We sent this letter to Pope Francis in advance of his December 2013 meeting. Specifically, this letter asks for an opportunity to enter into dialogue with the pope and to have him pave the way for dialogue with our bishops by explicit directions to form diocesan synods and pastoral councils.
Dear Pope Francis:
We speak for many of the People of God. You continue to inspire us with great hope and we especially welcome your commitment to “the wisdom of discernment” in addressing future directions for the Church.
Our earlier letter to you (20 September 2013, enclosed) brought together the grave concerns that emerged from our discernments as members of the universal People of God. We think you will accept that these are the challenges facing the Church. We want to support you in developing and implementing a renewed model of Church, in line with early tradition and the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, a spirit of shared responsibility among all of the People of God.
We see within the Church strong movements among the baptized who strive to model themselves on the teachings and example of Jesus, cooperating with the Spirit to bring forth God’s reign of justice, love and peace. The Church, as living and authentic sign of this coming Reign, should herself embody accountability, transparency, co-responsibility, and inclusivity at every level of her life and mission – a paradigm for the world.
We agree with you that our Bishops “must be able to support the movements of God among their people.” However, many of us have had difficulty engaging with some of our bishops, seemingly due in part to clericalism and defensiveness about the Church’s shameful protection of criminal abusers of children. We would appreciate your assistance in paving the way for dialogue with our bishops, perhaps by explicit directions to form diocesan synods and pastoral councils as channels of honest engagement among laity, priests, and bishop, with representative members, open agendas, and open meetings.
We have only the good of our Church at heart as it fulfills Christ’s mission, and we act knowing that we, by virtue of our baptism, have a duty in conscience and canon law to express our concerns. We believe that the People of God, Christ’s Church in dialogue with one another, will accomplish your wishes for the Church: spreading the good news of the kingdom, one of justice and love, and healing every kind of wound.
We assure you of our strong support as you discern the way ahead. We look forward to your response and trust that this correspondence is a step on a journey toward fruitfuldialogue.
Yours in Christ,
A worldwide coalition of Catholics,
[A list of individuals and organisations who signed the letter was attached]
CC: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Vatican City state administration