Catholics for Change in Our Church Lauds Pope’s Efforts to Change Church

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Lay group marks third anniversary of Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on Child Sexual Abuse by Church Clergy and start of two-year Synod of discernment and journeying together

Catholics for Change in Our Church (CCOC), an independent organization of Catholics seeking a greater role for the laity in the Church, today released a Progress Report marking the third anniversary of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. The timing of the Progress Report’s release emphasizes the importance of the two-year global Synod inaugurated by Pope Francis in October 2021.

The statement provides a three-year assessment of the changes occurring in the Catholic Church of Pittsburgh as it responds to the sexual abuse crisis, and to declining participation from lay Catholics that has been accelerated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent financial crisis, and the resistant entrenchment of clericalism in the hierarchy of the Church.

“In the first two years after the Grand Jury Report, CCOC’s more than 1,200 members were focused on working with the hierarchy to make the needed changes in our Church,” said Kevin Hayes, President of CCOC. “In the past year, however, our focus has moved away from the inability of the hierarchy to cope with the seismic changes in our Church, and instead we are exploring how lay Catholics are finding ways to discern and follow the Holy Spirit’s movement. This includes finding hope within Pope Francis’ call for synodality and co-responsibility as the way forward for all.”

In September 2018, 200 committed, hurting and outraged Catholics met and formed Catholics for Change in Our Church (CCOC). Today members participate in seven focus groups in areas ranging from healing for sexual abuse survivors to financial transparency and the proper role of lay leaders in the Church.

The CCOC Progress Report provides a call to prophetically love the Church into new life. This will come from lay Catholics discerning how this is to be accomplished through prayer and study of scripture, but also through working with lay groups across the country and globe. The Report provides details of seven areas of focus for CCOC in the coming year.

“We are the Church. Together. The clergy, the laity, and the central diocesan administration,” said Gretchen Jezerc, Vice President of CCOC. “The change that’s needed will only happen if the laity both demand it and help do the work to get it done. We need to answer Pope Francis’ call to journey together through the synodal process to love our Church into new life.”

About CCOC:
CCOC – Catholics for Change in Our Church – is an independent organization of 1,200+ concerned, committed Catholics, based in Pittsburgh, formed to affirm the laity’s rightful role of co-responsibility in the Church. The goal of CCOC is to bring about positive changes grounded in working collaboratively with the clergy and having the qualities of transparency, accountability, and competency. The seven focus areas of CCOC in the coming year include facilitating synodality and co-responsibility; promoting spiritual resiliency; working to redress the wrongs within the Church and being more inclusive; supporting the Discerning Deacons Project; organizing social justice Masses; collaborating with other lay led groups; and taking steps to hold the Church hierarchy more accountable. For more information and resources or to get involved, please visit

Kevin Hayes, CCOC President

Gretchen Jezerc, CCOC Vice President

John Costantino, Supporting Abuse Victims/Survivors & Their Families Focus Group Coordinator

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