Newsletter, December 17, 2012

ACC LogoAmerican Catholic Council 
Reclaiming the Promise of Vatican II

We Wish You a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year …  
NEWSLETTER                                           December 17,  2012         

Report on NV Institute
2013-14 Regional Gatherings
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In Prayerful Solidarity

Newton, CT

As we put this newsletter to bed, we are mindful of the tragedy and senseless act of violence in Newtown, CT. We join with all people of faith as we mourn the magnitude of such loss of life. The concurrence with this Christmas season of Peace & Joy is bittersweet. May our efforts to renew the Church bring forth the works of peace, justice, and healing in our families, our parishes, our communities, our nation and around the world.
End of Year Giving

Now more than ever we need your financial support to carry on the work of the

American Catholic Council.

Please consider making a year-end contribution. Your donation is fully tax deductible. You can donate online or mail your check. All donors who contribute by Dec.31st are eligible to win a book authored by one of ACC’s Detroit Keynoters. Learn more by clicking the DONATE NOW button below:

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Reflections on 
“Vatican Implosion” and “Revolution from Below”
Robert C. Mickens 11.16.12
Robet Mickens, columnist and Vatican correspondent for the London Tablet, speaks about the IMPENDING VATICAN IMPLOSION before the City Club of Cleveland; 11/16/12
Love Cannot Be Silenced
Check out this story in the New York Times about Sr. Kathy Sherman, SSJ, an American nun who put to song the struggle for justice for US Sisters. Be sure to click on the video below to view and listen to her inspiring song Love Cannot Be Silenced.
Love Cannot Be Silenced: The Peoples' Response to the Vatican's Investigation of U.S. Sisters
Update on Nun Justice:

On November 11 leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met with the three Vatican-appointed delegates (Archbishop Sartain, and Bishops Blair and Poprocki) for preliminary discussions about the doctrinal assess- ment launched against LCWR last April. The meeting was reported as “cordial” but the ultimate outcome of the investigation is still unknown.

ACC and the NunJustice Coalition urge you to send a Christmas card to the Papal Nuncio and these bishops to  remind them that American Catholics support our sisters.  ACC joins with other Catholic Reform organizations in keeping the plight of the sisters alive in our hearts, prayers and messages to Catholic hierarchy. For full details and addresses, CLICK HERE.
ACC Statement on NCR Editorial Endorsing Women’s Ordination

Bourgeous In the wake of Vatican news that Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been dismissed from his order, Maryknoll, removed from the priesthood and excommunicated from the Church, the American Catholic Council lauds the  NCR Editorial (12/3/12) in support of sensus fidelium. We commend the clear, nuanced theological stance the NCR has detailed in its ringing endorsement to ordain Catholic women to the priesthood.

The editorial points out that not only is this a justice issue, but that “there are three magisteria in the church: the bishops, the theologians and the people. On the issue of women’s ordination, two of the three voices have been silenced, which is why the third voice must now make itself heard.”

ACC urges our supporters to heed NCR’s call to “speak up in every forum available to us: in parish council meetings, faith-sharing groups, diocesan convocations and academic seminars.”

Let us bring this message forward in holiday cards and letters to our families and friends, to priests and bishops, to the editors of our local papers, and to television news channels.

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The Year in Review …

Our Time Has Come! Are you Ready?

As the year draws to a close, we take stock of where we have come and where we are headed. Our Fall and early Winter have busy doing the work you have requested of us — as a bottom-up movement. That’s how we work! We are increasingly mindful that ACC is just that, a grassroots movement, not an organization.

Looking back upon 2012, we have focused on three priorities that came out of the inaugural gathering of the American Catholic Council in Detroit in June of 2011. They are:

Priority #1: To continue the ACC tradition of empowering the grassroots through local and regional Listening Sessions. These sessions have proven to be effective means to facilitate organizing in the grassroots. ACC first launched these sessions in 2010-11 in an effort to capture the Soundings of the Faithful as a way to prepare for Detroit. In 2012 many continued to build on this tradition by incorporating into those gatherings new meaning and insight drawn from the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities adopted in Detroit. As we look ahead to 2013, we plan to take these Listening Sessions to next level as we incorporate strategic solution for making change happen. This will include new elements gleaned from our experience in the recent ACC Institute on Nonviolent Action for Church Reform.

Priority #2: To develop a central repository for Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs). We aim to expand upon the initial work of others by creating a comprehensive listing of all North American IECs by geographical location and category (canonical and non-canonical), including contact persons, resource materials and mentors to help Catholics develop new IECs in their vicinity. These groups are an important element of the emerging church now in formation and may prove to be a central structural innovation in the reform that is unfolding in our time. Many of you are anxiously awaiting our work in this area which will commence in earnest in early 2013.

Priority #3: To design, develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan for nonviolent action to change the institutional structures of the Catholic Church. The aim here is nothing short of true reform of the governance of the Church. Center-stage to this has been the successful completion of our inaugural Institute on Nonviolent Action for Church Reform. We are happy to feature a full report in this newsletter below.

