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After decades of research and communication with some in the hierarchy of our Church and trusted People of God, it's become obvious that as we are "victims" of our global culture and context swirling to remake itself and us. In many cases, it is succeeding---on both fronts. We ask the burning question: Where is our faith in such times? Do we choose to remain impotent as the culture re-forms us or do we choose the converse?
Clearly, we have chosen the latter. We are engaging in an experiment to test the hypothesis that Christians are ready now, willing now, and able now to live the common values of our faith intentionally with the same courage Jesus had. We developed the Peoples Synod to give voice to the People of God, just as synods provide the hierarchy with dialogue on issues that internally concern the institutional Church. We, however, live in a bigger world, an external reality, often beaten to submission by a secular hierarchy that tells us what to think, who to believe, and what to do about it.
We are challenging Christians to think, to be creative, to see new frontiers that match our reality. We already share a common perspective that all lives matter and relationships, primary deep relationships, are the cornerstone of our faith. After all, Scripture is all about relationships, the good, the bad and the ugly, and stories are there to teach us about lives with purpose and those, without.
Come join us for four consecutive Saturdays in August (beginning August 8) for either the morning or afternoon session that will stimulate us to think bigger, to see the potential we have and to create the possibilities we long for. We live in a context of cynicism that keeps many of us mute to speak out on the problems of the day. What would our world be like with thinking Catholics and Christians? Now, there is a dangerous thought to explore.
Since Pope Francis has recently issued his Papal Exhortation sharing his personal dreams for the world, we envision this as an invitation for the people to share our hopes and dreams for the future of our world. You are invited to take this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2XFGJ96. The objective is to listen to the voices of all people who identify with the principles of Christianity - love God and love your neighbor. It doesn't matter whether you are active or not, or even baptized or not. We want to hear your vision for the social, cultural, ecological, and spiritual realities touching you in the world. We anticipate the results of the survey will represent the people in all our diversity, across religious, cultural, and political perspectives. The outcome will be a compendium of the reflections of the people - what we will call a Peoples Exhortation - that reflects our relationships with one another, with the Divine, and with all creation.
TO: All people who identify with Chistianity, whether you are practicing or not, whether you are even baptized or not, who wish to have your voices heard and your experiences shared during Covid-19. What are you being invited to do? Pope Francis shared his dreams for the future of the world in his most recent papal exhortation. Is that a top-down view from a traditional Roman Catholic Church? Or, now that Francis has shared his dreams, is it an invitation for the people to share our dreams for the kind of world we want to see ... for our children and grandchildren? Is this an opportunity for the Spirit to lead from the bottom up? Is this even possible, given how diverse we are as a people? First, let us share the background.
At this time of Pentecost, we are reminded of the story of the resurrected Jesus breathing the Spirit on his disciples giving them the power to forgive sins. It was the inception of the Christian movement when He breathed the Spirit into the early Christians and to all of us to go forth preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. At the same time, we remember the last words of George Floyd: "I can't breathe." His modern-day crucifixion is his breathing the Spirit into all of us to speak out and take action. His inability to breath has breathed life into people all around the globe. Everywhere we turn, we are hearing an outcry being heard and reacted to around the world. We condemn the three officers who stood by and watched, who did nothing to stop the killing. But are we no different?
We stand by and do nothing about all too many injustices: We stand by and watch racism continue for decades, for centuries, and we who are white – perhaps unconsciously – benefit from the privilege this brings us. We stand by and do nothing about the LGBT community treated with indignity while we who are straight – perhaps unconsciously – benefit from the privilege this brings us. We watch women treated as second-and-third-class citizens for decades, for centuries, while men stand by and do little or nothing. Why? Perhaps unconsciously because of the privileges this brings them. We stand by and watch the immigrants run from the terrorism of their own governments but stand by and do nothing. We stand by and watch their children being locked up in cages, but do nothing. We stand by and watch corporations invade some of the most beautiful parts of our earth, doing so for profit while destroying the lives and environment of its inhabitants. We stand by and watch people starving to death while we eat sumptuous meals. We stand by and watch school shootings one after another and do nothing to stop gun violence.
But all this indifference doesn’t stop there. Catholic Bishops stand by and hear the cry of the people begging to have a voice in the governance of their Church. But these members of the clergy do nothing. Why? It is nearly impossible to say: “perhaps unconsciously.” They do nothing because they benefit from the privilege that comes with being a member of the hierarchy. And we the people, conditioned for decades, for centuries, continue to attend church, looking up to the priest, to the pastor, to the bishop waiting for them to tell us what God wants us to do. We the people stand by and do nothing but go along with what we’ve always done.
Will the experience of this global pandemic and the adjustments we’ve made to find our way change anything? Pope Francis characterized this worldwide trauma as: "God's call on people to judge what is most important to them and resolve to act accordingly from now on." How will we choose to behave as, state by state and country by country, we transition back into a more interactive society? We readily recognize in others that to stand by, watch injustices, and do nothing is complicity. But can we look inward and recognize this in ourselves? It is time for us to move from silence and passivity to speaking out and taking action about all the injustices in the world. It is beginning to happen, not always perfectly or orderly, but people are outraged. How will we choose to turn this justified rage into action that will result in a better world? The moment is now. What will we do with it?
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A new ‘historic’, ‘substantial’, and ‘comprehensive’ report on Catholic Church governance The Light of the Southern Cross was handed to the Australian bishops on 4th May 2020. It will have ‘far-reaching implications for the Church’s life and mission’.
The report recommends a ‘new paradigm’ for church governance in Australia with key principles of transparency, accountability, dialogue and leadership. But the decision of the bishops at their May 7-14 plenary meeting to lock the report away in secret until December is simply ‘business as usual’.
Catholics for Renewal, whose award-winning book Getting Back on Mission: Reforming our Church Together made substantial recommendations on church governance, believes this 6-month delay in making the report available is unhelpful, indefensible and unacceptable.
“This groundbreaking report”, says Dr Peter Wilkinson, President of Catholics for Renewal, “was commissioned and prepared on a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. If Australia’s bishops are to honour their commitment to the Royal Commission they should make the report public at least by June 2020.”
“It belongs to all the People of God,” says Wilkinson, “not just to the bishops and religious orders. We have a right to see it without undue delay.”