Montana Catholics Working Group on Lay Spirituality
Planning Group Forum
Learn how Concerned Catholics of Montana have managed to create real dialogue with their Bishop. We are also happy to share a working paper developed by a group that explores what Catholic Lay Spirituality might mean in the 21st Century. We believe it is fodder for reflection among all those invested in the American Catholic Council and the larger Church Reform Movement. Click below to access the draft:
This Gem of Wisdom was recently circulated by the Dalai Lama on Twitter
“I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.“(6/13/12)
Borrowing from a common business practice, this Spring the American Catholic Council embarked on a “SWOT Analysis” (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of the institutional Catholic Church (the Vatican) and the Church Reform Movement.
SWOT Surveys were sent out in March to people with a wide range of backgrounds: academics, church ministers, authors, theologians, reform activists, journalists and others. Data Collection is now complete and has been collated and analyzed over the past several weeks.
A synopsis report has been sent to each respondent. The full SWOT analysis results will be used as background information for the participants in the Nonviolence Institute as participants work on understanding the current situation in the Church and develop options for nonviolent actions for change.
Coming Soon ...
Raising the Ante
Keep your sights out for our first-event humble appeal to keep ACC “bare bones” operations afloat. As we celebrate our first Anniversary, we are getting close to exhausting residual funds from the Detroit gathering. Though we rely substantially on donated time and expertise from many, we do have need to sustain a “bare bones” part-time staff (meager wages by any means), administrative, and project-related costs.Our goal is modest: $30,000 by year’s end. Please look for our special E-newsletter Appeal Bulletin in the next several weeks, and a chance to enter a drawing to win one of 25 books authored by presenters at last year’s gathering in Detroit.
We extend our best wishes to our friends at Voice of the Faithful as they prepare for their 10th Anniversary Conference in Boston, Sept 14-15. Early-bird discounted registration is available until July 15. VOTF continues to be a key constituency of the American Catholic Council.
Ain’t No Time For Summertime Doldrums! We’re a year old! — a year full of blessings, emotional highs and changes. While we began with only a resolve to convene a bold, celebratory, “out of the box” event celebrating the legacy of Vatican II, with strong prodding from below, we’ve moved forward. At the same time, we’ve all been keenly aware that Church leadership has been amping up revisionist, pre-Vatican II methods to maintain power and control, working overtime to keep us captive in a hierarchical, medieval structure that neither fits our American experience nor engages the average American Catholic in meaningful participation in Gospel values.Who could ever have predicted the unprecedented goofiness of the Roman Missal dragging many into an ontologically fictitious realm of overt power? Or, the malicious attacks on female theologians, our beloved women religious and now even the Girl Scouts? The misogynistic message is overt, cruel and ill-deserved. If our Church leadership exhibited a modicum of the self-sacrifice, servant leadership and pastoral compassion exhibited by our theologians and sisters, we might respectfully listen to them.
Through it all, many of us have continued to meet in local groups and listening sessions and witnessed conversion moments as we have discovered the gift and meaning of our true rights as Catholics in the Church, along with responsibilities. We framed those in our foundational document adopted in Detroit, the Catholic Bill of Rights & Responsibilities.
As we witness the effect of those who gather to dialogue about the CBRR, what an uplifting experience it is to see the faces of men and women speaking about faith in such a positive and constructive manner! We have come to realize the liberating power of baptism in Christ. And without fail, our dialogue moves us to empowered action. Case in point, check out the story below about our Montana cowgirls and cowboys on left column.
We have sacrificed family members and friends who silently disengaged from abuses of power; it has been the right decision for many. Change is a universal reality at this time in history; the haunting narcotic of power keeps the institutional Church promulgating a ridiculous exercising of authoritarianism that is out of touch with contemporary needs. Change will occur sooner rather than later as more of the grassroots model the spirit of Vatican II together in a spirit of collaboration, collegiality and compassionate dialogue.
One sure way to beat down those Summer Time Doldrum: Form a small group and use the CBRR discussion Template. Join those who are striving to be free of outdated, outmoded punitive systems of power!
In gratitude and humility,
— Janet Hauter
Chair, ACC National Planning Committee
ACC Initiative on Intentional Eucharist Communities Picks up Steam
Since the inaugural Amercian Catholic Council in Detroit last June, we have had many inquiries concerning IECs, the concept and operations of which were presented at a large and popular ACC workshop. We decided to determine what is currently available, who might be willing to work with us, and how we might best serve the IEC groups-as an alternative or supplement to “regular” RC liturgies which are increasingly distasteful to Vatican II Catholics.
