2017 May 15 – Strategy Team Meeting

In attendance on this week’s call:

Kochurani (India)

Don (Mexico)

Lula (Brazil)

Christina (New Zealand)

Virginia (India)

Rachael (India)

Reena (India)

Peter (Kenya)

Clyde (U.S.)

Jean Pierre (France)

Paul (Korea)

Rene (U.S.)

Liz (Kenya) on briefly

Socorro (Mexico) technologically curtailed from getting on


A lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of CCRI creating a Youth Synod questionnaire was the focus of this week’s discussion. In addition, several smaller meetings occurred over the week. These discussions led to looking more deeply into what is needed to make the role of CCRI more effective.

Some are discouraged about the time and energy it would take to do a questionnaire given the hierarchy virtually ignoring anything we say? So much work for so little return. Others feel that CCRI has to respond to the upcoming Youth Synod and engage the Vatican in a dialogue.  Kochurani agreed that we need to engage in dialogue no matter how futile it may seem to us.  Virginia’s suggestion is that we need some material to send to Cardinal Baldisseri to start this dialogue.  It could be a questionnaire or some alternate comments that would convey the views of young adults from various regions of the world.

In an email from Bob Mickens, a long-established Vatican journalist, he shared with us: “There is internal resistance from those inside the Vatican who do not want just anybody sending in responses, which an on-line survey would be open to. But that is exactly what Pope Francis and the Cardinal Baldisseri want! The cardinal has always pointed out that anyone can send suggestions or concerns to directly to his office, the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops. A questionnaire you are contemplating would fit that category…. I am positive the pope and Baldisseri will do all they can to keep any bishops from trying to control the outcome by limiting voices to only those singing from the hymn sheet.” Fr. Joe Healey is also reaching out to his contact inside the Vatican to gain a further perspective from him.


Liz said: “I have seen the email from Bob Mickens and still feel that we have a place to get our voice heard. I think that use of social media also, tagging the Vatican and any other related body(s) consistently would create visibility on the concerns we are trying to raise…. The idea of working with the church while still maintaining independence would be a strategic move….We can influence the church to be a better place if we adopt a strategy that does not threaten the hierarchy of the church, but remain objective to achieve a set goal. Pope Francis likes the youth and hence, I think CCRI playing a key role in taking part in the forthcoming Youth Synod would be very strategic.”

Don and Paul had a productive meeting in which Paul suggested that CCRI have three priorities in the short-term, medium-term and long-term:

  1. Short-term: participate in gathering information for the 2018 Youth Synod by compiling statements of 1-3 pages that reflect the priorities of young adults in different regions of the world.
  2. Medium-term: create sub-committees in CCRI that could gather more people from around the world who can begin to participate in the CCRI process. These could be such groupings as Young Adults, LGBT, etc. If each sub-committee gathered 10 or more people, and we have 4 + sub-committees, we have added another 40 people to the group and our network is growing larger. The strategy team meetings could have representatives from the sub-committees share their work and reflections.
  3. Long-term: as we increase our global network, we lay the groundwork to establish a Global Representative Lay Body – a “shadow dicastery of the Laity” free from hierarchical control.  In 3-5 years, we work to create this group which would be the lay equivalent of the national and regional bishop’s conferences.  We would create this from the ground level up and strive to make it non-hierarchical and egalitarian. Eventually this body would have the power to negotiate with bishop’s conferences.

Don indicated that he sees three issues that CCRI is facing: (1) building relationships; (2) multi-cultural, local, regional and continental realities that are different, with different priorities; and, finally (3) working on tasks. As is apparent from those in the meeting, this international network is beginning to take flight. Our first priority at CCRI should be relationship -building, so that we establish mutual respect and trust over time. This is much along the lines of what previous Strategy Team members have suggested, namely, that we be the church among ourselves that we want the universal church to become. As one group in one part of the works is struggling with a local issue, they would feel the support and solidarity of the global team.

We have a young adult committee that is gradually expanding to represent diverse regions of the world. It began with Liz Ngami from Kenya, Reena and Rachael Alphonso, sisters from India, and has the potential to grow to include Teresa Macnamara, Director of the Youth Office of the Diocese of Auckland; Briege also from New Zealand; Felipe from Brazil; Amal Tom George from another part of India; and possibly Zach Johnson, the new exec director of CTA. Jean-Pierre is searching for someone from Europe who could round out the global representation. It has been suggested that this committee meet separately from the strategy team meeting, without an imposed agenda of a particular task.

Clyde said: “The process of developing the questionnaire – if the team led by Elizabeth and Rachel persist with their efforts – may clarify what needs to be done.  But the end product we are looking for is a synthesis drawn from feedback.  It may well be that young people getting together in a group – as with Paul in Jakarta – will be better able to contribute to a synthesis, perhaps in the form of a “statement” as Paul suggests.  Maybe the value of a questionnaire would be to serve as a set of “talking points” for a synthesis produced by a group effort.”

Reena, a young women in her 20s, shared a beautifully and well-thought-out article with the strategy team. In it she said: “The message of Jesus and the social prophets must be reinterpreted according to the times. We need not wait for the hierarchy to do this for us. The CCRI’s role, then, would be to network and document all these innovative ways of connecting to the message of Jesus, to stimulate analysis and cross-learning.” She suggests that we need to go forward building communities at the local level. This brings us back full circle to the strategic action plan of the previous team, namely, that we promote the building of small local gatherings. For those new on the current strategy team, it would be helpful for you to check out: www.ThePeopleSpeakOut.org. I encourage you to click on the “Local Gatherings” tab. Much work has gone into the creation of this site guiding people how to begin a small gathering and providing them a place on the web to share the outcomes of their discussions.

We would appreciate your input as to how CCRI should proceed. Our strategy team has greatly expanded and represents many more regions of the world. The relationships are gradually building. We now turn to you, our advisors, and ask what you suggest CCRI do next to be more effective in bringing about reform in our church?  How do think we should go forward from here?

Grateful to all,


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