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Noi Siamo Chiesa

Sezione italiana del movimento internazionale “We Are Church” per la riforma della Chiesa cattolica

Una lettera aperta a papa Francesco per affrontare la scarsità dei preti, riorganizzando le parrocchie per affidarle, in gran parte, ai laici

Vienna/Limerick, May 2015

An open letter to Pope Francis

Pope Francis, you need vibrant parishes and the parishes need you!
Pope Francis, your vision of the Church moves us: a Church following the path and the
spirit of Jesus; united in respect and candor, as equals, as true fellow travelers – squarely
facing those who are marginalized and most in need of solidarity. Instead of deepening
rifts, you bring us together. Instead of judging, you seek to understand. Instead of closing
doors, you open hearts. Here, the original model of the Church, as Jesus has shown us
through his own life, is finally perceived again.
Countless people throughout the world cheer you on because they share this vision, very
much in line with the Second Vatican Council. Even more, they live up to it as well as they
can – at home, in the local parishes at the grassroots basis of the Church. Here, in the
everyday life of the people, Church exists – or not. Here, and only here, the Church
experiences its day-to-day raison d’être.
Pope Francis, you need the parishes to bring your vision of the Church to life. Without
active parishes, your vision lacks the foundation and the necessary strength to overcome
opposition. Our parishes are the future of Jesus’ Church; but it is exactly the future of
these parishes that is massively threatened.
Around the world, our bishops increasingly respond to the priest shortage by merging
active and vibrant parishes into anonymous and unmanageable superstructures. Merging
seems to be the formula of the hour. But in the new mega-parishes, personal contact
between people and ministers is lost. The sacraments and the priests are removed ever
further from the everyday life of church citizens. And where the wellspring of the
community, the celebration of the Eucharist, is celebrated less and less often, communio
falls by the wayside. Instead of caring for souls, priests are busy with coordination and
administration. While they are supposed to be everywhere, they find themselves nowhere
fully at home. In such parishes, the living breath of Jesus cannot be found; instead, God’s
people feel alienated, unsettled and insecure. Here, the Church is no longer close to the
people, but consciously removes itself from its base.
We, concerned priests and deacons, ministers and committed Church citizens in the
parishes of this world are no longer willing to walk this path. Together, we seek new paths
to a future of our Church with vibrant parishes; parishes where everyone is welcome –
without exception. And such ways exist! Many parishes have long shown by example how
things can be done differently.
There are women and men, married couples, divorced and remarried, homosexual and
heterosexual partners, young and old, those in the center and those who have been
pushed to the side – there are dedicated people who want to put an end to the merger of
their parishes into ever larger units. By their personal dedication, by the strength of their
baptismal calling, they assist in relieving the priests of their increasing responsibilities in
order to continue offering vital services to the people. In parishes that no longer have
priests, they are developing creative solutions to ensure the cohesion and the day-to-day
management of their parishes. In many cases, this has resulted in sustainable structures
and models for the future from which we can learn. There is still much motivation at the
base to strive for a renewed Church in the spirit of Jesus.
Pope Francis, we – priests and deacons, ministers and Church citizens, women and men
– need you! We appeal to you to clear the way for new forms of parish life, their ministry
and management. Let us open the priestly office to everyone who has the charism. Let us
develop new management models and forms of pastoral ministry so that parishioners can
participate according to their charisms. Let us establish a new culture of co-responsibility
and joint decision-making in all structures of our Church. Let us remember how Jesus
understood and lived community. God’s spirit compels us. Let us be courageous and
tackle this together!
Pope Francis, you need vibrant parishes for your vision of Church to come to life. And the
parishes need you. We – the priests and deacons, ministers and many engaged Church
citizens in parishes around the world – stand ready to share our experiences and ideas
and actively support you and the bishops in realizing your vision at the base.

Pfarrer-Initiative Österreich
Fr. Helmut Schüller, Spokesman
Wir sind Kirche Österreich
Dr. Martha Heizer, Chair
Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Renewal
Marilyn Hatton, Convenor
Catholics for Ministry
Paul Collins, Convenor
Catholics for Renewal
Peter Johnstone, President
Cyber Christian Community
Helen Oxenburgh-Lowe, Convenor
Women and the Australian Church
Bernice Moore, Convenor
ACTA – A Call to Action
Eileen Fitzpatrick, Chair
Jean Riordan, Delegate
Deutsche Pfarrer-Initiative
Fr. Christian Ammersbach, Spokesman
Wir sind Kirche Deutschland
Christian Weisner, Steering Committee
Fr. Shaji George Kochuthara
Moral Theologian and Priest, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate
Satyashodhak, Mumbai
Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Theologian, Co-ordinator
Assocation of Catholic Priests (ACP)
Fr. Brendan Hoban and Fr. Seán McDonagh, Leadership Team
Fr. Tony Flannery, Host of Limerick Conference 2015
Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI)
Noel McCann, Steering Group Chair
Dr. Patricia Fitzsimons, Steering Group Member
We are Church Ireland
Brendan Butler, joint Co-Ordinator
Seeds of Hope
Kathleen McDonnell, Rita O’Brien, Margaret Lee,
Core Group Members
Noi Siamo Chiesa Italia
Vittorio Bellavite, Spokesman
Fr. Carmine Miccoli, Priest
ok21 – Society for Open Christianity for the 21st Century
Peter Križan, Chairman
Pfarrei-Initiative Schweiz
Dr. Markus Heil, Deacon, Chairman
Susanne A. Birke, Leadership team
National Coalition of American Nuns
Sr. Jeannine Gramick S.L., National Coordinator
New Ways Ministry
Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director
Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director
Women’s Ordination Conference
Kate McElwee, Co-Executive Director
International Movement We are Church (IMWAC)
Sigrid Grabmeier, Chair



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