Saturday, April 18, 2009

Many Voices, One Church

“Many Voices, One Church.” That was the title of this morning’s Catholic Coalition for Church Reform Prayer Breakfast at the Metropolitan Ballroom in Minneapolis.

The purpose of this morning’s prayer breakfast was two-fold: to celebrate the formation of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and to begin planning the implementation of a series of “Synods of the Baptized” within the local church of Minneapolis-St. Paul. (This morning’s breakfast also served as CPCSM’s third annual Prayer Breakfast for Hope and Justice.)

The keynote speaker at our breakfast was Janet Hauter, vice-president of Voice of the Faithful (National) and co-chair of the American Catholic Council. In a future post I’ll share highlights of Janet’s talk. This evening, however, I share with you excerpts from the beautiful liturgy that the 160 attendees participated in at this morning’s prayer breakfast. As you’ll see, it was a liturgy that focused on claiming the powers of our Baptism as we faithfully respond to the need for reform in our Church.

After singing Miriam Therese Winter’s wonderful “Spirit of God in the Clear Running Water” (a hymn I happily remember growing up with in Australia!), we prayed the following opening prayer:

We sang our praise to the Spirit of God in the Clear Running Water, the great Divine Source of life and light and love and bliss. The Ultimate Mystery from which all beings emerge prefers Ultimate Extravagance, each being glistening with freshness, unique, never to be repeated. Each being is required! None can be eliminated or ignored, for not one is redundant.

Baptismal Power! Unshackled Grace!

Leader: In the name of the Creator who gave the waters; in the name of the one who was given as “I am the living water”; in the name of the one who continues to stir the waters, are we born, are we baptized.

All: As citizens of creation, as members of Christ’s Body, as temples of Spirit, we claim our baptismal authority!

Leader: And so then, I invite you to respond to what keeps us from God . . . To dualism, the lie which keeps us from unity, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Reader: To man-made systems of inequity and exclusion: to societal cast systems where some are deprived of the basics of life, food, and shelter, a say in their government, education, healthcare, employment opportunities, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Leader: To religions that set men over women, white over black, wealth over ability; which make rules that put God’s people under hardship; that exclude people they have defined as different, such as those who are gay and lesbian, transgender, bisexual, people who are divorced, and everyone in-between, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Reader: To religious leaders protecting abusers, who deny or refuse to be accountable or take responsibility for the atrocities their system allowed and encouraged for centuries, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Leader: To countries and peoples who turn to violence as a way to settle their differences or to maintain imperial power, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Reader: To the organization of medieval laws that disallow women, married couples, and same-sex partners to answer their God-given call to liturgical leadership; that make it impossible for the Holy Spirit to move among the faithful; that exclude many from the Eucharistic table, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Leader: To the hierarchy who place financial burdens on the people and then fail to be accountable for their fiscal decisions, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Reader: To those who excommunicate people for acting faithfully to their purpose from God, for academic conversations, for scientific questions, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Leader: To waste and over-consumption of earth’s resources, to pollution and toxins, to giant carbon footprints, to electronic recycling that ends up poisoning the drinking waters of people half-way around the world, we say . . .

All: Enough!

Above: Members of the leadership team of the Catholic Coalition
for Church Reform with Janet Hauter (front row, third from left).

Back row, from left: Rev. Judith McKloskey (Roman Catholic Womenpriests) and Lonne Burkhardt Murphy.
Middle row: Dan DeWan, Bernie Rodel (
Call to Action-MN), Bob Beutel, Eileen Rodel (Call to Action MN), Connie Aligada (Call to Action MN), Jane Collova, Brian Willette (president, Call to Action MN), Jim Moudry, Bill McGuire (Call to Action MN co-founder), Michael Bayly (CPCSM executive coordinator and Progressive Catholic Voice co-founder and editor).
Front row: Paula Ruddy (Progressive Catholic Voice co-founder and editorial team member), Mary Jo Czaplewski, Janet Hauter (vice-president, Voice of the Faithful National and co-chair, American Catholic Council), Mary Beckfeld (CPCSM president and Progressive Catholic Voice co-founder and editorial team member), Terry Dosh (Corpus, Call to Action MN co-founder).
Absent: Brian McNeill (president, Dignity Twin Cities), Dorothy Irvin (MN St. Joan’s Community), and Shari Steffen.

Above: Eileen Rodel, Connie Aligada, and Mary Beckfeld.

Above: Bernie Rodel shares the Catholic Coalition
for Church Reform’s vision, mission, and understanding of church.
(To read about these, click

We Believe!

Leader: To an all-loving, inclusive God, we say . . .

We believe!

Reader: To Jesus who became Christ, who calls us to carry out the mission of justice and mercy for all, we pray . . .

