REPORT ON MEETING WITH ARCHBISHOP JOHN NIENSTEDT
January 20, 2015
Three delegates from the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and from the Council of the Baptized, Bob Beutel, Paula Ruddy, Mary Beth Stein, met today with Archbishop John Nienstedt at the Chancery. Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who sat in for Fr. Charles Lachowitzer, the vicar-general, and Fr. Erich Rutten were also in attendance.
We were received quite cordially. The archbishop devoted a whole hour to this meeting. From his questions it was clear he had prepared and that he listened to us respectfully and attentively as we talked.
His initial queries were about how Catholic we are, seeing as how some of our coalition members dissent from current church teachings on different issues. We replied that our policy is to be inclusive of anyone who identifies as Catholic and to keep all the questions open for discussion. Our members are typically people who were influenced by Vatican II and love the church.
Mary Beth spent a lot of time on our efforts to organize the faithful to contribute to the Synod of the Family. It was clear that Mary Beth impressed the archbishop with the depth of her knowledge of the “Lineamenta”, the document from last fall’s organizing meeting of the Synod.
The archbishop distributed a letter on Synod preparations that went out today to pastors, announcing the appointment of a staff person, the distribution of a survey, and listening sessions to hear the faithful. We were delighted at how close this was to our plans; we declared our best efforts to get this news out to our members, even those who are not active in a parish, the ones we list as “St Elsewhere”.
The archbishop reserved our request that he assure pastors that CCCR’s efforts were not in conflict with the church, but said he would consider it. He agreed that there should be more of these conversations on additional topics in the future.
We went away feeling we had succeeded in being heard and that our activities for the Synod of the Family would be beneficial to the institutional church without being co-opted.
Report submitted by Bob Beutel, CCCR co-chair
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DECEMBER 18, 2014
RESULTS OF THE POLLING FOR BISHOP/ARCHBISHOP:
J. Michael Byron, pastor, St. Pascal Baylon, St. Paul
Paul Feela, pastor, Lumen Christi, St. Paul
Timothy Wozniak, pastor, St. Thomas Becket, Eagan
We urge you to write to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Pope Francis's delegate in the U.S., to let him know your needs for spiritual leadership.
PEOPLE ARE WRITING--TO 1/26/15 WE HAVE HEARD FROM 61. LET US KNOW IF YOU HAVE WRITTEN. EMAIL:
OR go to CONTACT US.
His address is: 3339 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
His email is:
From November 1 to November 15, all Lay Network members in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis were invited by CCCR's Bishop Selection Task Force to vote for one to three of seven local pastors on a slate developed in the year long process described below. Write-ins were welcome.
Of the 1540 Lay Network members, 410 voted. The three men named above received the highest number of votes. There were 21 write-ins. No write-in received more than 18 votes. The total number of votes cast was 1037.
Our purpose in the program is to let Pope Francis and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, know we are concerned with our local church leadership and that we are paying attention. Archbishop Viganò’s responsibility is to make a list of three recommended candidates to send to the Pope whenever a bishop or archbishop is needed in the U.S. He has assured us (through a letter from Archbishop John Nienstedt) that he is willing to receive recommendations from lay men and women for bishop/archbishop at any time.
We will share your letter on the Lay Network Bulletin Board if you send it to us at
Thanks for the wonderful support you gave this program during 2014.
The Bishop Selection Task Force
Fr. Stephen Adrian, Rose Marie Assad, Beverly Bailey, William Bailey, Fr. John Brandes, Mary Caskey, Robert Christensen, Fr. Patrick Griffin, Mary Jane Mitchell, Paula Ruddy, Carol Tauer, and PattyThorsen
Scroll down for letters to the papal nuncio shared by Lay Network members.
LETTER TO THE PAPAL NUNCIO FROM THE BISHOP SELECTION TASK FORCE
November 19, 2014
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Dear Archbishop Viganò:
In response to our inquiry of April 23, 2012, you stated (through Archbishop John Nienstedt) that you were willing to receive recommendations from any lay Catholic at any time regarding the nomination of a bishop to a diocese or archdiocese. Since we knew that most lay Catholics would have limited knowledge and experience with all the potential leaders in the clergy of our archdiocese, we decided to organize a process for identifying potential leaders among local pastors. Thus was formed the Bishop Selection Task Force (BSTF), a group of volunteers whose work was sanctioned by the leadership of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR).
