International Representatives Find Unanimous Agreement on Essential Church Reforms despite Wide Cultural Diversity

Reflections from a series of gatherings of worldwide representatives from Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australia/Oceania have been compiled by Catholic Church Reform International (CCRI) as a submission to the Synod Office in Rome. The document reflects the extensive knowledge of CCRI member organizations of the Church as they report on the relationship (or lack thereof) of bishops with the people each in their own country. On a diocesan level there are several good working relationships between the people and the bishops, but the vast majority range from unsatisfactory to non-existent. While many reports from bishops’ conferences to the Synod secretariat will reflect a hierarchical viewpoint with filtered views of the faithful, these reflections offer an appraisal of the state of our Church from Catholics committed to their faith and to the renewal of their Church from the grassroots.

Common concerns expressed in these synodal gatherings were (1) the acceleration of Catholics leaving the Church with young people being driven out in droves; (2) the dysfunctional governance of our Church with far too many bishops regarding their roles as autocratic in nature seeking little or no engagement with the people of the Church for whom they are pastorally responsible; (3) the patriarchal dominance in the Church with women excluded from important administrative and ministerial roles; and (4) a number of deeply flawed official teachings currently rejected by the sensus fidelium, especially regarding sexuality and reproduction, failing to reflect authentic natural law.

Participants in this series of global synodal gatherings strongly support Pope Francis’s efforts to implement a synodal church, i.e., where bishops and people “walk together” to make decisions for the whole community. From a representation of twenty plus regions reflecting significant cultural, social and economic diversity, while listening deeply to one another and guided by the promptings of the Spirit, representatives from the Amazon, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, UK, and USA unanimously agreed that the Church we envision is inclusive and welcoming of all as equal, regardless of socio-economic background. It was agreed that the people should replicate the early Christian community by selecting their leaders with the role of ministries filled by men and women alike, both married and single. Full equality for women, including priestly ordination, is seen by the people of the Church as a fundamental issue in ensuring a just and viable Church. We must also implement the teachings of Laudato Si in caring for the earth, ensuring we exercise our responsibility in providing a sustainable environment for future generations.

Our understanding of Christianity is less about time spent in church and more about realizing that our Christian calling is best expressed in how we show our love for God through our love for all those who are in our lives – our family, friends, enemies, and those not so easy to love. We are truly Christians when we stand ecumenically in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the immigrants, and the less fortunate who most need us in our society.

Despite our cultural and regional differences throughout the world, we are in full consensus that these reforms are essential for the sustainability and future of our Church.

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Speaking Out with One Unified Global Voice

"...Until we raise a common voice, we will not only not be heard, we will not even be listened to....   

My hope is that by speaking out together - a strong chorus of calls for reform - we can provide a common, a clear, a strong and ongoing voice for the yet incomplete vision of Vatican II.

In common cause, let us band together across the world. By our desire to be heard on particular issues - all of them important - let us not lose the strength of our common voice by reducing it to a whisper.

In light of this, we invite individuals and organizations to join together in making known our opinions for the good of our Church. By uniting our voices, it is not about abandoning the unique work of your organization but rather about how your work can enhance global reform."

Sr. Joan Chittister, CCRI Special advisor

"We have to join our forces in order to reach a real breakthrough in this window of opportunity." Hans Kung, CCRI Consultor

"When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion." [Ethiopian proverb]

"Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable." [Kenyan proverb]

"(The Christian faithful) have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful." (Canon 212 §3)

CCRI is also interested in helping support various causes in regions of the world by garnering the support of our entire global community for those who need support beyond their parish, organization, or locale. Send us (1) your name and affiliation, or (2) the name of your group with some description of your goals, membership, and numbers. Click here to see those organizations who have already joined together speaking out for reform of our Church.

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