So far from the Church?
( Still waiting )
Response to Petition by signatories
As of 3 September 2011 a total of 8164 signatures had been received: 3656 online and 4508 in hard-copy. Postcodes on the hard-copy returns suggest that signatures came from some 200 parishes. In 13 parishes over 100 Catholics signed the Open Letter. Many priests and religious also signed and there was a balance between male and female signatories. Catholics for Renewal regret the decision of some diocesan bishops to discourage their priests from giving the Open Letter circulation in their parishes and the decision of some parish priests not to circulate the Open Letter. However, Catholics for Renewal does respect the decision that some parish priests made not to circulate the Open Letter after consultation with their pastoral council.
An analysis of the signatures by State/Territory is presented in the table below. It shows the number received online and in hard-copy and the sub-total of each group as a percentage of the total signatures received.
Note: The tally of signatures on the website is greater than the online total shown above. This is because the site was under continuous attack from a ‘troll/spammer’ who used bogus names and invalid email addresses, and sought to disrupt the Open Letter site and discredit its authors. These attacks appear on the site as ‘Line voided’ or ‘Signature rejected’. Some signatures from outside Australia were also received online; these have not been included in the total. Couples signing on one line were counted as two signatories.
The online site will continue to receive signatures until the end of the ad limina so that any bishop who may wish to view the Open Letter, the signatures and the comments will be able to do so up until that date.
Some 1200 online comments have been received to date, expressing strong support for the Open Letter and its content. Whilst there was some cynicism about a positive official response to the Open Letter, there was genuine hope for the future of the Church. Common themes which emerged were:
- ordinary Catholics want their right to be heard on matters affecting the good of their Church to be respected; they welcomed the opportunity to exercise that right by signing the Open Letter;
- ordinary Catholics are committed to their Church; they see an urgent need for a renewal in accord with the teachings of Christ and the principles of Vatican II;
- the issues of concern identified in the Open Letter are strongly shared by many Catholics; they want them to be addressed as a matter of urgency;
- ordinary Catholics, as the People of God, share responsibility for the Church; they want to be consulted on matters affecting their faith and Church, and have their views heard with respect;
- there is an absence of appropriate Church structures and processes to enable the voice of the faithful to be heard (existing structures, e.g. synods, are not fully utilised) and to enable meaningful participation;
- Catholics want to work with the Pope and the bishops for the renewal of the Church;
- there is a strong sense that the ad limina is the right forum for the Australian bishops to raise the issues set out in the Open Letter for discussion directly with the Pope; they are the key issues currently affecting the Church’s mission in Australia;
- the reforms sought are achievable and will strengthen the mission and witness of Christ’s Church in the world.
Catholics for Renewal