Transforming the Catholic Church may be easier than we think

(And I’m channeling Elizabeth Warren here…because I have a plan for that!)

So, I think the MOST SUBVERSIVE thing we can do to transform the Catholic Church is to create a network of people who otherwise feel alone and isolated. If people know all the way down to their toes that they are supported and that there is room for them to share their gifts, then they have the space to grow in confidence and to trust where their creativity is leading them.  People who are part of a large, supportive network can move to a new area and find places to connect.  They can experiment and try new things. They can share resources. As the network grows, the number of progressive, creative, gifted people finding ways to actualize their call grows.  I am convinced the way to change the Church is actually very simple. We transform the Church by intentionally creating space for people who feel there is no space for them.

Basically, people need a safe space, an “Upper Room” experience where they can be scared, encounter Christ together, receive the Spirit, and be sent out to share their gifts. (This month together is an example of an Upper Room experience.)

Action Steps:

  1. 1. Continue getting the vision out there through the book project—Creating Spaces for Women in the Catholic Church—which is currently underway.
    1. *This means carving out regular time for editing, following up with the contributors, and seeking a publisher
  2. 2. Build the Network
  3. –> The initial core of this network (in my mind) consists of the contributors to the above book project who had an initial experience of retreat, collaboration, and soul searching around the lack of space for so many people in the Catholic Church
  4. –> Perhaps people in Discern-Dream-Scheme would be interested in intentionally building this type of network.
    1. There could be a core group of people who explore how to continue and build on what Casey and Luke have started.  These folks might particularly explore what kinds of spaces are most needed.
    1. I suggest the Circle Process (Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin) as a model of leadership for grassroots network of this nature.  Circle Process encourages all participants to see themselves as leaders.
    1. If we manage to incarnate an Upper Room Network, it is easier to attract resources – grants, donations, etc.
  5. –>If there is an interest among others here, I am willing to participate in visioning and incarnating conversations that could help put flesh on this idea.

I am increasingly realizing that the most practical way to transform the Catholic Church is from the bottom. Transformation isn’t going to come from the hierarchical structures suddenly laying down their power.  Power structures are more likely to crucify than to relinquish power. Instead, we change the Church by out growing it…and staying.  The Catholic Church is bleeding. It’s losing incredibly gifted, progressive people who do not fit into the narrow spaces allotted to them.  I’m growing in my understanding that the way forward isn’t a head on collision with hierarchy. Side stepping unhelpful structures and allowing them to become irrelevant is the way to go.

5 thoughts on “Transforming the Catholic Church may be easier than we think

  1. Hi. I see a lot of synergy as well. Side stepping unhelpful structures or creating an alternate universe. I just now found clarity. And would love to connect with you and Lisa C. Let’s do a zoom call of our own sometime, along with whoever else….

  2. Yes! Your title made me smile, and the content of your post made me smile even more. I love your focus on envisioning alternatives instead of resisting what is – and allowing power structures to simply become irrelevant. I’ve been in visioning/faith-sharing conversations where the energy really shifts and decreases because one person in the room starts offering a disempowering narrative that focuses on limiting structures: “well, if we could only change the bishops, if we could only change the pope…” instead of simply living into what is possible without seeking permission and blessing of institutional structures. This really connects with the material by Deville and Hinze sent out by Casey earlier this week.

    Kind of a weird story, but hang with me: I heard of a study where people were given paper mazes to complete (like the kind you see on kids’ paper menus in restaurants). All the mazes had a mouse as the one moving through it, but in some mazes, the mouse was moving towards a hunk of cheese (reward/goal), while in other mazes, the mouse was moving away from an owl (a threat). People completed “cheese” mazes more quickly and effectively than they created “owl” mazes. Seems to support your approach – ignore the owl and build community to move towards the cheese!

    “Be the change you wish to see!”

  3. I love this so much and the strength and confidence that you bring to your plan. This vision that you are articulating here is beautiful and necessary. I really appreciate that is framed in positive langue and action rather than negativity and confrontation.

    It brings to mind he same principles I use when trying to promote good behavior in my kids and create a happy culture in our home. Its not enough to tell them what not to do, or to just scold them when they do something wrong. We need to create the space where they can learn correct behavior, practice kindness and ask for forgiveness. I can tell them all day not to eat only chips and ice cream, but if I don’t stock up on fruits and veggies, we’re not going to make any progress.

    Your vision gives us the fruits and veggies–a space where we can put forth our gifts and dreams, rather than feeling small and alone.

  4. I second Lisa’s Amen! I love the idea of the Upper Room Network! I think you are identifying an incredibly important need, and I’m inspired by the way you can articulate hope for your vision.

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