Press Release:Contact: Brendan Butler 086 405 4984
For Immediate Release
Catholic reformers worldwide push for
decision-making voice in their Church
In his recent widely publicized interview to a Jesuit magazine, Pope Francis said that "thinking with the church" is not just a matter of taking orders from the hierarchy. "When the dialogue among the people, the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit."
It is in this spirit that 100 church organizations, backed by over four million Catholics worldwide, have submitted a letter to Pope Francis and his advisers seeking an audience with the pope to discuss church governance.
They are asking that the pope and the cardinals give priests, religious and laity a major role in church decision making, including the selection of their bishops; that dialogue and respect for conscience replace authoritarian rule; that everyone be treated equally; that social justice be promoted both inside as well as outside the church; and that those church officials be removed from office who have facilitated or ignored the scandal of clerical sex abuse.
The letter, authored by representatives of numerous reform groups throughout the world, speaks about the current crisis in the church, including sex abuse and fiscal corruption in the Vatican to the destructive effects of clericalism and an all-male celibate governing body.
The supporters include groups such as the U.S.-based Call to Action, American Catholic Council, CORPUS, and We Are Church movement worldwide. The latter represents several million Catholics in nearly 40 countries. Bishops Geoffrey Robinson, Bill Morris and Pat Power, who initiated the petition regarding sex abuse in Australia - with 117,000 supporters to date - have added their full support to the intention of this movement.
Pope Francis has criticized clericalism, saying that the episcopate is a ministry of service and not one of domination. And in his recent interview that received worldwide circulation, he said, "The Church is the people of God, pastors and people put together. The church is the totality of God's people."
But the pope has yet to specify to what extent lay people will be given a voice, a vote, or full citizenship.
The letter supports the direction Pope Francis appears to be moving, states that full participation of all baptized Catholics in the church's decision making is fundamental to church reform, and is firmly based on the Gospel, tradition, and the vision of the Second Vatican Council.
The letter also calls for open dialogue among its members and urges Pope Francis to reinstate theologians who have been censored in previous pontificates and to cease its"unjust and unwarranted" investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
"Our fondest hope is that Pope Francis will accept a delegation of our leaders at the Vatican," said Rene Reid, one of the organizers representing Catholic Church Reform. "He has been reaching out to atheists, gays and others. He wants dialogue. We want that too."
Unless otherwise noted, all press conferences are being held on Wednesday, September 25th.
Location: Colegio Mayor Chaminade, Paseo Juan XXIII, 9, 28040, Madrid
Time of day: 10:30 a.m.
Spokepersons: Luis Ángel Aguilar, Raquel Mallavibarrena
Organizations the spokepersons represent: Redes Cristianas
Raquel Mallavibarrena: firstname.lastname@example.org
For location details contact: Ted Schmidt email@example.com or 416 690 2220
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Spokespersons: Ted Schmidt, Catholic educator, author, activist; Mary Ellen Chown, Catholic Network for Women's Equality (cnwe.org); Fr. Paul Hansen, C.Ss.R. Catholic priest and advocate for Biblical justice living.
London, United Kingdom
Location: St Andrews Church, London SE1
Time of day: 14.30
Spokespersons: Sr Myra Poole SND, Dr Simon Bryden-Brook, Terry Weston
Organizations the spokespersons represent: Catholic Voices for Reform, Catholic Women's Ordination, Catholics for a Changing Church, QUEST, We Are Church UK
Fulda, Germany (where the German Bishops will have their Autumn meeting)
Location: "Hotel am Dom" Wiesenmühlenstraße 6, 36037 Fulda (nahe Dom)
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Names of spokespersons: Elfriede Harth, Gisela Münster, Christian Weisner
Organizations the spokespersons represent: Wir sind Kirche Deutschland
Location: Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago
835 N. Rush Street, Chicago IL 60611
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Names of spokespersons:
Janet Hauter, Chair: American Catholic Council
Ryan Hoffmann, Director of Communications: Call to Action
Bob Kopp, President: Chicagoland Voice of the Faithful
Paul Culhane, Secretary: Chicagoland Voice of the Faithful
Anne Brennan, Chair: Chicago Northeast Voice of the Faithful
Rick Springer, Survivor & member of SNAP, VOTF and Coalition of Concerned Catholics
Tony Jannotta, Chair: Coalition of Concerned Catholics
Los Angeles, California, USA:
Location: Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Spokespersons: Mark Day, Press coordinator
Jeff Dietrich, Los Angeles Catholic Worker
Janice Poss, Feminist theologian
Tom Stang and Mary Singaus, Call to Action
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA:
For more info, contact: Charles McMahon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: September 30
Location: Buswell's Hotel Dublin,
Time: 11.30 am
For more information, contact Tony Biviano at email@example.com