2017 September 11 – Strategy Team Meeting

Report on the Strategy Team Cal for September 11, 2017

Present on the Call: Rachael (India), Clyde (U.S.), Ashiknaz (Pakistan), Jean-Pierre (France), Kochurani (India), Socorro (Mexico), Don (U.S.), Barbara Born (U.S.), Christina (New Zealand), Ed (Netherlands), and Rene (U.S.)

Prayer in remembrance of all the victims who died this day 16 years ago and for all the victims around the world suffering from storms, earthquakes, and hurricanes.

Our desire for the outcome of the Year of the Laity:

Christina is gathering groups together to show the film, Radical Grace. She hopes that many more small faith communities will result from the Year of the Laity.

Rachael said a welcome change is that one of the schools in Mumbia is committed to having a lay principal instead of a priest and this is likely to continue.

Jean-Pierre said that the 2nd Forum on the People of God will occur in Aparecida as the close of the Year of the Laity. Edsun and Daniel are working on this event as well as the Year of the Laity so the two are closely aligned. They are all looking forward to another one being hosted in Africa in 2021.

What can each of us do to promote the Year of the Laity in our region of the world:

Ed suggested some time ago that we call on progressive bishops to ask for their support in promoting the Year of the Laity. Ed said he has a bishop who is more or less progressive. He suggests that we ask bishops to ask if they would open their doors to invite parishioners to become involved in the Year of the Laity. Attached is a draft letter that others are welcomed to use.

In India, the bishops maintain the control. Perhaps Astrid is the only one there who could get through to them. Rachael feels there is little she can do with all the challenges in India. We need to appeal to bishops so they will recognize that there is something in it for them. With some diplomacy, there is some hope.

Rene: it is clear all what we cannot do but let’s focus on what we can do. Reaching out to progressive bishops, pastors, and priests does seem doable. Barbara said she has pastoral associates and parish life directors and they tend to be progressive. These could be a participant in what we’re doing. Lay people in these parishes could even initiate this.

Socorro said this is okay on some countries but not in Mexico. The CEBs are working and are mostly lay people. People who study and reflect together become empowered. The question always comes up whether the parish priest supports them. But it doesn’t matter to them. They continue to meet and they are aware that they are the Church. They believe this is what Jesus wants.

Ed: when we approach these bishops and parish priests, we should use diplomacy in mentioning the support and formation of Small Christian Communities. Approach them from the angle of getting the people’s voices heard, getting them to be invited to speak up. In Netherlands, Ed said small communities are not seen as friendly with the bishops. It is better to aim at communities that already exist within parishes.

Concept Note to the posting of the Year of the Laity on our website

Valerie is working on the People Speak Out website.

Kochurani looked over Rene’s draft and agrees that we want people to feel they are the Church. But we want to get the voice of the laity to be involved in the decision-making of the church. The problem is that we have not yet strategized on how we can make this happen. What we’re proposing about forming small faith communities cannot happen in India. The parish priest is in charge and will not allow it. If the goal of CCRI is to get laity to have a greater voice in the governance of the Church, this will not work under the existing structure. She does not want to promote the existing structure. She is not a strong regular parishioner because she doesn’t believe this is the Church Jesus intended. In every religion, there is a clerical branch. What Jesus Christ envisioned is not what is in existence now. Leadership in the Church is totally male. She does not believe this goal of changing the structure is possible. We have to work out a different strategy. We need to promote the consciousness of the laity. It is not sufficient for CCRI just to support other reform groups projects.

Clyde: it is always puzzling to him why we focus on the existing structures. The planning for the People’s Synod in Dallas in 2018 is the initiative of a reform group. The idea is to look at the Church as bigger than just the existing magisterial hierarchy. Looking from the outside, there is functionality that is not present there. Intention  of the People’s Synod is to provide an ombudsman function. There is so much injustice not only in the world but in the Church. It would be good to have a structural mechanism for calling those injustices out. We can communicate with bishops about these but the basic structure need not be connected with the diocese or parishes but can be done independently from the existing structure. When there is initiative from the people, somehow historically this gets coopted by the more stable and stronger structures of the existing hierarchy. This is possible today. This is one area where CCRI can lend a hand. We can provide a place so that these gatherings do not feel that they are alone. We need a strategy that allows for the independence of the People of God. There are some missing elements here and there is no reason that the laity cannot fulfill these elements. There has to be collegiality. Any kinds of entity require resources. But in this modern day, we are doing something, namely, having these weekly Zoom calls, without a great deal of cost. We need to be thinking long-term. 

