Catholics for a Changing Church

"To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often" - Bl. John Henry Newman

CONGRATULATIONS CCC! after over forty years in the wilderness

This proposal, agreed by the CCC Executive, was sent to all CCC members at the end of June 2014.  There was unanimous agreement to adopt it at the AGM on 11 October 2014.

Dear CCC Members

We should be grateful if you would give this letter careful consideration as it makes important proposals for the future management of CCC.

You have to be in your sixties or older to remember the publication in July 1968 of Pope Paul VI encyclical on birth control Humanae Vitae.   As a direct result of that monumental papal error of judgement, the Catholic Renewal Movement came into existence and in May 1969 published its Manifesto.

For forty-five years CRM/CCC has witnessed to two things, often being vilified for doing so and accused of disloyalty to the Church:

  1. The teaching on human sexuality of HV, and its teaching on contraception in particular, has been widely rejected by the faithful

  2. The changes in the Church implied by commitment to the Second Vatican Council [1962-65] have been blocked by the curia and the papacy ever since:  co-responsibility, episcopal collegiality, primacy of conscience, justice, openness etc

For many of those years, especially in the early ones, we were a lone minority voice among a few stalwart theologians and publications like The Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter of Kansas City.   We became used to being labelled 'dissidents' by our opponents, who enjoyed the support of the ecclesiastical authorities in this country and in Rome.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the tide began to turn.   The bishops of England and Wales became impatient at attacks on them by champions of 'orthodoxy'.   CCC adopted a less confrontational stance, quietly insisting that we represented the mainstream.   Our bishops were regularly sent copies of RENEW and whereas one had years ago asked us no longer to 'pollute his letterbox' now one or two actually write to thank us for sending it and to commend us for our honest witness.   In subsequent years other groups of Catholics were formed to represent special interests, the RC Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement for example, Catholic Women's Ordination to press for women priests, and Catholic Women's Network (now Women, Word, Spirit) for women's solidarity, the Austrian initiative which grew into the International Movement We Are Church and numerous others; today we have A Call To Action and priests' groups in several countries, taking their cue from the Austrian Pfarrer Initiative.   CCC is no longer the lone voice it once was.

On 13 March 2013 Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Bishop of Rome and, bowing his head, asked the People of God in St Peter's Square for their blessing and prayers.   He has made it clear that the Roman Curia must be reformed and has slowly and carefully begun what is going to be a long and difficult process, much resisted in places.   He asked that bishops all over the world consult their people and bring their views to the Extra-Ordinary Synod to be held in Rome this October.   Bishops have begun to speak out.   Cardinal Burke was sent packing, with his wardrobe.   Cardinal Pell was found an office job ideally suited to his talents.  Religious have been told by Pope Francis not to get worried if they receive a tart letter of criticism from the Inquisition (now renamed the CDF).   Homosexuals have been told, 'Who am I to judge?' by the Pope, of all people.

The views held by the membership of CCC over the past 45 years have thus effectively been vindicated.  However, much remains to be done in the Church if the CRM Manifesto of 1969 is to be realised.  We are still committed to the long haul but maybe in a more supportive and non-confrontational way.   As individual Catholics, in our parishes, in our dioceses and in the various associations of Catholics to which some of us belong, we still need to witness to Vatican II.  We need to support one another in this but we believe it would be better provided by a different organisational model to the one we have currently have in CCC.

Although CCC in the main represents the older generation of Catholics, it has to be remembered that for aeons in communities it was always the older generation, with both life experience and time to reflect, that spoke out about needs and concerns for the good of their society.  Outrage at the betrayal of Vatican II by Pope Paul VI and his successors, especially as it impinged on intimate relationships, drove many younger Catholics to find their voice.  Because their concerns were ignored, many have walked away from any connection with the Church.  The Church now very much resembles CCC and our members are not out of place.  We still have an important part to play.

That being said, and even with the adjustments made to CCC four years ago, our members still find it very difficult to play an active part in the organisation and management.  We have to accept that there are probably very good reasons why members are unwilling to accept leadership roles as officers on the CCC Executive. 

We know that, as Valerie pointed out in Renew 169, there is still a job to be done for those who belong to and support CCC.  The time has come for the organisational structure to be adjusted so the work may continue.

The Executive will therefore be proposing at the October AGM that:

  1. The following changes (essentially technical) are designed to continue the work of CCC more efficiently.

  2. The unincorporated association CCC be dissolved in October 2014 in accordance with articles 13 and 21 of its Constitution.  

  3. Arrangements have already been made for the CCC archives to be accepted by the Centre for Catholic Studies, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University where they will be readily available for consultation by CCC members and researchers.

  4. All current CCC members would become Friends of the People of God Trust and their records would be maintained by  POGT.    CCC would therefore continue to exist but would in law be a voluntary association managed by the trustees of POGT.

  5. The funds, assets and liabilities would be in the care of the People of God Trust but CCC would retain a day to day working fund in its own name.

  6. The People of God Trust (POGT) be asked to make new arrangements for the continued publication of RENEW and CCC members be encouraged to subscribe through POGT.

  7. Current CCC members who support POGT with standing orders, would be invited to continue to do so.

  8. POGT be asked to continue to make CCC publications available for purchase and consider occasional new booklets.

  9. The CCC Life Members' Fund reside separately in the balance sheet and continue to do so.

  10. The CCC Publications Fund be also a separate item in the balance sheet and remain there.

  11. The current trustees of POGT are Valerie Stroud, Simon Bryden-Brook, Frank Hacklett, Elizabeth Price, Pam Wearing, Colin Stockford, Bernard Wynne and Josephine Way.  The first six are current members of the CCC Executive.  Bernard and Josephine have given sterling service to CCC as past officers.  CCC members would be very welcome to act as trustees and play an active role in the re-formed organisation. 

  12. It is planned that consultation and planning about the day to day management and administration would be carried out by the Trustees using e-mail and conference calls (Skype). This should make it possible for representation on the Board of Trustees to come from distant parts of the UK and reduce the time and ever increasing travel costs of trying to get to quarterly meetings. 

  13. There would be an AGM which could be part of a six monthly round table to which representatives of all UK groups would be invited.  Naturally the Trustees would be delighted to see as many members of CCC as possible present.

  14. Frank Regan and Colin Close have done sterling work on RENEW, but Frank, as Editor, finds it very difficult to attend Executive meetings.  This means that effective communication is not possible. We believe, therefore, it is time for a change.  It is proposed that there would continue to be a quarterly magazine (Renew) with a monthly electronic newsletter by email.  It is hoped that all current CCC members will be willing to subscribe to POGT to enable this work to continue. 

  15. These changes are designed to assist CCC members to continue the work of the organisation but with a simplified management structure without any change in direction.   POGT (registered charity 1013830) was of course set up to serve the objects of CCC, and has done so for over twenty years.  It will continue to do so.

To sum up it is proposed that POGT would:

  • take over the management of CCC from its elected committee

  • publish RENEW quarterly

  • circulate an electronic monthly newsletter

  • maintain the current CCC website suitably amended to reflect these changes, offering information, education, news and possibly a blog where comments would be welcome

  • represent progressive UK Catholic opinion at European and international level

  • offer opportunities for trustees and donor subscribers to gather together

  • publish papers and booklets both electronically and in print form as the occasion arises

Of course if these proposals are not acceptable to the majority and there are candidates for the executive willing to take on the burdens of administration, then CCC can continue as it is.

Valerie J Stroud (Chairman) and Simon Bryden-Brook (Secretary) on behalf of the CCC Executive Committee

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