Projects

Council 50 event in Rome (13th- 15th November, 2015)

This event is planned to coincide with the 50th anniversary of ‘the pact of the Catacombs’ and comes just before the official celebration of the 50th anniversary of the closure of Vatican Council II. We will gather as equals seeking to promote change within the Church and to declare a new vision of a ‘future for the people of God’ and prepare a document to be forwarded to the hierarchy of our Church during the official celebration of the closure of Vatican Council II

– Contact : François Becker, 52 rue de Verneuil 75007 Paris Email : frbecker@orange.fr

Help relight the flame of Vatican II

We are faithful Catholics loyal to the message of Vatican II. Over the past 50 years, those of us calling for the reforms promised at the Council have been marginalized and ignored. The 2nd Vatican Council encouraged us to speak out for the good of our Church and Pope Francis echoed this message in his apostolic exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’

Now is the time for the hidden part of the Church to emerge from the catacombs – Join us for this once in a lifetime meeting of reform groups and leading Catholic Scholars from all over the world.

Just as the apostles and disciples of Jesus came together, (Acts 15, 2-4), we are calling for representatives from all reform groups and movements, grass-root communities and associations throughout the world to meet in Rome on the 13-15th November 2015.

As equal disciples of Jesus, we are called to show the world and the Church that the seeds planted by the Vatican Council II have produced new growth over the past 50 years. We want to hear about your experience of keeping the Church alive as inspired by the spirit of Vatican II and how local groups are living and expressing faith today.

We plan to collect our experiences and reflections at two levels:

1. Local level: within our associations, reform groups, parishes and congregations
– Why we are still engaged and involved in our Church
– How we see the future for the people of God
– How we envision the Church – its organization and place in the world
– What the Gospel tells us about how to live and express faith today
– How the ideas of Vatican II have been kept alive
– How we experience hope, is there a rainbow after the storm
– How we are developing awareness and networks of reform and progressive groups
– How we are seeking opportunities for dialogue within the Church

Action: The results of these activities
– Delegates from each group to collect thoughts and testimonies in your preferred format – i.e. posters/letters/videos
– To be presented in the Rome meeting during our open forum sessions on Day 2
– To be the basis of a document finalized in Rome and forwarded to the hierarchy of our Church

Participants
· Approximately 100-150 delegates from international reform groups
· Those not currently in an association are welcome to join
· Representatives from other religions and faith groups also invited to join

Format

Friday afternoon: available for the different groups to hold meetings. Evening activity will be organised for all participants

Saturday morning: Plenary assembly: introductory keynote talk based on feedback gathered from local groups; interviews with panels of delegates

Saturday afternoon : presentation of the activities of different groups
§ ‘Market place’ with exhibition stands for each group to present their ideas
§ Presentations of short videos made before the gathering
§ A “speakers corner” with short talks on reform

Saturday evening : group event in Rome

Sunday morning : Celebration with active participation – each continent or region is invited to prepare a contribution to the celebration.

We will close our conference with a group activity – details to be confirmed

A summary and statement will be compiled after the event to be presented at the hierarchy of our Church and at a press conference in Rome in December 2015.

Pact of the catacombs

On November 16, 1965, just days before the close of the Council, about 40 conciliar fathers celebrated a Mass in the Catacombs of St. Domitilla. They prayed to “be faithful to the spirit of Jesus,” and at the end of the celebration signed what they called “the pact of the catacombs”.
The “pact” is a challenge to the “brother bishops” to live a “life of poverty” and to be a “poor and servant” Church as John XXIII wanted. The signatories, including many Latin Americans and Brazilians, who were later joined by others, agreed to live in poverty, reject all symbols and privileges of power, and place the poor at the center of their pastoral ministry. The text would have a strong influence on the theology of liberation that sprouted up several years later. One of the proponents of the pact was Dom Helder Camara.

