Newsletter, September 22, 2014

      American Catholic Council

Vatican II OMalleyCD

         Reclaiming the Promise of Vatican II 
    Bringing our voices to Rome!


September 22, 2014
Eye on Francis
 Thousands ask Pope Francis to remove unjust mandate against U.S. Sisters

Recently, Catholics came together in unprecedented fashion to support U.S. women religious. Over 17,500 signed petitions or sent letters to Pope Francis asking him to remove the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s unjust mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an organization representing eighty percent of all US Catholic sisters.

On September 12th,

Kate McElwee (above) of the NunJustice Project delivered the signatures via the Swiss Guard, along with copies of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s books (in Spanish) to Pope Francis.  She also delivered the signatures to Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the curial office.

In addition, an estimated 200 private prayer services were also held during LCWR’s August 12-15 annual assembly. The campaign supporting LCWR and Sr. Elizabeth Johnson was sponsored by the NunJustice Project, a coalition of 15 U.S Catholic reform organizations, including ACC.


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Gracious and Loving God beyond all names and faces, we praise you and thank you for making us your family.  As leaders in our Church gather for the Synod on the Family, we pray that the challenges faced by all your children will be heard.  We pray that our institutional Church will embody compassion and openness.  May justice and joy be the birthright of everyone born!  We ask this in the name of your Holy Trinity of relationship and grace, claiming your love for all.      Amen.

Starting on October 22, Fr. Tony Flannery will be touring the US with his message about respecting conscience.
Visit the CTP website to find the location closest to you.
If you cannot make one of these historic presentations, then take a moment to participate in the action that accompanies this tour:  writing a postcard to express your support for Catholic rights and responsibilities.
Do you live in or near Ohio?
   Don’t miss this one-day “Training in Gospel Nonviolence” organized by several groups and
led by Lena Woltering of Pace e Bene.
October 18, 2014
9am – 4:30pm
in Columbus, Ohio.
Learn how to create an inclusive church through gospel nonviolence.
Full information and registration form here.
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IEC 2015 Gathering
June 26-28   St. Paul, MN


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Which camp are you in?  Do you see Francis getting it right making you a candidate for the Francis Revolution?  Are you on the fence because you saw him making some bone-headed decisions or no decision at all on issues you highly value?  OR Do you just think we are in for same-old-same-old?


No matter where you stand on this continuum, there is actual evidence of the direction Francis is embracing.  He’s confusing to many because he is the first Jesuit Pope fully and completely Jesuit in his heart values and thought processes.  That appears to be the interior Francis.  The exterior Francis is an anomaly mirroring Franciscan behaviors, demonstrating a love for the people. This dichotomy is creating very nervous bishops and a spectrum of perspectives among the People of God.


His simple lifestyle coupled with his compassionate outreach to people is contrasted to his stern admonitions to priests and bishops chastising their sense of privilege and calling these shepherds to “smell like sheep”,  indicating his desire for the hierarchy to engage closely with the people.  His pastoral style appears contradictory because it is full of demonstrable compassion with almost militaristic acts of cleaning out the Vatican Bank and stabilizing the dysfunctional Curia, removing prelates who disagree with him.  Of particular note is the news release of his actions on Cardinal Burke and the appointment of Abp. Blase Cupich to the Chicago See.

While his decisions appear spontaneous to many, he uses a Jesuit style of collaborative dialogue to view any problem holistically reviewing the issue’s context and the consequences of any prospective decision.  He makes no decision without full understanding  and this often takes time causing many to believe he isn’t walking the talk.  Most popes have acted predictably but not Francis!


Paradoxically again, Pope Francis called for a Synod on the Family.  Imagine that—the family!   Moving from the critically important institutional priorities to the concerns of families was a jolt.  In preparation for the Synod next year, Francis called an Extraordinary Synod next month to plan the agenda defining issues of high concern to families everywhere.


I leave for Rome month end to represent all of us by influencing Vatican decision makers in two ways:  to broadcast the entire Synod to respectfully “include” the full communion of Catholics and to do all in our power to make sure that the issues discussed are real issues, presented by real people (either through our survey results or as voting members of the Synod.) It is folly to believe that a group of celibate aging males and highly conservative “lay delegates” can see the broad issues that thinking Catholics must grapple with.  Please pray for all of us traveling as this is new territory for us as we ask for a voice and a vote in this Synod.


The bishops’ dialogue will be on every aspect of the marital relationship and what it means to be in a fulfilling relationship; the need for responsible parenthood, the proactive and positive Catholic openness to life like care for the poor and conservation of the planet; the issues of gender and sexuality in contemporary society coupled with a greater need for inclusion and respect and the way the Church teaches and listens that is, more often than not, punitive.  The dialogue the bishops will have will yield an agenda along with topics for study for the bishops to make decisions next year.


Prior to the Extraordinary Synod, Catholic Church Reform International is holding a Forum on the Family to have a presence in anticipation of this historic event, to present our work (position papers along with results of surveys conducted globally that represent the lived experiences of contemporary families today) to help the Synod Fathers make decisions on real facts not same-old-same-old church teaching.  We boldly have invited Francis to celebrate Mass with us.