The BSTF proposed a process consisting of five steps: nomination of local pastors online or by mail (March-June 2014); determination of a slate of qualified nominees (June-July 2014); workshops and online resources to familiarize people with the process and the slate (Sept.-Oct.); online balloting to choose three preferences from the slate (Nov. 1-15); and writing of individual letters to you, Archbishop Viganò, expressing the individuals’ views as to local pastors most qualified for leadership in our archdiocese.
The first step in the process resulted in the nomination of 55 local pastors, with over 100 lay persons nominating. A number of these nominees were disqualified based on such factors as age (70 and over) and direct connection to clergy sex-abuse reporting in our archdiocese. After this screening, 23 nominees remained, and we invited a group of consultants, five priests and three lay persons, to narrow the list. The consultants developed a list of qualifications desired in a bishop or archbishop and rated each nominee in relation to the qualifications. Seven nominees rose to the top, and the consultants recommended these seven for consideration.
The names were publicized and opportunities to become familiar with these pastors were provided. We made it clear that none of these men had been involved with the process in any way, nor had they consented to have their names considered. From November 1 to 15, online and mail balloting took place.
Four hundred ten persons participated in the balloting phase of the process. When results were tabulated, the three nominees who received the most votes were Fr. J. Michael Byron, Fr. Paul Feela, and Fr. Timothy J. Wozniak.
We are now encouraging the lay Catholics of our archdiocese to write to you, expressing their hopes for leadership. Individuals are free to support the three candidates who received most votes in the ballot process, or to recommend other local pastors, whether or not they were on the slate of seven nominees.
We hope that this process will encourage the lay people of our archdiocese to speak out in expressing their concerns, needs, and hopes. The last few years have been a discouraging period in St. Paul-Minneapolis, with new clergy sex abuse charges and questions about reporting constantly coming to light. We are working to create a vehicle for the voice of the laity in our local Church and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to help it survive despite all that has occurred. More information can be found on our website, www.cccrmn.org.
We realize that the power of our voices is limited. We would be delighted if you, the papal nuncio, were to initiate a broad-based consultation process, involving the laity and the presbytery, at such time as a future archbishop is to be named.
Carol Tauer (for the Bishop Selection Task Force)
Bishop Selection Task Force members: Fr. Stephen Adrian, Rose Marie Assad, Beverly Bailey, William Bailey, Fr. John Brandes, Mary Caskey, Robert Christensen, Fr. Patrick Griffin, Mary Jane Mitchell, Paula Ruddy, Carol Tauer, and Patty Thorsen
LETTERS TO THE PAPAL NUNCIO FROM LAY NETWORK MEMBERS
November 25, 2014
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
Papal Nuncio to the U.S.
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008-3687
Dear Archbishop Vigano,
Almost every day, I pick up the daily paper or hear on the news of another violation of trust by Archdiocesan officials. The latest is that we are facing a serious financial crisis and lay employees are being let go. I don’t see how we can heal or come together as a local church without new leadership to restore hope and confidence. We, as members of the Catholic Coalition for Church reform, have tried to do what is in our power to remedy this situation by following the Bishop selection process provided by the Bishop Selection Task Force.
I studied the candidates put forth by the BSTF and my number one and two choices were also the number one and two choices of the four hundred ten persons who participated in the balloting.
I would very much like you to consider Father J. Michael Byron or Father Paul Feela, when the time comes for you to nominate a new leader for the St. Paul/ Minneapolis Archdiocese. Both inspire us to bring about the Kingdom of God as American citizens living in the 21st century.
My prayers for you and for Pope Francis as you discern what is in the best spiritual interest of those who live in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Patricia A. Whalen
on December 4, 2014
Dear Archbishop Viganò: Thank you for the service you provide for the Church in
the U.S. I am concerned about leadership in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and
Minneapolis. I ask that you conduct a broad consultation with Catholics in
finding us a leader in whom we can have trust. Some pastors you might consider
for leadership are J. Michael Byron, Paul Feela, and Timothy Wozniak. These are
men whose pastoral service has inspired confidence in people who desire to build
a Gospel-centered local church with a mission to the world. Thank you. Paula
on December 6, 2014
Dear Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano:
I am pleased that as Papal Nuncio, you have indicated that you are receptive to suggestions from the laity for bishop candidates for our Archdiocese. This recognizes the historic role that the laity should play in elevating leaders from the local community.