All: We believe!

Leader: To a Spirit whom we expect to stir in the margins of life, in unexpected places in surprising ways, we say . . .

All: We believe!

Reader: To a Church where ministry arises from baptism and charism; from discernment and affirmation by the local church, we say . . .

All: We believe!

Leader: To an institution that recognizes and calls forth gifts of leadership, of preaching and teaching, of healing and the power of miracles, we say . . .

All: We believe!

Reader: To human beings who are able to fully embrace their sensuality, who live mindfully in God’s created Paradise, here and now, we say . . .

All: We believe!

Leader: To a world and its peoples living in balance, peace, and harmony, we say . . .

All: We believe!

Reader: To a time when all shall be recognized as holy and included at the Table, where all shall be fed and nurtured, we say . . .

All: We believe!

Leader: To a time of both/and, a time of “all of us,” a time of diversity within unity, we say . . .

All: We believe!

Leader: Let us prayer together:

All: O God, we remember the blessed waters of paradise. They anointed us in baptism to love, to touch, to see, to breathe, to drink, and to hold as precious this refreshing gift of liquid life. They anointed us with talents and gifts for the work of Christ among us. We give thanks for the blessed waters of our baptism and for their incomparable powers.

Leader: Each of us is called to take the grace of our baptism and utilize our talents and gifts in actions that bring about God’s Kin-dom on earth. At this time, I invite you to take a shell from the water bowl on your table as a reminder to continue to take, to seize, to be immersed in your Baptismal Call and Authority. Together, we claim the power of our Baptism!

All: O God, as water flows around all obstacles, as water cleanses and refreshes and nourishes and inspires, may this water soak up all the blessings of our gathering here today. With our adult minds and bodies, we claim the powers of our Baptism as we faithfully respond to the cry for reform in our time. We give thanks for the blessed waters of our baptism and for their incomparable powers. Amen.

Closing Prayer

Leader: Please lift up the bottle of oil at your table. Creator of all good gifts, we give thanks that you have blessed us with oil for nourishment, for anointing, for athletic vigor. In the tradition of anointing your priests and royalty, prophets and warriors, bless and imbue this oil with your gladness, with your strength, with your love for us, and with the love we hold for one another. Amen.

All: We your people were born of water and the Holy Spirit, and are members of Christ’s Body, the Church. As Christ received a Priestly, Prophetic, and Royal anointing, so have we at Baptism. With this oil, we recommit ourselves to faithfully following our Baptismal vocation to reform God’s church in this era.

Above: Bob Beutel shares information about one of the
Catholic Coalition for Church Reform’s work/study groups.

As I mentioned in a previous Wild Reed post, to help plan for the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform’s 2010 Synod of the Baptized, we’re inviting people to be part of one or more “work/study groups.” The purpose of these groups is to gather folks together who share a passion for reforming certain areas of church life. These areas – including official policies and practices – are ones that many of us have long recognized as being at odds with the Gospel message of love proclaimed by Jesus. These areas include clericalism, the selection of bishops, official teaching on sexuality and gender, and church authority and governance.

The idea is that at the 2010 Synod, each work/study group will make their case for reform. One of the main goals of the 2010 synod is the establishment of a Coordinating Council which will communicate and implement the resolutions and recommendations of the work/study groups.

Said another way, this Coordinating Council will be a representative organization – made up of representatives from the various work/study groups. It will be an organization that, over time, will proactively interact and communicate the reform agenda of both the 2010 and 2011 synods with all the baptized, including local church leaders.

At this morning’s prayer breakfast, attendees were given the opportunity to review the work/study groups already under consideration, suggest additional groups, and sign-up for the group/s they’re interested in being part of.

Above: Mary Jo Czaplewski talks about the logistics of planning
and implementing the 2010 Synod. After hearing about the various
tasks needed to be completed, attendees at this morning’s
prayer breakfast were given the opportunity to sign-up
and help make the 2010 Synod a reality.

Above: Call to Action MN co-founder Bill McGuire
shares his vision for a parish-based 2011 Synod
to be spearheaded by Call to Action and supported
by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform.

Above and below: This morning’s prayer breakfast provided
a wonderful opportunity for Catholics interested in and dedicated
to church reform to be inspired and energized - and to connect, network,
and strategize - in an atmosphere of support, optimism, and hope.

As emcee of this morning’s event, I noted the following in my opening remarks:

We gather here this morning because we have a great love for our Church and, in particular, its life-giving capacity to grow, evolve, and change in ways that ever-increasingly reveal God’s loving presence in our world.

We recognize and celebrate this capacity, this dimension of our tradition, and all that it implies – diversity, dialogue, the experience of pilgrimage.

