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Catholic Church Reform Int'l recently released a survey inviting people globally to describe their experience of Covid-19 and freely share its effect on their experience of church, their place in the human family, and their hopes and dreams for our world. We were interested in knowing whether the experience of the lockdown had changed what is important to them and whether they intended to change anything about their life as they transitioned through the pandemic. Providentially, we find it encouraging that this is also the topic of Pope Francis's newest book: Let us Dream: the Path to a Better Future.
This broad initiative was in response to the Papal Exhortation on the Amazonian Synod, released in February 2020, just as the Corona virus pandemic began its global impact. Just as Francis immersed himself into the people and the culture they live in to understand the obstacles and opportunities they face, likewise, through this survey, we have attempted to do the same – really listening to the diversity of voices and seeking the Spirit-guided perspectives of the People of God. The survey was conducted from July to September 2020 in five languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese) with responses from thirty countries spanning six continents. While we believe we speak for a broader group, when we refer to the People of God, we are primarily reflecting the views of the participants in this survey.
The summary result, which we dare to call A Peoples Exhortation, is a parallel effort to reflect an incarnate journey and to collect broad perspectives with many points of connectedness. For centuries, the Catholic Church has tried to make everyone sing one note, but we believe beautiful harmony can be made from all the different notes.
|Synod as we would like for it to look||Synod as it has always looked in the past|
If moving our church forward is left up to bishops, it would have happened by now. It is time for us as the People of God to stop waiting for this and assume responsibility ourselves. Specifically, what is within our power to do?
First, and foremost, Pope Francis has called for another synod in October 2022. The theme is to be a synod on creating synodality in our church. We share Pope Francis’s understanding that the term is generally understood to represent a process of discernment, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, involving bishops, priests, religious, and lay Catholics, each according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation. If we don't make our voices heard, our concern is the bishops will go on doing things as they've always done them - on their own with little or no involvement of they laity. We encourage you to take the survey put out by a group of Austrians getting more voices of the people included in the Lineamenta, which is the preparatory document to determine the topics to be discussed at this gathering and how it will be structure. We want to see lay people, especially woman and young adults to be included as participants and voting members. The survey is in both German and English. Here is the link in English: https://survey.zulehner.org/index.php/514332?lang=en. To take the survey in another language, go there and use www.translate.google to convert the survey to your language. if you would, please help spread the word and pass this onto to your list of contacts.
Pope Francis has repeatedly said he wants us to be a "synodal" church. Understanding synod to mean “walking together,” it is our expectation that any coming synod will mean that lay people and especially women and young people are going to be walking together/side by side with the bishops and priests in this assembly.. But our fear is that they will be walking behind (two tiers, two rows, front and back) as has always been done in the past. In the Synodal Path assembly held in Germany this year, the bishops and lay people walked in side by side in a genuine synodal style. Pope Francis has called for a Synod in 2022. Our concern in advance is that this Synod will not be “the whole Church walking in a synodal way.”
At this moment, the Lineamenta (the preparatory document for the Synod) is already being drafted. Our concerns: Are lay people/women involved? Or is the document from the top down? Who is being consulted? Where is the distribution of the Lineamenta taking place? Is it going directly to a wider, inclusive group? In the old model, it went to the Conferences of Bishops, to the Pontifical University, and to the Union Superior Generals of men. But is it going to the Union Superior Generals of women or to International lay groups? Let us do all in our power to ensure that, finally, voting participants in this Synod will be more inclusive!
When the Lineamenta came out in Vatican documents on young people, there was no reference to the term “LGBT+” (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered, etc.). Young people requested that it be included in the document. It is a reality in our world and in humanity. On the synod floor, there were many disputes over this issue. African bishops declared they had no gay people in their country. When young people were asked what is missing from our Vatican documents, they said reference to sexuality. Rome is frightened of addressing this issue. When Francis came out with his Apostolic exhortation, these topics were left out. It was felt they were too controversial.
This newsletter is going out to our supporters globally. While the upcoming election of a new president is technically only an American issue, we realize that this election is about preserving democracy and truly impacts the entire world. So if you are a U.S. citizen, we ask you to click on the Scorecard link as you weigh the issues of importance to you in this election. If you are from another country, we ask your prayers for the outcome of this election. And if you have family or friends from the United States, we invite you to share this newsletter with all of them.
Faith does not fit neatly into the secular institution of political parties. And still, we are called to be engaged in politics. This is no small feat. As Pope Francis says, "Following Jesus means swimming against the tide, renouncing evil and selfishness." Our nation is in a spiritual crisis, and our faith and patriotism compel us to speak clearly and to act according to our consciences and our personal values.
Catholics are called to defend, promote, and protect the sacredness of human life. We cannot be single issue voters. Instead, we are called to be Pope Francis Voters. The sacred issues that Pope asks us to bring into the voting booth include protecting people in poverty, the elderly, and migrants and rejecting racism. Prayerful consideration of the candidates for President make it clear: Catholics are called to be true to their faith and recognize that there are multiple issues to consider when casting our vote.
Since Pope Francis has recently issued his Papal Exhortation sharing his personal dreams for the world, we envision this as an invitation for the people to share our hopes and dreams for the future of our world. You are invited to take this survey which is now in five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian. The objective is to listen to the voices of all people who identify with the principles of Christianity - love God and love your neighbor. It doesn't matter whether you are active or not, or even baptized or not. We want to hear your vision for the social, cultural, ecological, and spiritual realities touching you in the world. We anticipate the results of the survey will represent the people in all our diversity, across religious, cultural, and political perspectives. The outcome will be a compendium of the reflections of the people - what we will call a Peoples Exhortation - that reflects our relationships with one another, with the Divine, and with all creation.