2017 June 19 – Strategy Team Meeting

Report on our ST Zoom meeting, June 19, 2017

Participants on the call: Kochurani (India), Clyde (U.S.), Peter (Kenya), Don (Philippines), Christina (New Zealand), Virginia (India), Rachael (India), and Rene (U.S.). Astrid tried to join but was unable technologically.

The agenda topic was: Where do we see CCRI going and how do we get there? We recognize that we have a team of strong leaders who have come together from many parts of the world. Kochurani speaks of our baptism opening the door for all the People of God to participate in the universal priesthood. It was suggested that we need to bring the local voices to the international level,

Peter and Joe Healey in Nairobi will be coordinating their youth to become extremely active in the Synod on Youth. They will utilize the program at Tangaza University where the topic of youth issues can readily be raised. They are concentrating on creating Small Christian Communities with young people. They plan to use the existing SCCs as the mother to create Youth SCCs. They want to get youth to participate in those SCC gatherings and then feed the outcome of their discussions into CCRI.

CCRI just sent out a newsletter announcing the release of the Vatican Questionnaire for young people: http://www.catholicchurchreform.org/216/index.php/resources/newsletters/222-newsletter-15-june-2017. The point is made that some vital issues are notably avoided in the questionnaire, such as co-habitation prior to marriage, women’s equality and LGBT issues, artificial contraception, etc. Rachael feels this newly released Vatican questionnaire is so bad that it makes her work easier. She plans to gather a group together and open free discussion. She plans to make every effort to understand what is driving the group and share the information with the Vatican.

Christina suggests that youth as a whole have already disconnected from the Church.  Attitudes of the church toward women and LGBT keep them away. The Spirit is moving completely outside the walls of the church for them. But let’s consider how we get the institution itself to open itself up.

Clyde suggested that, using the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32), young people might play the role of the Father with the church being the prodigal son. That might help create a new perspective. Youth want a fresh outlook. The question is: How can they bring the prodigal church back?

Rachael’s goal is not to bring youth back into the Church. They can be close to Christ without being part of the Church.

Peter suggests that we work more closely with youth coordinators like Fr. Emmanuel Chimambo, Pastoral and Lay coordinator for AMECEA in Africa.

One forward movement: We are the Church. Help young people to understand that and form their own Small Faith communities gearing these discussions toward issues that pertain to their lives. Young people may be able to see evidence of the Church through us.

Even as adults, many of us need small communities. CCRI’s objective is to learn how to foster them and how do we connect them to each other? Peter, as head of this sub-committee said he is working on “actionables rather than theoretics” in addressing this issue. We want to help make small communities feel connected to others. and to learn from each other. They should not feel alone. Remind everyone of our website: www.ThePeopleSpeakOut.org.

Rene suggested that Christina, Socorro, Virginia, Peter, and Fr. Joe – could all work together as part of a sub-committee on the interaction of small faith communities. Virginia reported that people in Belgium are so far ahead of the hierarchy. Virginia will ask for the email addresses of the Belgium leaders.

Lula reported that in Brazil 2/3 are Catholic, some conservative and some very progressive. He is connected with an LGBT small community. He has a bishop who is not very democratic. However, his bishop wants to call a local synod to discuss the role of a lay person. He will be joining the GCN meeting with Jean-Pierre to prepare for the Aparecida Forum in November 2018. He anticipates they will have a strong philosophical discussion.  He hopes there will be English and Spanish interpreters for this Forum.

Kochurani suggested that we strive to make our network broader. Every revolution gathers momentum.  This will allow new structures to emerge from below.  In India, there are small communities but she cannot connect to any of them. Can we get individuals to join this network? There are nearly 9000 people on our mailing list. Can we appeal to them? Kochurani will help Rene write the next newsletter. She encourages us to use social media more than we are.

Peter reminded us that success is what happens when opportunity and preparedness meet. He recommended the book: Reforms don’t fall from heaven.

Back in April, Paul emailed the group and recommended that we utilize “grouping” among the participants according to their specialties, interest, generation and others. He suggested the names of Lula, Socorro and Fr. Joe, for example, who are working with SCCs and CEBs. Don could lead a LGBT group and Jean-Pierre could do more focus on the structural church reform agendas such as the “election” of a bishop by the People of God. That has been taking place in churches in China and Vietnam for a long time. As for gender issues, Kochurani and Virginia could lead a group. Each group should make an effort to invite and spread to other movements and individuals in the world. In this way, he thinks we could make our church reform movements go forward in a more systematic manner under the name of CCRI or whatever we may call it.

This matter was discussed in a previous meeting and Virginia expressed the opinion that it makes more sense to her to promote projects like young adult questionnaire and interaction of small faith communities rather than topics like gender or LGBT issues. Jean-Pierre just responded via email to Paul and suggest that Paul discuss the matter of structural church reform with Martha Heizer, their WAC Intl vice-chair, who is going to participate in AYA/ATF meetings in Indonesia next month. Jean-Pierre promised to raise that topic with the GCN Brazilian team during their meetings at the end of this week.

After the meeting, Clyde proposed that CCRI write a letter to Cardinal Kevin Farrell as head of the Dicastery on the Laity. Please look at the attached draft that has been well edited by the Strategy Team. Please offer your editorial suggestions and/or approval of the letter.

