You are here: Home
INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES FIND UNANIMOUS AGREEMENT
ON ESSENTIAL CHURCH REFORMS DESPITE WIDE CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Reflections from a series of gatherings of worldwide representatives from Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australia/Oceania have been compiled by Catholic Church Reform International (CCRI) as a submission to the Synod Office in Rome. The document reflects the extensive knowledge of CCRI member organizations of the Church as they report on the relationship (or lack thereof) of bishops with the people each in their own country. On a diocesan level there are several good working relationships between the people and the bishops, but the vast majority range from unsatisfactory to non-existent. While many reports from bishops’ conferences to the Synod secretariat will reflect a hierarchical viewpoint with filtered views of the faithful, these reflections offer an appraisal of the state of our Church from Catholics committed to their faith and to the renewal of their Church from the grassroots.
Common concerns expressed in these synodal gatherings were (1) the acceleration of Catholics leaving the Church with young people being driven out in droves; (2) the dysfunctional governance of our Church with far too many bishops regarding their roles as autocratic in nature seeking little or no engagement with the people of the Church for whom they are pastorally responsible; (3) the patriarchal dominance in the Church with women excluded from important administrative and ministerial roles; and (4) a number of deeply flawed official teachings currently rejected by the sensus fidelium, especially regarding sexuality and reproduction, failing to reflect authentic natural law.
Participants in this series of global synodal gatherings strongly support Pope Francis’s efforts to implement a synodal church, i.e., where bishops and people “walk together” to make decisions for the whole community. From a representation of twenty plus regions reflecting significant cultural, social and economic diversity, while listening deeply to one another and guided by the promptings of the Spirit, representatives from the Amazon, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, UK, and USA unanimously agreed that the Church we envision is inclusive and welcoming of all as equal, regardless of socio-economic background. It was agreed that the people should replicate the early Christian community by selecting their leaders with the role of ministries filled by men and women alike, both married and single. Full equality for women, including priestly ordination, is seen by the people of the Church as a fundamental issue in ensuring a just and viable Church. We must also implement the teachings of Laudato Si in caring for the earth, ensuring we exercise our responsibility in providing a sustainable environment for future generations.
Our understanding of Christianity is less about time spent in church and more about realizing that our Christian calling is best expressed in how we show our love for God through our love for all those who are in our lives – our family, friends, enemies, and those not so easy to love. We are truly Christians when we stand ecumenically in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the immigrants, and the less fortunate who most need us in our society.
Despite our cultural and regional differences throughout the world, we are in full consensus that these reforms are essential for the sustainability and future of our Church.
The first meeting for the young seekers' community held on Thursday 16th June at 5:00 pm (EAT) via skype acted as an avenue for the introduction of members and a way of building a meaningful relationship among the members. The purpose of the meeting was to bring young people together and connect globally so that we can know the kind of projects undertaken in our local communities and the social issues affecting us and look for a workable solution to these issues.
Alloys Nyakundi played a key role in the moderation of the session. We had four young members from Kenya, one from the New York state, six from Pakistan, and two from Uganda, and in attendance was the Father Joseph Healey.
Fr. Healey encouraged the members by reminding them about Pope Francis’ visit to Brazil when he had a meeting with young people on the beach and asked them to make a mess, cause trouble, think outside the box, and do it differently…. He also touched on a crucial point reminding us about what cardinal Michael from Canada once shared that the biggest challenge in the church today is the gap between the young people in the institutional church. He added further that young people find nourishment and their support in small faith sharing communities. He left us with two proverbs: We create the path by walking (Spanish) and if you want to walk fast walk alone, if you want to walk far walk together (Agaw, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso)
What stood out from the discussion is that young people feel disconnected from the church they love, for instance, one of the members who shared her feeling of being disconnected in presence of forty young people in Albany, Diocese who were in a session of Synodal process. She didn’t connect at all with the young man who said we have to go back to the Catholic church of Western civilization. Another member shared about a friend who was very active in the Catholic church on the KU campus including being an acolyte. But on going back to her home parish she felt out of place and ended up joining Pentecostal denomination where she felt her expectations were being met.
Another member shared about a friend who was very active in the church while still on the campus but upon going back to his home parish, he felt out of place ending up joining another denomination because that’s where he felt his expectations are met.
There is also an outcry from several members who are discouraged by the church and from the church because of her silence when injustices are perpetrated in front of their eyes and no one speaks against such. Young people are not even given the necessary attention contrary to their expectations that they should be supported and empowered rather than being left in the cold.
Another crucial point that was shared was on expanding leadership among young people. When young people are well-formed through the church and given an opportunity to seek leadership positions, automatically we can visualize a future filled with peace and fairness.
Young people yearn for worthy accompaniment because they undergo lots of challenges, for example, things to do with sexuality, drug and substance abuse, depression, etc. not forgetting their transitions in life. Most young people find the church being a place where they find criticism which discourages making the look for consolation elsewhere. If an analogy of the family could be embraced by our churches, it could help in a big way because finding a place where one is guided and listened to attracts those seeking a place to call home.
It was also encouraging to note that some members are passionate about caring for the environment and looking for creative ways like not having a cake for the celebration but trees to plant to commemorate the celebration.
HELD ON THURSDAY 23RD JUNE 2022.
Prepared by Collins Ongoma
The meeting began with a word of prayer from AshiK and then an introduction of members.
The following members were present: Alloys Nyakundi- Kenya, Rebecca – Uganda, Joshua- Uganda, Gerald- Kenya, Jennipher- Uganda, Collins- Kenya, Ashik-Pakistan, Staicy- Kenya, Redemptah – Kenya, Meg – USA gave an apology
The encounter started with the members presenting o the image of Jesus Christ that the members have in mind and can relate to. Below are the responses from young people:
Ashik - Shared that he visualizes Jesus as a farmer who provides food, water, and shelter for his people.
