Posts Tagged laity
Could giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops make things worse for progressive Catholics?
A lot has been written about Pope Francis’s goal of making the church more democratic, with less control by the Vatican and more power to individual bishops. In an ideal world, not only would the Vatican have less say in choosing bishops, but priests and laity would have a larger role in the selection of their leaders.
“However, unless the institutional church actually reaches that goal, and power truly devolves to the grassroots, giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops might make things worse, not better, at least for progressive Catholics.
“While Pope Francis’s appointments of often have elevated reformers to power, he cannot replace every powerful leader in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“And the bishops now leading U.S. Catholics skew conservative. Indeed, in 2014, one bishop speaking on background confided that only about a third of American bishops were totally on board with Francis’s agenda, about a quarter were definitely against, and the rest were still figuring out where they stood. Not much appears to have changed in the intervening years.”
By Celia Wexler, Contributor, Huffington Post — Read more …
“While nuncios are currently allowed to consult laypeople when considering bishop candidates, they are not obligated to do so, and frequently put the focus of their consultations on current clergy members.”
One of the members of the Council of Cardinals said the group is considering whether to advise Pope Francis to make it mandatory for Vatican ambassadors to consult with laypeople before making recommendations for possible new bishops in the Catholic Church.
“Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias suggested the nine-member group might recommend that ambassadors be instructed to consult with members of a diocese’s pastoral or finance councils before passing on names of who to consider for bishop.
“‘This is a central matter for the church,’ Gracias said in a June 15 NCR interview. ‘The bishop is a central figure and the choice of a good bishop is very important for every church. If you choose the wrong person, things can be set back by years in the pastoral life of the church.'”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“One cannot be ‘responsible’ for the ‘Church’s being and action,’ for example, if ignorant of basic facts about what’s going well or poorly … Who knows why such information was not shared more widely within that archdiocese over the decades … No matter how well-meaning the motive, the lack of transparency with basic information smacks of what church leaders like the late Cardinal Francis George and Pope Francis have called an unhealthy ‘clericalism.'”
Recent events in the Hartford Archdiocese underscore our church’s profound challenges, yet also point the way to toward a better future. Archbishop Leonard Blair recently announced a sweeping and painful reorganization: consolidating 212 churches down into 126 …
“As part of that process, one parish’s congregants were briefed about the broader context. Since 1969, the number of Catholics in the archdiocese had declined by 69 percent; the number of priests had fallen by roughly two-thirds.
One parishioner told National Catholic Reporter that such statistics were greeted by an audible gasp in the church. ‘It’s an unbelievable attrition,’ the parishioner said, ‘It was a real shock.’ Her ‘shock’ points to a first step on the long path to a revitalized Catholic Church …
Consider that “audible gasp” as an indictment of sorts and a cry to do things differently from now on: parishioners should never be in a position to be shocked by news about the ongoing health of their own parishes and diocese.” (emphasis added)
By Chris Lowney, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Jan. 10, 2017 – Four U.S. Catholic bishops have reached retirement age and five more will in 2017, and their dioceses await word about who their next bishop will be. The stakes are high. Bishops rule in their dioceses.
Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for the widest possible input in selecting local bishops. Catholic lay people have the right and responsibility to comment and an expectation of being heard on issues important to the church. Not much is more important than who leads the local diocese. But papal nuncios (ambassadors), who recommend bishop candidates to the pope, listen only to a few influential clerics and even fewer lay people.
Pope Francis has made clear his desire for casting the widest possible net for bishop candidates. Most recently, the pontiff told his nuncios, “You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding grounds of ‘friends of friends,’” he said.
To help ensure the laity is heard, VOTF provides a website, votf.org/bishop, where lay people can become involved in the process. They can easily express their concerns and recommendations in three areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.
More than 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments on the website. Recommendations made on the website go directly to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the present U.S. apostolic nuncio.
U.S. bishops who already have submitted letters of resignation to the Pope, required at age 75, are:
- Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.;
- Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona;
- Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport, Iowa; and
- Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California.
U.S. bishops who turn 75 this year are:
- Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia;
- Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana;
- Bishop Alvaro Corrada Del Rio, S.J., of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico;
- Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas, Nevada; and
- Bishop Robert Meunch of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Several dioceses, where the Pope has accepted the bishops’ resignations, await replacements. They are:
- Allentown, Pennsylvania, former bishop John Barres now bishop of Rockville Centre, New York;
- Cheyenne, Wyoming, former bishop Paul Etienne now archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska;
- Cleveland, Ohio, former bishop Richard Lennon resigned for health reasons;
- Indianapolis, Indiana, former archbishop Joseph Tobin now archbishop of Newark, New Jersey
- Juneau, Alaska, former bishop Edward Burns now bishop of Dallas, Texan;
- Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, former bishop Gregory Parkes now bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida;
- Raleigh, North Carolina, former bishop Michael Burbidge now bishop of Alexandria, Virginia.
Catholics in any of these dioceses can use votf.org/bishop to send their input about their next bishop to the U.S. apostolic nuncio.
Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jan. 10, 2017
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org, (781) 559-3360
Voice of the Faithful, a community of Roman Catholics committed to service and reform, has always sought to “Keep the Faith, Change the Church.” We are faithful Catholics seeking to change those Church structures and processes that impede lay voices and change Church cultures that exhibit a clericalism that separates the clerical from the lay rather than binding them pastorally and collegially.
Such clericalism often stifles the people of God. Pope Francis has said as much and condemned clericalism repeatedly, recently saying that “the spirit of clericalism is an evil that is present in the Church today, and the victim of this spirit is the people, who feel discarded and abused.”
The story of Voice of the Faithful’s founding is well documented. The movement exploded onto the scene in 2002 along with the burgeoning visibility of Church scandal, specifically clergy sexual abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Boston, chronicled most effectively by The Boston Globe in 2002 and 2003.
The movement spawned a frenzy of activity at the beginning, fueled by anger at and frustration with a Church that had, euphemistically, let us down. If you were to review the Globe stories, other media coverage of the crisis from that era, and books about Voice of the Faithful written since, you would discover that Voice of the Faithful could be credited with much of the rhetoric calling the Church to task.
By 2017 Voice of the Faithful, with commitment and tenacity, has settled into a long struggle in which we use our voices to help change Church structure and culture so that scandal has no fertile ground in which to grow. Progress has been slow, but steady.
We offer Catholics a community within the community of the Church where, as the people of God, we find a way to remain faithfully Catholic without giving up our baptismal right and responsibility to offer opinions and foster dialogue on issues important to the Church.
This is a post-Vatican II point of view well expressed recently by Fr. Louis Cameli, author of more than a dozen books and the Chicago archbishop’s Delegate for Formation and Mission. In an interview about post-Vatican II pontiffs in National Catholic Reporter Cameli said he “sees underlying, foundational points of continuity in the post-conciliar era.” Two of the points he made are especially pertinent to Voice of the Faithful:
- “Communion: The Church is a set of interlocking and dynamic relationships among people and with the Triune God (in contrast to a primarily organizational-institutional-structural model of the Church).
- “Dialogue: The Church is the place where believers speak and listen to each other, and it is the community of faith that speaks with and listens to the world. (This is the ecclesia discens et docens (Church teaching and learning) and, therefore, is a dynamic community instead of a static “container of truth.”)”
Communion and dialogue could be Voice of the Faithful watchwords. We are a community concerned with providing a voice for the voiceless and have introduced the language of clericalism, accountability, and transparency into the language of Church reform, language that is being reiterated by no less than the present occupant of St. Peter’s chair. While we have always supported victims/survivors and promoted programs that better protect children, we have focused most directly on finding, naming, and publicizing the underlying causes of scandal which must be addressed to stop and prevent scandal.
Kathleen McPhillips, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, has succinctly framed the challenge Voice of the Faithful seeks to meet. In an article in the Newcastle Herald called “The royal commission has exposed a Catholic Church in desperate need of change,” she said:
“It is imperative [that] current religious groups undertake research into why this happened, as well as resourcing for the healing of survivors … Understanding how this happened is essential to the health of our community, and to the creation of new Church structures which are transparent, inclusive, accountable and respectful of women and children. The Church needs to show it is serious about cultural change – this is yet to be effectively demonstrated.”
More information about Voice of the Faithful is at www.votf.org.
Echo criticism of clericalism often made by Pope Francis
The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a new document entitled The Co-responsibility of the lay Faithful in the Church and the World.
“This pastoral letter explores the great responsibility of the laity in God’s plan for the world, in which they are not simply collaborators of the clergy but are truly “co-responsible” for the Church’s being and acting …”
- Click here to see this story on Zenit.org.
- Printed copies of the document are on sale from CCCB Publications (or by emailing email@example.com).
- Click here for a PDF of the CCCB’s The Co-responsibility of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World.
- Click here to see Voice of the Faithful’s document Responsibilities & Rights of the Laity.
Pope Francis has again sharply denounced the culture of clericalism among priests in the Catholic church, calling it ‘one of the greatest deformations’ that must be confronted by the global faith community and saying it helps ‘diminish and undervalue’ the contributions that laypeople make.
“The pontiff has also strongly reaffirmed the right of laypeople to make decisions in their lives, saying that priests must trust that the Holy Spirit is working in them and that the Spirit ‘is not only the ‘property’ of the ecclesial hierarchy.’
“In a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet in his role as the head of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, released by the Vatican Tuesday (Apr. 25), Francis says he wants to speak to the members of the commission about how to better serve what he terms ‘the Holy Faithful People of God.’
“‘Evoking the Holy Faithful People of God is to evoke that horizon which we are invited to look at and reflect upon,’ states the pope. ‘It is the Holy Faithful People of God that as pastors we are continually invited to look to, to protect, to accompany, to sustain and to serve.'”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Voice of the Faithful wonders whether any clergy are listening to the Pope.