The new decade is launched. 2020, a date most often associated with the quality of our vision yet nationally we appear to have myopia. We are living through transformative times with seemingly uncontrollable change in all sectors of society changing the landscape and our identity as a People of Faith. A major goal of our initiative, to host a Peoples Synod (10/23-25, 2020, Baltimore, MD), is to look both at the macro picture examining the current magnitude of change we’re living in while developing a micro picture of where we can make a difference by making connections with others to live intentionally with Gospel values, as Jesus did, and create local “field hospitals” that Pope Francis has encouraged us to “build”.
The tumult in American society is palpable occurring on many fronts simultaneously. Biologically, science has made us live longer; culturally, we are often motivated by ads, frequent repetition of talking points, etc.; environmentally, we recognize one of our major responsibilities is care of our planet; technologically, our methods of communication have been radically changed by the internet; psychologically, we are living in a dangerous world with the rise of lethal drugs, threatening gangs, violence in the streets causing personal isolation, and population changes influencing greater demand for a variety goods and services, an increase in employment opportunities, as well as changing , the average age, complexion of the population.
We are facing a societal construct the likes of which we may never have seen. While our faith calls us to deeper relationships, technology creates the opposite: frequent distractions, a narcissistic view of ourselves and our relationship with others with even a physical change, neck strain of bending toward the computer or phone. We are called to encounter one anotherwhile we are currently less interested in “the other” as we face time demands and non-relational priorities.. We are called to engage others in our life journey yet we face difficulties in dealing with those not like us, and we simply “delete” them from the engagement. We are called to use our conscience, to become “thinking Catholics”, once considered an oxymoron, but have never been taught what that means, how to discern and know that the outcome of our prayer is our best alternative. We have been invited to join Pope Francis in his restructuring of the institutional Church as he works to make institutional changes that have him in conflict with a small, but vocal, Catholic bishops. Many Catholics are unaware that Francis needs our help.
- that deeper relationships can be built locally through service in our own grassroots communities.
- that all change is community change; we can’t do this alone. We need each other to change the life and characteristics of an entire community and will engage others organically as we serve community needs.
- that conscience stories need to be shared on how prayer and Gospel values help us form decisions that fit the common good.
- that organizational restructure must occur to reinvigorate the People of God to live intentionally, serve one another through Scriptural values and teaching unifying our mission.
Evidence abounds for a new vision in this 2020 year to help us remember the people we were when the tragedies of 9/11, school/church massacres occurred bringing us together in a new compassionate unity and responsiveness. Our lives are fragile and temporary so why does it take a national tragedy to bring out the very best in each of us? We believe the time is now to act on our Baptismal promise to become church by becoming Priests and Prophets in pastoral action, without any formal, institutional title. We have proven in disastrous times that this is possible.
Invest in yourself through a lens of faith, and grow with us from the ground floor.
In Christ’s love,
Janet W. Hauter, Chair: The American Catholic Council and The Peoples Synod
The People’s Synod
October 23-25, 2020—Baltimore, Maryland
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