Archive for category church reform

Francis is set to open a worldwide synod process. U.S. dioceses don’t seem prepared. / National Catholic Reporter

Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.

National Catholic Reporter

“With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like.

“A range of dioceses contacted by NCR in recent weeks said they were still working out the details for the consultation period and would be in a better position to comment on the synod in coming weeks, after Pope Francis formally opens the two-year synod process with a ceremony in Rome on Oct. 9.

“Officials who agreed to interviews described plans that relied on parish listening sessions, online surveys, Zoom meetings and other avenues to get feedback from laity.

“‘It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and for bishops all over the world to develop better habits of consultation with our people,’ Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, told NCR …

“Francis announced in May that he would be expanding the scope of the next synod, originally set for 2022. He postponed the Vatican meeting of bishops, now set for October 2023, to allow first for periods of consultation in every local diocese and at the continental level.

“Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it? / National Catholic Reporter

Success for bishops not focused on controlling power will be listening and honestly reporting the needs of the people.  

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis’ plan is for ordinary Catholics to have their say. It begins with the coming synod, which opens in Rome on Oct. 9 and in every diocese in the world on Oct. 17.   

“The problem: No one seems to know about it. The bigger problem: U.S. bishops don’t seem to care. 

“It’s called ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ While Francis truly wants all Catholics to pray and talk about the needs of today’s church, his plan depends on diocesan participation. As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t. 

“Here’s how things are supposed to work. Last May, Rome asked every bishop for the name of the person managing his diocesan synodal process. The bishop then is to open his local synod Oct. 17, collect input from parishes, and report to his national episcopal conference.  

By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Called to Contribute: Findings from an In-depth Interview Study of US Catholic Women and the Diaconate / By Tricia Bruce,

“Women comprise the majority of US Catholics and the majority of lay ministers in the U.S. Catholic Church. While the ordained diaconate remains the exclusive realm of men, women engage in expansive service that overlaps core diaconal functions in word, liturgy, and charity. Many women feel specifically called to be deacons or express an openness to discerning such a call should the vocational path become available to them. Escalating global attention to the question of women and the diaconate compels social scientific research to enhance knowledge regarding how contemporary women experience and fulfill their felt call in the Catholic Church.” By Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D., author of “Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church”

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The Spirit in the Assembly: Preparing for the synod on synodality / Commonweal

“A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar.”

Commonweal

“The most far-reaching event in the Catholic Church in my lifetime officially gets its start next month. It is Pope Francis’s boldest move yet, the historic shake-up that a Church brought low by sex-abuse scandals badly needs, and potentially the most transformative moment in Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, which it seeks to embed permanently into the life of the Church. The two-year “synod on synodality,” launched in Rome on October 9 and in dioceses worldwide a week later, is set to mark Christianity forever.

“Yet who knows it is even happening? A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar. Bishops briefed by Rome’s synod secretariat back in May have been mostly quiet about it, hiding behind cautious communiqués buried on websites, awaiting details, fearful of unleashing forces and expectations beyond their command.

“So we begin with a paradox. The path to the 2023 Synod in Rome, on the theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission,” is designed to engage every diocese, every bishops’ conference, and every continental Church body. It will unleash the biggest popular consultation in history. It will require, as never before, the assembly of the People of God, in mass meetings at parishes and across dioceses around the world, who are being given “the ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received,” in the words of the Preparatory Document released last week.”

By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal — Read more …


Click here to read the Vatican news release announcing the 2023 Synod and to see list of links to Vatican and Voice of the Faithful resources to help understand the Synod.

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Blocked from serving their church, Catholic women push for female deacons / Religion News Service

“We’re looking at the needs of the church today,” said (Casey) Stanton (Discerning Deacons co-founder), who lives in Durham, North Carolina. “Might including women in this order help further the church’s mission in the world?”

Religion News Service

“Casey Stanton wanted to offer encouragement, love and healing to the inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, where she served as a chaplain intern a few years ago.

“But as a Catholic woman she could not represent her church there in any official capacity.

“The state of North Carolina requires chaplains in its state prison system to be ordained. And the Catholic Church does not ordain women — neither as priests, nor as deacons.

“Stanton, who is 35 and holds a master of divinity from Duke Divinity School, is not seeking to become a priest, which canon law forbids. She would, however, jump at the chance to be ordained a deacon — a position that would allow her and other women to serve as Catholic chaplains in prisons, hospitals and other settings.”

By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service — Read more …

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How can Catholics Re–Member the Church when voices are so divisive

Headlines declaim Latin Masses, Communion wars and Vatican II attacks. Amid this divisiveness, the international group of reform-minded Catholics called Voice of the Faithful wants to Re—Member the Church, which will be discussed during its upcoming 2021 conference.

Featured speakers and attendees will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world. As declared at a previous VOTF conference, “There is no body without its members. There are no members without participation. There is no participation without mutual recognition and accountability. Structural change is possible. Accountability is necessary. Re—Membering the church is essential.”

