July 3, 2015

   American Catholic Council
    Reclaiming the Promise of Vatican II
       Celebrating change!   
NEWSLETTER                    July 3, 2015
Eye on Francis
“LOVE is our Mission:
A Church for All”
Sunday, September 20th at 3:00 PM
Witness vigil in Philadelphia, PA
sponsored by COR
Following the conclusion of the international WOW conference in Philadelphia, there will be a collaborative COR vigil across from the Cathedral at 3:00 PM.  We expect hundreds from all over to hold up the family issues that are missing from the Church’s deliberations and to celebrate our determination to create a “church for all.”
We hope that YOU will hold a vigil, too, in your locale!
A complete “toolkit”, with talking points, prayer services, media statements, etc. will be ready in a few weeks and we will get it to you.  Meanwhile, SAVE THE DATE:  September 20th


Making Trouble in the Streets to Support Organizational Transformation

Don’t miss this article by ACC member Martin Leahy in the recent OMG!Journal.  In his conclusion he states, “The People of God need to take up the power and responsibility given at Baptism, we need to see ourselves as the Church, honor our consciences, and engage in a dialogue of equals, first among ourselves, and ultimately with local leaders of the institutional church.”

Independence Day Reading!
     As we celebrate our country’s founding principles during the 4th of July holiday, why not also take the time to review our“Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”?  They should be our guiding principles for church governance!
Want to join ACC leaders at the “Francis Factor” event?  Click here for full information about the conference.  And don’t forget to let us know that you will be there!

Don’t miss this exciting international gathering!
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Get it here, get it now!  Hot off the presses!
Whistle:  Tom Doyle’s Steadfast Witness for Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse by Robert Blair Kaiser
Tom Doyle has been credited with breaking the story on the Vatican’s coverup on clerical sexual abuse in the early 80’s and is a fierce advocate for victims, offering testimony in the courts on the effects suffered by so many, including suicide.  As a priest,Tom heroically put his own career in jeopardy by being the voice of the silenced.
This book, written by Robert Blair Kaiser on his deathbed, will go down in history as a chronicle of the Church’s scandalous years and the legacy of corruption that haunts the institution. It is a “must read!”  Available onAmazon and for Kindle. All profits donated to charities assisting victims of clerical abuse.

The Dance of Change Has Already Begun


The dictionary defines change as: to become different, to make (someone or something) different, to become something else. I like that definition because it is what the ACC is calling out to all of us!  With everything changing around us, we are being called to, or in some cases, forced to change.  Some of us fear change because it challenges stability and understanding the new reality.  Others love the vitality and the excitement of an unknown, finding our way through the maze of discovery and newness.  Some find it threatening while others find it exhilarating.


A psychologist, William Bridges, explained this transition better than many others when he said that change is nothing more than sequential actions that introduce “an ending of something known” to a neutral zone that is kind of like suspended animation; it’s a period like Holy Saturday in our tradition where we wait for something else, something we can’t totally predict.  This pregnant time could be days, months, years until the “New Beginning” emerges.


The Church is currently in this neutral zone as we wait to see if the October Synod will produce the results and outcomes we are hoping for and if not, we look toward the Jubilee Year of Mercy to address even more change.  Many of us, perhaps most, are looking to Rome to tell us what new beginnings will occur but I suggest that instead of looking outward, we become introspective and look inward.


There is a unifying element in being Catholic; it’s a culture we know well and which is pretty much predictable until recently.  The Catholic identity is changing under Pope Francis.  We are in a process of “becoming”… That feeling was very present in the IEC (Intentional Eucharist Community) conference I just attended.(See more below.)


As many of you know, ACC has been working collaboratively with Catholic Church Reform International for some time and a product of that action is “The People Speak”, a paper that will be sent to all the world’s bishops and to Pope Francis in anticipation of the October Synod and the Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning December 8, 2015.  I am confident that you will find this research and document interesting.  It mirrors global opinions on church teaching and how families across the world struggle to be Catholic in the face of teaching that does not fit their lived reality. This, we believe, may be the first global initiative to demonstrate how families struggle in different parts of the world, what they have to say about it and how they think the institutional church could improve.


Several of us will be traveling to New Mexico to see and hear Richard Rohr (in the flesh) deliver a program called The Francis Factor at the end of August, early September.  This workshop will focus on Francis’ impact on the world.  Creatively, we will be presenting there as well (thanks to John Frank who had the idea) to discuss Francis’ impact on the Church so that those attending could have a holistic understanding of this Pope and how he models the faith and lives a social justice model.  We will report on this work in our September newsletter.  Click here for more information if you want to join us!


In our next newsletter we will have more information on the vigils being planned in Philadelphia for September when the Pope arrives and how you can sponsor a vigil in your own locale.  We would love to see many such vigils occurring nationally to show the media and the Pope that we are unified in asserting “Love is Our Mission: A Church for All”. Several reform communities are working hard on this effort and we should have the collaborative action plan soon.


Change is in the wind—there is a lot going on and soon we may need your talents and skills to make this a home run year—is your dance card ready?


Janet Hauter at ACC Strategy Meeting

Happy 4th of July!

Janet Hauter, National Chair, ACC


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IEC Gathering Report


I attended and held a breakout session at the recent Intentional Eucharistic Gathering in St. Paul, MN themed “Living the Gospel-Collective Voices” attended by nearly 300 people who belong to IECs in their own region.  Participants were from as far away as California, Texas, Virginia with a dominant Midwest population.  There was high energy in this informative assembly.

