Posts Tagged lay people

Francis considers mandating consultation of laity in bishop selection / National Catholic Reporter

“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 …

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Catholic bishops rule in their dioceses; who gets a say in their appointment?

Catholic BishopJan. 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, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360

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Francis’ priorities vs. the priorities of the U.S. bishops / National Catholic Reporter

As the U.S. bishops gather in Baltimore for their annual fall meeting this week (Nov. 16-17), they will be deciding their priorities until the end of this decade. Will these priorities sync with those of Pope Francis or will the bishops continue on as if the pope is not taking the church in a new direction …

“Francis has been very clear in laying out his priorities in his talks and writings. His priorities would look more like this:

  • A poor church for the poor
  • The church as a field hospital, a church of mercy and compassion
  • The practice of synodality at all levels of the church
  • The end of clericalism and the empowerment of the laity
  • The promotion of justice and peace and the protection of the environment —

“Francis’ harshest words are against clericalism and careerism in the church. He sounds like Jesus denouncing the scribes and Pharisees. He insists that leadership is for service. That shepherds must smell like their sheep. And that priests and bishops are at the bottom of the pyramid, not the top …

“Francis also wants to empower the laity to take up their role in evangelization and in reshaping the world according to Gospel values.

“As he asked the CELAM bishops in Brazil,

  • ‘Do we make the lay faithful sharers in the mission?’
  • Do diocesan and parish councils, ‘whether pastoral or financial, provide real opportunities for laypeople to participate in pastoral consultation, organization and planning?’
  • Do we give the laity ‘the freedom to continue discerning, in a way befitting their growth as disciples, the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them? Do we support them and accompany them, overcoming the temptation to manipulate them or infantilize them?'”

By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of the article.

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Congregation for laity and family is on the way / La Stampa

The C9 has finalized the proposal it will present to the Pope, who may decide to establish the congregation even before the whole reform plan is complete.

“The work of the C9 group, the council of nine cardinals tasked with studying the reform of the Roman Curia and helping the Pope in the government of the universal Church, concludes today (Sept. 16). After the establishment of the Secretariat for the Economy and the Secretariat for Communications, the next step will be the creation of a new congregation dedicated to the laity, the family and life issues …

“It was suggested on a number of occasions that lay people should be placed at the helm of the new congregation but in February this year, Fr. Lombardi said the top person in charge could not be a lay person. However, the possibility of  lay people acting as secretaries or assistant secretaries of the congregation has not been excluded.”

By Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider, La Stampa — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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From bishops’ synods to bishops’ appointments, how much does Catholic lay input count?

As the extraordinary synod on the family plays out in Rome, and even before the synod through the Vatican questionnaire distributed worldwide at Pope Francis’ urging, lay input into Catholic Church issues has become increasingly visible.

Pope Francis has said that he expects bishops to pay increasing attention to lay voices and “real life experiences” to become effective pastors. But bishops typically are accustomed to speaking to other clerics and to specially selected lay voices. The “ordinary person” has few opportunities for direct input into Church matters.

Voice of the Faithful®, long an advocate for greater lay input into the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church, provides opportunities to generate direct access, especially in the realm of bishop selection itself. VOTF’s bishop selection project has made it possible for the ordinary Catholic to communicate directly with the U.S. apostolic nuncio, who forwards bishop candidates to the Vatican.

Voice of the Faithful® developed an Internet portal at www.votf.org/bishop to allow Catholics to provide input to the apostolic nuncio. Their input goes directly to the nuncio’s email box when they click Submit on the questionnaire. Current U.S. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo M. Viganò has assured VOTF that all input reaching him from individual Catholics will be reviewed and that “serious observations may well be incorporated in the developed confidential process.”

The VOTF web portal allows Catholics to record their concerns and recommendations in three key 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.

Over the past two years, nearly 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments through this portal or, in the case of Chicago, a related second survey. This process is one way to restore widespread lay input into the central question of who serves the faithful in a diocese as their bishop and to restore in the twenty-first century a lay-consultative process nearly as old as the Church itself.

Click here for additional information on the bishop selection process and its history.

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 governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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The Council of Cardinals: A New Constitution for the Curia / Vatican Information Service

The reform of the Curia and the attribution of more incisive role to the laity were among the principal themes considered yesterday afternoon and this morning in the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, instituted by the Pope to assist him in the governance of the Church, said the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., in a briefing with journalists.” By Vatican Information Service

Read the rest of this story by clicking here.

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Update on Voice of the Faithful’s Bishop Selection Project

Bishop Sash & crossLast week, Voice of the Faithful® sent a letter and proposal to Pope Francis outlining a demonstration project for restoring wider lay participation in the selection of a diocesan bishop. The effort would have national bishop conferences conduct demonstrations, report on the results, and then submit them to the Vatican for development of “best practices.”

The VOTF proposal, prepared by our Bishop Selection Committee, details the mechanism for collecting lay input via projects the national bishop councils would conduct within their own countries.

The method retains papal assignment of local bishops (thus avoiding what could easily become a decades-long revision of canon law) and shows how broad, local lay and clergy input can be incorporated in the recommendations sent to the pope for such assignments.

Here are the documents VOTF mailed to Rome:

Letter to Pope Francis

Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for the Episcopacy

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