Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A New Phase

The planning of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform’s September 18, 2010 Synod of the Baptized entered a new phase recently with the printing and mailing (via both e-mail and snail mail) of an informational and registration brochure to approximately 2,000 people.

Above: The March 7 “mailing party” at my home in St. Paul.
From left: CCCR board members Eileen Rodel, Jane Collova, Bernie Rodel,
Mary Beckfeld and Paula Ruddy.

I have the honor of serving as co-chair of both the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) and its Synod 2010 planning group. One of my tasks in the lead-up to the synod will be to keep tabs on registrations. We’re hoping for 500 attendees.

Entitled “Claiming Our Place at the Table,” CCCR’s 2010 Synod invites Catholics from the local church of St. Paul-Minneapolis to come together and discuss practices that will bring our local church culture more in line with the Gospel message of love. We believe that we are committed by our baptism to our Church tradition, but we see a number of disconnects between our Roman Catholic Church practices and the mission of the Christian Church, which is to proclaim and manifest, as Jesus did, the reign of God. These disconnects and our response to them are matters of conscience to us. Accordingly, we want to be part of a transformed culture within our local church community in response to the Spirit of God and in service of the Church’s mission.

So what can folks expect if they attend CCCR’s 2010 Synod? Well, the day will start with an exploration of the model of Church that will best help us proclaim and manifest the reign of God. To help guide us in such an exploration, we’ll be hearing a keynote address by Paul Lakeland entitled “The Call of the Baptized: Be the Church, Live the Mission.” Dr. Lakeland holds the chair of the Aloysius P. Kelley, SJ Professor of Catholic Studies and is the director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Faitfield University in Fairfield, CT. He is also the author of The Liberation of the Laity (2004) and Catholicism at the Crossroads (2007). His latest book, Church: Living Communion (2009) has been described as “seizing the moment of a church on the brink of change and pointing the direction forward.”

In addition to a no doubt informative and energizing keynote address by Paul Lakeland, CCCR’s 2010 Synod will also provide an opportunity for participants to hear from the ten work/study groups that since CCCR’s April 18, 2009 Prayer Breakfast have been focusing on specific areas of disconnect so as to develop recommendations for best practices that will bring our local church culture more in line with the gospel message of compassion and justice. Those in attendance at the synod will be invited to join in the discussion of these recommendations around such issues as Bishop Selection, Catholic/Christian Identity, Church Authority and Governance, Faith Formation of Children and Youth, Catholic Spirituality, Mandatory Celibacy/Clericalism, Social Justice, Church as a Community of Equals, and Emerging Church. In addition, as I’ve noted previously at The Wild Reed, I’ve been facilitating a CCCR work/study group on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (see here and here).

Finally, participants at the synod will be invited to join the Action Coordinating Team (ACT). This body will be commissioned to plan and facilitate the starting of conversations within our families and parishes about the best practices recommended at the synod.

If you would like to learn more about CCCR’s 2010 Synod of the Baptized – including the synod’s schedule, venue, cost, and registration information, click here.

To register online, click here.

To print a registration form to mail in, click here.

To celebrate this new phase of the planning and implementation of the 2010 Synod, I share the following excerpts from Paul Lakeland’s book Church: Living Communion. These excerpts are from that part of the book that explores an “inductive ecclesiology,” i.e., a way of understanding and speaking about the Church that begins from the Church that actually exists, that is, all the ecclesial groups around the world that claim the name of “church.” Such an ecclesiology, says Lakeland, must reflect the inductive methodology outlined by the great twentieth-century Jesuit philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan. Thus this ecclesiology must be attentive (i.e., willing and capable of reading the signs of the times), intelligent (i.e., willing and able to practice discernment), reasonable, loving, and, if necessary, open to change.


The Church is the communion of the converted and the communion of conversion. While this is not a concrete image, it is a very concrete process that underlies it. For the Church to be the Church most faithfully it always has to be asking itself what the Gospel call to mission demands of us now. Our faithfulness has to be to the Gospel call, not to the forms or practices that were appropriate to that call in times past. This does not mean that we have to jettison the past for the sake of jettisoning it, or out of some predilection for novelty, but it does mean that we cannot be slavishly bound to what worked in the past. When the Church was the driving force of medieval European society, or when the Church was in a struggle with the Protestant reformers, or when the American Church was trying to find a way to be both Catholic and American, these times called for certain historically conditioned courses of action. Today in the United States and in many other places around the world, we are not in anything like these situations. We are a vibrant religious community coexisting with others, Christian and non-Christian alike, in a secular and pluralistic state. As citizens we are shaped by American culture and history. As citizens we are shaped by American culture and history. As Catholic Christians we are also shaped by another related but distinct history and culture. Ongoing conversion call for courageous, Spirit-driven discernment of the changes we need to make in order not only to be attentive, intelligent, and reasonable but also – and above all to be loving. If the Catholic Church is not evidently a loving community of faith, then it is failing. If we are loving – and love must be other-directed – then, imperfect as we will be, we are doing something right. It is the response to the call to dynamic love that make us the same Church the world over; but it is how we incarnate that call in our own particular time and place that finally makes us faithful to the logic of conversion.

. . . If we are committed to the idea of the Church as the communion of the converted and of conversion, then the need for change will come as no surprise. A community of conversion is constantly in process of change; the challenge is to make the right changes, and these are dictated by the aims of conversion. . . . Conversion in the Church is to a more faithful attention to the mission to be an effective sign of the love of God in the world. Fired by the Spirit and shaped by the life of Christ, we are moved to a mission of loving the world for God. While discernment of what is and is not appropriate change in the service of this end is indispensable, ongoing conversion to Christ is “living religion,” as Lonergan would say. Personal and institutional change is of the essence of the community of faith, because the changing times will always require more of us in the service of our mission.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform
Many Voices, One Church
“Something Exciting and Joyous”
Preparing to Take Our Place at the Table
An Exciting Endeavor
Twin Cities-based CCCR Goes Global
Staying On Board
A Time to re-Think the Basis and Repair the Damage

Recommended Off-site Links
The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform
In What Sense Are We Progressive Catholics? – An Offering for Reflection and Discussion - The Progressive Catholic Voice (February 10, 2009).
CCCR’s 2010 Synod: A Progress Report - Michael Bayly (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 23, 2010).
Chancery Issues Statement on CCCR The Progressive Catholic Voice (August 12, 2009).
CCCR Responds to Censure from Chancery The Progressive Catholic Voice (August 13, 2009).
CCCR’s 2010 Synod: A Second Progress Report – Paula Ruddy (The Progressive Catholic Voice (August 13, 2009).
High Praise for Paul Lakeland’s Latest Book The Progressive Catholic Voice (November 30, 2009).
What is the Church’s Mission and How Are We Doing As Missionaries? – Paula Ruddy (The Progressive Catholic Voice, March 1, 2010).

1 comment:

Phillip Clark said...

This excerpt from Dr. Lakeland's book is most inspiring and pertinent--especially as more sexual abuse scandals in connection to the Church continue to proliferate and see the light of day throughout the world--for the current climate of the Church. His new book on the Church has been on my "to read list" ever since I saw it reviewed recently in America.

I also wish I could somehow make it physically to the 2010 Synod of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform in September as it looks as if it proves to be a highly informative, invigorating, and productive gather! Even though I may not be able to be there physically please continue to fill us in on all the happenings of the Synod here, and trust that I'll be there in spirit! :)