2017 Feb 23/24 Strategy Team Meeting – Report

Strategy Team Summary Report of Feb. 23-24 Meeting:
Those in attendance were Ed (Netherlands), Peter (Kenya), Don (Mexico), Christina (New Zealand), Clyde and Rene (U.S.)
The following topics were discussed after the opening prayer:

  1. Meeting with Paul Hwang:

Paul Hwang from Seoul Korea has accepted our invitation to work together. He will be joining the ST call for a special meeting with Kochurani Abraham from India on March 9/10.

  1. Don’s Vision for CCRI:

The Spirit seems to be leading us to be a kind of new Pentecost in the Church, i.e., CCRI can be a facilitator of conversations, dialogue and face-to-face meetings between progressive Catholics all over the world, across cultures and in different languages. These conversations and encounters are Pentecost in action, thanks to this marvelous new communications technology that we have at our disposal.  No longer do the Bishops control the dialogue – we lay people with our clergy allies take the work of making connections into our own hands and we can form a counter-narrative to the official narrative imposed by the conservative institutional leaders.
The more that diverse voices participate in the conversation, the more what we say has greater weight and credibility, first of all in the media, and finally with the bishops. The conservatives won’t be able say that these ideas about justice in the church and reform of church structures are only the ideas of a small minority of European and Anglo American dissenters.

  1. Update on creating the ground team in Africa

Peter convened a meeting hosted by Fr. Joe of a small group of lay and clergy with the primary focus being the Synod on Youth. See 2nd, 3rd, and 4th attachments:  the agenda, minutes of the meeting, and a picture of the attendees. As Peter points out, we have rare window of opportunity in the form of Fr. Etienne Triaille, S.J., who is Adviser to the Holy See at UNEP and UN Habitat. He works at the Apostolic Nunciature in Kenya where he has scheduled lunches with the Nuncio. Etienne will be returning home this September to Belgium where he plans to retire. Before that, he Joe Healey and Peter have the chance to have laid a solid foundation of recognition and acceptance as a serious and structured movement of Christ’s Lay Faithful making significant contribution in enhancing church reforms. 

  1. Working more closely with Kochurani

Don’s suggestion: As far as Kochurani’s involvement with CCRI, I think we need to respect her time commitments and not ask her to be a regular member of the strategy team. On the other hand, I believe that CCRI’s fundamental charism is connecting progressive Catholics from all over the world and facilitating conversations and face-to-face encounters on a global level. As these conversations take place across cultures and in different languages, I believe the Spirit will guide us on a global level to action that will affect the hierarchical institution.
Kochurani can be a wonderful resource for us because she understands how the institution works, and because of her theological training, she has the technical language that the institutional leaders understand.  Kochurani can help us by giving us concepts and language that we can use in our conversations with Catholics around the world and with institutional leaders. Kochurani could also be a fantastic dialogue partner with other Catholics globally as we begin to knit this network together. Like I mentioned on our call last week, imagine setting up a dialogue on-line between Kochurani and progressive lay Brazilian leaders – imagine how her insights could be of use to people in a completely different cultural setting! See 5th and 6th attachments of two articles by Kochurani on women and the de-clericalization of the priesthood. 

  1. Connecting SCCs and CEBs:

Fr. Joe and Don are in communication with each other. The goal is to bring progressive Catholics in Latin America and Africa together into a global dialogue so that a just Catholic Church can begin to take place. Fr. Joe wanted to clarify that the CEBs did not see themselves as a movement. Rather, he sees the SCCs as “the Church on the move.” Similarly, CEBs don’t consider themselves a movement either but rather “a new/old way of being church.” From the CEBs Mexico website: “The CEBs are a new model and at the same time an ancient process. Their origins go back to the very birth of the church. The CEBs want to rescue the model of the primitive church, created by and made dynamic by the Spirit. Therefore, the CEBs live their faith from the building of community as their priority in becoming the church.”

  1. Working closely with CTA:

With the approval of the Vision team of CTA and when the new executive director is selected, let’s discuss CCRI working collaboratively with CTA. If their vision is to expand CTA globally, there is much we can do in our work together.
In lieu of having one national conference, CTA is having four regional gatherings: Here are the proposed dates for the regional CTA gatherings for 2017, which we would promote for them: Rocky Mountains (Denver) September 8-9; East Coast (Baltimore) October 13-14; Midwest (Detroit) October 20-21; West Coast (Oakland area – tentative), Dates TBD.

  1. Bringing Africans from Africa in dialogue with Africans from North and South America

Don’s suggestion: Given that Brazil has the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa, it would be wonderful if CCRI could facilitate conversations between Brazilians of African descent and Africans from Africa and African-Americans from the US. As you can see below, the US has the second largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa.  There is a significant population of Black Catholics in the US. How could we connect Black Catholics from the US with Peter in Kenya, and with other African Catholics, and how could we connect all these people with the Londrina meeting in 2018? And if GCN would like, how we might connect them to the meeting in Aparecida? More discussion on this to follow.

