To all who support Church reform:
We stand in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando, Florida massacre along with their families and loved ones who are grieving their loss. As the shooter declared himself a “soldier of ISIS,” so we declare ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. Consequently, let us look into our hearts and ask ourselves what more we can do to counter the hatred and violence that is becoming increasingly prevalent in our world. Perhaps one step is the proposal that we are bringing forward to you today.
Invite friends to a small gathering in your community
Francis has been our pope for just over three years now and, while he has brought a fresh spirit of openness to the Church, he is still meeting with resistance in many parts of the world to get bishops to open dialogue with the grassroots. Not waiting for the initiative of the bishops, Francis is also encouraging the People of God to speak up, to "make some noise" and "bother our pastors!"
A first step, in the midst of such outward hatred and violence, is for people to come together and discuss how our local church can be more visibly a sign of Christ’s presence in our world today. If, for example, there are some who find disdain for the LGBT community, our Church should not be seen as agreeing with them by calling their lifestyle a “disordered state.” With less focus on “the law” and more given to social justice and peace in our world, we may be able to play some small role in replacing hatred with love. Once we are clear among ourselves of how this can actually be done, we can then "bother our pastors” with our proposals for making our Church, and we who are the Church, signs of Christ’s love in the world.
How might we go about this?
(1) If you already belong to some group - such as a book club or bible study group - invite the members to share what being members of their Church means to them. Do they have suggestions on what changes, if any, in the Roman Catholic Church would bring people closer to God?
(2) Invite a few friends - active Catholics and not - to your home for a discussion on the Church. You might use a key Christian occasion, e.g. Christmas, Easter, Shrove Tuesday, Advent as an opportunity for celebration. Talk about the group's lived experience of the 'occasion' historically in their family and today. Use it to discuss how the community of faith might be improved. If they no longer attend Church, invite them to discuss what drove them away and what it would take to bring them back.
(3) Get involved in a group in your parish. Build on the positive aspects of the group to build trust and get folks to open up about their concerns and needs. Talk about what the group could do to address these issues.
(4) If you are already an active member of your parish, decide on a date and time for your gathering, and ask the pastor to post a notice about it in the bulletin and/or announce it at the Sunday Masses. Since Pope Francis has asked the People of God to speak up, announce this meeting as such an opportunity. Since this is a directive from the pope, your pastor would be hard pressed to decline your request.
For Reform to happen, the People must speak up
As you may know, Pope Francis and his council are currently discussing the decentralization of the Church. This discussion is long overdue but, if left to bishops without the laity's voice being heard, decentralization could well stop at the conferences of bishops. No laity - just bishops. For reformers in many dioceses with conservative bishops, this would be a giant step backward.
For meaningful reform to happen, the People, who are the Church, must find the courage to speak out. Pope Francis is describing the church as an upside down pyramid with the People at the top filtering down our needs to the focal point at the bottom, i.e., the Pope. But this doesn't work if the people are silent.
Would you personally consider setting up local meetings for the purpose of getting people to speak out about what changes are needed in the Church? If enough of us speak up in cities throughout the world, we could turn our whispers into a strong, clear, and united common voice for lay participation to become a permanent part of the decision-making in the Church.
Go to www.ThePeopleSpeakOut.org for suggestions about setting up gatherings in your community. Once some conclusions have been reached for desired changes in the Church, we invite you to report the outcome of your gathering: what were some of the key issues identified by the people? And can this process of lay participation continue on a regular basis? We will collect all the reports and deliver them directly to the Vatican, to Pope Francis, and to his bishops.
Feeling alone or frustrated that your views about the Church are falling on deaf ears?
Join our blog where people are sharing their views on needed church reforms?
Go to www.PopeFrancisCanYouHearUs.org and share your views along with others on such topics as
- Role of Women
- Artificial Contraception
- Primacy of Conscience
- Priestly Celibacy
- Lapsed Catholic
- Eucharistic Famine
- Interfaith Marriages
This blog will be brought to the attention of Pope Francis and his bishops worldwide. Francis himself has asked to hear from all of us. Make your views known and interact with others who want to open up these issues for meaningful discussion. Please share this blog with your friends and others who care about the Church and its future.
Please Sign these petitions
Please Sign these petitions
If you haven't already signed, there is still time to sign these petitions:
Petition in Support of Married Priests
This petition coming from the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical simply asks the Church, particularly in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, to be merciful within its own ranks. Go here to read the full petition and, if you agree, please sign it. You may sign either as an individual or as an organization.
Petition in support of the Role of Women.
This grassroots campaign, sponsored by more than two dozen U.S. Catholic organizations, asks that the Church cease subordinating the role of women in the Church and move forward to creating A Church for our Daughters. They are now seeking global signatures to add to their petition to the U.S. Bishops' Conference for their June 14th meeting. Go here to read the full petition and, if you agree, please sign it.
Petition in support of reinstating Reverend Professor Hans Küng as an official Catholic theologian.
As you may know, Father Küng wrote an article in last month's edition of NCR wherein he shares that Francis has responded to his request to have a free discussion on the infallibility dogma. If you have not already signed this petition, we invite you to join with us in asking Pope Francis to reinstate Hans Küng as a Catholic Theologian. Reinstating him will be one step forward in the reform of our Church.
In all three of these petitions, if you agree and are able, please post these on your websites and promote them in your newsletters.
Thank you to all who have generously offered donations to keep our project moving forward. We appreciate your personal and financial support.