Thursday, September 16, 2010

Countdown to Synod 2010

Just two days to go before the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform's Synod of the Baptized: “Claiming Our Place at the Table”!

The good news is that we have 500 people registered! That’s an incredibly encouraging number of people dedicated to being pro-active agents of renewal and reform within the church of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

The not-so-good news is that due to the capacity constraints of the Ramada Plaza Hotel, the venue for the Synod, we have had to cap attendance at this 500 mark.

The Progressive Catholic Voice has just concluded a special “Countdown to Synod 2010” series - one that highlights ten challenges to the Catholic Church as identified by Synod keynote speaker Paul Lakeland in his book Church: Living Communion. The series continues to generate some excellent conversation in the comments sections of the various installments, including comments from Paul Lakeland himself. It’s well worth checking out and joining in on the discussion. The series begins here.

As one of the co-chairs of CCCR and organizers of Synod 2010, these next couple of days are going to be rather hectic for me. Accordingly, I may not be updating The Wild Reed as frequently as usual. Also, your prayers for the success of the Synod would be greatly appreciated!

In closing, here's the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform's media release for Synod 2010.


Local Catholics Inspire Action
for Church Reform

Organizers of a “Synod of the Baptized,” entitled “Claiming Our Place at the Table,” hope to inspire local Catholics to take action for what they see as much-needed church reform. Scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 18 at the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis Hotel, the synod is expected to draw 500 people.

“Our goal is to energize ourselves to work at reforming those church structures and practices that fail to manifest the love that Jesus lived and taught,” says Paula Ruddy, one of three co-chairs of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), the organization planning the synod.

“Most Catholics sense that things are not right with their church,” says co-chair Bernie Rodel. “Synod 2010 will offer concrete ways for us to move forward in the difficult but essential work of church reform.”

The synod will feature Professor Paul Lakeland, Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, CT. Lakeland, the author of The Liberation of the Laity and Catholicism at the Crossroads, will deliver a keynote address entitled “The Call of the Baptized: Be the Church, Live the Mission.”

Although CCCR currently works independently of the clerical leadership of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, it considers itself in union with Archbishop John Nienstedt and as working for church reform within the Catholic tradition. “The majority of coalition members are part of local parishes,” says co-chair Michael Bayly. “The dialogue we encourage and engage in is grounded in well-formed consciences – something our church values and expects.”

In addition, the Coalition is willing and open to working with all Catholics in restoring trust, confidence, and allegiance to church doctrines, practices, and policies. However, based on the Catholic understanding of reception, the Coalition believes that this can only happen when all members of the church have an active role in the ongoing development, clarification, and articulation of church laws, norms and values.

“Such a process requires a model of church that embodies community, participation and dialogue,” says Ruddy. It’s also a model, the Coalition insists, that was put forward by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s but which has, in the years since, been undermined and downplayed by some within the church’s clerical leadership in an attempt to return to a pre-Vatican II model – one that discourages, even forbids, dialogue around certain issues.

CCCR’s reform efforts seek to emphasize Vatican II’s spirit of dialogue and reform, primarily by envisioning and working toward a church that “radiates Jesus’ core teaching of radical equality, unabashed inclusivity and transforming love.”

“We take to heart Vatican II’s call on the laity to play an active role in the dynamic process of discernment, decision-making and reception of laws,” says Ruddy. “It’s a process that’s an important part of our Catholic tradition and one that requires honest dialogue. We want to keep the conversation open and include everyone in the discussion.”

Throughout the church of St. Paul-Minneapolis, this discussion is well underway. For the pat year-and-a-half, small groups of Catholics have been gathering in CCCR-sponsored “work/study groups” and focusing on areas of church practice that many see as disconnected from Jesus’ message of love, justice and inclusivity. These areas of practice include Bishop Selection, Church Authority and Governance, Church as a Community of Equals, Mandatory Celibacy/Clericalism, Catholic/Christian Identity, Emerging Church, Faith Formation of Children and Youth, Catholic Spirituality, Social Justice, and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. At the September 18 synod, the work/study groups will present and facilitate discussion around recommended practices and actions for reform.