ReMembering the Church: Moving Forward takes place Oct. 22-23, 2021, via Zoom. At 7 p.m., Oct. 22, conference registrants will meet in free Zoom listening sessions to talk about issues affecting the Church. At 8:30 a.m., Oct. 23, registrants will gather in a Zoom waiting room for the 9 a.m. start of the all-day conference. Registration is $50, either online or by mail. College undergraduates register for free.

VOTF has long envisioned a Church of openness and respect between hierarchy and the laity, with more inclusivity, and with collaborations leading to activities and initiatives that reflect lay voices in the Church. To help present these ideas at the conference will be featured speakers Prof. Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, and Sister Carol Zinn, S.S.J., Ph.D., Leadership Conference of Women Religious executive director. Prof. Faggioli spoke at VOTF’s 2018 Conference, and the return of this internationally acclaimed theologian is highly anticipated. He is a prolific author and a leading worldwide authority on Catholic Church history and ecclesiology, that is, the inner workings of the Church. Sister Carol has served as consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is Saint John Vianney Center consultant for women religious community health and transition.

In addition, VOTF’s 2021 Conference will present a panel comprising women liturgy leaders from the Paulist Center Boston faith community, who will discuss lay-led liturgies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. VOTF leaders also will offer presentations on VOTF projects in diocesan financial transparency; Church governance by and through lay involvement in Diocesan Financial Councils; adherence to protection of children guidelines in parishes and dioceses; and women’s emerging voices in the Catholic Church.


Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document / Vatican News


The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops presents the base text and ‘vademecum’ – or handbook – to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality. Listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage and parrhesia; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with the other Christian confessions.

Vatican News

“The General Secretariat for the Synod has published the Preparatory Document, along with a Vademecum (or handbook) to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality. The solemn opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17; and will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world.

“The Preparatory Document, released on Tuesday, is intended above all to be an instrument facilitating the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will take place from October 2021 to April 2022.

“‘In other words,’ as the document says, ‘it constitutes a sort of construction site or pilot experience that makes it possible to immediately begin reaping the fruits of the dynamic that progressive synodal conversion introduces into the Christian community.'”

By Vatican News — Read more …


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Seminarian immersion program yields a harvest of pastoral experience / National Catholic Reporter

“When his alarm buzzes at 3 a.m., Daniel Sanchez prepares for a day in the fields alongside migrants who pick cherries and apples in Yakima, Washington, a central valley community known as the nation’s fruit basket. The 25-year-old isn’t one of the thousands of mostly Mexican workers who labor under an unforgiving sun that earlier this summer scorched this region with temperatures rising above 100 degrees.

“Sanchez is a seminarian in the Yakima Diocese, where all men studying to be priests are not only expected to study theology, philosophy and biblical exegesis, but also spend part of their summer learning from and ministering to migrants. Sanchez has done work as varied as pruning grape vines, sorting cherries and helping the migrants’ children learn to read English.

“‘It has been a humbling experience that helps me realize my vocation isn’t about me, but the people I’m ministering to,’ said Sanchez, who was born in Washington state after his parents immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico. ‘The beauty of this ministry is it helps the migrant workers see that the church has not abandoned them. The church is there when they are lonely or tired, and goes out to meet them where they are.'”

By John Gehring, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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The challenge of sexual abuse: What has happened since the February 2019 Summit / Vatican News

In February 2019, Pope Francis invited the presidents of every episcopal conference to the Vatican for a Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. A similar meeting focusing on the region of Central and Eastern Europe will take place in Warsaw from September 19-22. In this article, Fr Federico Lombardi puts this regional meeting into the context of the Church journey thus far —

“The Church must confront the challenges present in today’s world, the most fundamental being the faith and the proclamation of the God of Jesus Christ, with all the grandiose cultural and anthropological transformations present. There are also specific challenges, however, that profoundly influence the life of the Church and its evangelizing mission. One of the most critical challenges that has emerged in the last few decades, is that of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. This has undermined the Church’s credibility and, therefore, its authority and its capacity of proclaiming the Gospel credibly. It has cast the shadow of inconsistency and insincerity over the Church as an institution, and on the entire community of the Church as a whole. This is indeed extremely serious.

“Over time and with experience, beginning with the sexual abuse of minors – which is the most serious – we have learned to broaden the perspective to include various aspects. Thus, today, we often speak of abuse suffered by ‘vulnerable’ persons. And we know the abuses sustained are not only sexual, but also abuse of power and conscience, as Pope Francis has often stated.”

By Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Vatican News — Read more …

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A radical shift away from a church with inflexible laws / La Croix International in National Catholic Reporter

“With the culmination of the Root and Branch Inclusive Synod in Bristol less than a month away, Sept. 5-12, there are early indications that the so-called ‘Bristol Text’ will be both deeply reflective and challenging to the current bishops’ position.

“The text will include brief, accessible statements on liturgical ministry, diversity, moral theology, and authority, backed by papers giving it historical and theological depth.

“Four international teams of distinguished theologians, jurists and thinkers, both lay and religious, have been meeting to consider the results of the synod’s year-long ‘journey of discernment.’

“Sources close to the process suggest that the Bristol Text will propose a radical shift away from a church that enshrines its teaching in inflexible laws, towards one that guides and enables the people of God to reflect for itself.”

By Jon Rosebank, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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