We have had communications with the leaders of several long standing IECs and they have committed time, talent and treasure to collaborate with ACC on this effort. We have also consulted with Bill D’Antonio, considered a “godfather” of the IEC movement in the US, and to individuals who have maintained a website at www.intentionaleucharisticcommunities.org. They have agreed to work with us-and we have agreed to work with them. And so, in September, we will be launching (or perhaps more properly “re-launching”) a new and expanded website for IECs …
with opportunities for those involved and those who want to be involved to talk and meet,
with a library of best practices and documents for formation of IECs,
with libraries of liturgical sources, including liturgy programs, and
an expanded directory of IECs that already exist.
We are grateful to NOVA and The Pax Community (two Northern Virginia IECs of 40+ years each) and to those involved with the IEC website who have volunteered to work with us in achieving this project. If you have materials that would be relevant to the website, email them to Sheila Peiffer, who will be coordinating this initiative for ACC. You can also monitor and post related comments to ACN forum: Intentional Eucharistic Communities.
For more background, check out ACC Working Project on IECs. If you would like to volunteer to work on the IEC Working Group, email Sheila with a brief description of your experience. If you are attending an IEC which is NOT currently listed on the website above, email Sheila with details and your group’s website if you would like us to “hotlink” your site to ours. Look for more details in late September.
Institute on Nonviolent Action for Church Reform About to Roll Out
American Catholic Council’s Institute on Nonviolent Action & Church Reform is off and running! Changing Power Relationships is set to launch in August, involving some 28 participants, including European representation.The pilot program’s participants have been chosen, acceptance letters sent, initial “homework” assigned and excitement is mounting as the group gets ready to begin the online coursework in mid-August.
Participants will be working hard to learn the theories of nonviolence as interpreted by Dr. Gene Sharp and apply them to the current situation in the Church. The program will conclude with an in person gathering in Washington, D.C. in November where “theory” will be transformed into action plans. Our hope is that the outcomes of the Institute will chart the future direction of ACC as a vehicle for strategic organizing for change. We will keep you informed of the progress of these pioneers in Non-violent action for change in the Church. Please keep the project in your prayers.
NunJustice Project shows wide resolve and collaboration to resist Vatican suppression of US Women Religious
The last two months have demonstrated perhaps the most coordinated US grassroots response and resistance to the authoritarian church. The American Catholic Council continues to support the Nun Justice Project, a broadly-based collaborative action supported by a number of Catholic reform organizations.
On June 13, organizer of the project hand-delivered over 57,000 petition signatures to the US Catholic Bishops at their annual summer meeting in Atlanta. The petition called on Vatican officials to rescind their unjust mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing 80% of the 57,000 U.S. nuns.
Leaders of the Nun Justice Project are also asking U.S. Catholics to redirect all annual Peter’s Pence contributions from the Vatican and send them, instead, to their local communities of women religious. Investigative reporter Jason Berry documents in his book Render Unto Rome that their is no public accounting of Peter’s Pence contributions. Hence, participation in the NunJustice Pledge Project is a “twofer” action: (1) It support women religious; (2) It calls for greater financial transparency of the Church, especially in Rome.
Though most parishes may have already conducted their Peter’s Pence collection, the Nun Justice Project will continues to track redirected contributions in the form of “pledges,” maintaining a tally of all diverted contributions in each State and Diocese across the US. Nearly 1000 persons have diverted funds to date, with an aggregate approaching $100,000. Participants in the action only record their intended “pledge” on the website. No money is actually collected. It is the individuals’ responsibility to directly send their diverted donation to a community of sisters of their choice. To view pledges of diverted funds in your area to date, and to make a pledge, go to Nun Justice PLEDGE PROJECT.
The Association of US Catholic Priests recently convened its inaugural assembly at St. Leo University (FL), with 236 priests attending from across the US. The gathering was significant because there is no other democratic free association or union of priests in the US. The dynamics of priests ministering to priests and enjoying such a rich fellowship from all over the country is rare. They grieved together, studied the first Vatican II document (Sacrosanctum Concilium), were energized by excellent speakers, strategized, dreamed, and began a tentative process for engaged dialogue with one another and their bishops on several issues.
Frs. Mike Ryan (Seattle) and Bernie Survil (Greensburg, PA) received the first Annual John XXIII Award in recognition of their leadership in founding the AUSCP, which recenty convened its first National Assembly in Florids.
In the coming year, AUSCP hopes to build on the resolutions that it passed at their first assembly and to grow in its numbers. The leadership team considers the group more of a movement than an organization. As of late June, AUSCP has over 710 members in 112 dioceses across the US. For more information check out their website at AUSCP.
We are grateful to Fr. Bob Cushing (Savannah) for this report.