October 8, 2017
To all who support Pope Francis:
Opposition to Pope Francis encourages support to flourish
A small minority of Catholics are voicing their disquiet, opposition - even to Pope Francis’s emphasis on mercy and God’s love for all. You may have read the recent NCR article about a lengthy document accusing Pope Francis of heresy in his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Most Catholics would applaud the Papal stance that the Eucharist is not a reward for the perfect but healing for the needy.
A group of reformers from across the world met in cyberspace a week or so ago to explore how support for Pope Francis might be demonstrated. One idea was to counter the claims of his opposition - not by way of responding to the accusers - but with a solid, theologically-based document or an open letter to Pope Francis. The group also supported our Webmaster’s idea of launching a new website: www.WeSupportPopeFrancis.net. She explains it thus:
I expect you have heard about the importance of ordinary people in the Church showing support for Pope Francis’s leadership and teaching. Silence only allows misinformation to fester and the papal desire for us to follow Micah: 6:8 to be suppressed.
We could spend a lot of time moaning and grumbling about the tiny minority who don't like Pope Francis's leadership and will try to demolish him at every opportunity. Rather than be reactive, we need to be proactive in his support. Admittedly some of us are not happy with the speed of reform and change in the institution but others would say that a considered, slow and steady pace is probably the best way to proceed. The aim of reform, after all, is to have all the people of God on side and not to exclude anyone.
A website that I envisage is not created in a day. It is still embryonic but hopefully, with your help and input, it will grow and show what the true Catholic Christian tradition is all about.
- There are already links and quotes to the major documents which Pope Francis has written. The website needs more. As you read the documents, do send me quotes which particularly speak to you.
- I need positive and stimulating articles to encourage reflection and response.
- Are you a theologian, catechist, group leader, pastor? Your insights, expertise, and pastoral experience will be very welcome.
- I am also seeking comment and input from ordinary Catholics like myself. There is an opportunity to comment on the articles which are already on the website.
- It would also be good to hear from friends in other Christian Churches and indeed in other religions - or of no persuasion at all.
My plan is also to link to other sites and groups who are actively engaged in supporting Pope Francis:
- We are in contact with Religión Digital who are creating a similar website for the Hispanic world. They are gathering signatures in support of our Pope and have collected 10,500 in just a few days. No point in duplicating processes: please go there and add your signature. (The information is in English as well as Spanish.)
- Do let me know about other sites which discuss Pope Francis’s teaching in a constructive way. Positive criticism is all to the good, too.
- News about communities which are implementing his words will be warmly welcome.
The meeting of reformers threw up all sorts of ideas. Time and energy permitting, we can explore them all.
You are invited to join the Facebook group and follow us on Twitter. Go to www.WeSupportPopeFrancis.net, and click on the icons in the top right-hand corner to be taken to the pages.
Please tell your friends and family about the website and social media pages. The more grassroots support the bishops see for Pope Francis's style of leadership, the more likely it is that the next Conclave will elect someone of similar outlook.
Meanwhile please pray for the success of the website and social media platforms.
Finally, if God moves you to offer your time and talent to work on the website, please let me know - wherever you are in the world.
If we like Pope Francis’ leadership we need to speak out!
We recognize that Pope Francis has not moved fully in the direction some of us would like - especially as it relates to the advancement of women in the church or his response to clergy sex abuse. Nonetheless, we support the overall direction in which the Holy Father is taking us. As soon as the document is drafted, we will post it and invite you to sign it.
In the meantime, if you would like to log in, have articles to contribute or comments to add to the new website, www.WeSupportPopeFrancis.net, please go there now.
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,
We are delighted by the many people who take time to send short reponses, generally of appreciation, for our newsletters. The Directors and Strategy Team take note of all they say.
From time to time there is a longer response which the CCRI leadership would like to share more widely..