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.

A large part of our CCRI Strategy Team call today was somewhat philosophical discussing the value of our promoting local gatherings, which we believe will eventually be seen as a reinforcement to many events happening around the world. Small local gatherings will inevitably serve as a good first step to prepare for any People’s Synod that might be forthcoming in the future.

In his encyclical, Amoris Laetitia, Francis seems to move beyond addressing the pastoral issues regarding crisis in family life toward leading the Church into a more “discerning” way of proceeding. He continually emphasizes a discernment process that respects the role of the Bishops but also listens for the voice of the Holy Spirit expressed in the hearts and minds of the lay faithful. CCRI is developing a slogan: Act locally – think globally. Through these local gatherings, we see the possibility of people, through group discussion, discovering a kind of discernment process for themselves as they sort out the issues they face in their lives. They don’t need a decree from on high to tell them what is right. They figure it out by being part of a discussion group with like-minded people.

In the past, we’ve been encouraged to push for policy changes at the highest level of the Church. But the longer we’re involved in working for reform, we are coming to realize that real reform comes from evolution of People’s thinking and how they are living their Christian faith. Of course, we’d like to effect structural change in the church and we will never give up striving for this. But real change is already happening – not quite like we originally envisioned it – but in the minds and hearts of the Faithful. Francis himself is already doing this by his call for a more merciful church. Maybe by Synod 2018, more acceptance of some of our reforms will begin to happen in various local communities. The issue of artificial birth control has already been decided by the People. We rejected Humanae Vitae. The LGBT community is far more widely accepted today than in the past. And this is happening despite the official Church calling them a disordered state. If married priests or women priests are meant to be, it will happen when various local communities have no other choice but to ordain married men and women because faith leaders are needed. It doesn’t need a decree from the Vatican. We need to create a new mindset in the people.

But for any kind of reform to come about, we need reform groups to work together. We have a long way to go in that regard. As Joan Chittister said to us: “We need to raise a common voice on a single issue—the immediate need for the genuine renewal of the church. The problem is that we can’t get anyone to take seriously the most serious issues in the church because they have yet to take the Reform of the institution itself seriously. . . . By speaking out together–a strong chorus of calls for Reform–we can provide a common, a clear, a strong and ongoing voice for the yet incomplete vision of Vatican II.{jcomments on}