Accordingly, I recommend Fr. J. Michael Byron as an outstanding candidate for our Archdiocese. Fr. Paul Feela and Fr. Timothy Wozniak would also be excellent choices. These men have been carefully vetted by concerned members of the Archdiocese and should be granted serious consideration at the time that a leadership vacancy occurs.
Thank you for your consideration
7341 Lyric Lane
Fridley, MN 55432
on December 8, 2014
I recommend for your consideration, the appointment of Fr. Paul Feela of Lumen
Christi Parish, St. Paul, Minnesota to the position of Archbishop.
Fr. Feela is well educated, pastoral in nature, honest in intellect, and forward
looking in vision.
I have a great feeling of compassion for our current
Archbishop and believe he can be of further service to the Church, but not here.
Though I do not find him to have any personal culpability in the tragedy of the
child abuse scandals plaguing us now, his lack of wisdom and judgment in
responding to the actions of pedophilloic priests failed the Church. Humility is
a great teacher and it is my hope that Brother John (as I affectionately call
him) will learn from his mistakes.
Still, the Faithful suffer from those mistakes and we need to move forward with a pastoral, compassionate Archbishop
who has the vision to see a better future for the Archdiocese. Thus I recommend Fr. Feela.
Please contact me if you or your staff wish to discuss this further.
Michael D. Anderson, MD
Fellow Emeritus AAFP
Sent by Kathleen Andrus on December 10:
Dear Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano,
It is with a hopeful and courageous heart that I am writing you to recommend three excellent candidates for leadership in our diocese. Is it not time for the laity of our Church to step into our baptismal promise and assume a more active role in the bishop selection process? Who better than us are qualified to assess the pastoral attributes and credible leadership characteristics required to lead us through these increasingly turbulent times?
We have suffered deeply as we watch hundreds and thousands of our family members, friends, neighbors and fellow parishioners leave the Church that has turned it's back for so long on the ongoing, endless sexual abuse crisis, the multitude of social issues that challenge family units and the judgement that results in exclusion of many good and faithful Catholics from full sacramental participation. Those of us who stay do so out of a strong personal commitment to the faith and a belief that WE are the people of God. We are lead by our conscience amidst the chaos that reigns as many of the ordained struggle for power, control, and a time that "was". We desperately need compassionate, inclusive leaders who have more interest in walking with us, reaching out to welcome all into the Body of Christ and healing wounds that have long been imposed by the institutional church. Please prayerfully consider the following priests to be included in the bishop selection process for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota diocese:
Father J. Michael Byron
Father Paul Feela
Father Timothy Wozniak
Thank you for your willingness to receive our recommendations.
Kathleen T. Andrus
Basilica of St. Mary's
Sent from Rick Osgood, December 11, 2014
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-3687
Dear Archbishop Viganò
I feel honored to be writing to you. The spirit is moving me to do this, and I am humbled that you would be receptive to listen to me. I am a cradle Catholic and have been happily married for 41 years to a wonderful wife. We have 3 adult children who are all happily married.
We take our faith very seriously. I try to live my life being Christ-like and being a light to others. I try to pray and meditate about 2 hours a day, and along with my wife we reach out to people in our church and community. My wife is a former nun and also organizes events and strengthens the lines of communication within our families. We both have large families. Overall, I feel that, in our life, we have been positive role models.
When I think of the Catholic Church, however, I am disheartened. My wife and I had meetings with friends and neighbors in our home on three different occasions to talk about our faith. We listened. They told their stories and their hurt, and I was deeply saddened, and my heart became heavy. Many have joined other churches and have no interest in re-joining the Catholic Church that has been so hurtful to them. Some concerns were the lack of inclusivity at weddings, funerals, and other church services, lack of full transparency and accountability in our diocese and Rome, and discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. They really wonder if anyone in the church is listening to them and, if so, would it result in any dialogue or significant change? Many are either angry and/or indifferent and have lost hope in the church.
My children are genuinely sensitive, caring, and loving people and work to make the world a better place. They are all interested in social justice, but find it difficult to identify with the Catholic Church. My one daughter says “How can you belong to an organization that discriminates, is so judgmental, hypocritical, and is so out of touch with issues regarding homosexuality, contraception, marriage, divorce, and women’s role in the church.”
My brother, a devout Catholic, says “The church won’t change.” He tells me that I am wasting my time trying to do something that would make the church more inclusive and collaborative.
