Council of the Baptized logo
in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
December, 2018


Today, Archbishop Hebda issued a letter regarding outreach to survivors of sexual abuse in the Church as well as information about former archbishop John C. Nienstedt.  You can read it here. We thank him for these actions and for informing us, and we pledge to support the programs as they unfold.

Look also for an op-ed by Tim O'Malley, Archdiocesan Director of Safe Environment, and Tom Johnson, the program's Ombudsman, upcoming in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  

About the new Lay Advisory Board:
Archbishop Hebda's new initiative for a Lay Advisory Board is underway!  It will connect him in regular communication with representatives of the parishes through the deanery system. There are 15 parish deaneries with an average of 12 parishes in a deanery.  

January 15 is the date by which the Archbishop asked pastors to have their parish councils appoint the parish representative to the deanery council. Has your parish council acted yet?  Please let your parish council members know who would be a good representative or step up yourself.

We have heard from one person who has been appointed in Deanery 14, and we are overjoyed. We will keep names mum for the moment, but we will let you know what we know as soon as the roster is complete.

We are hoping there will transparency about this Lay Deanery/Lay Advisory Board system and its work, but you never can tell.  Modesty, humility, Catholic secrecy--whatever the cause, many people advising the Archbishop seem to want to keep their names unpublished. The word "representative" doesn't mean much if the person cannot be contacted, so we hope to give you names and contact info.  

If you find out, please email us with the name of the representative appointed from your parish.

Questioning and Conversation: The Holy Spirit at work?
In last month's Update we said we hoped the Archdiocesan leadership's commitment to change was not just about change in the Church from carelessness to extreme carefulness about safe environments for children. We need that, of course, and we are grateful that the Archdiocesan leadership is on top of it, as evidenced by the letter linked at the beginning of this Update. At the same time, many people are asking what other changes are necessary and feasible.

The hitch is that the culture leading up to necessary change is filled with conflicting talk.  People have very diverse points of view, and the Holy Spirit works through that "messy" search for truth, as Pope Francis has called it.  It is messy. Emotions run high, there is shaming about disloyalty, "dissent," "heterodoxy," "heresy." People are fearful, they get hurt feelings, and it is hard to remain calmly reasonable.  

If we are to come to a "sense of the faithful" on any question, the Archdiocesan leadership has to encourage and sponsor that search for truth among the people, preferably by modeling calm reasonableness and accepting the questions for conversation.  The truth cannot be handed down in a pill the people must take in silence. It can arise out of the sense of the faithful, but only if they are talking together.

An example: Now everyone calls for safe environments for children, but could we have been there much sooner had we talked openly together about clerical abuse of children in our Archdiocese?  In the past, parents with suspicions did not mention that taboo subject: Father is molesting children. It was unthinkable and unspeakable. The culture of silence retarded necessary change.

Here is a current example: Holy Orders. What is the ordained "priestly ministry" for? What is the job description? Who is qualified to do it? What should the seminary formation be like?  Should it ensure life-time economic security? Do gender, marital status, and sexual orientation matter to fitness for that ministry?

Is this questioning taboo?  What might the long term consequences be of not coming to a "sense of the faithful" consensus on this topic?  Accepting the questioning and entering into reasonable dialogue seem to be the way to allow the Holy Spirit to work among us.

We continue to learn about the vision of Vatican II and how it can be worked out in our Archdiocese at  Council of the Baptized Open Forums .  They are held on the second Tuesday of each month at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling in St. Paul, at 7:00 p.m.  Please come.

Still living in joyful hope,
CCCR Board and Council of the Baptized