Largest 18 African diaspora populations:






including multiracial people, 6.84% (black) + 20.6% (mulatto pardos)[52][53][54]

 United States


including 3,091,424 citing both Black and another race

  1. Outreach to Socorro Martinez and the CEBs in Mexico:

Don, while in Mexico City, met with Sister Socorro on Friday. Here is a summary of their conversation:

    1. Brazilian CEBs meeting in Londrina, Jan 2018

– Socorro thinks Peter’s suggestion of bringing an African delegation to the meeting is a great idea, for all kinds of reasons, including the fact that Brazil has the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa.
– Socorro also agrees with CCRI that it would be great to have a delegation of church reformers from around the world attend the meeting as well. 
– Socorro thinks that the purpose of the attendance of the African delegation and other international delegations would be to participate with the Brazilian CEBs in their conference and learn about their reality.
– She believes that in addition to the participation in the Brazilian gathering, the international visitors could organize a separate meeting in English alongside the Brazilian meeting to dialogue with each other and with representatives of Brazil and the other Latin American countries who are attending the Brazilian meeting. A translator would be needed.
– Socorro also likes CCRI’s idea of organizing meetings in countries around the world to accompany the Brazilian meeting, with these international meetings reflecting on the same themes as the Brazilian meeting and then offering their own conclusions to the Brazilian meeting via an Internet platform.  Through this platform, the international meetings could participate in the opening and closing liturgies of the Brazilian meeting and perhaps observe plenary speakers as well. 
Concerns:  African and other international observers will need interpreters – Portuguese/English, Portuguese/Spanish and perhaps Portuguese/French.
To have a viable international Internet participation, a well- managed, professional Internet meeting platform would be essential.
Possible solutions – there is an international organization that facilitates volunteer interpreters, their only expenses would be transportation to Londrina, food and lodging. Socorro has participated in international social justice meetings where these interpreters were provided
 – Socorro participated in an international meeting of SCCs/CEBs facilitated by Fr. Joe Healy that took place via the Internet with the physical location being a Catholic university in the US.  She said the Internet logistics were very well managed so that it felt like everyone was in the same room, even though they were all over the world.

b. CCRI as Facilitator of Global Conversations of Reform Catholics
– Socorro feels that the time is ripe for a serious well-running global network of reform -minded Catholics, but how can this be organized in such a way that there is frequent, well thought out communication between all the participants in the network?
– Socorro agrees with Peter that the languages of the network need to be English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
– What Don can offer is his spoken and written fluency in English, Spanish and Portuguese and his lived experience in Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, the Philippines and the US.  
In the meantime, Fr. Joe now has Sr. Socorro’s email address so they can be in further communication between the SCCs and CEBs.

  1. CCRI connection with the CEBs in Brazil

Here is the main website for the CEBs in Brazil: http://portaldascebs.org.br/. Don reports that the website name ” Portal das Comunidades Eclesiais de Base ” which means “Base Christian Community Internet Portal.” This website is managed by an NGO in Rio de Janeiro called Iser Assessoria. This NGO is dedicated to supporting participative democracy in the political and ecclesial areas of society – an important group for CCRI to connect with. Don is seriously considering going to the group’s office in March and facilitating a Skype call with them and the new church reform strategy team.

Here is his translation of their description of who they are (Quem somos?):
Iser Assessoria came out of the Advisory Team to Popular and Religious Organizations which was created at the ISER – Institute for Religious Studies- in 1982, in the context of a large mobilization of popular movements and of the expansion of Liberation Theology and the Base Christian Communities. Since its creation, the team has tried to promote the “distribution of knowledge” through formation activities of which the most characteristic are the advisory teams, which are the origin of our institution.
Little by little, the Advisory Team, made up of specialists in Social Sciences and Theology, began to incorporate other activities, until it was transformed into an autonomous NGO, Iser Assessoria , in 1995.
Since its beginning, the Institution is dedicated fundamentally to support and encourage the CEBs, with advisory teams at the Inter-ecclesial Meetings, research papers ,academic publications and publications that are pastoral and written in easily accessible language.
Since 2010, Iser Assessoria in collaboration with the CEBs office of the CNBB (National Conference of Brazilian Bishops) has tried to create and strengthen a national network of advisors for the CEBs. In 2011 four seminars took place in different regions of the country.
In 2015, the Iser Assessoria team promoted a new seminar for the formation of advisors which brought together 50 participants from all regions of Brazil and included three bishops. The participants gave a very positive evaluation of these initiatives. In this way, Iser Assessoria has been recognized as an institutional leader in this field.

  1. Draft of press release on Pres. Trump’s impact on global social justice issues (Clyde)

Clyde and James Kotoor are working together on this press release. It is a complex item and is not likely to be an issue that will go away soon. They are taking the needed time to create a meaningful press release.


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