I point these things out as concrete examples of the struggles and disconnect with the church as experienced by family, friends, and neighbors. It appears the church is more concerned with rigidly upholding church doctrine and dogma than attending to the needs of its flock. Every year church attendance goes down and more churches close. Does the church care that this is happening? The old adage stating that if you “pray, pay, and obey everything will be ok,” is not applicable to today’s informed lay people who want to be a vital part of THEIR church. The clergy sex abuse scandals are making it more difficult for people to feel that they can continue to be identified with an organization that has been so hurtful to so many.
I hope the church does not minimize the feelings and attitudes that people have for the church but sees this as their struggle too and the need for change. To overcome the division and discord in the church, I am hoping the church leaders see the need for working collaboratively with the laity in the spirit of Vatican II.
Changing church leadership would be one step in helping move the church in a positive direction. That is why I endorse Father Mike Byron for Bishop for the diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I have had several conversations with him and have heard him speak numerous times. I truly believe he sees the “big picture” of an all- inclusive church that is welcoming to all. Father Byron is an educated theologian, an effective teacher and, I feel, a good listener. These attributes would enable him to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together. I can see him working in collaboration for the benefit of all in healing a broken church. After meeting with him and listening to him,
I am encouraged and inspired. I hope you would seriously consider him a candidate for Bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
With a great amount of gratitude, I thank you immensely for reading this and listening to me. It helps me to feel that I am a part of the church.
Peace be with you,
Sent by email on December 15:
To Archbishop Carl Maria VIgano
I was delighted to learn that members of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform included Father Paul Feela in their recommendations for future bishop and archbishop openings. He had my vote from the beginning of the process since I know him well as the pastor of my church, Lumen Christi. I have been impressed with him since he first assumed his responsibility for our parish. He has been very instrumental in smoothing the transition from three parishes (St. Leo's, St. Therese, St. Gregory) into one (Lumen Christi), a transition begun by his predecessor, Father John Bauer. We have been blessed with fine pastors.
I am personally moved by Father Feela's homilies.They always add another layer of depth to the traditional interpretations of the readings. And I never miss one of his insightful Pastoral Musings in the weekly church bulletin.
But there is more. Father is warm and caring as he interacts with parishioners and school children. He carefully listens to all of us at parish discussions of the current challenges of the Mother Church. He is graciously folding older generations of parishioners into the current and next generations through meaningful ministries, liturgies and retreats. . The newly baptized and confirmed are being celebrated in what seems to me to be increasing numbers. We are a vital and growing congregation under his guidance.
Honestly, I would be sorry to see Father Feela leave us, but I would beconsoled to know it would be for the good of the church at large.
Elaine M. Wagner
1843 Colvin Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55116
Sent December 28 via email:
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’
Papal Nuncio, USA
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, D. C. 20008
Dear archbishop Vigano’
As a member of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform Minnesota, I am responding to your receptivity toward receiving suggestions for a Bishop candidate of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. In addition, I wish to exercise my Baptismal promise to play an active role in the life of the Catholic church to which I have belonged and served since birth, including 13 years as a Franciscan nun.
Over my 70+ years, I have witnessed the excitement and vitality of the Catholic Church following the Vatican II Council that promised a new role for the laity by virtue of our baptisms. I have also witnessed the retraction of that promise with increasing authoritarian power and control by our Church leaders. It was because of this that I left religious life and have struggled for years about leaving the Catholic Church entirely as so many of my friends, neighbors, relatives have done. The reasons for the mass exodus (1/3 of U.S. Catholics have left the church according to PEW Research) include the continuing sexual abuse scandals and cover-ups, the narrow and punitive response of the church leadership to important social issues affecting families namely birth control, divorce and remarriage, GLBT issues, celibacy, and the treatment of women. The exclusion of so many devout and dedicated members from full participation in the sacraments is not what I believe to be Christian. In short, I have decided to remain a Catholic and to support reform in an active way.
True reform must begin with Church leadership. Of immediate need is the replacement of the Archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis. The continual sex scandals, and financial crisis that has disposed of many archdiocesan employees, closed various parishes, and excluded of so many from the sacraments has broken the trust of many of us in current leadership. I have been a supporter of the Bishop selection process carried out by the CCCRMN and humbly ask you to consider the suggestions our group has prayerfully and thoughtfully put forward as candidates for a new bishop in the very near future. This archdiocese needs a leader who is compassionate and inclusive, who listens and collaborates. We need someone who is dedicated to serving as the shepherd of this flock instead of “officiating as ruler” of the flock. Therefore, I am nominating Fr. Timothy Wozniak for your consideration. I am also nominating a very dedicated and knowledgeable candidate who did not make the final three list, but whom I have known for a long time and trust his leadership abilities. He is Father Michael Tegeder. In my opinion, he is a change maker and has demonstrated compassion for the poor and disenfranchised. He is one who will walk WITH us instead of over us as the current Bishop has done.
