Canon 212: 2-3; “The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” (Code of Canon Law)
“Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the Pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialogue of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.” (Art 6b, Secular Franciscan Order Rule of 1978)
In San Antonio, Texas, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is meeting. Already, there are some commentators who have doubts about what will come out of this meeting, whether they will really address the needs of the Catholic laity or that of the country. (http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/georgetown/2009/06/the_bishops_agenda.html) Catholic laypersons on the USCCB’s National Advisory Council have suggested that the bishops discuss the state of the economy and how it is affecting people, especially the poor. (http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/lay-group-asks-bishops-tackle-economic-crisis) It needs to be seen whether they will listen or not. In either case, we need to keep talking, need to keep asking our bishops and priests to enter into dialogue with us, to hear our experiences of what it mean to be a Catholic in today’s world. They need to hear of our struggles to live the Gospel, and how they are either helping or hindering us. Some may not know how to listen, some may not want to hear what we have to say, and there may be a few who do not care. Still we need to persist, respectfully, courteously, but persistently. It is our right; it is our duty to the Church.