Newsletter, April 18, 2012

ACC LogoAmerican Catholic Council  NewSpringBuds
Reclaiming the Promise of Vatican II

Beyond Detroit & Toward a New Catholic Spring 
NEWSLETTER                                           April 18,  2012               

In This Issue
Applications Open: Institute on Nonviolent Action for Church Reform
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Recommended Reading

Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson calls for  Re-examination of Catholic Faith & Culture

National Catholic Reporter
Joshua McElwee

Click Here to Download Robinson’s complete talk


Why Roman Catholics Won’t Heed the Pontiff’s Call for Radical Obedience
Huffington Post (4/16/12)
Michele Somerville

In tandem with the Institute on Nonviolent Action, ACC has launched a SWOT ANALYSIS of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats of both the Church Reform Movement and the institutional Roman Catholic Church. We seek input from church leaders, both lay and clerical, as well as academics and journalists who have knowledge and expertise regarding the inner workings of the institution, especially the Vatican and the Vatican’s “men” within the US hierarchy. For details, go to ACC SWOT ANALYSIS.

Readers can self-nominate. Send nominations via email  to and include the nominee’s phone number or email address. Selected nominees will be provided a link to a secure online questionnaire to give input to the SWOT.
Gleanings from the Grassroots

Catholics in Gainesville, FL gathered in a listening session that came about through collaboration between ACC and Future Church to give voice to the sensus fidelium as their Bishop heads to Rome for Ad Limina visit.

Gainesville FL
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Vatican II

Stories of Vatican II
The Human Side of the Council


Author and Journalist Robert Blair Kaiser is available as a speaker for events marking the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II.  Throughout the Council, Kaiser was Timemagazine’s reporter in Rome and the preeminent reporter on the Council in the English-speaking world.For more information about Kaiser, scheduling him, and to view a sample video clip, go to American Program Bureau.

Easter Transformations Easter Transformation ButterflyChrist is Risen!!! This mantra is part of our Catholic Christian culture, embedded in our DNA. Yet we have been acculturated into a uni-dimensional understanding that simply memorializes it as the pivotal historic event in the life of Christ. What if the message has another component, i.e., a call to each of us to arise from a life of mundane transactions (rising, going to work, taking care of family, etc.) to a life of limitless transformations?


What if we are being called to rise up and truly become the Church we were meant to be? What if we begin to transform ourselves, our families (the Domestic Church), our communities, and our world into the “new heaven and new earth” that Resurrection beckons us to? Perhaps, just perhaps, Jesus is calling us to that New Resurrection and a life of radical transformation, and has been doing that for 2,000 years! What a patient God we have!


Since our inner thoughts mold our outer life, what if we were all to become catalysts in a true reform of the Church that has transformed us? For too long, we have been stuck in the quicksand of “pray, pay and obey,” rendering mindless compliance and lockstep conformity, believing that we could not extricate ourselves, for fear of punitive consequences. Sadly, our belief systems are entrenched with FEAR. Easter transformation must cast out all Fear.


Many see little hope for change in the institutional Church, and feel dis-empowered in their perception of a “David vs. Goliath” scenario. But how does one change a seemingly unchangeable monolithic institution bent on protecting its self-image at all costs? We take heart from the old adage about eating an elephant, one bite at a time.


Our approach at the American Catholic Council is different from other reform initiatives; we neither focus on symptoms nor transactions. Our goals are transformations, with primary focus on transforming ourselves as agents of change, then transforming our families, our communities and the institutional Church. While we may support transactional actions such as letter-writing campaigns, vigils, petitions, demonstrations, etc., they must be seen as a means to a well-defined end. This notion is at the heart of some of our current efforts:

Both of these initiatives illustrate hands-on our aim to understand how to change an autocratic institution and how to move our own thinking from victim-hood to collaborative transformation and reformation. The SWOT Analysis is in full swing, and with this newsletter, we announce the application process for the Institute. You can read about both of these and other ACC actions below. These endeavors engage us in the necessary work of critical thinking about our reality as American Catholics. They are grounded in our landmark document adopted last year in Detroit, the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (CBRR), which provides important guideposts for becoming thinking Catholics empowered to be change agents.


