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As we say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new, let us continue to pull together to work for the reform of our Church. While it may seem that Pope Francis is moving slowly, he is clearly advancing the Church purposefully toward a more welcoming, inclusive, and merciful Communion of us all. Although there are members of the hierarchy who continue to resist his efforts, all the more reason that he needs our ongoing support. As our Jesuit adviser, Gaston Roberge, reminds us: “Alone, the pope cannot change the Church. A pope for the people needs a people for the Pope.”
While the Holy Father may not be moving as quickly as some of us would want, nor did he sound encouraging about women’s ordination, let us take pride in what Francis has accomplished. He has gained the love and respect of so many – both Christians and non-Christians around the world.He has reached out across international and ecumenical borders. He has encouraged young people to “make some noise” and has urged all of us to “bother our pastors.” He has said to the LGBT community: “Who am I to judge?” He has envisioned the governance of the Church as an upside down pyramid with the people at the top. He has created a dicastery for the laity opening the way for the Faithful to have a greater role in the Church.
Following on the two Synods of Bishops Francis has called, we are pleased to have joined with two other movements to foster the role of the laity in encouraging people to speak out. We are working closely with Fr. Joe Healey in Africa to work through the Small Christian Communities asking those in attendance to let their needs be known. We have also joined with Global Council Network to support the forthcoming series of Forums for the People of God. Two international People’s Forums are planned: one in Brazil in 2018 and one in Africa in 2021. And two national People’s Forums/Synods are planned: one in 2017 in New Zealand and one in 2018 in the U.S. For any kind of reform to come, the people must have a voice. These Forums will provide a place for the people to speak out.
We will keep you posted on the details of these gatherings. But even if you cannot physically attend, you can be virtually present by visiting The People Speak Out website. As part of the preparation for these Synods, we have created this place in cyber space where you can make your voice heard and explore with others the reforms you’d like to see presented to the Vatican on behalf of the People of God.
There you can make your views made known:
1. By joining in the discussion on the blog.
2. By gathering people together in your community and exploring the changes you want to see in the Church. Find help with getting started.
3. And most importantly, by sharing the outcomes of your discussions so that they can become part of the agenda of the various Forums.
We are grateful for your continued support and are fully aware that, unless we the People speak out, reform of our Church will never happen. As you consider making an end-of-the-year donation, we would appreciate any support you may offer. CCRI is fully committed to these series of Forums of the People of God and all contributions we receive this year will go toward this cause.
Wishing you every blessing for this New Year,