We Are Church Intl.

Fundamental Rights

A People not a Pyramid - Part 4

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A People not a Pyramid

Christianity: Leadership in a Society of Equals. Part IV.

….we have to make big decisions about the future … It has to be an assembly of the whole Church and not just the bishops. (++Mark Coleridge)

Archbishop Mark Coleridge has raised a number of matters he sees as essential for a responsible and transparently open process in preparation for the 2020 Plenary Council:

The need for the Catholic Church in Australia to retrieve its ‘missionary’ spirit, to let go of a introspective defensiveness. Coleridge has called for a break in the tradition about the apostolate of the laity: ‘The hierarchy needs to distance themselves from Pope Pius XI’s teaching in 1927 that the Catholic Action was “the participation of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy.” This presumes an ecclesiology of strict episcopal command, control and micromanagement. It is in tension with the ecclesiology of Vatican II which taught the ecclesiology of the People of God and the structures of shared governance, accountability and subsidiarity which are implied in that ancient model.’ Archbishop Coleridge also believes that “…we have to ask questions about ordained ministry,’ the relationship between new ecclesial movements and the older established communities; the viability of the traditional parish and what might need to be done to sustain the sacramental life of the local churches.

Archbishop Coleridge’s final question in the Leader interview is more than simply rhetorical: Do we need a new paradigm? 1

Vincent Long Van Nguyen,  the Bishop of Parramatta, is firmly convinced that there is an urgent need for Church reform and he made this abundantly clear during  a hearing at the  Commission’s Catholic Wrap Up. However, Bishop Long believes that the biggest obstacle in the way is clericalism with its trademark characteristics of secrecy, privilege, status and entitlements:

“.....  I see the clericalism as a by-product of a certain model of Church informed or underpinned or sustained by a certain theology. I mean, it's no secret that we have been operating, at least under the two previous pontificates, from what I'd describe as a perfect society model where there is a neat, almost divinely inspired, pecking order, and that pecking order is heavily tilted towards the ordained. So you have the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, religious, consecrated men and women, and the laity right at the bottom of the pyramid…...I think we need to dismantle that model of Church. ... I think we really need to examine seriously that kind of model of Church where it promotes the superiority of the ordained and it facilitates that power imbalance between the ordained and the non-ordained, which in turn facilitates that attitude of clericalism.” 2

The subculture of clericalism is finally being named for what it is. Pope Francis has called it ‘evil’ which may eventually be purged from the Church but the damage has been done and its scale defies imagination.  It is no wonder that during the past four years of the Royal Commission, there has been a catastrophic rupture in the relationship between the bishops and the Catholic people and clericalism had been a major causal factor. The estrangement between the two is deep and probably becoming more so. Consequently, bishops and other religious leaders have now largely forfeited their moral authority and capacity to provide effective leadership. The situation will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.

 A respected and deeply insightful commenter on the Australian website Catholica Forum remarks on the episcopal fall from grace:

“In the Australian Catholic Church identity and power were also paramount. As Christianity became just one faction in competition with others, especially as Catholicism was one faction in competition with the other Christian faiths, and as it was for a long time a minor player in an anti Catholic British establishment, laws became front and centre, well in front of ideas. There were ideas but only in the sense of "this is what you are obliged to believe." But other ideas seeped in and the realisation that we have to think for ourselves plus the demand that we have a say in other matters we should have a say in the Church. The official Church, for example, the assembled archbishops at the royal commission lost political power within its own boundaries. It lost the power to constrain people. The question is where do we go from here. And are we game?” 3

In a recent article, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson also expressed strong support for a comprehensive reform and restructuring of the Catholic Church. The hierarchy needs to listen closesly to what the Royal Commission has been hinting at and, above all, the Bishops must learn from  the laity is saying through their experience of the Sensus Fidelium:

“I am convinced that there must be a full and open discussion of all aspects of the Church if we are ever to put this scandal behind us. Quite simply, we need a different church. The Royal Commission was not constrained by any Church laws or teachings and so came much closer to the heart of the problem. In the meantime, all I can suggest is that the Australian bishops set up a body as independent as possible of Church authority to implement the recommendations of the Commission.” 4

One of the constant criticisms heard from laity is about the behaviour of a number of local bishops, Bishops’Conferences, Papal Nuncios and Dicasteries of the Roman Curia of their failure or refusal to reply to letters or emails. It is more than a lack of common courtesy and civility; it is another example of what may be interpreted as contempt and a denial of the rights as of their fellow Catholics to be heard and their concerns acknowledged. It is an old problem and it is typical of the tired culture of clerical superiority and entitlement. Clericalism has gone beyond a religious aberration and morphed into a massive distortion of the Chritianity itself. It has, on a deeper level, ceased to be an entirely religious disease and transformed itself into an ideological marker of sectional interest and institutional narcissism. It has no part in Christian society.

The Selection of Bishops

With the increasing number of bishops coming from religious life there might be an eventual shift in expectations about the length of episcopal tenure. The monastic tradition has been one of the most important guardians of the original genius of the Christianity sense of social and moral equality, free will and the primacy of conscience. The tradition of members regularly choosing their leaders in free elections was highly valued. Fresh blood kept the spirit of healthy, ongoing reform alive and countered the inbuilt tendencies in stratified secular societies towards dynasticism, autocracy, spiritual stagnation, cynicism and moral entropy. Modern liberal societies are in debt to Christian Monasticism for the modelling and realising genuine democracy, a fact many would find it difficult to admit and accept.  Larry Sidentop, social historian and philosopher, comments on the democratic ‘Cluny effect’ on the selection of bishops:
 “It would be difficult to exaggerate the influence, direct or indirect, of this Clunaic reform movement. The direct influence can be found not only in the way many older monasteries rapidly submitted to the disciplines of Cluny, but also in the frequent election of monks from Cluny to bishoprics, where they began to defend the principle that the church should choose their own leaders.” 5

The Clunaic monk-bishops ideas reflected the ‘democratic’ convictions which were theologically and culturally at the heart of the monastic tradition. There was nothing novel about this. It was simply preserving the memory and intrinsic value of a thousand year old tradition of clergy and people being essentially involved in the selection of their bishops. American Church historian, Joseph F. O’Callaghan,  has written widely on the ancient tradition of lay involvement in the selection of bishops. His important work has contributed greatly to a renewed conversation about reviving the ancient tradition of popular (whole Church) election of bishops. On the escalating tensions between Church and secular interests in episcopal elections, O’Callaghan writes of the strong papal support for the tradition of popular elections:

“Toward the end of the century the letters of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) reveal that popular election continued to be the norm, but he too was concerned about royal interference.” In the event of a see becoming vacant an episcopal visitor was sent by the Pope or the episcopal synod to supervise the election of a new Bishops. The visitor would invariably appeal to the common desire for unity and stability: “The visiting bishop was instructed to encourage clergy and people, ‘putting aside all else, with one and the same consent,’ to choose as bishop one who was ‘worthy of such a great ministry.’” 6 

During the past forty years or so, Catholic reform groups have been been attempting to engage the hierarchy and Laity about reviving the tradition of all the Faithful being involved in the selection of bishops. This is consistent with the ecclesiology of Vatican II, the Sensus Fidei Fidelium and the Council’s theological vision of women and men who exercise inclusive, shared responsibility and accountability for the life and order of the Church including its leadership and governance. Over recent years,  Peter Wilkinson has written extensively on on the history of lay involvement in the selection of bishops and on the steps necessary to revive the tradition. Wilkinson’s work has had an enormous positive impact especially in stimulating a wide- ranging and informed conversation both in Australia and abroad. 7  

Catholics for Renewal has recently promoted further thought on the involvement of the Faithful in the selection of bishops by conducting a survey which canvassed people on their views on the most pressing needs of their dioceses and the qualities of pastoral and administrative leadership they are looking for in a bishop. The results and analysis of that survey have since been published  on the Catholics for Renewal website 8 and also in the Autumn 2017 edition of The Swag, the quarterly journal of the Australian National Council of Priests (ACP).