I sincerely thank you for your consideration and concern for the faithful people of this archdiocese and hope that you will consult with the laity as you make your decision on a replacement.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Mary Jo Czaplewski, Ph.D., CFLE
Director emeritus National Council on Family Relations
Bishop Selection Process
The seven local pastors on the slate were Fathers Mike Byron, Paul Feela, Paul Jaroszeski, Charles Lachowitzer, Phil Rask, Tim Wozniak, and Bishop Lee Piché.
These seven men had no involvement in the process and were not consulted in advance of their selection by the Committee. We are calling them to leadership based on the people’s confidence in them. As we cannot elect our bishops, as explained below, any appointment will come from Pope Francis, and if one of these men is appointed, he may decline at that time.
You can find information on the local pastors nominated by the Lay Network by clicking on "Bishop Selection" in the left menu and then going to "Priest Profiles."
Thanks to the Consultant Committee of the CCCR Bishop Selection Task Force for their work in winnowing the nominations from 55 to seven. The Consultant Committee consists of five priests, Fathers Stephen Adrian, John M. Bauer, John Brandes, Patrick Griffin, and Dale Korogi, and three lay people, Cathy Edwards, Patricia Gries, and James Moudry. Carol Tauer is the Committee Coordinator.
The Committee considered the number of nominations each person received, the qualifications listed below, and the gifts as they knew them of each man on the list. The chief quality they considered was the ability to unify people in a polarized community.
Because we cannot at this time elect our leadership, after this balloting process we will then ask you to write to the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican ambassador to the U.S. whose responsibility it is to recommend names to Rome for appointment. In your letter you may recommend one or more of the three final names or anyone you think qualified. The reason for writing individually to the papal nuncio is that the Vatican discourages organized group recommendations to avoid campaigning and factions.
This initial attempt to make the people's voice heard is far from an ideal process. It is a first step to filling a crucial need in our Archdiocese. Fr. Stephen Adrian, part of the Bishop Selection Task Force, has expressed the need like this:
To lead one must have the trust and confidence of the community.... It is essential that the next archbishop be selected only after a broad consultative process involving clergy, religious and laity. The process should include an opportunity to articulate the qualities we need in a bishop; the process should also allow people to suggest names of persons they consider meeting those qualities.
For an ideal process we would need Archdiocesan cooperation. That is a future to be prayed for. In the meantime we take first steps.
Rationales for Reducing the Number of Nominees
On the principle that the people under the bishop’s jurisdiction should have a voice in choosing him, the Task Force first eliminated nominations from people outside the Archdiocese. Secondly, believing that local pastors are more likely to be familiar with the needs of the Archdiocese, we eliminated nominees from other jurisdictions.
Reluctantly, we eliminated the much-appreciated senior nominees—70 and over. Since a bishop is required by canon law to tender his resignation at the age of 75 and it is probable that the investigative and appointment process is lengthy, a person over the age of 70 would not have sufficient time to serve. That left us with a list of 43 names.
Eliminating all nominees with only one nomination resulted in a list of 23 names from which the Consultant Committee chose the seven named above.
Criteria Used in Reducing the Number of Nominees to a Slate
The bishop should have:
- The ability to unify polarized factions and bring Catholics together to accomplish the Church’s mission.
- Significant pastoral experience in parish, hospital, or similar settings (not solely academic, Chancery, etc.).
- A reputation for being credible and trustworthy and for valuing transparency and accountability.
- Theological competence.
- An ethic of servant leadership on the model of Pope Francis.
- Demonstrated willingness to foster two-way communication with clergy and laity.
- Demonstrated skill as a public speaker and preacher.
- Evidence of leadership skills within the archdiocese.
- Demonstrated administrative skills.
- Involvement in promoting social justice and fostering concern for the poor and disenfranchised.
- Ability to engage and relate to people of multiple generations.
- Demonstrated commitment to interfaith efforts and cooperation.
- Sensitivity to and credibility with diverse communities.