(in reverse chronological order)
Helmut Schüller Tour
Helmut Schüller is an Austrian priest who spearheaded “A Call for Disobedience.” This declaration, signed by over 400 Austrian priests, traces its roots to a lack of leadership with regard to the sexual abuse crisis in Austria. Schüller calls for a return to Vatican II principles and complete transparency with regard to Church matters. FutureChurch is spearheading a tour, co-sponsored by COR partners CORPUS, DignityUSA, National Coalition for American Nuns, and Voice of the Faithful. He will tour the United States from July 15th to August 7th, 2013. The theme of the tour is: The Catholic Tipping Point: A Conversation with Helmut Schüller. A committee of COR organizations is working on the details. Plans call for presentations in fourteen cities, with priest networking in between. The kick off will be in New York City.
An Authentic Catholic Voice at the Papal Conclave
Through our individual organizational outreach, COR continues to develop positions on issues which Catholics face. While we were not anticipating Benedict XVI’s resignation, COR had developed materials for the press and public in light of a new papacy. “At this critical time of transition in church history, we claim our responsibility as committed laity, religious, and clergy in advocating for the selection of a justice-seeking pope, one with a pastoral vision to heal, reform, and renew the Roman Catholic Church.”
COR met in Washington, DC March 7-8, 2013 and held a press conference “The People’s Conclave: Catholic Reform Organizations Meet in Advance of Vatican Election”. (link). Once Francis I was presented to the world, COR issued a press release (link).Several COR organizations held a public presence at St. Peter’s Square during the deliberations. Women’s Ordination Conference, in union with Women’s Ordination Worldwide, held a pink smoke event (link). FutureChurch was on pilgrimage to sacred sites of early women leaders (link).
On April 18, 2012, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a mandate to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group that represents more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. COR responded by coordinating the NunJustice Coalition, made up of member organizations. Together, the coalition helped gather more than 57,000 signatures, representing one signature for every LCWR sister, and the petition was delivered to the USCCB June meeting, garnering much media attention. By the end of the summer, over 100 vigils had been coordinated across the United States in support of the sisters and $100,000 was pledged for communities of women religious. In Advent 2012, more than 3,000 Catholics pledged to write the Vatican's ambassador asking the Vatican to rescind the harmful mandate.
Coalition for Justice and Religious Liberty
The Coalition for Liberty & Justice (CLJ) was formed to counter the bishops’ false messages about religious liberty and to speak up for what millions of Americans believe in: true religious liberty—the right to be respected as a moral decision-maker, free to follow one’s own conscience, religious beliefs, and values.
Co-convened by Catholics for Choice and National Council of Jewish women, and now more than 55-members strong, the CLJ is a first-of-its-kind group of leaders from reproductive rights and health, women’s, labor, LGBT, RJ, civil rights, secular and religious advocacy organizations, healthcare providers and medical and nursing students, and colleagues from both sides of the aisle. The CLJ works to ensure that public policy protects the religious liberty of individuals of all faiths and no faith and to oppose public policies that impose one religious viewpoint on all.
Support of Fr. Roy Bourgeois
On August 9, 2008, Fr. Roy Bourgeois delivered a homily during the ordination ceremony of Janice Sevre-Duszynska, in Lexington, KY. Over the next three years, Fr. Roy received three canonical warnings, urging him to recant his public support of women’s ordination. COR responded by coordinating the “Break the Silence: Shatter the Stained-Glass Ceiling!” campaign, comprised of several member organizations. The campaign worked to collect over 15,000 signatures on a petition delivered to a Vatican official in October 2011, who also agreed to meet with Fr. Roy and his lawyers, held call-in days to Maryknoll leadership, and continues to engage media outlets to share Fr. Roy’s story. Public appearances and vigils from outside the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C. to St. Peter’s square – where Fr. Roy and several others were detained for their prayerful witness-- continue to be tirelessly organized in support of Fr. Roy, as he has refused to be silenced on this issue. In November 2012, Fr. Roy was formally dismissed from his Maryknoll community of nearly 40 years; the campaign continues to affirm his advocacy and collect letters of support in his name.
Engaging U.S. Bishops in dialogue about solutions to the priest shortage
In 2010 FutureChurch coordinated an effort by seven COR organizations and five other regional groups to circulate an Open Letter to US Bishops about the deepening priest shortage crisis in the U.S. Church. Twenty five percent of 6000 signers of the Open Letter were willing to engage their bishops in dialogue. Every five years each bishop reports on the status of their diocese during an ad limina visit to Rome. In 2012, FutureChurch was able to coordinate over 400 concerned Catholics from an array of Church renewal organizations who contacted 42 dioceses to discuss the severity of the priest shortage, married priests and women deacons. Six bishops expressed openness to dialogue about optional celibacy. Eleven bishops expressed some level of openness to dialogue about women deacons. For more info see this link: http://www.futurechurch.org/newsletter/
Equally Blessed is a coalition of faithful Catholics committed to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the church and civil society. Its founding members are Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry. Together, these organizations represent over 125 years of experience ministering with and to LGBT Catholics and their families. Equally Blessed works to raise the voice of pro-equality Catholics in the media, Catholic settings, and the public square. One of its signature initiatives is The Strong Right Arm of the Bishops: The Knights of Columbus and Anti-Marriage Equality Funding, a report that documented the Knights’ funneling of over $25 million to anti-marriage initiatives in the U.S. over the course of four years.