Accordingly, we are drawn to seek, encourage, and embody compassion and justice, reform and renewal in our Church. We are passionate about such things.

Above: Janet Hauter (right) chats with Catholic Coalition
for Church Reform members Mary Beckfeld, Paula Ruddy,
and Mary Jo Czaplewski.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform
A Declaration for Reform and Renewal
The Call to Be Dialogical Catholics
A Time to Re-think the Basis and Repair the Damage
Clearing the Debris
A Brave Hope
Rita Larivee on Being “Authorized by Baptism”
Genuine Authority
The Second Annual Prayer Breakfast for Hope and Justice
The First Annual Prayer Breakfast for Hope and Justice

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


Mary said...

Congratulations to all!

I feel very affirmed in our efforts, and feel Janet Hauter left very impressed with what we in MN are doing already. I felt that a lot of what she said we should be doing we are already doing.

Again, hats off to all. Onward and upward!

PaulD47 said...

I agree. It was a very energized and energizing event. Not even the Archdiocese’s pathetic attempt to discredit and denounce it and its organizers could dampen this energy. It’s spiritual energy. It comes from the Spirit at work in the Church today. How can it be quashed?

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Mary and Paul,

Thanks for your positive feedback regarding the prayer breakfast.

Paul, for the benefit of other visitors to The Wild Reed, I should note that you’re referring to the brief statement issued by the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis concerning the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform.

According to one of the priests of the Archdiocese who was in attendance at the prayer breakfast, this statement was issued by the Archdiocese’s Office of the Vicar General (part of the chancery) and sent via e-mail to all the priests of the Archdiocese (and perhaps the deacons as well). It was also posted on the website of the Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese.

The statement reads as follows:

“The 'Catholic Coalition for Church Reform' is a self appointed group that is advocating changes that are in direct conflict with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. This group has no affiliation with the Archdiocese or its parishes.”

Taken at face value, is it really a denouncement? From the chancery’s perspective it’s probably meant to be. But for many Catholics it could well read as a statement that is highlighting a group that they would want to support and endorse! Also, there’s something almost obligatory about the issuing of this statement. “Oh, well, we better at least say something about this group,” I can well image someone saying at the chancery.

Actually, I think it’s erroneous to say that those who are part of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform have “no affiliation with the Archdiocese or its parishes.” The majority of people who attended yesterday’s prayer breakfast, and many of those who are part of the leadership team of the coalition, are members of local parishes. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that the coalition has no “official” affiliation with the Archdiocese, by which would be meant no affiliation with the chancery. Then again, such wording may make the coalition even more appealing to people.

Also, I find it disappointing that the statement by the chancery doesn’t elaborate on its charge that the coalition is “advocating changes . . . in conflict with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.” Many of the changes that people throughout the Church (not just within the coalition) would like to see made are actually to do with “rules” of the Church, not “doctrines.” For instance, celibacy for priests, or an all-male priesthood are rules, not doctrines. Also, the chancery’s statement gives the erroneous impression that Church teachings (i.e. doctrines) are unchangeable. This is not true, as Robert McClory, the keynote speaker at last year’s prayer breakfast, clearly explains.

Personally, I was somewhat pleased to see the chancery issue its statement on the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform. It’s a sign to me that they take the coalition and its vision and mission seriously. That actually bodes well for future dialogue. Oh, and finally, I’ve long maintained that supposedly “bad” press is usually better than no press.



Anonymous said...

Interesting opening prayer/litany. No mention of sin though, personal or social. Most christianities believe Baptism carries with it forgiveness of sin - both original (if you believe that sort of thing) and all sins of any kind committed by a person up to the moment of baptism.

Reconciliation celebrated after baptism is, in fact, a restoration of the "Edenic" state of friendship restored once and for all at baptism. Eucharist is the actualization and extension of that friendship into a wider fellowship.

The entire New Testament is replete with both description and discussion, to say nothing of the command "to baptize in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" for the forgiveness of sin. Why no recognition of this?

Rob said...

No mention of sin in the opening prayer of the liturgy?

Read it again, Anonymous. All those things that participants said "Enough!" to are forms of sin and/or the result of sin - dualism, inequality, violence, discrimination, pollution . . . the list goes on. As members of the church and of our consumerist society we're all complicit in these types of sin - so there's your "personal" angle.

Seems to me you're a literalist. Unless you see the actual word "sin," you don't recognize when and how it's actually being discussed.

FSC said...

Is there any young adult component to this "movement." Not to disrespect but every time I read about these movements and see photos from the gatherings it is hard to identify anyone under 50.

Michael J. Bayly said...


There were some people in attendance under the age of fifty, though the majority were over 50.

