The Canadian Catholic bishops deep sixed the ecumenical advocacy group KAIROS on such flimsy pretexts. Of course, they never consulted the 99% —lay people.The JP/Ratzinger bishops have proven themselves way behind lay people in this regard. John and Rosemary williams were not impressed
Dear Bishop Crosby,
As members of a parish social justice committee and long-time participants in Catholic social justice activities, we were shocked and saddened at the announcement that the CCCB is withdrawing from Kairos. The Catholic Church leadership in Canada has already disgraced itself by not coming anywhere near to fulfilling its commitment of $25 million for indigenous reconciliation and healing and by its absence from the March 31, 2016 press conference at which other church leaders announced their acceptance of the TRC Call to Action #48. With this latest decision the Church is seen as repudiating the work of Kairos towards these same goals. We are embarrassed to identify ourselves as Catholics when associating with indigenous people and members of other Christian churches working towards reconciliation.
Our parish reconciliation program has greatly benefited from Kairos resources such as the blanket exercise. Some of us took part in the very successful Kairos-organized conference immediately preceding the final session of the TRC here in Ottawa as well as the march that took place during that session. As the successor to numerous social justice organizations in which the Catholic Church played a leading role, Kairos fulfills a unique and essential role that the Catholic Church by itself cannot and evidently will not assume.
According to the announcement on the CCCB website, the decision to withdraw from Kairos was made with no other input than from the CCCB and its committees. Is this not a perfect example of the clericalism that Pope Francis has so strongly condemned? Although the Bishops are seen as the leaders of the Church, they are not the Church tout court. Surely on an issue such as this you should have consulted all those who would be affected by the decision, including concerned laity, other churches who are members of Kairos and Kairos itself.
Not only was the decision-making process deeply flawed but the reason for the decision is entirely unconvincing. To say that “the way Kairos is structured … does not foster the kind of ecumenical engagement [you] need and require” is meaningless. Surely you owe to concerned Catholics, not to mention Kairos and the other churches, an explanation why the Kairos structure is so deeply flawed that it cannot be revised to take account of your legitimate concerns, whatever they are. And if you can provide convincing reasons for your decision, then you need to say how you are going to promote reconciliation and healing either apart from or in cooperation with Kairos.
Bishop Crosby, it was disconcerting to see your smiling face on the website next to the announcement about withdrawing from Kairos. We had been aware of your support for reconciliation with indigenous peoples and had hoped that as President of the CCCB you would use this office to help restore the Catholic Church’s very bad reputation on this issue. Despite the positive statement on “The Doctrine of Discovery”, the Kairos decision has made the situation worse. Unless you take immediate steps to reverse this decision, parishes such as ours will have to work for reconciliation while repudiating the decisions of our church leaders.
John and Rosemary Williams