In line with our overall objective to gain a voice for the baptized in the governance of our Church our overall focus relates to:
- Transformational return to the Gospel message of Jesus
- Selection and election of bishops
- Decentralization and co-responsibility
- Accountability, transparency and inclusiveness
- Gender equality in every aspect of mission, ministry, and decision making
- Listening to the voice of the People of God, the sensus fidelium
- Support formation of Small Christian Communities
- Encourage Synodal gatherings of the People of God globally
- Ensure that the People are adequately represented at the 2023 Synod in Rome
Early focus in our beginning years:
Our Primary Focus for 2015 is to effect reform of the governance of the Catholic Church. To this end we have laid out a Strategy Plan for this year put forward by our Strategic Team and supported by our Advisory Group who develop our actions and strategies and guides our direction.
- to gain representation of a diverse group of 21st century families at the October 2015 Synod.
- to act as responsible members of our Church by taking proactive steps to speak out on matters that concern the good of our Church.
- to be respectful and objective, rather than confrontational or rebellious, as we communicate with church hierarchy in preparing for the 2015 Synod.
- to explore ways to creatively contribute valuable input to the Synod of 2015, whether or not the lay faithful are invited to participate.
- to communicate with particular offices within the hierarchy.
Earlier focus in our earlier years
CCRI 2017 Strategic Action Plan
Objective: to activate and strengthen the voices of the People of God for the purpose of:
- Reforming injustices and inequalities in Church teachings and practices that inhibit their relationship with God;
- Transforming from a church of obedience to laws that tend to be exclusive and divisive to an inclusive church that welcomes all and supports the Gospel values of love taught by Jesus.
- In light of Pope Francis’s focus on decentralization, foster grassroots initiated forums educating and supporting the People of God to speak out for the good of their Church.
- Serve as a connector of events in one part of the world with other parts via Zoom technology.
- Invite bishops and pastors to meet with the People of God in dioceses throughout the world.
- Revive the concept of a National Pastoral Council wherein priests, deacons, religious and lay people would collaborate with the bishops in specified areas of decision making. (This would allow for cultural variances to emerge.)
- Promote the representation of elected laity in the institutions of the Catholic Church, at all levels;
- Seek transparency and accountability at all levels in our Church
- Offer our public support of Pope Francis in creating a just, inclusive, and compassionate Church.
- Facilitate understanding among lay people who, by virtue of their baptism, have the right and the duty to speak up for the good of our Church
- Continue to support the development and implementation of building a team of representatives from many reform groups who would consider exploring collaborative actions.
- Work with the ISER Consultants and key Ampiadas in Brazil by supporting and broadcasting the Londrina Conference in January 2018.
- Work with the Global Council Network by supporting and/or broadcasting the international Forums of the People of God in Brazil (2018) and in Africa (2021)
- Offer our support to those organizing national and regional Forums/Synods of the People.
- Work with Christina Reymer to create the Forum in New Zealand
- Work with the American Catholic Council to support a Synod of the People in the U.S.
- Work with any other plans, such as India, to create national or regional forums in that country.
- Offer our support to the national Call to Action organization to initiate a committee (Inclusive Church Coordinating Committee) to be made up of church reform activists working collaboratively to exercise a leadership role in bringing church reform into parish communities.
- In keeping with the spirit of Pope Francis to include the People of God in the decentralization process:
- Identify, encourage, and support the startup of local meetings initiated by the people
- Invite existing local gatherings to share the results of their meetings
- Collect results from local and regional meetings that we and other reform groups facilitate
- Share this data with Pope Francis, his Council, Synod participants, and Bishops Conferences worldwide
- On The People Speak Out website, place data collected from meetings, along with articles and statements presenting logical arguments for key reforms
- Call for papers from theologians around the world to be used as preparation for the Forums.
- Utilize the four position papers already created by the CCRI team
- Diagnose the causes of the present dysfunctional aspects of our Church.
- Encourage the lay Faithful to stop supporting clericalism by their silent compliance.
- Encourage the lay Faithful to take a stand, thereby preventing the clergy from” infantalizing” them.
- Work through existing local reform groups by working through the Small Christian Communities.
- Promote meetings and/or speakers in local parishes, with corresponding announcements in parish bulletins
- Continue to promote our blog: www.ThePeopleSpeakOut.org encouraging people to share their personal experience as they live their lives in relation to Church teaching
- Present letters and other documents to the Pope, his Council, Bishops Conferences, and Synod participants pointing out our main goal of a more participatory Church as well as specific reforms wanted. Such topics could include:
- divorced/remarried couples welcomed to the Sacraments
- acceptance of the LGBT community and homosexual clergy as welcomed members of the Church primacy of conscience, especially in relation to artificial contraception
- equal rights for women serving in all aspects of the Church.
- pastoral support and the need for married clergy
- honesty and integrity in dealing with sexual abuse
- cultural issues unique to specific countries
- institutional recognition of, and support for, grassroots dialogue about governance and policy issues
- Write to Presidents/Leaders of Episcopal Conferences and Nuncios on issues particular issues where their actions could influence the Pope and his Council on issues of justice and inclusion highlighting the fact that the Church cannot teach what it does not practice.
- Build a rapport with individual bishops who support reform and gain their consensus in support of our message.
- Prepare Press releases to make our reform issues public. Develop relationships with significant journalists and seek their advice in order to gain their interest in promoting our media releases.
- Write to the Synod on Youth in support of changing the “ordo synodi” so that synodality includes masses of young people who are invited to speak up and participate in the small group work sessions.
Year-end Evaluation of our CCRI 2016 Strategic Action Plan
In looking back over this past year, our strongest accomplishment has been our collaborative work with Global Council Network and Council 50. With them, we are now working to create a series of Forums of the People of God – a vision that some of you may remember was discussed at our gathering in Rome in 2014. So far there are plans to hold two international forums in Brazil (2018) and Africa (2021). There is discussion underway to hold two national forums/synods in New Zealand (2017) and the U.S. (2018) and the possibility of holding regional forums/synods in India.
CCRI’s primary role in this process is to activate and strengthen the voices of the People by supporting local gatherings encouraging people to speak up about their needs from their church and the changes that would improve their spiritual life and their ability to becoming followers of Jesus Christ. To this end, we have engaged in working more closely with Fr. Joe Healey and the thousands of Small Christian Communities that are functioning around the world. We realized that it is easier and more effective to work through existing group meetings than to initiate new gatherings. Fr. Joe has assigned Alloys Nyakundi to serve as a liaison and to help gather the outcome of discussions from the SCCs and pass that info onto us and to Global Council Network. This will help set the agenda for the People’s Forums. The SCCs largest concentration is in Africa where Peter Mbuchi Methu has joined our team and has put us in direct communication with the top hierarchy of Nairobi and key persons from the University and Social Justice Center there.
Thanks to Valerie Stroud, our webmaster extraordinaire, we have launched www.ThePeopleSpeakout.org providing a universal website providing A to Z information from how to get started calling a local gathering to providing a form for reporting the outcome of these discussions. Additionally, thanks to Valerie, our own website, www.CatholicChurchReformIntl.org has become a dynamic place to keep up on news from around the world regarding Vatican breaking news and church reform activities.
On behalf of CCRI, we have sent out numerous press releases supporting grassroots involvement in all aspects of the Church including our most recent regarding the Synod on Youth and Vocations (2018). We have sent emails to over 300 bishops promoting dialogues with the laity. We have sent email correspondence to other reform organizations inviting them to join in collaborative efforts to promote greater lay involvement in the decision-making of the Church.