The synod will also serve as a launch pad for ongoing action. “A special Action Coordinating Team (ACT) will be commissioned,” says Ruddy, “and synod attendees will have the opportunity to sign up to become part of the action as together we take the synod’s recommendations for reform out to our families, parishes and communities.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” says Rodel. “And we trust that it is the Spirit that is leading us to be the church that Jesus envisioned – a community that welcomes and nurtures all.”

Postscript: For a report on the success of the Synod, see Paula Ruddy’s 9/20/2010 article at The Progressive Catholic Voice, here.

To learn more about CCCR and Synod 2010, see the following (chronologically-ordered) Wild Reed posts:
Introducing the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform
Many Voices, One Church
“Something Exciting and Joyous”
Preparing to Claim Our Place at the Table
CCCR Responds to Censure by Chancery
An Exciting Endeavor
A New Phase
Prayer of the 2010 Synod
The Spirit of Pentecost is Very Much Alive in the Church of St. Paul-Minneapolis
Taking It to the Streets
Out and About – August 2010

See also the following Progressive Catholic Voice posts:
In What Sense Are We Progressive Catholics?
CCCR Work/Study Groups Underway
CCCR’s 2010 Synod: A Progress Report
Chancery Issues Statement on CCCR
CCCR Responds to Censure by Chancery
A Point of View
High Praise for Paul Lakeland’s Latest Book
CCCR’s 2010 Synod: A Second Progress Report
Let Our Voices Be Heard!
Rosemary Radford Ruether on Creating a Liberating Church (Part 1)
Rosemary Radford Ruether on Creating a Liberating Church (Part 2)


Dennis McGrath said...


The fourth paragraph in your press release about tomorrow’s synod is absolutely untrue and was craftily phrased to give the impression that CCCR and this synod are “in union with Archbishop John Nienstedt.” That is, as you well know, patently untrue. CCCR is not “in union” with either the Archbishop nor the Archdiocese in any way, shape or form. That fact has been posted on our Archdiocesan web site since this past August and has been printed in the Catholic Spirit.

From the claim that some of CCCR’s “members” are also members of individual parishes does not justify the giant leap to conclude that CCCR is “in union” with this Archdiocese or its parishes in any way.

The decent thing for you to do would be to issue a correction of this claim, but since I presume that’s unlikely, we would ask you, on behalf of Archbishop Nienstedt, to refrain from making this kind of false claim again.

Dennis B. McGrath
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Terry Nelson said...

Michael, I was just going to ask if the Archbishop or any other bishop or representative of the archdiocese would be present for this synod? But I see from Dennis McGrath's comment that they will not.

I always like to remember the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Church at Smyrna regarding the importance of the bishop:

"Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be, even as wheresoever Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."

Mareczku said...

Thank you for sharing this information, Michael. God bless you in your work. May your synod be successful. Keeping you in thoughts and prayers.


Lee said...

How can CCCR's statement that they consider themsevles in union with the Archbishop and working within the Catholic tradition for reform be said to be "untrue"? If that's what they actually think then it's a true statement. Or is Mr. McGrath saying that the group doesn't really think this?

All in all, it's a bizarre and rather uncharitable statement from an official Archdiocesan spokesperson - and an odd choice of venue to publish it: the personal blog of a gay Catholic man. You should take heart, Michael, that your blog registers so highly on the radar of the Archdiocese!

Eric said...

It seems both groups have different understandings of what it means to be "in union" with the bishop.

Maybe each needs to clarify what they mean when they say this.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Following is a response to Dennis McGrath's from the Board of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR). It was first published in an article by CCCR co-chair Paula Ruddy at The Progressive Catholic Voice:

"The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform does not claim to be authorized by the Archbishop or the Archdiocesan office. It is not an official part of the Archdiocesan government or its agencies. Nevertheless, we, the individual members of the Coalition Board, consider ourselves in union with the Archbishop by virtue of our baptism and membership in the mystical body of Christ. We, both as individuals and as an organization, want to work with the Archbishop as head of our local church in its mission to be the sacrament of Christ in the world."