Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform

As I’ve mentioned in a number of previous posts, I’m honored to be serving as one of the general co-chairs of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR or “3CR”) – a newly formed coalition of reform-minded organizations within the local church of the Twin Cities area.

Coalition members include Call to Action-MN (CTA-MN), the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC), Corpus, Dignity Twin Cities, the Progressive Catholic Voice, and Roman Catholic Womenpriests. (Representatives from a number of these groups - though not all - are pictured in the photographs that accompany this post.)

Mission, Vision, and Understanding of Church

Together we envision a fully alive church, both locally and universally – one that radiates Jesus’ core teaching of radical equality, unabashed inclusivity, and transforming love. Our mission is therefore to facilitate courageous and honest dialogue, assure full participation of all in the life of the Church, promote justice and reconciliation, explore Christian/Catholic identity, and witness to the unity of all people of good will while valuing diversity.

What undergirds and supports our vision and mission is an understanding of Church as a communion of communities based upon acceptance and the fundamental equality among all its members. It’s a Church that is participatory and collaborative in nature, and one that accordingly embodies a dialogical spirit. It’s also a Church that serves as a hopeful and prophetic sign, a sacrament that models God’s love for the world.

Synods of the Baptized

This Saturday, April 18, Catholics from across the Twin Cities metropolitan area and beyond will gather to celebrate the formation of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform at a special prayer breakfast (8:30 a.m. – 12 noon) at the Metropolitan Ballroom (5418 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley, MN). Janet Hauter – vice-president of
Voice of the Faithful and co-chair of the American Catholic Council, will be our keynote speaker, and will share insights on organizing for reform and thoughts on Jesus as a model of servant leadership.

At Saturday’s prayer breakfast (an event that will also serve as the third annual Prayer Breakfast for Hope and Justice) we will announce and begin planning a series of “Synods of the Baptized,” scheduled for 2010 and 2011. The overall goal of these synods is to initiate dialogue and healing around a range of issues currently polarizing our Church.

Get Involved! Join a Work/Study Group

To help plan for the 2010 Synod, CCCR is encouraging people to join “work/study groups.” The purpose of these groups is to produce a body of informed and articulate people prepared to confidently and competently ask question and speak for Church reform. We understand that it is our baptismal responsibility that calls us to such questioning and speaking.

The work/study groups are certainly shaping up to be an exciting aspect of the preparation for the 2010 Synod. Each group will grow out of an answer to the question: “What are the disconnects you see between Roman Catholic Church practices, teachings, & policies, and the Gospel message of universal love proclaimed by Jesus?” Another way of posing this question is to ask: “What are the Church practices that cause spiritual suffering or prevent spiritual growth?”

I’ll be facilitating a work/study group looking at “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and the Constructing of a Healthy and Informed Theology of Sexuality.” Here’s how I’ll be describing this group on April 18:

Is it consistent with the Gospel message of transformational love and abundant life to construct and promote a theology that justifies denying LGBT persons full expression of their sexuality and the human good of partnering? What might an alternative theology, one informed by the findings of science and the experience and insights of LGBT people, look like? This group will explore the historical, biological, and psycho/social aspects of human sexuality – with particular emphasis on homosexuality. It will also make recommendations for the adoption of a theology that values and celebrates same-gender partnering.

Other work/study groups that participants at Saturday’s prayer breakfast can sign-up for include “Bishop Selection,” “Clericalism in the Church/Post-Patriarchal Parish Culture,” “Local Church Organizational Change: How to Make it Happen,” “Church Authority and Governance,” “Catholic Identity/Christian Identity,” “Emerging Church,” “Catholic Spirituality,” “Ministry in the Service of Mission,” “Communication in a Polarized Community,” “Marriage,” and “Social Justice.” In addition, we have a number of other topics we hope to develop in the lead-up to the 2010 Synod, including “Centrality of Eucharist,” “Children, Youth, and Families,” and “New Cosmology and How to Ritualize It.” Finally, prayer breakfast attendees will also have the opportunity to suggest and/or create other work/study groups.

It should also be noted that as they begin to take shape in the weeks and months after the April 18 prayer breakfast, each work/study group will articulate its relation to a Vatican II vision of the Church’s mission. At the 2010 Synod, each work/study group will present their cases for Church reform. Then, as a primary outcome of the 2010 Synod, a “Coordinating Council” will be established. This will be an organization made up of representatives from the various work/study groups that will proactively interact and communicate the reform agenda of the Synod will all the baptized, including local church leaders.

As you can see, a lot of work has gone into planning the various components of both the CCCR and its initial 2010 Synod. A second synod, scheduled for 2011, is also in the works and will focus on the findings of a comprehensive parish survey that Call to Action MN will spearhead with the support of the wider Coalition.

Join Us!

Over 100 people have already registered for Saturday’s prayer breakfast, but it’s certainly not too late to join with us if you’re interested. It’s easy! Just click
here to print a registration form. Bring this completed form and $25 (or whatever you can afford) to the Metropolitan Ballroom on Saturday morning. (For a map and directions to the Metropolitan, click here.)

For more information about any of the above or to register by phone, feel free to call me at 612-201-4534.

If you’re unable to join us on Saturday, rest assured that I and others will be sharing news and information about the ongoing preparations for the 2010 Synod – both here, at the Wild Reed, and on the pages of the Progressive Catholic Voice.

And, finally, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform will soon have its own website with all kinds of useful information and resources. This website will be viewable at after April 18. You’ll also be able to learn more about the various work/study groups on the CCCR site, and even let us know if you’re interested in joining and contributing to one of these groups.

So, friends, if you’re interested and able, it would be great to have you join us as part of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform!

Recommended Off-site Link:
In What Sense Are We Progressive Catholics? - An Offering for Reflection and Discussion

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Declaration of Reform and Renewal
A Time to Re-think the Basis and Repair the Damage
Clearing Away the Debris
A Brave Hope

To read about the two previous Prayer Breakfasts for Hope and Justice, see:
Here Comes Everybody!
The Second Annual Prayer Breakfast for Hope and Justice
Out and About - June 2007


Anonymous said...

"What might an alternative theology, one informed by the findings of science and the experience and insights of LGBT people, look like?"

It looks like this:

Michael J. Bayly said...

Interesting observation, Anonymous.

What do you think is preventing the Roman Catholic Church from embodying and proclaiming such a healthy theology?