“The pact of the catacombs: a servant and poor Church”*
We, Bishops meeting at Vatican Council II, being aware of the deficiencies of our life of poverty according to the Gospel, encouraged by one another in this initiative in which each one wants to avoid singularity and presumption, in union with all our brothers in the Episcopate; counting, especially, on the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the prayer of the faithful and priests of our respective diocese; putting ourselves in thought and prayer before the Trinity, before the Church of Christ and before the priests and faithful of our diocese, with humility and awareness of our weakness, but also with all the determination and all the strength that God wants to give us in His grace, commit ourselves to the following:

1. Regarding housing, food and means of transportation and everything concerning these things, we will seek to live in accordance with the ordinary manner of our people. See Mt 5:3, 6:33f, 8-20.

2. We renounce forever wealth and the appearance thereof, especially in clothing (expensive fabrics and brilliant colors), and insignia of precious metals (such signs should, in effect, be evangelizing). See Mk 6:9, Mt 10:9f, Acts 3:6. Neither gold nor silver.

3. We will not possess either movable or fixed assets, or bank accounts, etc., in our names; and if it is necessary to possess anything, we will place it under the name of our diocese or other social or charitable works. See Mt 6:19-21, Luke 12:33f.

4. Whenever possible we will entrust the financial and material administration of our diocese to a commission of competent lay people conscious of their apostolic role, given that we should be pastors and apostles rather than administrators. See Mt 10:8, Acts 6:1-7.

5. We refuse to be called in speech or writing by names or titles that signify grandeur and power (Your Eminence, Your Excellency, Monsignor …). We prefer to be called by the gospel name “Father”. See Mt 20:25-28, 23:6-11, Jn 13:12-15.

6. In our behavior and social relations, we will avoid everything that could appear to confer privilege, priority, or even preference to the rich and powerful (for example in banquets offered or accepted, in religious services). See Lk 13:12-14, 1 Cor 9:14-19.

7. We will also avoid fostering or flattering the vanity of anyone, whoever they might be, when rewarding or requesting donations, or for any other reason. We will invite our faithful to consider their gifts as normal participation in worship, ministry and social action. See Mt 6:2-4, Lk 15:9-13, 2 Cor 12:4.

8. We will give as much as is necessary of our time, thought, heart, means, etc. to the apostolic and pastoral service to working individuals and groups who are economically weak and underdeveloped, without compromising other people and groups in the diocese. We will support lay people, religious, deacons or priests, whom the Lord calls to evangelize to the poor and workers, sharing their life and work. See Lk 4:18f, Mk 6:4, Mt 11:4f, Acts 18:3f, 20:33-35, 1 Cor 4:12 and 9:1-27.

9. Aware of the demands of justice and charity and their mutual relationship, we will seek to transform the works of “beneficence” into social works based on charity and justice that take everyone into account, as a humble service of relevant public bodies. See Mt 25:31-46, Luke 13:12-14 and 33f.

10. We will endeavor to ensure that those responsible for our government and our public services decide on and implement the laws, structures and social institutions that are necessary for justice, equality and the full and harmonious development of the whole person and all people, and thus for the emergence of a new social order, worthy of the children of men and women and children of God. See Acts 2:44f, 4:32-35, 5:4, 2 Cor 8 and 9, 1 Tim 5:16.

11. Because the collegiality of the bishops finds its greatest evangelical fulfillment in communal service to the majority in physical, cultural and moral poverty — two thirds of humanity — we commit ourselves:
· To share, according to our ability, in the urgent projects of the bishoprics in poor nations;
· To ask together, at the international level, always giving witness to the gospel, as did Pope Paul VI at the United Nations, for the adoption of economic and cultural structures that do not create poor nations in an ever richer world, but that allow the poor majority to emerge from their poverty.

12. We pledge to share our life, in pastoral charity, with our brothers and sisters in Christ, priests, religious and laity, so that our ministry constitutes a real service. Thus,
· We will strive to “revise our life” with them;
· We will seek out partners so that we can be promoters according to the spirit rather than rulers according to the world;
· We will try as much as is humanly possible to be present, to be welcoming;
· We will be open to everyone, whatever their religion. See Mk 8:34f, Acts 6:1-7, 1 Tim 3:8-10.

13. When we return to our diocese we will present these resolutions to our diocesan priests, asking them to help us with their understanding, collaboration and prayers.

God help us to be faithful