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


The US bishops just finished their fall meeting in Baltimore.  Have you been praying for them? Archbishop Bernard Hebda preached the homily at their Mass on the first day of the meeting, asking for commitment to change.  

The bishops are concentrating on the changes that need to be made to safeguard children from sexual abuse. Who can argue? It is the most abominable abuse one can imagine. And, of course, it should have been addressed decades ago. The U.S. bishops made a start in 2002 with the Dallas Charter, with uneven results depending on each individual bishop's willingness to clean house. We can be grateful that with Ramsey County District Court support, changes have been made in this Archdiocese under Archbishop Hebda and Tim O'Malley, the Safe Environment Director, in the last three years.  Among the many safeguards initiated, t he Archbishop has accepted the authority of a Lay Review Board to eliminate clerical abusers from ministry.  The program is described on the Archdiocesan website.

In collaboration with the Pope, the bishops now have to institute procedures to hold fellow bishops accountable, a change that will be addressed in a Vatican conference in February of 2019. Who has the authority to oust a bishop? Only the Pope? This question may require some major changes in canon law.

Our question:  Aren't there many more changes that need to be made in addition to the  necessary protection of minors? We need a safe environment and we need procedures to hold bishops accountable, but is that all the change we need?  In the public outcry about sex abuse, we hear a deep need for a more coherent and credible witness in the Catholic Church to the mission of Jesus. Archbishop Hebda is reported to have said "he hopes fear will not get in the way of a process for setting up an in-depth study of the problems that have led to abuse."  We second that hope for the USCCB and hope also that we can begin that questioning locally.

We fear that the bishops envision a "status-quo" Church with the difference that sexual abuse is eliminated, while we envision a reformed and reforming Church in line with the emphases of the Second Vatican Council.  What emphases are we talking about? 
  • an emphasis on our baptismal commitment and the ministries that flow from it. If each of us-bishops, lay people, and clergy--were conscious of our specific role in the the building of the Kingdom and, working together, we valued each other's ministry, what a sign of God's love we would be to the world!
  • an emphasis on the Christian mission of the Church in the world rather than on "Catholic identity."
  • an emphasis on moral discernment appropriate to free and responsible adults. We could count on each other to hold ourselves accountable for right relationships rather than counting on fear of reprisals and policing.
What institutional changes do you see as necessary and possible for this vision to become a reality locally? We have to step up to make them happen.

One local change we have high hopes for and told you about in the last two Updates--a Lay Advisory Council to the Archbishop with Lay Deanery Councils feeding into it--is underway.  Father Mike Tix has been appointed point person by Archbishop Hebda for the design and formation of the new Lay Advisory Council and Lay Deanery Councils. He will invite lay participation in the process and will keep us informed of progress as the plan develops.  The goal is to have full lay participation in discerning the changes that need to be made and then making them. 

November 16 Update from Fr. Mike:  
Archbishop Hebda yesterday sent an email to all priests announcing the Lay Advisory Board (LAB) and asking Parish Pastoral Council members to select someone from their Council to participate.  I expect that there will also be a story in the next issue of The Catholic Spirit focusing on the LAB. 
Blessings to you!

Action Alert: Tell your Parish Council members that this initiative is important to you and what qualifications you want in the person they select to represent you.  Let us know what you hear.  Thanks.  

We continue to learn about the vision of Vatican II at Council of the Baptized 
Arthur E. Zannoni
Open Forums, second Tuesday of each month.  

On December 11, 7:00 p.m., come to hear Art Zannoni talk about "The Challenges of the Second Vatican Council."
This presentation will explore what  the Council accomplished and continues to accomplish. It will look at some of the Council's sixteen documents reflecting on the reforms already implemented  from these and   what still needs to be implemented. Emphasis will be placed on the Council's four  historic constitutions on liturgy, the church, revelation and the "Pastoral Constitution on  the Church in the Modern World." Participants will be provided with two hand-outs to  help with what is being presented.

The Open Fo rum is held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling in St. Paul.

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