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New Lay Organization Calling For Seat Among Catholic Church Hierarchy

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A group of parishioners is demanding reforms in the Catholic Church.

After the release of the damning grand jury report last year, they formed a group called Catholics For Change In Our Church, or CCOC.

Out of the heartbreak that was the release of the grand jury report, Catholics in the Pittsburgh Diocese seemed to have no place to go with their pain.

"There was really no venue for people to share that outrage, that pain, that disappointment and lack of trust in the people who had been our leaders," said Paula Nettleship of CCOC.

Paula Nettleship
Photo Credit: KDKA

At some parishes, groups of lay parishioner began to meet on their own. And out of St. Thomas Moore Parish in Bethel Park, a diocesan-wide organization called CCOC emerged.

Now, with more than 1,000 members, they're looking for a voice in church affairs.

"We are calling for a place at the table with the hierarchy," Nettleship said. "We are all partners in this together and that is the only way forward."

The group has identified five areas of action:

  • More help for sex-abuse survivors
  • Financial Transparency
  • Addressing clericalism or the tendency of the clergy to be the supreme authority
  • More diverse clergy, including studying women becoming deacons and married men becoming priests
  • More lay oversight, including evaluations of Bishop David Zubik himself

Zubik, who conducted listening sessions last month, agreed to meet representatives of the group on Friday in anticipation of writing a pastoral letter to the diocese outlining changes in the future. But the group says a new model must be installed.

"A letter from you is not going to be enough to satisfy or to move us forward as a church," Nettleship said. "It's going to take all of us."

Photo Credit: KDKA

The hope going forward is the CCOC will have representatives from every parish in the diocese and then they will have that seat at the table.


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