(Rev. May 18, 2011)
We put forth this “starter list” of how the CBRR might impact policies and practices in the Catholic Church. Many of these and similar issues will be reflected in the program and process during the American Catholic Council to convene in Detroit on Pentecost Weekend, June 10-12, 2011.
Implications and Applications of the CBRR
1. Primacy of Conscience
— Church teaching would be grounded in the experience of all the baptized—regardless of gender or sexual orientation
—Church pronouncements on Catholic life would be preceded by dialogue among all the faithful
— Such pronouncements would take into account an analysis of the perceptions of Catholic people, in accord with sound scientific discipline and theological reflection.
–Catechetics, consistent with Catholic norms and practice, would focus on conscience formation and moral decision making.
–Ministerial decisions would be based on the needs of communities for the “Word of God and the Sacraments” as a first priority
–All the faithful would be involved in decisions relating to closing parishes.
3. Universal Ministry
–The Church will return to its earliest tradition of welcoming both married and celibate priests.
–Women would freely discern and test their calls and would be eligible for ordination alongside their brothers.
–Each community would have a meaningful voice in choosing married or celibate, women or men pastors.
4. Fundamental Rights
–Bishops would cease denying facilities to those who disagree with them on matters unrelated to the deposit of faith.
–Oaths of allegiance would be eliminated
–Expression, discussion and open speech would be encouraged. Individuals would not be excluded from employment or ministry solely because of differing views on matters unrelated to the deposit of faith. All church employees have a right to due process in this regard.
–Sacraments would be viewed as grace-filled experiences, not “rewards” for certain conduct
–Artificial barriers to sacraments would be abolished (e.g. divorced and remarried Catholics, LGBT Catholics etc)
–Sacraments would not be withheld from Catholics who intend to receive them in faith and good conscience.
–Procedures to censure individuals (such as theologians and politicians) for specific acts or statements would be subjected to due process—particularly in that the accuser and the judge should not be the same person or panel
–Bishops would first seek to dialogue with those with whom they disagree before arbitrarily deciding that they are not “Catholic.”
–Parish councils and diocesan councils would be elected and would be deliberative and empowered, not advisory
–The baptized faithful would be accorded realistic and meaningful input into the selection of pastors and bishops
–The baptized faithful would have realistic and meaningful participation in rule making bodies (such as curial offices)
–Episcopal appointments to a diocese would normally be considered permanent (within the term limit) unless the people of the diocese elect otherwise—also suggesting that ladder climbing advancement within the hierarchy into different dioceses would be rare.
–Episcopal pronouncements must have at their heart a spirit of love and compassion, consistent with the Gospel
8. Sensus Fidelium
–Assemblies and other forums to hear the voices of all the faithful, including those who are not ordained would occur regularly.
–Ecclesial pronouncements would take due regard of the life experience of all Catholics
—Mechanisms will be developed for regularly gathering input and advice from theologians and all the baptized faithful.
–These assemblies of the faithful would be accorded the respect and influence their work deserves.
10. Social Justice.
–The Gospel message of Jesus which focuses on the poor, the marginalized, and the sick would become the primary role of the Church.
–The “preferential option for the poor” would become the standard for judging decisions.
–The Church would refocus its attention on peace-making, equal justice for all, and real economic minimum standards for all.
–The Church would be a model of social justice within its own structures.