Call to Action National has a strong component of and for those aged between 18-42 (see here.)

Also, I think we need to remember that across the board, younger people tend to be more concerned with their careers, partnering, and/or raising a family than with church activism. And this seems a natural and appropriate focus for them at this stage of their lives. There are exceptions, of course. I also think that there are ways of reaching out and getting them involved in some way/s. It's definitely something we as the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform are planning on looking into. Perhaps it's something you feel strongly about, FSC, and would like to help us with.

I think it's important, too, to never underestimate the passion, wisdom, and dedication of the over-50s!

And finally, if we're going to critique the lack of under 50-year-olds in the reform movement than we also need to at least acknowledge that the priesthood, religious orders, and the ranks of "conservative" lay groups are also predominately composed of people over 50! Most of the "official" church leaders - cardinals and bishops - are certainly also over 50.



kevin57 said...


I would dispute your assessment of the under-/over- 50-years-of-age phenonmenon. What I've noticed if that those under 50 (and certainly under 40) just opt out of the Church. They see no need to work from within. They go to the UCC or some other denomination.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I agree that the celibacy for priests is a rule, not a doctrine. However, the all-male priesthood is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. According to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict), the “inability” of the Church to ordain women belongs to "the deposit of faith" and "requires definitive assent" by the faithful because “it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium” (statement issued in 1995). We already have a form of married priests--those Protestant ministers who became Catholic and still wanted to be involved in professional ministry, and some widowers. But the Church will have to change a number of doctrines to admit women to the priesthood: that it was Christ's eternal plan to only appoint men as ministers, the role of the Twelve, the essentialness of Christ being incarnated as a male rather than female, the complementary nature of men and women (i.e. there are some things that only men can do and vice versa), and Mary's role in the Church. The Church will also have to recognize the historical record of women priests in the early Church, which they now ignore. I don’t agree with the Church’s doctrine on this issue, and can point to a lot of work that offers alternate interpretations that would allow women to be ordained. But until the Church accepts this body of work, women will have to continue to look elsewhere to be ordained.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Marie,

Thanks for that correction.

I also want to say that there are validly (though "illicitly," according to the Vatican) ordained Roman Catholic women priests. See, for instance, this previous Wild Reed post.



Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Kevin,

Yes, sadly, I think that's true for the the majority of young Catholics. But then again, maybe not "sadly." After all, if they're not getting their spiritual needs met by the Church, and are not coping with being exposed to the spiritual abuse of, for instance, the Church's homonegativity, perhaps it's better to leave. I struggle with this question often, and definitely don't hesitate to direct someone to another denomination if the spiritual abuse they are sensing and experiencing is getting too much for them.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter.



Anonymous said...

This is a great thing, and to answer earlier comments about the lack of youth in church reform groups, it's not only due to what Michael said. To be sure, we are preoccupied with a lot of things (college, work, etc.), but it's more than that. From what I've seen, younger American Catholics (i.e. 18-30 year olds) like me simply ignore the Vatican's increasingly backward statements and doctrines about married priests, women priests, homosexuality, birth control, etc. They don't bother trying to change anything, they just ignore it, go to a different parish (or denomination) or stop going to church altogether. But I trust in the Holy Spirit, and that God's will for the Church shall be done, whatever it may be.

Anonymous said...

Re/the assertion that the Womenpreist movement conducts valid - valid but illicit - sacramental ordinations to the diaconate, ministerial priesthood and episcopate:

"illicit" means "illegal" according to canon law. The implication here is that the law is something that can be changed (or not) with good reason by competent authority in an organized way to meet some new circumstance.

"valid" has to mean more than what some Lutherans call "the touch." There is a more important reason to question the ordination of self-described and so-called "catholic" clerics - regardless of biological sex, gender preference, gender identification, or marital/partnership status. That reason is more easily couched as a question: Do the participants intend to do what the Roman Catholic Church intends to do and does when it ordains?

The Womenpriests movement makes no secret of the fact that it wants what it calls a "renewed priesthood." What are the similarities and differences between the Womenpriests' sacramental theology, particularly their theology of orders, and that of the Roman Catholic Church.

I have a feeling that the Womenpriests feel their ordinations are valid *as they define such ordinations*. But there is more to ordination than merely following the Roman Ritual. Asserting that such ordinations are the same as what the Roman Catholic Church does when it ordains does not in fact make is so.

The Womenpriests' idea of ministry is not demonstrably the same as that of the Roman Catholic Church. Here's an example. How many Womenpriests both believe and act as if they are ordained to a sacertodal, sacrificing priesthood within a larger, apostolic succession dating back the apostles? I bet the answer to that question is "none."