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Letter to US Conference of Bishops Re the Continental Stage of the Synod[65]

Letter to US Conference of Bishops Re the Continental Stage of the Synod[65]

To the U.S. Conference of Bishops:

Greetings to you as we continue forward in this synodal process begun by Pope Francis. Now that we all have the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), all bishops worldwide are being asked by Cardinal Grech and the Synod office to convene their diocese to read this document to determine if all approved it and/or if they discern that there are things to add. And on October 11, Pope Francis reminded us that Vatican II calls for a church that is “madly in love with its Lord and with all the men and women whom He loves . . . a church that is free and freeing.”

As members of a global group promoting these kingdom values, and as people who have participated in the synodal journey so far with prayer and dedication, we are most interested in having some of our members included as a part of your consulting team and wish to strongly recommend that:

     1.     A balanced group of lay persons be chosen for your Continental Assembly in order to represent the full participation of the People of God. That the mechanism to do this in each diocese be asked to provide full transparency including the selection criteria.

     2.     That our Continental Assembly will reflect Pope Francis’s instruction regarding the Consultation phase and include people of all genders, survivors of clerical sexual and other violence/abuse, lay theologians, lay contributors in parish ministries, those estranged from the church, and those excluded through Canon law from the Sacraments. 

     3.     That you make known the names and contact information of all the members who are selected for your  Continental Assembly allowing us to share with them our Spirit-guided reflections so that they are represented in these discernment sessions well ahead of your first meeting in January 2023.

For the Continental Stage of the Synod, we read on your website that “the USCCB will be joining with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in holding 10 virtual Continental Assemblies… in late 2022 and early 2023.” Can you please share with us how representatives from each diocese in the U.S. and Canada will be chosen to reflect on and discuss the Document for the Continental Stage? And assure us that we’ll have an opportunity to share and submit in writing what we feel is omitted (as stated in the directive from the Synod office) prior to the Continental Stage gathering of the North American Continental Synod? Most importantly, if we have a bishop who chooses not to have consultations with the People or to have them only with a tightly chosen group of employees, we trust that you will be open to accepting reports sent directly from the People of God. We are pleased with the virtual format of these gatherings and agree that they “will allow for greater accessibility, and thus a wider and more diverse participation by the People of God.”

The first phase of the synod has spotlighted some important issues, among many others:

       •    The urgency of remedying the unacceptable absence of women at every level.

       •    The urgency of facing up to a global loss of trust and belief in the bishops and the Vatican due to the clerical sexual abuse and other forms of violence/abuse which continue to be covered up.

       •    The urgency of implementing transparency to a new listening Church.

We would be grateful therefore if you would reply to confirm that you will be making public the following documents:

       •    After the full diocese has been consulted, the revised DCS coming out in late 2022.

       •    All documents coming out of your Continental Assembly in March 2023.

We look forward to your acceptance of our recommendations and assure you of our full support.

With prayers and in the spirit of Synodality,

Strategy Team serving Catholic Church Reform Int’l

Clyde Christofferson Attorney and member of NOVA USA
Maggie Conway Root and Branch UK
Alan Doulton Evangelizing for a more vibrant, alert, and aware Church India
Miriam Duignan Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research UK
Charlie Gibson Former Jesuit, Economist, Retired GM Executive USA
Joseph Healey Maryknoll priest, Small Christian Communities organizer Kenya
Ashiknaz Khokhar Church Reformer; social justice worker Pakistan
Socorro Martinez Developing Jesus’ Church thru Base Ecclesial Communities Mexico
Peter Mbuchi Interfaith Africa Kenya
Penelope Middelboe Root and Branch UK
Rosa Murray Scottish Laity Network Scotland
Alloys Nyakundi Young Adult Seekers Small Christian Community director Kenya
Rene Reid Author and co-founder of CCRI USA
Christina Reymer Be the Change church reformer New Zealand
Tom Roberts Priest with Catholic Ecumenical Church of Christ USA
Karl Rodig Founder Ecumenical Catholic Church of Christ USA
Jean-Pierre Schmitz Global Council Network France
Valerie Stroud We Are Church UK UK
Nessan Vaughan Open Church Alliance; advisor and volunteer Ireland

Advisors serving Catholic Church Reform Int
John Buggy Australian Reforming Catholics Australia
Larry Carney Former Basilian Canada
Con Carroll Reformer Ireland
JanStephen Cavanaugh EndWarForever.com USA
Bride Counihan Funding for justice project for the poor Ireland
Jim Connell Catholic Whistleblowers USA
P. Agostino De Caro Priest with Ecumenical Church of Christ Italy
Dennis Collier Reformer USA
Ed Gerlock Working with farmers, urban poor, elderly Philippines
Paul Hansen Redemptorist priest; advocate for Biblical justice USA
Carol Harris Alliance of Louisville Laity USA
Filo Hirota Council for Justice and Peace Japan
Paul Hwang Director, Woori Theological Research Institute Korea
Paschal Kearney Retired Irish member of the Holy Ghost Fathers Ireland
Richard Kipyegon Soi Reformer Kenya
Chhotebhai Kanpur Convenor of the Indian Catholic Forum India
Peter Johnstone Catholics for Renewal Australia
Raquel Mallavibarrena an We are Church Spain Spain
Margaret Mary Moore Social worker, Catholic theologian USA
Michael Redfearn Digital literacy consultant Canada
Audrey Smith Rogers Retired Public Health professional USA
Denis Rigdon Reformer USA
Joe Ryan A Call to Action UK
Anthony Spencer Catholic researcher UK
Laurie Sheehan Reformer Australia
Nick Smith Full Circle Catholic Church (RCWP) USA
Gerald Stack Active reform support from Western Australia Australia
Scilla Stack Active reform support from Western Australia Australia
John Williams Reformer Canada
Michael Cuozzo Married Roman Catholic priests USA
George Harris Member WAACSA South Africa
Helen McCarthy Interreligious relations Canada
Lula Ramires LGBTQIA+ community advocate Brazil
Virginia Saldanha Indian Women’s Theological Union India
Peter Wilkinson Catholics for Renewal Australia

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