As we celebrate the “new life” of Easter, let us be mindful that the Resurrected Christ challenges us to nurture a mental and spiritual discipline to change our thinking and to assume personal responsibility. The Easter miracle transforms us from mindless acquiescence to responsible accountability in collaborative efforts to save our church from itself. We need not remain in dysfunctional modes of FEAR. We can, indeed, make a choice, a conscience driven choice to practice new, affirming, life-giving modes of thinking that empower, heal and energize us. Together, we can renew the Church we so love!

Janet Hauter

In gratitude and humility,

— Janet Hauter
          Chair, ACC National Planning Committee

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Applications Now Open!  

ACC Institute on Nonviolent Action to

Change the Institutional Catholic Church 

With this newsletter, we unveil the details, schedule, and methodology of ACC’s groundbreaking project to launch an intentional study and practice of nonviolent action to change church structures. The application process is now open through May 30th. The NVA Institute, to begin in mid-August and continue through mid-November, has been in planning for 6 months. The initial cohort of 25 participants this Fall will commit to intensive study and dialogue around theories of nonviolent action, strategic planning and action steps to employ these strategies in changing the institutional Catholic Church.  The works of Dr. Gene Sharp (Senior Scholar at The Einstein Institution in Boston, MA) will form the basis of the curriculum, with additional resources. Though the Institute will require commitment to intellectual rigor and a discipline to prepare for each session, it is not an academic exercise nor is it a  presentation of Gospel nonviolence.  The focus is not theological but rather practical, political and strategic.

The Institute will be delivered mostly online and will employ both synchronous elements (7 live webinar sessions, when participants are online at the same time) as well as a-synchronous activities (where participants share in online discussion boards and other learning activities in-between the live sessions, but at times convenient to each participant’s schedule). The course will culminate with an in-person conference when all participants gather in Washington, DC, the weekend of Nov. 16-18.


For complete details and schedule of all sessions, along with criteria for participation, go to: Changing Power Relationships: ACC’s Institute on Nonviolent Action to Change the Church. A link to the online application form is available on that site.


Using the political techniques of nonviolent action, this ACC initiative aims to enable leaders in the church reform movement to do the difficult but necessary work of social analysis of Church power systems. The curriculum is grounded in the seminal writings of Dr. Sharp in hopes of yielding learning outcomes that can begin to shape a coordinated strategic plan for Nonviolent Action to effect change in governance and leadership structures within the institutional Roman Catholic Church.

Dr. Gene Sharp is founder of the Albert Einstein Gene SharpInstitution, whose mission seeks to advance the study and use of strategic nonviolent action for conflict transformation and social change. He is Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. For nearly thirty years he held a research appointment at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs. He has authored numerous books, including The Politics of Nonviolent Action (1973) and From Dictatorship to Democracy (1993).


Curriculum and pedagogy has been designed by aCaridad Inda team headed up by Dr. Caridad Inda, a Sister of Mary Humility (Davenport, Iowa) and Executive Director of CIRIMEX, the Center for International Resources, in Guadalajara Mexico. Caridad is on the board of the Association of Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) and has served as founding member of the ACC National Planning Committee.

CBRR Gains Traction in Michigan Listening SessionTractionThe ACC has been encouraging groups to reflect on the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and to consider how it can  prompt local actions. Susan Masiak shares an inspiring account of how it is empowering her group in Rochester, Michigan.


She tells us that most participants were either astonished or angry (or both) at the clericalism, medieval quality of Church leadership, lack of inclusive governance and the general reversal of Vatican II. The group is committed to continue to meet and are resolved that no change will occur if people don’t get involved. Their experience is a marvelous testimony to the power of one (the local organizer) to motivate others to take responsibility to make a difference and “go for it,” as Susan says. Her story is among several “gleanings from the grassroots” on the Assemblies Community Network (ACN). To read the full story, click: CBRR Listening Session in Rochester, MI. If you have not yet signed-up to the ACN, you will be directed to the ACN SIGN-UP PAGE. If you have technical difficulty doing so, contact ACC Technical Support.


Listening EarWe invite other groups to unpack the meaning and power of the Catholic Bill of Rights & Responsibilities. To access complete guidelines on how to plan a session(s), go to CBRR Listening Session Template on the ACN. We encourage you to use it with your book club, small group, house church or prayer group. We also invite you to share your experience via email to You can also share your thoughts and experiences in several CBRR Discussion Forums.

American Catholic Council, Inc.
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