Synod of the baptized logo On Saturday, September 18th, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) will convene a Synod of the Baptized in Minneapolis with expectations for an overflow crowd of nearly 500 persons.  The Synod byline is “Claiming our place at the Table.”  More information is available on CCCR’s website.  The website lists eight progressive Catholic coalition partners with ties to Minnesota, and here is a portion of their self-definition:

We are the Church. In our understanding of Church, all the baptized are one big community of smaller communities, we are all equal, we all participate in different ministries (lay, clergy, bishop), we communicate with one another, and we share a vision and a self-critique. The five words we have been using to summarize this model of Church are community, equality, participation, dialogue, and prophecy. It is a model arising out of Vatican II and seems to us most in line with the Gospel message. It has been promulgated by the Asian bishops and it also fits well with the positive values of our U.S. culture.

There are other models of Church that can be drawn from Vatican II documents, more top down models, and this is what is causing tension in the contemporary Church. We believe that the fate of grown-ups is to live with ambiguity and tension, so we are not daunted by differences in points of view. Our intent is to try to create community based on the model we think best, to remain open to dialogue with people who espouse other models, and to keep focused on the Church’s mission.

The Synod keynote address will be offered by Paul Lakeland:

Paul Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies, and Director of Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies. He has been teaching at Fairfield University since 1981, where he has previously served as Director of the Honors Program and Chair of the Religious Studies Department.

Michael Bayly and Paula Ruddy are board members and key organizers of the Synod.  They have been blogging at Progressive Catholic Voice in preparation for the Synod, discussing challenges for the contemporary church, following the list offered by Lakeland in his recent book entitled Church.  Lakeland’s list of challenges includes ecumenism, the role of women, scandal of sexual abuse, etc.

Ruddy’s latest post about ecumenism notes the historical role played by Minnesota’s own St John’s Abbey and University:

Minnesotans are familiar with the liturgical movement that began in Europe in the middle of the 19th century from the involvement of St. John’s University and Abbey in Collegeville and the great teachers trained there. [Lakeland] says that in some ways the liturgical movement laid groundwork for the ecumenical movement in crossing denominational lines. It all led up to the great Ecumenical Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.

I was privileged to have studied under Father Godfrey Diekmann at St John’s School of Theology who was one of these important reform figures behind the scenes of Vatican II that Lakeland referred to.