Sunday, August 18, 2013

Taking Action to Decentralize the Church

A new global group is educating Catholics about an important early church tradition and inviting them to sign a letter to Pope Francis, urging him to once again allow Catholics to elect their own bishops.

Catholic Church Reform is a global community supporting decentralization of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily by advocating a return to the early church practice that saw the people elect the bishops of their diocese.

Two local groups, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and the Council of the Baptized, have formally endorsed Catholic Church Reform's call for lay participation in the selection of bishops.

On its website Catholic Church Reform notes that:

Pope Francis has brought a breath of fresh air to the Roman Church. And he is rekindling the hopes of millions of Catholics and non-Catholics alike who had felt increasingly discouraged and alienated from the Church in the past. For decades, reform groups globally have been working to promote some aspect of Church reform, but they have been met with a Church that has been unwilling to change. But now that Pope Francis has brought to Rome a new, positive spirit of openness, he has rekindled our hopes for change on many fronts.

Our mission is to gather all of this energy and focus our communal love for the Church and passion for reform on a single cause: urging Pope Francis and his council of eight cardinals to decentralize the Church and encourage the People of God in each diocese throughout the world to elect their own bishops. We think this step is essential before the Church can turn to more specific reform issues. Electing our own bishops will make for a new, more vibrant Church in which the people of God – led by the clerical, religious, and lay leaders – will have a voice in what Vatican II declared was our Church. With movement from the bottom up, the Church will be more welcoming to those outside its doors. Whether you are an active Catholic, a former Catholic, or a non-Catholic, if your respect for the Church would be enhanced by a a more people-centered Catholic Church, we invite you to be a part of our online community.

We have two choices: We can sit and bemoan what is wrong in the Church or we can take action. To remain silent is to become complicit with the wrong.

Accordingly, Catholic Church Reform is encouraging Catholics to take action by signing a letter to Pope Francis, urging him to invite all Catholics globally - in unity with the local clergy, religious leaders and lay leaders - to elect their own bishops.

To read and sign this letter, click here.

Following is a 2-minute video that Catholic Church Reform has made to help spread its message and invite people to take action.


  1. Electing bishops? Great idea. Council of the Baptized, our local voice for lay participation, has a publication giving the history and the rationale for that. We, the CCCR team on Bishop Selection, are going to talk about it in a break-out session at Synod of the Baptized 2013 on September 28. Copies of the Council publication will be given to Synod participants. If you want to read it ahead of time, go to, click on publications, and there you will find it. As a first step we are writing to the Papal Nuncio in Washington DC whose job it is to recommend candidates for bishop to the pope. He has invited anyone interested to write to him. So we are going to do that.

  2. Electing bishops will bring vibrancy to the Catholic Church.
    Supporting the prayerful deliberations of the Council of the Baptized has proven to me that such vibrancy exists and may be extended by broader lay involvement in the Catholic Church.
    Intimate involvement in the CCCR team on bishop selection has shown me additional qualities essential to the election of bishops.
    Broad life experience. Diverse perspectives. Individual viewpoints. Open deliberations regarding new information and questions. Respect for individual gifts.
    Lay individuals need to be given the opportunity to participate in electing the bishop. Lay participation in the selection of bishops is not a you versus me issue.
    "We" can and must work "together" to recreate a living, breathing Church. I am hopeful. I pray you will consider the work we have done in the People's Participation in Selection of Bishops published by the Council of the Baptized.
    May the peace of Christ be with you--with us all.