The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

I  am a member of the Council of the Baptized - Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and I believe that now is the time for the church to accept two groups of people as Jesus would.  The groups are women who have been called to serve and people who are attracted sexually to the same sex.

1. Women are eligible for ordination because of their individual call, in Justice, with discernment.

2. Same sex couples should now be welcomed as members of the church regardless of their sexual preference and should not be reviled a sinners.  We are all sinners.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak what is in my heart and on my mind.

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Extract from Saving the Catholic Church Newsletter.   Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to be on the ACCR email list.

Culture has no direct connection to doctrine, canon law or theology. It has everything to do with attitude, charity, understanding—you know what I mean: being pastoral. Once that is set right, the rest is just plain common sense.

Just look at the current situation.

At the top, with the delightful and remarkable exception of the current Pope, the culture of the hierarchy is to stay steadfastly devoted to intransigence and otherwise maintaining the status quo.

At national levels, the conferences of Catholic bishops seem dedicated to keeping their jobs, assuring an elegant retirement, and not rocking the boat. And at the diocesan level, it is “my way or the highway and don’t bother me with facts.”

The result is that the Church has moved steadily back to the nineteenth century since the stalling of the great promise of Vatican II by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

We have a consistently boring magisterium that provides us weekly, ten-minute rehashes of the readings of the day, with zero relevance to what is going on around us in the world.

Some wring their hands that so many of the younger people leave the church when they leave for college. I suspect that many really leave when, usually as high school freshmen they study Earth Science and then try to reconcile it with the first chapter of Genesis. The irony here is that this is at about the same time they are preparing for confirmation in some dioceses.

The USCCB has two conferences each year and all we know about them is a picture of the perfect attendance of all 350 sitting in the auditorium of a posh hotel. No agenda, no minutes and no assured record of any decisions. A few years ago they staged a televised session that was more like a commercial.

Would it not serve us—and the Church—better if they used those three or four days to develop a Church position on gun control within the construct of the Second Amendment, or immigration, or health care, or poverty, or the relationship between the police and those they are sworn to protect? And then publish the agenda, minutes and decisions with a mandate that pastors must address them in two successive weekly sermons, with equal time for men and women homilists?

Ironically, if you recall the TV series Rome, the time of Christ was far more violent than it is now. Does that come across in the readings? We have many idyllic scenes of wells, pleasant roads, vineyards and large dinners, but no street crime or violence or demonstrations. Reality?

Jesus was a rebel, not just the local storyteller.

Women in the Church have been ignored, abused and discriminated against for centuries and still stay. After more than forty years we still have child rape and cover-ups.

This is the culture of our Church. Fixing one or two of these situations is not going to work, because the system is broken and corrupt.

It’s not a very promising situation. {jcomments on}

In pursuing the Strategy Team discussion after their 24 August meeting by e-mail Clyde made this comment which immediately provoked discussion.

In my view, the main obstacle to reform is a grass roots sense that reform can't happen from the grass roots: it has to come from the top down.  People need to know that the simple act of naming injustices and inequalities as experienced at the grass roots is foundational for reform.

Ed replied:

Your writing does not match the upside down pyramid

In my view the main  obstacle to reform the church is the stubborn vertical thinking of most of the people in the pews. They would feel very uncomfortable with the horizontal talking  in dialogue sessions. So invitations do not help. We will have to participate ourselves in dialogue sessions, start talking about our personal experience of dialogue and drag people from the pews into the benefits of the same experience. The aim is no longer to try to change the institute but to change ourselves and realize that we ourselves can become the church, we want to see.


I hope the ST is seeing the difference.  Let us become the church , we want to see


I hear you and Clyde saying the same thing. It’s the people who have to change if the church is going to change. Reform is not going to come from the top down. It’s only going to come when the people stop looking at the hierarchy for answers and begin to look within.


That's right.  Yes, become the church we want to see.

St. Augustine said much the same thing in his famous summary of the Eucharistic Prayer: "See who you are; be what you see."

The upside-down pyramid is an aspiration that needs initiative from the laity and, in most parish settings, supportive encouragement (for both initiative and maintaining lay independence) from pastors.  Since so few pastors are schooled in such support, lay initiative works best in "local gatherings" independent of the parish.  It would take a thorough going evangelization effort to win over a lukewarm local pastor.

But, Ed, I think you are right: the emphasis should be not on winning over the local pastor so much as bringing in members of the local parish.  Maintaining independence is important.


Clyde, You did write it has to come from the top down

If you believe that this generation of bishops will be replaced shortly or that this is not autistic and can be converted by our crying you are right: the Institute itself can only be changed top down. Maybe I was wrong in recognizing the outdated Chitister view in your point.


Ed, What I wrote was "In my view, the main obstacle to reform is a grass roots sense that reform can't happen from the grass roots: it has to come from the top down."

The phrase "it has to come from the top down" is the "grass roots sense". 

Rene was correct about our interpretations: they are the same.

I DO NOT BELIEVE that change in the institutional Church "has to come from the top down", and I don't think Francis believes that either.  Vatican II (following John Henry Newman's 1859 tract "On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine") recognized the role of the "sensus fidelium".

I agree with you that the position of the bishops is "autistic" and cannot be converted "by our crying".  Beating drums to a loud voice is not adequate.  We need something more.

I think we can arrive at "something more" by the combined pursuit of "local gatherings" toward a "People's Synod".  It is locally --  in small communities -- where we are called to "become the church we want to see".  We shed light on that phenomenon on our website and celebrate it perhaps more dramatically in a People's Synod.

The Church needs a more robust theology of change, which is why I suggested a "call for papers" that could help inform a "People's Synod".

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