 In his evidence before the Royal Commission’s Catholic ‘Wrap Up,’ Vincent Long Van Nguyen, Bishop of Parramatta, spoke of the negative effects the Church’s hierarchical structure and theology of the perfect society have had on both accountability and a wider collegiality in a society of equals:

 “Accountability in that perfect Church model only works upwards. You're accountable to the person above you. ….. There's no accountability that reaches outwards or downwards, and that's the critical problem, as far as I see. That discipleship of equals calls into question that upward accountability that is in operation as a result of that ecclesiastical model of a perfect society where everyone knows their place and the pecking order is strictly dictated by ordination.” 9

 The Church has never been very comfortable with the notion of ‘accountability.’ From early centuries it has described itself as the changeless,  perfect society, the spiritual Byzantium which is answerable to none but God.  Constantine even exempted the clergy from civil prosecution and, over time, this imperial concession led to the development of a culture of ecclesiastical complacency and even contempt for secular institutions and the rule of law. This attitude still exists in many parts of the ‘Catholic’ world and has been named as such by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The leadership of the Catholic Church must now learn how to conduct themselves as responsible and accountable citizens. As Bishop Long indicates, the Church’s leaders also need to make some profound changes to the way they communicate with the rest of the Faithful. Once those dynamics of communication are switched from the coded dialects of unequal power, of control and infantilisation to the familial language of ‘sisters and brothers,’ then the entire culture  of the Church will transformed into what it was originally intended to be. Speaking at a recent Vatican sponsored conference on child sexual abuse, Francis O’Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, was even more blunt in his criticism of the Bishops’ failed leadership which visited catastrophe on the Catholic People of Australia:

"We have never really appreciated that the decisions our leaders made in order to facilitate and cover up actually broke the heart of what it meant to be Catholic," he said. "And we need to go back and fully confront that." 10


The need for the urgent revival of Paul VI’s Fundamental Law of the Church.
Truth, Justice, Healing and Redress in a new Paradigm of Church

For many decades, Catholics committed to the ongoing interpretation and application of Vatican II’s teaching, have been advocating the retrieval and reception of Pope Paul VI’s Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis. Pope Paul intended that the Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis be adopted in the post-Conciliar Church as Constitution of the Church which would set out the guidelines for clear and open government in the Catholic Church, set out the rights and obligations of all Catholics and which would provide a moral reference point and criterion of intererpretation of Canon Law.

‘Two things should be especially noted about the Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis:
1) It clearly was to serve as a “constitution” in the sense that it was to provide the fundamental juridical framework within which all other Church law was to be understood and applied. Like the American Constitution, and all other civil constitutions, if any subsequent law passed were found to be contrary to the Lex Fundamentalis, the subsequent law would be void.
2) The Lex Fundamentalis was to serve as a fundamental list of rights of the members of the Church, like the American “Bill of Rights.” ’  11

Fortunately, very important elements of the still incomplete LEF were accessed by the preparatory commission for the 1971 Synod of Bishops in Rome. The theme for the Synod was Justice in the modern world. Many of the LEF’s moral principles readily embraced, articulated and proclaimed in The Performace of Justice.12

 Fr Tony Flannery, a  banned and silenced Irish Redemptorist priest speaks of the vital importance of Paul VI’s visionary initiative for the preservation and guarantee of the rights and obligations of all members of the Church:

“The Second Vatican Council has put the People of God back into the centre of its teaching about church. Pope Paul VI wanted to give back fundamental rights to the People of God and commissioned the creation of a Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis, a constitution for the church. That project was stopped by Pope John Paul II. But a church without respect for the conscience of each of its members, without appropriate participation on decisions in the church and without an obligation for those who are leading the church to give account, such a church lives in contradiction to the message of Jesus Christ and of the bible concerning each human being and to its own teaching about society.” 13

