In This Issue
Quick Links
Join the Lay Network 
Register to be part of the CCCR Lay Network if you live in or go to a parish in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 


Quick Links
Issue: #22 November 2015

We're happy to share with you in our November issue an excerpt from a Catholic Spirit interview with Archbishop Hebda. As you'll see, the Archbishop shares in this interview his thoughts on the recently concluded series of listening sessions, which many of you participated in.

We also share in this issue of the CCCR e-newsletter some practical ways that you can help the refugees from Syria (and elsewhere) who are currently in Minnesota or on their way here.

And as always, we share a number of links to online articles we think you'll appreciate.
Finally, don't forget that an 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 1550 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 at or click here
Archbishop Hebda Reflects on Listening Sessions

Archbishop Bernard Hebda, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, recently spoke with The Catholic Spirit shortly after the final listening session, to share his initial impression ahead of a forthcoming comprehensive analysis.

Following are highlights of The Catholic Spirit's interview with the Archbishop. For the complete interview, click here.

What was your goal for the listening sessions?

The first goal was getting more information. It helped me get a better sense of the archdiocese and provided that information for the process of choosing the next archbishop. The second was to have the opportunity for people to come together in a very positive way and to begin thinking about the future.

Do you think you achieved it?

The number of people who came and the information that was given was very helpful. I do think that we had some good, thought-provoking opportunities for people to begin to consider the future and what it is that we hope will happen, what we want to be part of when the next archbishop is named and when our local Church is in a better position to move forward, maybe post-bankruptcy.

What is your main takeaway?

My main takeaway is the high level of commitment that people have to this local Church and how easily they speak of their love for the Church, especially as they talked about their parishes and their priests. I came to get a glimpse of a diocese that is very much alive and certainly thrives at the local level.

What surprised you?

Certainly the intensity. People feel passionately about the liturgy and diversity in liturgy. I was a little surprised by how articulate people were in expressing their thoughts about the Church. They really demonstrated for me that we have a very well-educated laity. Things were described not in just personal likes and dislikes, but in terms of theology and ecclesiology. That impressed me very much.

What challenged you?

The question of how do we reach out to people who have left the Church or feel marginalized is a challenge that we're feeling not just all over the country, but all over the world. That's where Pope Francis is really challenging us as well - to make sure we're reaching out to those on the peripheries.
At many of the sessions they spoke concretely about people who are divorced and remarried, people who are experiencing same-sex attraction and feel like the Church doesn't want them or care for them, people who have been hurt in the midst of the pedophilia scandals. There's a real sense that we have to be proactive in reaching out to people and giving them the same sense of belonging that Pope Francis does.

How do you plan to use the information you received?

We're forwarding the summaries to the nuncio, and Msgr. [Michael] Morgan is going to share the information he received. I also know that it's going to be hugely helpful for the next archbishop. It's a pretty fresh indication of what people are thinking in the archdiocese, what they see as being priorities. It's something that usually takes a long time to gather, especially when a new archbishop comes and there's so much excitement and so many things to do. This will be of great assistance to him right off the bat.

What do you make of the comments that questioned or challenged Church teaching?

We certainly tried to help people to understand that our task was somewhat narrow, in terms of being helpful in that process of the selection of the next archbishop, but we did get a sense that some people really struggle with some Church teachings.  So often we can fall into misunderstandings, mischaracterizations of Church teaching, but on the other hand, we may fail to see the impact of Church teaching in somebody's life, or how they might be hearing what the Church is saying. The listening sessions were very helpful in giving the next archbishop some idea of the vocabulary that he's going to need to be able to address some of these issues.
Where do we go from here? How do we apply this information to helping the archdiocese heal and move forward?

A lot of it will take place once the new archbishop is named. The new information will be helpful in that selection process, but we really should leave it to the next archbishop to give us our marching orders on the information that was received. Of course, he would be in dialogue with the leadership throughout the archdiocese, but that will be the moment when we really see the utility of the information that was provided.
To read The Catholic Spirit's interview with Archbishop Hebda in its entirety, click here.
See also The Catholic Spirit's November 17, 2015 article, Archbishop Hebda Says Wide Input Helpful for Nuncio and Next Archbishop.

