For me, this year has been a personal epiphany. I’m hard pressed to say why but it continues to be a “marker year” for me. My Mother gave me a legacy to uphold: to value relationships by truly encountering others. Funny…valuing relationships, engaging in dialogue and learning to understand “the other” through a true encounter parallels the mantra of Pope Francis.
One example after another, Pope Francis models the kind of respect that Jesus had for all creation. Sadly, we are neither respected nor valued by the hierarchy in general. Because non-reciprocal relationships cannot have “encounter” moments of respect, we turn to you, the faithful, to join our efforts to create a real, contemporary picture of what families are challenged with today.
We are actively promoting several meaningful actions where all Catholics could engage.
1. Lead or become engaged in a Regional Gathering: it’s a time to speak with other Catholics about life issues that must be considered in the Synod on the Family. Help the bishops have deliberations and make decisions on contemporary issues challenging all families. (Click here) Besides that benefit, the aggregate research will have potential years of impact and you could be a part of it.
2. Two more opportunities to engage: signing an open letter to Pope Francis and signing a petition to have the entire synod broadcast on television and radio for complete and open transparency. (Click here.)
The disconnect between Church teaching and hierarchical behavior is apparent. While Francis is modeling mercy and compassion, there is evidence he is experiencing conflicts with the Curia who fear the culture change he is modeling. Let me be bold and say that the hierarchy is an abusive force to the faithful: the sexual abuse scandal, the monetary improprieties, the exercises of irrational controls like banning yoga for Catholics as it might jeopardize their faith, withholding sacraments from couples in second marriages, disallowing communion to gay people and most recently priests being unable to baptize children of same-sex couples without a bishop’s permission (Madison, Wisconsin).
Enough is enough. We are called to speak out. Perhaps this is the time for Catholics to exchange respectful views on what appears to be a chaotic Church in suspended animation– no longer is it the Church we’ve known yet the future is unclear. This is a new space for us all and Francis repeatedly calls out to us to speak, to act.
Sometimes we have to chisel away the past from the present. Being Catholic is a loaded term and should define our own holy living. Being Catholic is removing the excuses that we have created for ourselves, some real and some perceived, to remain in the bondage of rules!
With faith in our common mission,
Janet Hauter, National Chair, ACC