To Bishops and Pastors in the Catholic Church:
Pope Francis has called for engagement of the whole People of God in walking, discerning, governing, and evangelizing together to make fruitful the Synod on Synodality soon to begin on the local level this fall. It is our hope that every diocese throughout the world will hold a synod (a gathering of bishops to listen to the voices of the laity) between October 2021 and April 2022.
The early church was a community of equals, governed by Christ’s “new commandment” that we love one another. The community came together in ‘house churches’ led by both men and women celebrating the Eucharist and keeping the faith alive. The current patriarchal and hierarchal Church patterned on monarchy, is not what Christ envisioned, for we are all one in Christ (Gal.3:28).
We call on the bishops and pastors of the Catholic Church to fully engage us, the people, in the forthcoming synodal process called by Pope Francis. Beginning at the diocesan level, we want our voices to be heard and included in all discussions continuing on to reach the national level and finally the universal synod in Rome in 2023.
We are heartened by Pope Francis’s comments to the Italian bishops (May 24) that the Synod must have a “bottom-up” focus with the process beginning in small, local communities and parishes. He called for patience, allowing all to speak freely, giving space to “the wisdom of the People of God.”
We are eager to join with others in our local community to speak out in support of the changes we want and need in our Church. Even if some of us have left the Church in frustration or disappointment, we recognize that now is the time to tell you, our church leaders, what drove us away.
For the Spirit to be heard, the lay People of God must be well represented at these synods. We feel it is essential to include the following topics both (1) in the questionnaire soon to be released, and (2) in all synodal discussions at all levels.
How the Church can become more welcoming, forgiving, loving, and inclusive
- Women’s role in Church ministry
- A path back to the Sacraments for the divorced and remarried
- Place of the LGBTQ community in the Church
- Role of Small Christian Communities (SCCs) in the official structure of the Church
- Lay people trained to administer in parishes and Small Christian Communities where it is anticipated that no priest will be available
- Should celibacy for priests be optional
- Transparency and accountability in the clerical sex abuse, financial crimes, and their use of power in the Church.
Additionally, we commit to sending a letter to our bishop or pastor to ensure that the views of the laity are well represented.