Lincoln bishop offers way to lift excommunication of Call to Action members [In-Depth Report]
Members of the Call to Action group in Lincoln, Nebraska, sing in a prayer liturgy during a 2012 meeting at the home of Rachel Pokora. (NCR photo/Joshua J. McElwee)
Nearly 22 years after area Catholics were excommunicated for their membership in a national church reform group, the bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, has proposed a way to end their censure and return them to full communion with the church.
In late 2017, after more than a year of dialogue with several members of the local chapter of Call to Action, Lincoln Bishop James Conley extended an offer to lift the excommunication of its members on an individual basis while leaving the decree in place against membership in the organization.
Conley, who in November 2012 became bishop of the southeastern Nebraska diocese, 16 years after the excommunication, wrote in a Dec. 12 letter to Call to Action Nebraska members, "I have been clear from the beginning that no Catholic should become a member of Call to Action. I believe it poses a danger to the faith.
"However, I am willing to consider rescinding the excommunication in individual instances where members, currently not prepared to leave CTA, reaffirm their commitment to the full teachings of the Catholic Church," he said.
The proposal emerged through a series of dialogue sessions that began in the fall of 2016 among Conley, two diocesan officials, and five women of Call to Action.
"I'm very, very pleased with the understanding that we reached together as a group," Rachel Pokora, one of the dialoguers, told NCR.
Fr. Daniel Rayer, chancellor for the diocese, told NCR that the bishop has no comment at this time, and that he wants to let the process unfold organically.
Bishop James Conley blesses the faithful Nov. 20, 2012, as he leaves the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, Nebraska, after his installation as bishop of Lincoln. (CNS/Southern Nebraska Register/Courtesy of Kevin Clark)