Vatican II 50th Anniv

The past year has also been marked with many anniversary events of the Second Vatican Council. We recognize that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Vatican II unmistakably changed the Church and set us free. When people who have been ruled autocratically come to realize the spiritual power to think for themselves and act authentically, the result is nothing short of awesome! We have seen that play out in numerous contexts over the last year, most especially the extraordinary witness of women religious and the tremendous grassroots support of them through the NunJustice Project.

May the Spirit of Christ’s love grow deep within you this joyous Christmas season and throughout the New Year so that we may truly become People of the Good News … free, accountable, empowered and responsible! Taking our direction from the you the People, i.e.  the sensus fidelium, we move forward with faith and humility as we implement short and long-term strategies. We will not be silent and blindly obedient to the abuse of authority in the Church we so love. Together, we say again and again, with all fervor, humility, and resolve: We are the Ones! Indeed, it is we who will change the Church. This is our moment. This is our time!

Janet HauterIn Gratitude and Humility,

          — Janet Hauter     
Chair, ACC National Planning Committee          Forward to a Friend

Report: Changing Power Relationships

Institute on Nonviolent Action for Church Reform
Prayer, resilience and the sheer energy of participants all helped in developing and implementing an extraordinary 14-week webinar unpacking a model for nonviolent resistance as a template for changing the institutional Church. Based on the research and voluminous writings of Dr. Gene Sharp at Boston’s Einstein Institute, the process piqued our interest because, in part, it was the model for the Arab Spring and dozens of other applications of the shift “from dictatorship to democracy” through the affirmation of “people power” in the face of autocratic systems. ACC put out an invitation announcing this effort last Spring and had quick responses from a diverse cadre of individuals interested in learning and applying Sharp’s approach. To date, no group has applied his theory to the domain of church reform.
Institute DC Participants
Participants in ACC Institute on Nonviolent Action for Church Reform gathered at Washington Theological Union in DC;

Without doubt, the Spirit called forth a couple dozen individuals from US, Mexico, Canada and the Netherlands to join with a core ACC leadership team to pilot this Institute for Nonviolent Action for Church Reform, aka Changing Power Relationships. Following a series of 7 bi-weekly live webinars, all complemented with extensive readings and online discussion forums, we came together for an intense 3-day meeting in Washington DC the weekend before Thanksgiving.

We began on Friday evening when we met face-to-face for the first time and then viewed the hour-long film about Sharp and his work, titled How to Start a Revolution. Grounded in prayer and scripture we then began a discernment process to frame a goal/mission for the group. By Saturday afternoon we had a working statement:To replace monarchical institutional structures with a gospel community whose governance is egalitarian, inclusive, diverse and democratic.

We moved on to discuss how to accomplish this goal and what actions we wanted to undertake. After brainstorming many possibilities, we divided them into five broad categories: Education, Networking, National Action, Financial Actions and Legal Actions. Sub-committees were formed for the first three, with financial and legal being put “on hold” until later. Our Saturday afternoon ended with an inspiring liturgy in the beautiful chapel at the soon-to-close Washington Theological Union. Saturday evening brought further discussion of strategy and logistics and agreement that each sub-committee will submit a report to the Institute by January 15, 2013. These reports will suggest further specific actions.

On Sunday morning we invigorated ourselves with prayer and a group reading of Joan Chittister’s column in that week’s NCR (The Future of the Church: Discernment or Intimidation? 11/16/12). There was strong consensus that the timing and the message were clearly Spirit-inspired. And we drafted a set of Core Values that attempt to frame the continued unfolding of the American Catholic Council.

We concluded by circling back to Gene Sharp’s method to dovetail our deliberations with his principles, spending some time thinking about how this pilot program might be modified and adapted for greater dissemination to a larger national audience. Most of all, we reminded ourselves that each of us is a “root” of the “grassroots” and that we each need to promote nonviolence and positive change in the Church through our lived example in our local communities. We will be doing all of this in the coming year, so stay tuned!

Report on ACC Caucus at Call To Action:
Regional ACC Gatherings in the Works for 2013-2014   

ACC Caucus 1 ACC Planning Committee members Sheila Peiffer, John Frank and Janet Hauter facilitated a session in Louisville, KY as part of the annual Call To Action Conference. Attendees heard a report on current projects of ACC and early plans to hold regional events in 2013 and 2014 to support organizing for reform in the grassroots.

While attending Call to Action, ACC leadership also met with representatives of Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP) to explore ways to advance communication and collaboration.

In addition, ACC was also represented at the bi-annual meeting of COR (Catholic Organizations for Renewal) held concurrent with Call To Action. COR is an umbrella group of over twenty organizations that gathers twice a year to exchange information and share ideas. The NunJustice project is a collaborative initiative of COR and came out of the prior meeting last April. ACC continues to take an active leadership role in COR, hoping to support and influence pro-active collaboration across the church reform movement.

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