We are committed Catholics who care about their Church and recognize the need to empower laity to assume their rightful role, through baptism, as a priestly people within our Church. We, the People of God in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, call upon our Church hierarchy and clergy to work with us to collaboratively move our church forward and to provide a template of change. We seek to work with anyone or any group seeking the same! We are focused on helping the survivors of sexual abuse and their families seek healing and justice. We also believe the only way our Church can be sustained is if lay and ordained Catholics share a co-responsibility for the leadership and culture within our Church. These must be rooted in the gospel values of justice and mercy modeled upon the Beatitudes, along with embodying the qualities of transparency, accountability, competency and trust.
Expressions of our mission would be manifested by the following:
- A preferential option, similar to the preferential option for the poor within Catholic social teaching, for the voices of survivors and their families to be a strong presence in any initiative.
- To have likewise a preferential option for the voices of women to be a strong presence in any initiative.
- A commitment to Co-Responsibility: the creation of a Church in which lay Catholics work hand in hand with ordained Catholics, in an equal partnership.
- Complete transparency about past and current instances of sex abuse and a process for dealing with those cases that will inspire trust and confidence.
- New transparent structures for bishop accountability.
- Openness and transparency; a way of addressing leadership failure and eliminating outdated and secretive management practices.
In all that CCOC does, we would seek to include and express six basic principles: co-responsibility, transparency, accountability, competency, justice and trust.
Who We Are
Catholics for Change in Our Church (CCOC) are individuals who have joined together in an effort to bring about positive change for the laity and clergy in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on August 14, 2018, made the Church in Pittsburgh ground zero for the global abuse crisis. All of us were placed in a crisis of conscience because we had supported a church hierarchy that could act without our knowledge and input.
On the evening of September 20, 2018, a group of 200 committed, hurting and angry Catholics met for an evening of prayer and listening. Catholics for Change in Our Church was formed that evening! Since then we have been joined by many more members. A follow-up workshop on November 13, 2018, “Our Hearts Are Broken: Mending the Breach,” resulted in five Focus Groups created to further discuss a lay response: 1) Support of Abuse Survivors and Their Families; 2) Financial Transparency; 3) Addressing Clericalism; 4) Lay Oversight of Diocesan Functions; and 5) Strengthening and Diversifying the Clergy. These CCOC Focus Groups began meeting to form a collective dialog leading to corrective actions with the ultimate goal of revitalizing the Faith Community through healing and restoring trust through transparency. Another large gathering of CCOC members occurred on March 31, 2019. Two more Focus Groups were created: Engaging and Empowering Youth & Pathways to Lay Leadership. A governance model was also adopted for CCOC that day.
An agenda for reform
In solidarity with similar and like-minded groups led by laity across the country, such as the Movement to Restore Trust in Buffalo, along with national experts such as Leadership Roundtable, the following plan for reform in the Church will guide CCOC efforts in Pittsburgh and beyond. We seek to develop an accelerated yet realistic timetable for adoption and implementation of an agenda that would include:
- Publicly committing to develop and invest in a new culture of leadership and moral management that is transparent, accountable, and competent.
- CCOC is having regular meetings with Bishop Zubik and senior staff to discuss common ground where we can work together for positive changes in diocesan structures.
- CCOC is currently working with pastors and staff to establish collaborative models of parishes where healing can occur, positive change can take place, the laity and clergy share co-responsibility for the work and life of the parish, and a sustainable model of governance and management is employed.
- Implementing a leadership and management model based on standards of best practices properly adapted to ecclesiology and Canon Law.
- Establishing mechanisms for full financial transparency and accountability.
- Creating enduring mechanisms to ensure checks and balances at multiple levels of the Church with credible oversight.
- Convening and including independent lay experts from a range of disciplines in investigations, review boards, and other leadership and management positions.
- Ensuring human resource practices that include effective selection, training, assignment, and evaluations.
- Investing in leadership and management training in seminary education and ongoing formation programs for lay ecclesial ministers, diocesan staff, seminarians, deacons, priests, and bishops.
- Rebuilding trust based on transparent and measurable change in the new leadership and management culture.
Public Statement on FIRST Anniversary of the Release of the PA Grand Jury Report