Refugees Are On Their Way to Minnesota: Here's How You Can Help 

Minnesota is one of the states that's accepting Syrian refugees.
There are refugees (from all over the world) on their way to MN as we speak!

The International Institute of Minnesota is helping to coordinate their arrival and gathering items that will make life a tiny bit easier.

If you're here in the Twin Cities and you're interested in helping, here's what they need and where you can donate:

Address: International Institute of Minnesota, 1694 Como Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108

Drop off times: 8:45 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday

Please Note: Only the following items are being requested at this time.

Baby Items: Diapers (only new); Wipes (only new); Baby clothes
Winter Clothing: Coats; Boots; Gloves; Hats; Scarves.
Household Items: Dishes; Glassware; Silverware; Tea kettles; Garbage cans (only new); Garbage bags; Bed linens (laundered); Blankets (laundered); Towels (laundered); Dish towels (laundered); Vacuums; Laundry baskets
School Supplies:  Pencils;  Calculators;  Pens;  Notebook
Crayons; Backpacks
Other Items: Maps of the City; Gift Cards (only to Cub Foods, Target, Goodwill); Bus Cards

Also, if you're interested in working more closely with a refugee family, check out the International Institute of Minnesota's refugee mentorship program by clicking here.

If you would like to ship donations directly from your home to the International Institute's offices (or directly from, donations should be addressed to:

Bridget Ehrman-Solberg
International Institute of Minnesota
1694 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108

Finally, if you'd like to donate money, click here.

Reflecting on the Bible's Apocalyptic Literature in Light of the Paris Terror Attacks 

The following homily was delivered by Roman Catholic Womanpriest Monique Venne at Compassion of Christ Catholic Community on November 15, 2015, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Paris. Before Friday, November 13, this word conjured up images of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the cathedral of Notre-Dame, good wine, sidewalk cafes. Now the name of Paris has joined the list of major Western cities attacked by terrorism. Another horrific attack on civilians enjoying the simple pleasures of life has occurred, with some witnesses describing the carnage as "apocalyptic." It certainly seems like the end of the world for many people in France - their old sense of security and place in the world has been severely shaken and may not recover. The lives of those wounded and the families and friends of those killed will never be the same. Meanwhile, French xenophobes are already claiming that their warnings about welcoming refugees from the Middle East have been realized, as they respond to hate with hate. For many of us in the United States, it has stirred the memories of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon attacks: how helpless we felt, how senseless the attacks seemed, how bewildered we were that civilians were targeted by people who were enraged by our government's policies.

In her book, The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism, Karen Armstrong does a masterful job of tracing the history of religious fundamentalism in the three Abrahamic faiths. Although fundamentalism is expressed differently in each religion, Armstrong is able to list the commonalities that underlie it. First is the loss of God in the modern world. As the Enlightenment spread in Europe and America, it undermined belief in God and replaced it with belief in progress, individualism, technology, and rationality, discarding mythology and ritual. This was a huge leap from the thousands of centuries in which people believed that God was an intimate part in the way people lived, and who understood the myths of religion as descriptors of why life was the way it was. This has led to a sense that life has lost meaning and value, which engenders fear. And fear leads to anger. For fundamentalists, their anger is with the modern world which has rejected God. They look back to a so-called "Golden Age" when things seemed to be balance and want to recreate it. They see the rest of the world in dualistic terms: the modern world is evil while they alone are the good and faithful ones who will be rewarded by God. They have adopted an apocalyptic viewpoint.

And that brings us to today's readings. The first reading and the gospel are taken from the apocalyptic literature in the Bible. This was a popular genre in Jewish and Christian circles from about 200 BCE to 150 CE. During this time, Greek and Roman cultures saw Jewish culture as backward and worked to eradicate it. Heartsick Jews believed that God had to intervene and drive out the blasphemers. The Essenes, a branch of Judaism during Jesus' time, believed that the end was near and wrote the now famous Dead Sea scrolls to tell their disciples how the end would come about. Others, like the Zealots, believed that violent revolt was necessary, and that God would fight on the side of the Jews. A common belief was that there was so much injustice that only God could rectify it.

