Present on the Call: Christina (New Zealand), Clyde (U.S.), Don (Mexico), Jean-Pierre (France), Peter (Kenya), Socorro (Mexico), Kochurani (India), Ashiknaz (Pakistan), Rene (U.S.), and with an attempt to join by Ed (Netherlands). The Mumbai residents (Virginia, Astrid, Reena and Rachael) were unable to join the call because they were part of a major protest against the lynching of innocent Muslims by Hidutva fanatics (who are being supported by the current government).
New member welcome: Ashiknaz Khokhar introduced himself saying that he has been working with youth and for peace in Pakistan since 2005. He feels that things there are very backwards. He wants to be a part of CCRI because the condition of the Church there is not good.
Planning Meeting for the People’s Forum in Aparecida: Jean-Pierre just returned from the planning meeting in Brazil – with connections to San Francisco and Paris – to prepare for the People’s Forum in Aparecida. The working title is the Gospel, Social and Economic Justice, Democracy and Liberation: the People of God Challenge. He will send out the full report soon. They felt it important to emphasize the lessons learned since the 1968 meeting of Medellin, which was a major step for the Liberation Theology. This Forum in Brazil next year will coincide with the 50th anniversary of that Conference. The anticipated 200 participants will be 150 from Brazil and Latin American Countries and 50 from North America and other continents. GCN welcomes our help in promoting the gathering. Sr. Socorro has connections in Brazil that could be helpful. Peter suggested that they get the list of contacts who are very active in Church Reform in Brazil. They also discussed the Forum scheduled for Africa in 2021 and a possible Forum in Asia thereafter. The declaration at the end of Aparecida next year could possibly be made in the way of updating the Council 50 (1st Global Forum of the People of God) final declaration. But this is not decided yet. There is no plan to do such updating before Aparecida.
Press Release re: the “dubia” of the 4 Cardinals: See edited draft in 1st attachment.
Year of the Laity Proposal: The Brazilian Bishops Conference is proposing this for their country. The question raised: can we make a direct connection with these bishops and offer to work collaboratively with them? Kochurani suggested that we bring in more members to CCRI from South America – more lay members who want to see the Church improved – through Socorro, Lula, and Jean-Pierre. Don asked how are we going to expand beyond being an English-speaking group? Socorro supported that we need to build reform from the bottom up. If we have another Year of something, we need the people to realize and own that change is up to them. There are many good priests but reform is only going to come from the laity. It is the laity who need to come up with the innovations.
The conference in Londrina has been called by the community and supported by the bishops. They have a well-organized system in place. The theme is a reflection on the challenges of Christians living in the cities. What is happening here needs to be replicated in other parts of the world. Clyde pointed out that in the U.S., the church is still very clergy centered. One exception is St. Stephen’s parish in Minnesota. When a new bishop stopped their progressive activities, half the parish left the parish and created a new parish called the Spirit of St. Stephens. They were able to get grant funding for a series of social justice projects and have a paid staff of 130 people. These are the kinds of lay initiatives we want to build up around the world.
Peter is heading up the committee to coordinate Small Christian Communities both in AMECEA (within the continents of Africa) but also connecting small faith groups together globally. The idea is how to put more confidence in the hands and hearts of the lay people. The problem is the moment lay people are encouraged to take some initiative outside the leadership of the clergy, they panic. They feel like they are sinning by not following the guidance of their priest. How to “de-claricalize” the church. It is possible that even priests of victims of this structure. Kochurani said that spirituality in the Church has been made very clergy dependent. We need to guide the people that the Spirit can speak through them as well. It might be easier through SCCs, CEBs, and IECs to communicate the experience of God with the people’s relationships and their work; to help the laity to deepen their commitment to justice, to family life, to listen to the Spirit to grow in their activism to causes around them. Spirituality is much more than a good prayer life.
Peter suggests we connect with Ann Hope and Sally Timell who have written manuals about activating the laity and “de-claricalizing” the church. Clyde has drafted a letter to Cardinal Farrell (see 2nd attachment) and said the key to this transformation is to provide a path for the clerics to allow this. Could we begin with Brazil and reach out to their Conference of Bishops and offer to work collaboratively with them? We offer to take their concept worldwide. Peter would like to begin by making an effort to bring South America and Africa together in this cause. Christina suggested that we take the idea of the Brazilian Bishops to invite other Bishops Conferences to follow this lead. This can be a grassroots movement that connects us globally and hears the voice of the people. Clyde invited everyone to look at his draft letter to Cardinal Farrell, as the head of the Dicastery of the Laity, and incorporate this idea. (See attached).
Next steps: (1) Contact Celso to reconnect us to the Commission on the Laity which supports the Conference of Bishops in Brazil. Celso also represents the CEBs on the Commission. (2) We also need to connect with Daniel who is on Jean-Pierre’s team. Consult with these two men to get their advice about how to communicate with the Bishops. (3) Copy Letter to Cardinal Farrell to the Brazilian Conference of Bishops. (4) To gain Farrell’s attention, copy our letter to Bob Mickens, the Rome journalist, and to the Secretary of Youth (get name from Peter. (5) Copy our letter to the Secretary of State so that he will pass this on to Francis so the Pope will know what is going on.
Kochurani suggested what if we can gather a global demand for a Year of the Laity. We gather support from each of our countries to bring in support. We make this letter an open letter and put it online on our website gathering signatures noting their country of residence. Christina added that this be an open letter calling for the Year of the Laity and for the establishment of Commissions on the Laity throughout the world. Clyde reminded us that we want to keep our focus on making this plan for a year of the Laity a grassroot effort. We are seeking a top-down approach but rather a bottom up movement. We the Church are declaring this the Year of the Laity and informing Pope Francis of our plan.
Kochurani closed our meeting with a prayer connecting our energy with the Spirit and trusting her to guard in us and through us our work to energize millions of people who form the people of God to help the church come to light in the spirit that Jesus Christ came to bring.