Church is people of God, not clergy – laity divide! dr. james kottoor (Chicago)

Year of the laity 2017-2018?

James kottoorThe Bishops’ Conference of Brazil has already decided to observe “An Year of the Laity” starting from the Feast of Christ the King 2017 to the same feast in 2018.

 The idea has struck a welcome chord with many around the world, especially the Catholic Church Reform Int’l (CCRInt’l) of which many in India and over 60 countries in the world, are active members. CCRI’l therefore took up the leadership role and sent a letter to the Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in charge of Vatican commission for ‘Laity, Family & Life’ on July 12, 2017. Fr. Giovanni Buontempo, the spokesperson for the laity commission has immediately  responded to the CCRI letter saying, the whole matter is being evaluated  sympathetically by the Holy See. The reply from the Vatican is given below.

Hour of the laity

Active participation of the laity in the Church is quite in tune with the vision of Pope Francis for the Church today. In fact it was Francis who was the first to wake up the whole church saying, “it is the hour of the laity” when the so-called clerical class – priests and bishops – should stop talking and start listening to what the laity have to say to draw inspiration and guidance, because it is the laity who are in constant touch with the harsh realities of daily’s life in the world where the Church has to make its presence relevant and meaningful. The clerical class is not anywhere there.

They are usually idling their precious time in the comfort zones of the air-conditioned presbyteries. That precisely was the reason which prompted Francis to call out constantly from the very start of   his pontificate: “Get out, get out from the cozy comfort of your church of the sacristy, to go to the peripheries where people in need of your urgent service live – where the homeless, the jobless, the poor, the sick, the lonely, the drug addicts, drunkards and prostitutes, the widows and orphans live in inhuman conditions. It is for these marginalized, discarded,  uncared for riff-raffs; the least, last and lost – yes the lost sheep, not the well-cared for, that the Son of man came searching, to carry it on his shoulders to look after in a love-and-care home.

Ghetto Catholicism

The Son man came to redeem the whole world (ut omnis hominis salvus fieri) and immediately after, as the parable of the good and bad seed sower shows, in the 3rd century came the Roman emperor Constantine (280 – 337 A.D.) in all royal splendour to snatch it from the common folks  —  the hoipoloi – for the private keep of a privileged few with its pyramidal hierarchal display of worldly power and pomp, which later came to be called the Catholic Church, an oxymoron, because Catholic should mean universal embracing the whole world, where as the the Constantenian Church shrunk it to the level of  a  privileged few. Thus was born the present ghetto-catholicism, claiming to be universal but restricted only to its card-carrying members. That gave rise also to the proliferation of thousands of churches starting with the reformation.

Till Constantine’s take over, the followers of Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth  lived as one community having everything in common, each one contributing according to his/her capacities and getting from the community according to his/her needs. So there was no one in need. There was no clergy laity divide either. For prayer and worship they gathered in various families and its head, male or female acted as the priest or celebrant. Today 99% of the bulk of believers have lost that equality of theirs  with the rest, as brothers and sisters.

Hour of laity = Equality

By enforcing the hour of the laity Francis is bringing back to the catholic fold the original vision of equality among all the followers of Jesus. If and when that vision take concrete shape, during  deliberations of the hour of the laity, let us fondly hope it will last much more than an hour or one year of deliberation if and when it is announced. When that happens the Catholic church will be shorn of all the present recognising and recognizable features, all to be reduced to brothers and sisters, all serving one another starting with those most in need; one who does not work according to his/her capacities should not eat; and no honorific positions or titles either.

Of course the projection of “Laity being in the forefront of the Church started way back in the time of Pius XII,  only they are still in the back yard, not moved one bit to the front raw in spite of Francis telling the clergy to keep their mouth shut and listen to the laity who sweat and toil grappling with bread and butter issues from dawn to dusk.

Fear of Sabotage?

There is an awful lot to discuss which should interest all, if and when the year of the laity is announced. The only fear lurking now is whether the comfortable class in the church will allow such an explosive subject to be discussed openly in the Church, even as the “Dubia-Crazy” cardinals went berserk  to prevent a happy consensus on “a God of Mercy and Compasion” which Francis had to bring out unilaterally and force it down the throat of all revered synod fathers.

So we call upon the whole battalion of the laity in the Church who form 99% of the people of God to pray earnestly so that  the proposal, “Year of the Laity” may gain majority support at the Vatican for the speedy implementation of urgent reforms planned to be introduced by Pope Francis. james kottoor, editor, ccv.

