To all supporting the Renewal of our Church:
A response from the Vatican re our calling for a Year of the Laity
Please consider signing our open letter to Cardinal Kevin Farrell as head of the Dicastery on the Laity Family and Life. As you will see, the letter is an invitation to this office to join the People of God in carrying forward to the rest of the Church globally a "Year of the Laity" already being undertaken by the bishops of Brazil this coming year from the feast of Christ the King 2017 to this feast in 2018.
We sent this letter to the Cardinal on July 12 and received this prompt response:
I am Fr. Giovanni Buontempo, Responsible for Lay Movements and New Communities within the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. I am writing this e-mail on behalf of our Prefect, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in reply of your e-mail of July 12th, 2017.
Thank you for sending us the letter with the request of a "Year of the Laity" for the universal Church. We had already received this request directly from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil, several months ago, and I can assure that Cardinal Farrell considered seriously this proposal and took it to his heart. The whole matter is being evaluated by the Holy See.
Be assured of our prayer for all your activities.
Four Synodal Gatherings called by the People in 2018
As a follow-up to the two Synods on the Family that have already taken place, we are standing with other Church community-based leaders in supporting four synodal gatherings called by the People all in 2018:
- Londrina, Brazil in January (CEBs)
- a Dallas, Texas suburb, U.S.A. in October (ACC)
- San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. in November (CTA)
- Aparecida, Brazil in November (GCN)
We will keep you apprised of these conferences as they unfold. One of the many outcomes of our calling for a Year of the Laity is to have the People of God from around the world actively supporting Pope Francis's vision for a decentralized Church that addresses the needs of the local dioceses and is universally more welcoming and less judgmental. But for the renewal of the Church to actually come from the People, the People must become more active in Church governance. The Church structures and practices of governance must come to embrace regional diversity and recognize that this is not in conflict with the unity of the Church. A Year of the Laity can teach the whole Church to respect the beauty of different cultures guided by the same Spirit.
Promote the Year of the Laity with your Pastors and Bishops
In addition to signing this letter, you may also want to promote this with your local media, post it on your websites, and personally contact your pastor or bishop. Let's see what kind of global support we can garner when the People declare November 2017 to November 2018 to be the Year of the Laity throughout the world.
Possible Outcomes of a Year of the Laity
Once established, the next steps during this year would be to encourage the People in local dioceses to begin taking key initiatives based on what is appropriate to their region of the world. This might include such issues as:
- participating in the selection of local bishops,
- calling for diocesan synods,
- creating a path for the divorced and remarried to be welcomed to the Eucharist,
- assuming moral and fiscal responsibility for the clerical sexual abuse of children,
- ensuring that the LGBT community is welcomed as respected members of the Church,
- encouraging optional celibacy for priests and the welcoming back of those priests who left to marry,
- accepting interfaith marriages,
- treating women as equals positioning them in leadership roles in the administration of the Church and welcoming their right to serve, at the very least, as Deacons in the Church,