The conference opened with a keynote by Jamie Manson who talked about how important stories are to the Catholic experience because it stimulates Catholic Imagination.  This is precisely what Pope Francis talks about when he encourages Catholics to engage in encounters with others learning more about them from their stories.  Jamie was poignant when she said stories give meaning to every day and are “sacramental”.

She echoed what we have been saying about how creativity and innovation are very much needed in our Church for us to be
Church.  The legacy of Vatican II that we must learn to cherish is “ownership” in our Church.  She said too many see the Church as “owned” by the clerical culture and we all need to respond to the prophetic call to get out of God’s way.

Another breakout spoke to the question “Why We Stay Affiliated With a Global Church”, a panel discussion of three individuals with a perspective of church today in the wake of Vatican II.  Roy Borgeois spoke eloquently about his traumatic dismissal from the Maryknoll community and forced exile from being a priest because he spoke out for and participated in a woman’s ordination.  The devasting pain he experienced lingers yet today.  He likened his experience to gay Catholics, women longing to respond to the call to ordination, etc. citing that we have all been abused in one manner or another by the Church and we need to reflect on that pain and turn it into energy and compassion for one another.  Another panelist spoke about what reformers are currently doing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, particularly with their active involvement in ousting Bishop Nienstedt and how the people are coping in the midst of that tragedy.

My session was entitled “Actualizing the Francis Revolution in IECs:  How to activate and mobilize an IEC” and I spoke about some of the trends in the growth and success or the demise of some groups and why.  I particularly focused on the life cycle of movements and how leadership needs to be proactive and anticipate where the people are who attend and how to begin to spot impending problems and solutions that may fit that time by focusing on life cycle theory.  I hope to return to MN later this summer and learn more about a very successful IEC, The Spirit of St. Stephen’s, to share more about their success in a later newsletter.


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 communities.


Fear is what “happens in Christians, happens in the Community, in the entire Church, in the parishes in many Christian communities.”   In fact, “there are fearful communities, who go always on the safe side: ‘No, no we can’t do this….No, no, you cannot do this, this you cannot'”.  At that point what “it seems that they have written on the entry door is ‘Forbidden: everything is forbidden from fear’. ”  Thus “when you enter into that community the air is stale because the community is sick: fear sickens a community: lack of courage sickens a community”…


(From homily of Pope Francis at Mass at Casa Santa Marta, May 15, 2015 as reported in L’Osservatore Romano)


Pretty strong words from Papa Francesco on fear!  He also said that “Fear is an attitude that hurts us, weakens us, reduces us, even paralyzes us.”  He further says that a person who is afraid does nothing, doesn’t know what to do and that fear brings on a selfish egocentrism, especially when it involves one’s spiritual life.  He spoke about people who are afraid of doing anything looking at everything from the standpoint of being afraid it might be a sin.  That kind of fear is different from fear of God as he explained later in the homily, which is holy, is awe, is adoration of God.  It does not paralyze us but makes us courageous to move ahead toward the mission that the Lord gives us.  He says the best word for a Christian is joy and we will have it with true fear of God.


When I look at what Papa Francesco has done in the two and a half years he has been in office, I would have to say he is a living model embodying life without fear, with fear of the Lord and is certainly joyful.


The quote at the very beginning of this article tells me what he thinks many Catholic Christian communities have become.  I would guess many of you know of such communities where there is that kind of invisible sign on the door he speaks about:  “Forbidden!!”  How much the Catholic Church has become the church of “No!” over the last 30 or so years!  For me it is so sad to see.  The list of no’s is long: no to holding hands during the Lord’s prayer, no to girl altar servers in many parishes, no to the presider coming out to greet the people at the sign of peace, no to understandable language for out Eucharistic celebrations, no to bread baked by parish members for use at the Eucharist, no to any kind of altar vessels that do not have a gold lining, no to communal celebrations of Reconciliation without oral confession to a priest (the 3rd Rite of Reconciliation), no in some dioceses and parishes to communion in the hand or while standing or under both forms.  The list could go on and on.  Many of our communities are “stale” because the community is sick from fear and lacks courage.


How do we live the kind of parish communities that I think Papa Francesco has in mind?  We must be “senza paura” as he said in this homily, “without fear”.  We each need to learn to be as PF quoted from the second reading when it said that “Jesus says to Paul: ‘Don’t be afraid, continue speaking.’  We need to find the courage to know when to speak up and continue speaking if we want to see change in our parish communities, our church.  Many, many of us need to “continue speaking”.  When the local reform group I work with, Concerned Catholics of Montana, was first forming around discussion groups of a series of DVD’s we watched of speakers at the ACC inaugural meeting in Detroit several years ago, one of the fellows in the group spoke about fear but posed a very pertinent question:  “What can they do to us?  Take our birthday away from us?”  Good question!  What are we afraid of?  No one can take away from me my deep relationship with Jesus or can tell me I am no longer a Catholic.  They may think they can but they really cannot take that away from me and have no right to even think they can.


Papa Francesco doesn’t want to see signs on the entry doors to churches that say “Forbidden!”  In fact, I would say he wants to see those church doors flung wide open with a big sign over the door saying “Welcome!”. He said in this same homily “…a community without joy is a sick community, because when there is no joy there is emptiness.”  If we agree and want to see our parish communities not be “stale” and “sickened” , we need to be “senza paura”, “without fear” and continue speaking.  And we need to know that kind of joy that Papa Francesco speaks about when he says “the Lord has looked at me.” When fear steps in, let’s remember this and that no one can take our birthday away from us…

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