Women’s Justice Coalition
In 2006-2007, Call to Action-USA, Catholics Speak Out, Ecumenical Catholic Communion, FutureChurch, RAPPORT, Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference, Women-Church Convergence, and Women’s Ordination Conference found volunteers and developed a survey to study the representation of women in various diocesan positions and councils, in seminary and religious education, and as participants in parish liturgical roles in twenty-three dioceses. The coalition issued a report card, with the most passing grades for women as lectors, altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, and included in washing of the feet at the Cathedrals. Few women taught in seminaries or served on diocesan finance or pastoral councils; little history of women in the church was included in curricula at any level. More women served as leaders of offices for minority concerns than anywhere else in the chanceries, most of which had some procedures for filing employee grievances. The coalition called on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to implement six recommendations that could be followed immediately without any change in church teaching or canon law.
(in chronological order)
Gallup Survey of U.S. Catholics - This 1992 opinion survey was initiated by Catholics Speak Out and co-sponsored by six other organizations in COR. The findings were made public at a press conference in June 1992 at Notre Dame University during the U.S. Bishops' meeting there.
White House Meeting - Ten COR groups had leaders in the June 25, 1993, meeting with White House staff. The groups offered the Clinton administration a link with progressive Catholics, especially on issues where most U.S. Catholics differ with the hierarchy. Examples: Vatican blockage of any discussion of contraceptive family planning at the 1992 Rio earth summit, and Vatican complicity with the coup regime that ousted duly elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide from Haiti.
Alternative Events during Papal Visit to Denver - Twenty-two COR organizations supported a public forum, a news conference, and several press briefings at World Youth Day, August 1993. The COR/Denver initiative enabled the national media not only to cover the papal events but to report responsible Catholic disagreement with the pope on many issues, including women's ordination, gay/lesbian rights, and sexual morality.
Signature ads in major newspapers - An open letter to the Pope stating our opposition to his prohibition to contraception appeared in the New York Times in September, 1994, during the U.N. Population Conference in Cairo. It engendered over 2,500 signatures. Another letter to John Paul II appeared in the Baltimore Sun in October, 1995 the week of the pontiff's visit to that city. It said U.S. Catholics are hungry for Eucharist and want the priesthood open to women and married men. Both ads were coordinated by Catholics Speak Out and co-sponsored by many COR groups.
International Movement: We are Church:
We Are Church/USA is a coalition of Catholic groups in the United States united with our sisters and brothers around the world to call for fundamental reforms in the Roman Catholic Church. We seek to build a church that more closely incorporates the values of the gospel.
Pope Paul VI said: "It is to all Christians that we address a fresh and insistent call to action….it belongs to the laity, without waiting passively for orders and directives, to take the initiative freely and to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which they live." (Octogesima Adveniens, 1971, #48)We take that call seriously. We are adult believers who read the signs of the times in the light of the gospel and take responsibility for our faith community. As such, we seek to infuse a new Spirit into this ancient institution, which we love, by working for a church which is inclusive, egalitarian, affirming and democratic.
In 1996-97, we expressed our beliefs in a Referendum of the People of God which was signed by more than 2.5 million people worldwide. On October 11, 1997, we joined representatives from 16 other countries in St. Peter's Square where we presented those results formally to an official representative of the Vatican. On October 12, we participated in an international meeting that approved a formal Manifesto for the International Movement.
In March 1998, we participated in a planning meeting in Mammolsheim, Germany where we met with Dr. Konrad Raiser, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Dr. Raiser urged us to do what we can to improve the ecumenical climate between Christian denominations.
In 1998, we issued an unprecedented international statement, A Pope for the Time to Come: Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor, which described the type of church and leadership needed in our church as we approach the new century and the new millennium. That statement was endorsed by more than 145 groups in 17 countries on 6 continents. The movement is strong and growing.
WE ARE CHURCH Catholic Referendum - This call for church reforms is similar to referenda which gathered 2.3 million signatures in Germany and Austria in 1995. Coordinated by Women's Ordination Conference and Catholics Speak Out, the drive in the U.S. for signatures ran from Pentecost 1996 to Pentecost 1997. Completed referenda from many nations were brought to Rome in a joint international action in October 1997.
Meetings with President and Staff of the National Catholic Conference of Bishops –
At the request of Catholic Organizations for Renewal, COR representatives met with Bishop Anthony Pilla, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and senior staff members on Thursday, September 17, 1998 in Washington DC. This meeting was a conversation on pastoral issues of mutual concern, including lay ecclesial ministry, the situation of priests who are married and Catholic Social Teaching. The five member delegation included , Dan Daley CTA, Mary Louise Hartman, Andrea Johnson WOC ARCC Anthony Padovano, CORPUS, and Christine Schenk CSJ FutureChurch.
A delegation from COR, consisting of Genevieve Chavez, WOC; Dan Daley, CTA; Christine Schenk, FutureChurch; Bob Miailovich, DignityUSA; Anthony Padovano, CORPUS; and Mary Louise Hartman, ARCC; met on September 11, 2000 with Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, President of NCCB (now the USCCB)and staff members in Washington. The focus of this meeting was discussion of issues of mutual interest dealing with Lay Ecclesial Ministry, married priests and creation of a welcoming atmosphere for gay and lesbian people in the Church.