Catholics ‘can’t stop fighting’ to have their voices heard by church hierarchy


Dec. 30, 2019

By Craig Cheatham

Catholic laity ‘reformers’ discuss their plans to change the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Gerry Ahrens fought back tears as he described his frustration with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati .

“We’re just a voice crying in the wilderness,” said the retired Catholic school teacher. He is also a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a Jesuit priest.

“They’re not listening,” Ahrens said. “They don’t hear us.”

Catholic laity in the Tri-State and across the country are determined to be heard by the church hierarchy.

In December, two local groups – Beyond the Scandal and Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati – discussed their progress and plans for reforming the church.

Their organized effort is part of a growing national movement dedicated to increasing the influence of non-clergy in dioceses across the country.

“The person in the pews has to wake up and realize that we have a rightful role that we must play in the church,” said Jan Seidel, a longtime Catholic lay leader who hosted the December meeting at the home she shares with her husband, Bruce.

The need for a deeper and more direct role for an increasingly disillusioned laity has also been a focus for the National Review Board created in 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to collaborate with the USCCB in preventing the sexual abuse of children.

In a Nov. 13, 2018 special report to the Body of Bishops, NRB Chair Francesco Cesareo told bishops “the faithful and the clergy do not trust many of you.”

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