Thanks to all, Rene 

June 26,2017

Cardinal Kevin Farrell

Palazzo San Calisto
Vatican City State00120

Email: info@laityfamilylife.va


Re: Request of your office to encourage the laity to organize themselves in Gospel mission by joining or starting up a small faith community

Dear Cardinal Farrell,

Pope Francis often finds opportunity to speak about “the transformative power of faith-filled laity who are willing to serve the Gospel,” one of which was in his speech to the Pontifical Council for the Laity last year: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/for-pope-francis-the-catholic-laity-can-transform-the-world-86987/.

As an organization of committed Catholics from all over the world, we identify deeply with the pope’s words. He reminds us all that the call for lay participation in the evangelizing mission of the Church is not through a “delegation” of the hierarchy, but because their apostolate “is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation, all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself.”

Yet it is the habit of many Catholics to defer to the leadership of the hierarchy. We urge you to send a letter – to be read from the pulpit in every parish and diocese – encouraging the laity to organize themselves in Gospel mission by joining or starting up a small faith community. In line with Pope Francis’s Synod on Youth occurring next year, there is a strong effort to create and support Youth Small Christian Communities (YSCCs). It would be helpful if your office offered support of those  who have already so organized themselves, to celebrate the many different gifts of the one Spirit who unites us all (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

It is the mission of the people of God, the church that we all are, to go outside the boundaries which we ourselves have established, to see God’s handiwork in those who see the Gospel mission differently.  This is especially challenging when the leadership of a bishop or pastor is regarded as the measure of the Gospel mission.  We do not know the mind of God for others unless we begin with what Pope Francis calls “encounter and accompaniment.” It would be valuable for each pastor and bishop to publicly encourage lay initiatives recognizing that the hierarchy does not have a corner on the market of guidance from the Spirit and that the People of God, too, can receive such inspiration. As Pope Francis said in his speech:

We need lay people who are formed well, animated by a clear and sincere faith, whose lives have been touched by a personal and merciful encounter with the love of Jesus Christ. We need lay people who take risks, who soil their hands, who are not afraid of making mistakes, who move forward. We need lay people with a vision of the future, who are not enclosed in the petty things of life. And as I said to the young people: we need lay people with a taste of the experience of life, who dare to dream.

Encouraging the laity to take a more assertive role in the Church can be a watershed within the Church for a bubbling-up of the Spirit through the grass roots, embodied in local gatherings of people, such as Small Christian Communities (SCCs) especially prevalent in Africa http://www.smallchristiancommunities.org/, basic ecclesial communities, known as Comunidad(e) Eclesial de Base, (CEBs) largely prevalent in Latin America https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_196-1,  and Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs) http://intentionaleucharistic.org/ primarily throughout North America. The common theme throughout these communities is their love for one another being rooted in their love for Christ.

We believe that these lay-initiated communities must go hand in hand with the ecumenical movement. As Pope Francis stated to a gathering in Nairobi, ecumenism and interreligious cooperation is not an option in the modern world: it’s an imperative of faith. It is no accident that you have been appointed as head of the Dicastery for the Laity and serve alongside your brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, who is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

For our part, we have already begun this process by initiating this website: www.ThePeopleSpeakOut.org. We look with anticipation and joy upon the further work of your Dicastery in the coming months and years. We would love to work in collaboration with your office to foster this movement and to support these grass roots initiatives by the people. Our objective is to remind us all that we are not alone, that as the People of God, we are the Church, and our role is not limited or defined by our place in a parish or diocese.  In these days, a sign of the times is an emerging social technology that enables the kind of linkages that can bring a sense of oneness to those who otherwise may feel isolated or alone.

We would most appreciate a response to this letter. Our first letter to you was sent through the office of your brother upon your appointment in September of last year and our second was hand-delivered to your secretary on March 17 of this year by one of our CCRI directors, Sr. Filo Hirota, a superior general as well as a member of Pax Christi Int’l.

Respectfully sent from our Church Reform Strategy Team:

Kochurani Abraham: theologian, speaker, and author, India
Clyde Christofferson: attorney and member of NOVA, an Intentional Eucharistic Community, U.S.
Barbara Dreher: CSJ; Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, U.S
Paul Hwang: Woori Theological Institute, Seoul, Korea
Paschal Kearney: retired Irish member of the Holy Ghost Fathers/Spiritans, Australia
Peter Mbuchi Methu: Interfaith Africa, Kenya
Alloys Nyakundi: liaison with Small Christian Communities, Kenya
Don Pribor, Church Worker Justice Organizer for Call To Action, Mexico City/Brazil
Michael Redfearn: digital literacy consultant, Canada
Rene Reid: author and co-founder of CCRI, U.S. 
Christina Reymer: active church reformer, New Zealand
Virginia Saldanha: Indian Women’s Theological Forum, India
Ed Schreurs: Open Church Alliance, Netherlands 
Nessan Vaughan, active church reformer, Dublin, Ireland

Young Adult CCRI committee:

Reena Alphonso (India)

Rachael Alphonso (India

Liz Ngmai (Kenya)

Zach Johnson (Executive Director, Call to Action, U.S.)


CC: Bishop Brian Farrell, Pontifical Council for Christian Unity

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