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,
Questionnaire to be completed by Young People
To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released the long-awaited online questionnaire YOUNG PEOPLE, THE FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds around the world. The questionnaire - available in English, Spanish, French and Italian - is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief:
Click on https://survey-synod2018.glauco.it/limesurvey/index.php/147718 and choose your language in the top right drop-down menu.
Given the Church's tradition of strict adherence to rules that many feel need to be reevaluated, there is widespread concern for her well-being. Many feel that its future rests in the hands of young people which underscores the importance of this questionnaire. Pope Francis has invited youth from all over the world regardless of whether you are Catholic or not, whether you attend Church or not. The questionnaire is purposefully anonymous so that young people feel free to offer an honest sharing of themselves.
The list of 53 mostly multiple-choice questions is divided into seven sections: general personal information; attitudes and opinions about oneself and the world; influences and relationships; life choices; religion, faith and the church; internet use; and two final, open-ended questions.
Missing from the Questionnaire
It is a well-known fact that many young people have turned away from the Church. Why? Because they are more open to a rapidly changing world, having grown up in it without the prejudices of prior generations. From this vantage point, they see the grace of God in fresher and more vibrant terms than a Church governed by older generations. From the perspective of those of us interested in bringing about needed reform in the church, the questionnaire noticeably avoids raising widely discussed topics, particularly those directly related to the:
1. right of the members to participate in the decision-making of the Church
2. welcoming of all to the Eucharist recognizing it as a sacrament of healing not reward.
3. treatment of the LGBT community
4. equality of women in the Church
5. sexual abuse issue by Catholic priests
6. responsible parenthood vs. the prohibition of artificial contraception
7. couples living together prior to marriage
8. couples entering into inter-faith relationships
The only question that opens the door to address any of these issues or others of particular concern to various cultures is the last question: What do you want to tell people about yourself which has not been asked in this questionnaire? We strongly urge you to utilize this question to share your heartfelt concerns for any needs you might have that are currently not being addressed by the Church or by the parish with which you might be associated. We believe that the future of the Roman Catholic Church is in the hands of young people, If the Church is to continue, she needs the voices of young people to speak up but only if you offer your genuine beliefs and experiences. The Spirit does not speak only through the ordained ministry.
The Church is critically in need of authentic voices speaking up and being heard at this Synod. Unlike the two Synods on the Family that were attended almost entirely by Bishops, Catholic Church Reform Int'l encourages the Holy Father to change the dynamics of this Synod on Youth by filling the chamber with Young People so that it looks more like this:
The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops' conferences and other church bodies, "will provide the basis for the drafting of the 'instrumentum laboris,'" or working document for the assembly, synod officials said last January. It would also be helpful to have all of you who work closely with young people to complete the questionnaire.
Share this questionnaire on Facebook and Twitter
Share this link on your Facebook Page and on your Twitter account. Let's encourage young people worldwide of all faiths to complete this questionnaire: https://survey-synod2018.glauco.it/limesurvey/index.php/147718
Thank you for your contributions and continued support. Your donations make it possible for us to continue our work to bring needed reform to the Roman Catholic Church.
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From time to time there is a longer response which the CCRI leadership would like to share more widely..