Apocalyptic literature was developed to give believers hope during times of persecution. Its purpose was to help people resist the dominant culture during times of religious suppression. It answered the questions about why the faithful were suffering and where God was in their suffering. It encouraged them to persevere, knowing that they will be vindicated when the last day arrives. But it has a dualistic approach, which can be fatal if this literature is read as literally true rather than symbolically true.

And so we come back to fundamentalism. Just like the Zealots, some fundamentalists believe that violence is the only solution to rectifying the wrongs of the modern world. But we have to remember that violent fundamentalism is not restricted to some Muslims. A Jewish fundamentalist assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel, because he signed the Oslo accords which were supposed to begin the process of establishing a Palestinian state. A Christian fundamentalist, Timothy McVeigh, bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City because the US government upholds a secular worldview. But it is the Islamic State that has our attention now, first because of their brutality in beheading those they consider enemies and heretics, and now because they have taken their campaign of terror outside Syria and Iraq. We in the Western world are appalled by the attacks in Paris, which represents one of the centers of Western culture and was the home of several Enlightenment thinkers, such as Voltaire and Rousseau, whose ideas permeate the founding documents of the United States.

But we in the West have not been faultless, as we like to think. We have to remember that people in the developing world feel that the West has demanded that they accept modernity and its values, including the separation of church and state. They are being forced to change ancient ways of thought in the space of a generation or two, while it took the Western world 400 to 500 years to develop modern society. Although most are doing their best to adapt, some are resisting and some of those have turned to violence. We rightly condemn Islamic State and other terroristic organizations for not following the basic religious truth of compassion towards all. But we must use our own religious values of empathy and tolerance to address the fears, anxieties, and needs of those who feel threatened by Western culture, which seems devoid of God. The message of apocalyptic literature is that God is for us despite the outward signs. However, we must reject the dualistic notion that God is against those who are persecuting us. God is for all of us.
I'd like to leave you with these questions. Where do you find hope when you are suffering? What do you feel when you think about fundamentalism? How do you build a bridge to those who think differently than you do?

Flash Points

* The 2015-2016 strategic focus of CCCR and the Council of the Baptized is two-pronged: empowering the laity to claim a meaningful role in Church and evolving our relationship with the Archdiocese. The upcoming listening sessions outlined above, are a perfect way for all of us to get involved in the this two-pronged strategic focus!
* Catholic Church Reform International (CCCRI) has two initiatives that our local church can actively support. These are efforts to give voice to the concerns of lay people from all around the world. Your participation is encouraged!

The first is a powerful position paper that has been published and which summarizes the data gathered worldwide from the CCRI survey on sexuality, marriage and family. This position paper can be viewed here.
The second CCRI initiative is a website called The People Speak Out, which is gathering stories from Catholics around the world regarding issues of sexuality, marriage and family. Please visit this webpage and share your story. You can choose from a variety of categories. While there, take time to read the stories posted by others. You can visit this webpage by clicking here.

Recommended Reading

*   Archbishop Hebda Says Wide Input Helpful for Nuncio and Next Archbishop - Maria Wiering ( The Catholic Spirit, November 17, 2015).

*   On Transgender Day of Remembrance, Looking at Gifts and Challenges - Cynthia Nordone ( Bondings 2.0, November 20, 2015).
*   Should We Be Encouraged or Discouraged by the Synod? - Pat Perriello ( National Catholic Reporter, October 13, 2015).

*   Neurotic Priests Scare Me, Says Pope - AFP via Yahoo! News (November 20, 2015).

*    "We Are All One": The 4th Precinct Occupation in North Minneapolis: Images, Reflections and Links  - The Wild Reed ( November 21, 2015).
Think, pray, speak and take action.