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Issue: #27 April 2016

Lots of news to share in this month's newsletter!

We mourn the passing of local theologian and church historian Terry Dosh, who was a friend, mentor, and all-round inspiring figure to many of us.

We share links to insightful articles and commentaries on the release this month of  Amoris Laetitia  ("The Joy of Love"), Pope Francis' response to the 2014 and 2015 Vatican synods on marriage and family life.

We share Paula Ruddy's insightful commentary on the U.S. bishops' "religious liberty" campaign. 

And we share some important information on the Council of the Baptized's May 10 open forum.

So, without further ado . . . 
News from CCCR and the Council of the Baptized 

Council of the Baptized logo

Council of the Baptized Open Forum conti nues . . .

What are your hopes for the training of future priests?

What must our seminaries do to train true servant leaders? 

While Catholics of the archdiocese  are justifiably proud of the historical contributions of our seminary, in recent years, several  concerns have been raised. At the Listening Sessions chaired by Archbishop Hebda last year, many  Catholics expressed concern regarding the current training of seminarians.

You are invited to attend and participate in the  Council  of the Baptized Open Forum on Tuesday, May 10  where Mary Ellen Jordan and Carol Tauer will present "What's Right
and Wrong at the Seminary?" and explore with us what changes in the seminary would bring forth  the priests we hope for.

When: Tuesday, May 10, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Where: Gloria Dei Church, 700 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul, 55116.


D on't forget: If you're on Facebook, join, follow and contribute to the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform/Council of the Baptized  page by visiting this page and clicking on "Like."


A n important way to keep our local church reform movement growing is to increase the number of people in our Lay Network. Currently, there are over 1500 Lay Network members, from all parishes and all deaneries, but that's no where near the number of folks who love their church and want it to thrive in this archdiocese. Please encourage your friends and family to register with the Lay Network by  clicking  here.


Finally, the  new website of CCCR and the Council of the Baptized was officially launched in March! Be sure to visit  to check it out.

Remembering Terry Dosh, 1930-2016

It is with great sadness that we  share news of the death of local theologian and church historian Terry Dosh. 

Terry died earlier today, Thursday, April 7, 2016, after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease.

A married priest and a well-respected church historian and theologian, Terry was a dedicated advocate for church reform for close to half-a-century. 

Inspired by the vision of church launched by Vatican II, Terry began research on mandatory celibacy in 1962. 

This led him to significant involvement over the next four decades with numerous church reform organizations, including  CORPUS , the International Federation of Married Priests, Call to Action Minnesota, and various other Catholic organizations for renewal. He also helped found the  Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church  (ARCC) in 1980, serving on its board for 24 years. 

From 1975 until just a few years ago, Terry edited and published four church reform newsletters, the last being Bread Rising . He also taught church history, scripture, and justice and peace topics extensively in parishes and other forums throughout the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

Terry will be greatly missed by all who knew him, and our thoughts are especially with his wife Millie and their family.

Rest in Peace and Power, Terry  . . . And thank you for your scholarly and prophetic voice, one that has inspired countless people within the local church of St. Paul-Minneapolis and beyond.

For the Progressive Catholic Voice 's April 7 tribute to Terry, featuring links to articles written both by and about him, and a 1999 interview with him, click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter 's April 11 obituary for Terry, click here.

What Is With the U.S. Bishops and Religious Liberty?

By Paula Ruddy

Are the bishops worried about religious liberty or about women using contraceptives? Being honest about this is tremendously important. The bishops' moral authority is at stake as well as Catholic respect as citizens for the U.S. legal system. A nation's legal system is only as strong as the people's respect for it. We cannot afford the U.S. bishops' tearing down the rule of law.

The case of Catholic non-profits before the Supreme Court illustrates the problem. Catholic bishops teach that the use of contraceptives is morally wrong. The U.S government leaves the decision about personal morality to individuals. It wants insurance companies who provide health care insurance through employers to make it free and easy to get contraceptives for those women employees who want them because reproduction is a factor in women's health care.

Churches are exempt and don't have to cover contraception for their employees. But Catholic non-profits - hospitals, social welfare agencies, and nursing homes - employ lots of women, Catholic and not Catholic, and they want to be exempt from offering coverage too. The government offered an accommodation. Their employees would still get coverage but the religious non-profits would not have to pay, arrange for, or implement. All they would have to do is notify the government or the insurer of opt-out. 

The U.S. bishops have opposed the government all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court has to decide whether the free exercise of religion of the Catholics who run the non-profits is "substantially burdened" by the government's requirement to notify them in accepting the accommodation. 

Although the insurance coverage doesn't require any woman to use contraceptives, it does make it free and easy for them to use them if they want. I think that is the point of the U.S. bishops' opposition. They do not want to make it free and easy for women, Catholic or not, to use contraceptives. So it isn't about the government forcing Catholics to do something against their religion, it is about preventing women from the free and easy use of contraceptives.

If the bishops valued liberty, they would honor the free consciences of women on the issue of their family planning. Instead they are interested in coercive prevention and getting the U.S. government to do the job. Positioning themselves as victims of religious intolerance is not honest. The dishonesty of it it destroys the moral authority of the bishops in the eyes of Catholics and all our fellow citizens. The Catholic bishops should pull the plug on the religious liberty campaign immediately.

But why do the bishops care so much about contraceptives that they are willing to do so much harm to prevent women from using them? I think they are dismayed by the sexual freedoms the U.S. government has recognized in the last 50 years and they are worried about the Catholic family. From the use of contraception in the 1960's to gay marriage in 2015, one after another laws controlling sexual practices, reproduction, and marriage have been overturned in the U.S. The bishops may believe that people's attitudes toward family is affected by the use of contraceptives. They may believe it is harder for Catholic families to raise their children within the boundaries of Catholic sexual morality in the sexually permissive contemporary culture. 

If the Catholic family is the bishops' concern, instead of tearing down respect for the U.S. legal system, they should ask three hard questions:

* How can we strengthen the Catholic family to internalize moral standards so they do not need the coercion of law? Legality is not a sufficient standard for morality.

* How shall we re-think our moral teaching on sexual practice so that it makes sense to Catholic families to live by? This is not accommodation to secularism. It is about being responsible.

* How do we partner with our fellow citizens, religious and secular, to build a mainstream culture of responsibility and healthy family living? This would require Catholic bishops to learn from the rest of society how to relate productively with people who think differently from them.

There is no time to lose in stopping the religious liberty campaign and asking the right questions.

Recommended Reading

Nondiscrimination Laws Merit Church Support -  Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler ( National Catholic Reporter , April 19, 2016).

Pope Francis' Love Letter Is an Opportunity Lost - Mary E. Hunt (Religion Dispatches, April 11, 2016).

Landmark Vatican Conference Rejects Just War Theory, Asks for Encyclical on Nonviolence  - Joshua J. McElwee ( National Catholic Reporter , April 14, 2016).

Think, pray, speak and take action.