Collins - Allegorically compared Jesus with a ‘Donkey’ that despite how the ‘load of salvation’ was, he never bolted out but persevered it all.
Joshua – Savior because Jesus sacrificed his life for our sake
Becky – Jesus is her savior, protector, and guide in her life
Alloys - Considers Jesus as a sister. Her three sisters played an important role in his life and gave him the accompaniment when he had ups and downs with life.
Staicy - Considers Jesus as an unconditional friend. She loves having a conversation with Jesus as a friend.
Gerald - Sees Jesus as a Safari-park guide. The park is where Jesus Christ lives while the safari is the journey of life young people are making.
Fr. Joseph - Considers Jesus as the eldest brother and chief intercessor which is an image widely used by the Sukuma people in Tanzania.
The second session was a reflection on what connects us as young people and below are some of the responses received.
Alloys - We are connected by our common challenges such as unemployment and so many other social issues.
Collins – As young people, we are always looking for a place to belong, feel appreciated, and be accepted.
Gerald - Shared that our personal experiences and challenges as young people bring us together.
Staicy – We are connected as young people so as to learn from our common experiences because through sharing we get insights on how to handle different challenges. We also connect and grow as young people.
Jenipher – It's the problems that connect us and the online seekers' encounters that have given her an opportunity to share and get solutions from other young people.
Ashik - it’s the common challenges and the progress we are making that brings us together.
The final segment of this encounter was based on suggestions to make our gatherings more effective.
Collins - Noted that we take a long time to introduce ourselves leaving less time to discuss the agenda of the day therefore, the leader should just introduce new people briefly or they do so in our chat room.
Ashik - Recommended that we allow protestants to come and join us and also, we should connect on Facebook.
Gerald – wanted to know how we are going to come up with the topics and members suggested that everyone should identify the challenges young people are facing in their local communities and make them our topics of discussion.
Staicy - Emphasized addressing the issues affecting young people in our localities especially when it comes to addressing issues like for example, depression. If possible, we can invite speakers to give a talk on different issues of concern to young people.
Alloys urged members to ensure that before joining the gathering there’s no background noise to avoid disturbance witnessed during the meeting. He also requested we have rotational leadership for our meetings.
The next meeting will be on 7th June 2022.
By Alloys Nyakundi, MPS
Having realized that many young people are drifting away from the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has been calling on church leaders to walk the extra mile to reach out to young people where they are and not wait for them. The Catholic Church Reform International (CCRI) responded to this call by appreciating the importance of reaching out to young people by financing the Online Young People Seekers Small Christian Communities that offer young people a safe place to share their concerns and find support for the challenges they face.
This virtual community of about 15 people meet twice a month on Zoom. It’s also an international and diverse group that comprises young people from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, and the USA. They are not limited only to the above countries but they welcome young people from other parts of the world who want to journey with them. This community is committed to growing together and seeking to find its rightful place within the Catholic community.
Through our encounters, the young people have been able to speak on different issues like:
In one of our encounters, Meg McCarthy from the USA highlighted how she felt disconnected from the church in one of the Synodal Gatherings that had been organized by the Albany Diocese. She said, “what stood out from the discussion is that young people feel disconnected from the church they love. For instance, I shared my feeling of being disconnected in the presence of 40 young people who had attended that session of the Synodal Process. I didn’t connect at all with the young man who said that the Catholic Church has to return to being the backbone of Western civilization.”
Collins Ongoma from Kenya shared about a friend who was very active in Christ the Teacher Catholic Parish in Kenyatta University in Nairobi including being an acolyte. But on going back to her home parish she felt out of place and ended up joining a Pentecostal denomination where she felt her expectations were being met.
Staicy Wandiema from Kenya gave a testimony on how the online encounter with other young people has transformed her life. She said, “I knew I wanted to belong. I was looking for a family, a place to call home, and people who understand me. I’m glad that I found it in my online Small Christian Community. I saw people who looked like me and had an idea of the common issues affecting us in general. There was no problem that was overlooked and everything was anchored in Christ. My faith in Christ grew, and I had the confidence to let the past go and accept God. I am looking at my life right now. Without my family, I feel I am incomplete. These are people whom I look up to and they also look up to me. We nurture each other, and we have made a lifelong friendship. Above all we let Christ be the anchor of every situation.”
Jenipher Tumuhaise from Uganda said, “some young people feel demotivated when their parents are not committed to attending mass. This also discourages them because they don’t have someone to accompany them nor have a role model. These online encounters with other young people is my new motivation because of the encouragement I get from other young people.”
They also engage in different activities that expand their understanding of the church's teachings. For example, in one of their encounters, the facilitator asked the young people to come up with an image of Jesus that comes to their mind or reflects the work that they do. Everyone was given two minutes to interpret the image and how it reflects on them. It was exciting to see the different types of images young people have about Jesus Christ. Some of the images they gave are: Jesus as a donkey, friend, safari park guide, eldest brother chief intercessor and a farmer.
In summary, our online Young People Seekers Small Christian Community meet young people where they are. They meet globally hence giving them a global view of life. Young people also get an opportunity to discuss with other young people from different parts of the world the kind of projects they are doing with their local communities.
People who want to learn more about the Young People Small Christian Communities (YPSCCs) ministry can get free, online materials by visiting the Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website GO»
In addition, two Facebook Pages offer more information:
For more information and if you want to join a Online Young People Seekers Small Christian Community please contact the Facilitator:
Alloys M. Nyakundi, MPS
Emmah’s Garden (https://emmahsgarden.org/)
Member of Catholic Church Reform International (CCRI)