archbishop, and/or qualities they feel are essential to reunifying the archdiocese and refocusing on the mission of the church.
Correspondence to the papal nuncio should be sent to:
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò,
Papal Nuncio to the U.S.
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008-3687
“We’d like everyone to write to the nuncio by December 15,” said Paula Ruddy of CCCR. “We want him to be aware that we’re concerned about this archdiocese and care enough to contact him about it. We hope a lot of correspondence from our archdiocese within this timeframe will get his attention. The CCCR has written to give Archbishop Viganò a heads up, but the power is in the voice of the people. The people are who he needs to hear from.”
Those who write may choose to frame their letters in the context of the upheaval in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, but this initiative started long before the archdiocesan woes came to light.
Carol Tauer of CCCR said, “Our group was established in 2009 to stimulate lay interest and participation in our local church. Vatican II called for all Catholics to step up and take responsibility for the future of the church - not just the clergy. Those Vatican II teachings have been forgotten over time. We want to see them come alive again and be strengthened through active lay engagement.”
The CCCR was formed in 2009 to help re-establish a healthy, sustainable Catholic church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It is building a Lay Network and encouraging a growing community of Catholics to take action and be heard on issues including evolutionary Christianity, sexual ethics, gender inclusivity, transparency and accountability, bishop selection and lay involvement in church leadership.