The History and Mission of ACCR
ACCR began with a book published in mid-2011, called Saving the Catholic Church While Sitting in a Pew, which struck a chord with a number of its relatively small group of readers. Many of them sent e-mails and notes to its author asking for more information and his thoughts on specific issues.
Being basically lazy, the author decided it would be more efficient to publish a newsletter than to have to answer the same questions multiple times. The Saving the Catholic Church Newsletter first appeared on January 1, 2012 with audience of about a hundred and fifty. Within a year we were reaching perhaps thirty times that number and we continue to grow. The e-mails and notes with questions continued, but the topic changed to “What are we going to do about all of this?”
The author challenged some of those who were the most vocal to come together and discuss that question. That meeting eventually led to the not-for-profit incorporation of Accelerating Catholic Church Reform, Inc.
Our first task was to develop a Mission Statement:
In solidarity with our brothers and sisters all over the world who follow Jesus Christ, we in the USA seek reform and systemic change in the institutional Catholic Church to effect the full participation of the laity in church governance and discipline.
Based on that Mission Statement we set initial goals of Governance & Discipline, Equality, Transparency and Education.
The next step was to develop our plans for 2013. In our naiveté, we planned to begin developing an extensive network of members ultimately with teams ACCR teams of five to ten people in each of the 17,644 Roman Catholic parishes in the United States.
ACCR accomplished a satisfactory number of things during 2013, but the efforts on that network never made it off the ground. There was a serious mismatch between that objective and our manpower and other resources. It is still a desirable objective but few, if any reform organizations in the country could really make it happen.
During the planning process for 2014-2016, we received some advice from a reader of our Newsletter and former officer of one of the largest reform organizations. He said:
“I encourage your group and you to consider what your specific value-add that distinguishes you from other groups is. There are many Catholic reform groups as you know, tackling many of these issues. What sets you apart and why should someone fund or join you? I suggest it might be because of the specific tactics you employ…position yourself as think-tank of sorts in generating new ideas and informing the debate. This is consistent with the group having been formed as an outgrowth of your book, which itself offers provocative ideas.”
After thorough discussion, our Board decided to take that advice, based on the fact that it played to our strengths: research, strategy development, communications and innovation. We are now offering services in those areas to all Catholic Church Reform organizations in the United States.
Although ACCR is definitely a part of the Catholic Church reform community, we are unlike the other more than one hundred other organizations that make up that community. We do not circulate petitions, or participate in demonstrations or hold national meetings with well known speakers.
ACCR considers itself to be a part of the reform movement in the United States in two roles:
- As an observer of reform issues and an advocate for action by the millions of people in the country who sit uncomfortably in the pews but do not belong to or support any reform organizations.
- As a service to other reform organizations, dedicated to helping them to reach their goals, by providing expertise that they may not have internally.
ACCR currently has the following areas of interest: Research; Strategy Development; Innovation; and Communications. We are developing and defining projects in each of these disciplines and looking for people to join us and carry them out. It should be said that we will encourage our people to develop projects of their own which are consistent with our objectives.
The products of our research, strategy development and innovation will be available for use by any reform organization. We will accept commissions for specific projects, which will become the proprietary to the sponsoring organization. We will also do strategy critiques on request.
ACCR will conduct three general kinds of research, depending on the human resources available. The first will be in support of Strategy Development projects. The second will deal with the origins and development of current issues facing the Church, such as contraception, annulments, selection of bishops, inequality, transparency, education of the Faithful, separation of church and state and subjects requested by other reform organizations.
Those working in the Research area will be encouraged to develop their own projects. Some papers produced will be published as attachments to the Saving the Catholic Church Newsletter. All will be archived and available on this website.
Initially, this group will develop potential strategies to implement necessary reforms. An example of that would be the Proposal for the Popular Election of Bishops, published in 2013 and well received. The same should be done for our other three goals of Equality, Transparency and Continuing Education. Others may be inspired by work produced by the Research team. All volunteers working in this area will be encouraged to develop their own projects.
It is hoped that over time, other reform organizations will ask us to produce practical and executable strategies for them, which could be implemented by their manpower and resources.
ACCR is interested in developing innovative, stand alone programs, which could be implemented in colleges, parishes and other environments. We have two in process.
People working in this area would be encouraged to develop their own ideas and take them through the pilot program phase.
ACCR is looking for people to work in all of the areas described above. You work at home and on your own schedule as long as you meet your deadlines. If you are interested let us know by sending an e-mail with your interests and experience to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Saving the Catholic Church Newsletter has been published on the first day of the month since January 2012. It serves as a benevolent watchdog over the Governance and Discipline practices of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. No changes are anticipated in this approach.
The ACCR Monthly Chronicle has arrived on the fifteenth since November 2012. It reports on the ACCR as an organization. In the future it will be responsible for the content of this page and others on this website. We are looking for an author of this publication.
The newest in our trio of publications is OMG! A Journal of Religion and Culture, which will debut as a prototype on this website in April and appear on a quarterly schedule starting in July. This scholarly and yet very readable Internet magazine was conceived as the centerpiece of ACCR’s public presence, by our long range planning committee in September 2013 and has become a reality through the guidance of our Editor/Publisher Robert Blair Kaiser.
OMG! is owned by ACCR and is available only through this website. It is FREE and downloadable to your computer, iPad, Android Tablet and other devices.
ACCR Board of Directors: Robert J. BettertonPresident, Anonymous, Vice President, Ronald A. Naumann, MD Secretary, Robert J. King Treasurer, Edmund J. FitzGerald, Clare B. Gerber, J. Ross Hardter, Robert Blair Kaiser, Barbara G. Reynolds, Mary Anne Winfield.