Rumors abound that next year’s Synod will make some historic decisions and will not resemble prior synods in its configuration or results.  Hints from those closest to Francis have primed the faithful to anticipate both governance AND doctrinal changes.


Stay tuned and watch for the announcement of our Travel Blog upon our departure.


Janet Hauter

With hope in the Spirit,

Janet Hauter, National Chair, ACC


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Family Representation at the Synod
Are you happy with the participants in the Synod?  Do you feel that your family situation and challenges will be taken into consideration?
Catholic Church Reform International has composed an “Open Letter to the Pope” which requests that Francis “review the arrangements for this Synod to ensure that there is within its membership a truly adequate representation from ordinary and diverse Catholic families, with appropriate provision for them to share their views, be heard, and to have a vote.”
The recent announcement of the “lay” Synod members chosen was disappointing and prompted this response because, “While responses to the Vatican survey and our own research indicate that an overwhelming majority of Catholics ignore much of what the Church condemns, those participants selected to represent families at the Synod are largely advocates for traditional Catholic teachings, and are unlikely to challenge those teachings. It seems that the Synod has been designed to ensure that bishops are being sheltered from the voices of diverse Catholic families who live their daily lives not always according to the formulations in the Catechism, but attuned in good conscience to their understanding and embrace of the word of God.”
Take action by reading the full letter and signing it today!

Pope Francis

An      on 

 We continue with our feature from Reyanna Rice, Board member of Concerned Catholics of Montana and ACC supporter.  She is actively following and analyzing Pope Francis’ statements and actions and will offer a reflection each month to inspire us to integrate reform into our own lives and our communities.
“He cannot understand the simple gestures of the people.  Perhaps this man had forgotten how to caress a baby, how to console a grandmother.  In his theories, his thoughts, his life of government — because he was a council or of the Pharisees– he had forgotten the simple gestures, the very first things, as newborns, received from our parents.”
(Pope Francis, from morning Mass homily, September 18, 2014)
Francis was reflecting on the gospel passage of the day where the so-called “sinful woman” washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, anoints them with perfume, and wipes them dry with her hair.  This scene takes place in the home of a prominent Pharisee.  The Pharisee judges both the woman and Jesus and Jesus calls him on it.  Francis says the Pharisee “is not a bad man” he simply “cannot understand the woman’s actions.”.
The first thing I see in this quote above is that Francis has a deep understanding of the normal, daily human love that goes on in families and that makes life worthwhile.  He is also showing, in my opinion, that he himself has caressed babies.  He has 15 nieces and nephews and who knows how many great nieces and nephews and I would bet he has changed a diaper.  He has also consoled grandmothers, perhaps as a young man when his grandfather passed away and he consoled his Grandma Rosa. All this says to me he is definitely a “family man”.
The other thing I see in this statement is Francis conveying a message to those bishops he sees as like this Pharisee.  All of this gives me great hope for the upcoming Synod in Rome at the beginning of next month.  Perhaps this Synod, with Francis definitely at the helm, despite negative things we are hearing about it, will be the beginnings of a more merciful church where families of all kinds are respected, valued and loved.  Keep your hope up!  And do as Francis show us…caress a baby and console a grandmother.  That is how we become loving people.

A poem by ACC member P.C. Moorehead to buoy us on the journey:
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them”  (Mt 18:20)
Welcomed and welcoming, we come to the table,
We gather to take bread, to bless and be blessed.
We present ourselves to You, or Presence divine.
We are the needy, the poor, the people of the tenements and                                                                                    streets.
We hunger; we seek.  Emotionally, physically, we long to be free.
We want to become the blessing You mean us to be.
You reside in us; yet, we stumble, mumble, gripe and complain.
Defects wear on us, and,derelict, we step down from doing our best.
We are blessed; yet, broken too, broken through.
We are a neighborhood of persons, a threeness in oneness.
We want order, not chaos, peace, not conflict, strength, not                                                                                   weakness.
We want to hold the tension of differing.
The suffering of the way, the suffering of the why
are ours to accept, but we wonder, “Will we accept?”
We long for a new place, a house of light, delight, joy and right.
We long for a collective Epiphany, growing into a glowing Pentecost.
We want to be Your disciples and express Your plenitude.
We say “yes” to Your requests and bow to the mystery of Your desire
We know that our everyday activities will ease pain and create pain.
We give and are given.  We share and care.  We speak the language                                                                         of family.
Our house becomes a home, and, here, all can reside, all can abide.
This is the vision envisioned:  the house, home, garden, and yard,
the universe of Yous, where all are welcomed, all are accepted.
Here are women and men, married and single, old and young, rich,                                                                      poor, and other.
This universe is for everyone, and in it, we see You face to face:
the burnt, the hurt, the scorched, the seared, the scarred,
the just, the joyful, the happy, the challenged, the sure.
In this universe, we lift the fallen, visit the lonely, feed the hungry.
We are bread: blessed, broken, given, and eaten.
We are church.  We are here.  We are Yours.
We are the blessing You mean us to be.
Yes!  We are the blessing we are meant to be.
This is jubilee.  Whee!  We are meant to be.  Yes!
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