Council of the Baptized logo
in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
March, 2019


What do Lent and church reform have to do with each other?   The evidence of conflict is all around us--globally, nationally, and in our Church.  Lent is a time to get in sync with the Holy Spirit on what to do about it.  How is God leading us to co-create the peaceable kingdom?  With all the work to be done, our special practices this year may have to be for keeping hope alive.

In his Catholic Spirit column , Archbishop Hebda sent us a hopeful Lenten message about his experience of freedom in the testimony of two survivors of sex abuse speaking to a meeting of priests.  The insight they gifted him with: vulnerable sharing and forgiveness can bring a freedom from the evil they experienced.  Facing the conflict and working through it is the path to healing.

Conflict implies two sides that are at odds. We are loathe to spell this out in our Church's sexual abuse crisis because unity is a mark of "Church";  we do not have "sides"! Yes, we do. Denying that we do prevents the work of healing. 

On one side in the sex abuse conflict are the perpetrator priests and the bishops, clergy and lay leaders who covered up for them.  On the other are the victims--the sexually abused children, their families, and all the laity and clergy who trusted those leaders who let the abuse happen. All of us are involved on one side or the other.  Between the two sides there is a breach that needs healing.

Now the question: To get to the freedom the Archbishop is talking about, who has to do the vulnerable sharing and forgiving?  The victims? The institutional leaders? It seems that it is easier to have the vulnerable sharing come from the victims.  

What would the institutional leaders have to do on their part to bring about healing?Archbishop Hebda has apologized for them repeatedly and reached out to the survivors of physical abuse; we have had penitential holy hours; procedures have been set up to ensure present and future safe environments.  Do you think the hierarchical leaders have a clear sense of the harm done, not just to the abused, but to the whole Church? Do you think they know how to address that breach of trust?

Will you tell us what more you think could or should be done? What do you need to feel trust in the leadership?  We will include your responses in the next Lay Network Update.

Individually, what about special Lenten practices in response to the prompting of the Spirit?  Maybe it's about giving up something for a greater good. For church reformers, it could be giving up the negative thoughts of futility and hopelessness.

Maybe it's about becoming more disciplined - our Lenten resolutions to meditate more or to volunteer at the food shelf.  For church reformers, we could improve our side of the communication gap: one letter or e-mail or phone call this week to the archbishop, your pastor, your pastoral council.   Just a few words of encouragement: "good homily on repentance - how about a discussion of societal reparations for the sins of racism?". "You are one of the reasons I keep coming". "I just read something I found interesting:..."  Then another each week of Lent and thereafter.
Whatever our practices, it is about conversion of heart both individually and institutionally for the sake of the work before us.  

Join us for the April 9 Council of the Baptized Open Forum .  
Catherine Michaud, C.S.J., will continue the discussion of Vatican II's teaching on how the Holy Spirit works in and through us.
How shall we, the baptized, anointed members of God's People, make ourselves more consciously, intentionally available as the instruments of the Holy Spirit? Inspired and empowered by Christ's Spirit we expect God's saving self-communication to take place in our lives, in our relationships, and in the historical moments into which we might be called. Carefully exploring this belief and question is our purpose for the April Open Forum.
Open Forums are held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, 7:00 p.m.

We have no update from Fr. Mike Tix on the plans for Lay Deanery Councils and a Lay Advisory Board.  We will let you know the minute we have one.

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