Rene: Even though we all had a different purpose, what brought people together four years ago was agreeing on the common theme to get the people to recognize they have a voice. While this is not to be flaunted in bishops faces, we recognized that we had a common theme. There were five different points made in the letter written in 2013 to Pope Francis but they all came under the one theme: https://www.catholicchurchreform.org/216/index.php/get-involved/letters-to-the-pope/25-for-a-voice-in-the-decision-making-of-our-church.  She understands questioning  whether this will ever happen. But if this can be a purpose that provides the foundation of our work, then we can proceed forward inviting the people to speak up: we need to hear what people have to say. Small faith communities may never be as strong in India as they are in Africa. Other places in the world may not be as organized as Brazil in preparing for their Londrina conference. We know that the bishops are not trying to get the people to take on a greater leadership role. They want to get the people to do their bidding and address the injustices in their society. We agree this is important but there are also injustices within the Church that need addressing. We can support the Brazilian proposal for a year of the laity without sharing the same intention. We don’t have to cave in and believe that nothing is happening or can ever happen. Let’s keep pursuing what can we do? The list of what we cannot do is endless. But let’s focus on the little things we can do in our little corner of the world. Let’s not lose hope.

Rachael: We all have good intentions but we cannot come to a consensus. Many countries came together with the agreement that the people’s voice matters. But this voice will be raised to whom? It is the same hierarchy. The structure itself is the problem. Can we decide on a different approach on how we can think of reform in the Church? We cannot perhaps succeed in reforming the structure of the Church. We need to build ground strength. What effect are we going to have on the Church if we limit our reform work to sending letters to the hierarchy? We need to focus on awareness. How we go about it is what we need to discuss further. We are working in two separate directions. The Western world is surrounded by more thinking people. In India, reformers have to work in secret.  Let us focus on things that will make us stronger from the ground up.

Kochurani: we are happy that the laity is getting involve in society’s justice issues. But we want a different way of being Church. If we are serious about proclaiming a year of the Laity, we have to gather the ground force. But that is where she goes back. What is our background of collaborating with other reform groups in clear, concrete actions? One important strategy is to really join hands with other groups. The stronger these voices of reformers become from below, only then will the Church be forced to change. She will not be able to remain the same. We have to call for another Vatican III without calling it Vatican. We have to call a different kind of council involving the People who are the Church.

Christina: What she is hearing is frustration regarding the Church in India. The inspiration that can come from that part of the world is that India is the cradle of so many great world religions – Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christians – and to see how those religions can work together and recognize that the commonalities are more important than our differences. The potential to recognize that from India is huge.

Rachael: Is it possible that we work as coordinators each of us making up parts of different groups. We can be a group that communicates what is going on in different parts of the world and function as an international exchange system. If we’re going to work on creating a church that is beyond hierarchy, we can show people that it is not necessary to follow one teaching from the hierarchy. There are other interpretations that are also acceptable, such as one that is less hierarchical and more concerned about social justice issues.

Zoom conference call September 17 with Young adults:

Reminder that young people from around the world are invited to join the meeting by clicking https://zoom.us/j/7142496924. Unfortunately, it is not a convenient time for those in Nairobi and Mumbai. But it is a unique opportunity for young people to connect with one another. These are the corresponding times for this meeting:


Local Time

Time Zone

UTC Offset

San Francisco (USA – California)

Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 3:00:00 pm


UTC-7 hours

New York (USA – New York)

Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 6:00:00 pm


UTC-4 hours

Auckland (New Zealand)

Monday, September 18, 2017 at 10:00:00 am


UTC+12 hours

Mumbai (India – Maharashtra)

Monday, September 18, 2017 at 3:30:00 am


UTC+5:30 hours

Nairobi (Kenya)

Monday, September 18, 2017 at 1:00:00 am


UTC+3 hours

São Paulo (Brazil – São Paulo)

Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 7:00:00 pm


UTC-3 hours

Mexico City (Mexico – Ciudad de México)

Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 5:00:00 pm


UTC-5 hours

Corresponding UTC (GMT)

Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 22:00:00



About 10 or 15 students are expected to be in the classroom at Georgetown. Fr. Joe is inviting other young people from around the world to join in a discussion about what they want from the Church, what they need if the Church is ever to have any impact on their lives. Please invite young people – both active Catholics and those who have dropped out – from your region of the world.



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