Please read below the CCRI report on Year of Laity

Catholic Church Reform Int’l. A global network seeking renewal of the Church

To all supporting the Renewal of our Church:

A response from the Vatican re our calling for a Year of the Laity

Please consider signing our open letter to Cardinal Kevin Farrell as head of the Dicastery on the Laity Family and Life. As you will see, the letter is an invitation to this office to join the People of God in carrying forward to the rest of the Church globally a "Year of the Laity" already being undertaken by the bishops of Brazil this coming year from the feast of Christ the King 2017 to this feast in 2018. 

We sent this letter to the Cardinal on July 12 and received this prompt response:

I am Fr. Giovanni Buontempo, Responsible for Lay Movements and New Communities within the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. I am writing this e-mail on behalf of our Prefect, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in reply of your e-mail of July 12th, 2017. 

Thank you for sending us the letter with the request of a "Year of the Laity" for the universal Church. We had already received this request directly from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil, several months ago,  and I can assure that Cardinal Farrell considered seriously this proposal and took it to his heart. The whole matter is being evaluated by the Holy See.

Be assured of our prayer for all your activities.

Four Synodal Gatherings called by the People in 2018

As a follow-up to the two Synods on the Family that have already taken place, we are standing with other Church community-based leaders in supporting four synodal gatherings called by the People all this Year of the Laity in 2018:

  1. Londrina, Brazil in January (CEBs)
  2. a Dallas, Texas suburb, U.S.A. in October (ACC)
  3. San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. in November (CTA)
  4. Aparecida, Brazil in November (GCN)

We will keep you apprised of these conferences as they unfold. One of the many outcomes of our calling for a Year of the Laity is to have the People of God from around the world actively supporting Pope Francis's vision for a decentralized Church that addresses the needs of the local dioceses and is universally more welcoming and less judgmental. But for the renewal of the Church to actually come from the People, the People must become more active in Church governance. The Church structures and practices of governance must come to embrace regional diversity and recognize that this is not in conflict with the unity of the Church. A Year of the Laity can teach the whole Church to respect the beauty of different cultures guided by the same Spirit. 

Promote the Year of the Laity with your Pastors and Bishops

In addition to signing this letter, you may also want to promote this with your local media, post it on your websites, and personally contact your pastor or bishop. Let's see what kind of global support we can garner when the People declare November 2017 to November 2018 to be the Year of the Laity throughout the world. 

Possible Outcomes of a Year of the Laity

Once established, the next steps during this year would be to encourage the People in local dioceses to begin taking key initiatives based on what is appropriate to their region of the world. This might include such issues as:

  1. participating in the selection of local bishops,
  2. calling for diocesan synods,
  3. creating a path for the divorced and remarried to be welcomed to the Eucharist,
  4. assuming moral and fiscal responsibility for the clerical sexual abuse of children,
  5. ensuring that the LGBT community is welcomed as respected members of the Church,
  6. encouraging optional celibacy for priests and the welcoming back of those priests who left to marry,
  7. accepting interfaith marriages,
  8. treating women as equals positioning them in leadership roles in the administration of the Church and welcoming their right to serve, at the very least, as Deacons in the Church,

To sign the letter, click here now and pass it on to all of your contacts. We appreciate your continued support and donations to keep this spirit alive and flourishing.


Rene Reid

CCRI Director

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1 Response

  1. almayasabdam says:

    Varghese Pamplani wrote: 

    “ Church is people of God.”

    What an elephantine JOKE? Dr. Kottoor with his intimate and in-  depth  knowledge should know better.  I have been wading through Church history for the last dozen years and the annals of the “ Saints and Sinners “ among the popes. Can anything good come out of Rome? Pope Francis is crying in the wilderness. Will the obscurantist Cardinals and the Mafiosi  Curia will allow Francis have his way. Well-nigh impossible. Can any Excellency “put off ( his ) holy mantle  and  even  like  him  come  down  on the dusty soil”  and be   “there  where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path maker is breaking stones” “in sun and shower.”  “Pride can never approach to to where (He) walkest in the clothes of the humble among the poorest, and lowliest, and lost” A Beatitude’s “heart can never find its way to where (He) keepest company with the companionless among the poorest, the lowliest, and the lost.” Can any Lord (Mar) honestly pray “my lord – strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart” and “give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might “and have“ the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.” Amen! (The quotes are from Tagore’s Gitanjali) – Varghese Pamplanil (Mob. 94471525330.


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