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Pastoral Statement: Bishop Ricken creating Commission on Living Justice; resuming CCHD Collection

From the Green Bay Diocese web site:

GREEN BAY, Wis. (Feb. 16, 2011) – Bishop David Ricken met today with representatives from groups active in social justice issues throughout the Diocese of Green Bay and announced the creation of a new initiative, the Commission on Living Justice, which is charged with taking a leading role in the catechesis, planning, and implementation of Catholic Social Teaching in the Diocese. The bishop explained his actions and reasons in his Pastoral Statement on Living Justice in the Diocese of Green Bay also released today.

Bishop Ricken acknowledged that although the Catholic Church has one of the largest bodies of teaching on charity and social justice of any organization in the world, much of this teaching is largely unknown by many Catholics and often misunderstood and misinterpreted by others.

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Read statement
Read the full text of Bishop David Ricken's Pastoral Statement on Living Justice in the Diocese of Green Bay

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Integrated approach
The charge to the Commission, he said, is to create an integrated approach to living out the Gospel message of justice and charity as outlined in Matthew, Chapter 25. "I realize that there is a genuine need for greater understanding of the social doctrine of the Church," said Bishop Ricken. "The Diocese needs to be more involved in implementing this teaching in our own way and coming from our own theological and ecclesial foundation."

According to Bishop Ricken, the Commission will be established, including appointment of its members and creation of a formal structure within the diocesan organization, by early fall, 2011.

Reinstating CCHD Collection
In related actions, the Bishop used his pastoral statement to clarify and answer some open-ended questions related to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and the role of individuals and parishes in local social justice organizations such as JOSHUA and ESTHER.

After a moratorium on the CCHD collection in 2010 due to concerns about some funded projects not being consistent with Catholic social teaching, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their November 2010 approved a more thorough grant application process.

Based on the actions of the USCCB, Bishop Ricken announced that "I am confident that we have the necessary checks in place that will help us to be better informed and assist us in discerning grant requests. The CCHD collection in the Diocese of Green Bay will be reinstated and take place as part of the collection for the World’s Poor during the weekend of April 2, 2011."

Clarifying JOSHUA and ESTHER
Bishop Ricken’s pastoral statement also included a new policy on parish membership in non-Catholic organizations. The issue arose in conjunction with the membership connections of local social justice groups, specifically JOSHUA and ESTHER, to state and national organizations. During the last electoral campaign cycle, for example, an announcement from a pro-abortion coalition appeared on the ESTHER website. The announcement was subsequently removed.

At the time, however, Bishop Ricken questioned the lack of oversight of non-Catholic groups whose positions may be inconsistent with the tenets of Catholic social teaching. A task force was named to study the situation and its implications on parishes, specifically the potential downside of dual corporate affiliations.

"I want to make it abundantly clear that I am very proud of many of the works that JOSHUA and ESTHER are doing here in Green Bay and in the Fox Valley," said Bishop Ricken. "The living out of the Gospel values of Matthew 25 in mutual projects is truly commendable and is an example of living out the call of charity and justice in our day."

Individual, but not parish, membership OK
"However," he added, "my concern continues to center on the structural and institutional concerns that are brought about by the 'corporate membership' of parishes in local groups, and through them to their state and national organizations. Therefore, I am directing our parishes to withdraw their corporate membership in these organizations, effective July 1, 2011."

Individual parishioners can still maintain a personal membership in JOSHUA or ESTHER, and parish groups are still encouraged to work together ecumenically with members of other faiths on specific projects consistent with Catholic social teaching.

Bishop Ricken concluded that this issue has prompted him to look into all parish and diocesan corporate relationships, and begin to review the status of all these relationships through the same lens for the same or similar reasons.

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Who we are
The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay works to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ by helping people in need and by providing academic, leadership and spiritual formation opportunities to parish and school leaders. Established in 1868, the Diocese is composed of 350,000 Catholics in 16 counties: Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago.

Contact
Deacon Ray DuBois
Director of Communications
Phone: (920) 272-8213
E-mail: rdubois@gbdioc.org

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