 The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)has acted in a cowardly and secretive way in the cases of Tony Flannery and the five other Irish priests have been silenced and censured in recent years for holding and promoting views alleged to be at odds with official Church teaching on a range of issues most notably, birth control, the availability of sacraments to remarried divorcees, homosexuality, clerical celibacy and the priestly ordination of women. During the papacy of Benedict XVI, Tony Flannery and Gerard Moloney, both Redemptorist priests, were silenced and banned from ministry, so too the 84 year old Marist priest-theologian Professor, Fr Seán Fagan who was even threatened with forced laicisation if he spoke publicly of his banning.  All his books were bought back from distributors, destroyed or otherwise removed from circulation.  Seán Fagan died in 2016, still silenced and unvindicated. The same treatment was meted out to Conventual Franciscan Owen O’Sullivan followed by Passionist Brian D’Arcy. The bans continue despite protests from around the world and despite approaches to Pope Francis.  Because  Fr Fagan was under such duress over the past decade of his life, he asked that a number of his speeches be published only after his death. Follows is a portion of an address he gave to a reform group in 2009:  

“The Vatican ignores basic human rights in its procedures; the right to be heard, the right to know your accusers, the right not to have the same individuals as prosecutor and judge. Those accused are never addressed personally, but only through their superiors, who can command them to silence. The CDF is doing great harm to the Church.” 14

 None on them were told what precise offences they were being accused of, or who accused them. None of them were given an open and just hearing in a  fair, accountable and  transparent forum. This lack of due process is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, the natural law and the normal practice of just civil judicial systems. In Australia, it was a situation almost identical with those in Ireland. Neither William Morris, Emeritus Bishop of Toowoomba, or  Greg Reynolds, excommunicated former priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, were told the details of the accusations against them, the identity of their accusers  and they were denied  the opportunity to meet them face to face in a legal forum. It is the teaching of a General Council of the Church that all Catholics have the right to open and fair due process. In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decreed that:

“He who is the object of an enquiry should be present at the process, and, unless absent through contumacy, should have the various headings of the enquiry explained to him, so as to allow him the possibility of defending himself. As well, he is to be informed not only of what the various witnesses have accused him of, but also of the names of those witnesses.”

The 1971 Synod of Bishops reaffirmed Lateran IV when it taught that it is a moral right of the accused to have the opportunity to face their accusers and for the matter to be dealt with speedily:
 “The judicial proceedings give the accused the right to know his accusers, as well as the right to an adequate defence. Justice, to be complete, must include process speed. (And this is especially required in matrimonial cases.)” (Bold added) 15

The culture of secrecy, lack of transparency and accountability in the Church’s disciplinary policies and procedures have led, not to an increase in confidence and trust in Church governance but rather cynicism and loss of faith. Bishop Vincent Long has recently made reference to the lack of accountability to the Catholics of Australia in relation to the dismissal of Bishop Bill Morris. The popular perception is that very few of the Australian bishops were proactive in defending +Bill Morris both in Australia and in Rome. Given what they have learned at the Royal Commission about massive injustices done to thousands of innocent children, will the Australian Bishops summon up the courage to see restorative justice for Bishop Morris by setting up an independent forum in which he can meet his accusers face to face in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel, the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council and the directives of 1971 World Synod of Bishops? Securing the release by the Vatican of the secret ‘Chaput report’ and its publication would be of enormous benefit in this regard.

During the last few years, the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church from the Pope to the local diocesan bishop has been promising profound change, genuine reform and more effective strategies in the way the institution  exercises its responsibilities towards secular society and the way the Faithful are treated. But, as Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ remarked during his appearance at the Royal Commission, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Until the culture is changed there will be little or no systemic reform in the way the Church is led. The small number of Catholic Faithful who are still participating in Church live would probably understand the situation very well as do the Royal Commissioners. Those who seem clearly not adequately to grasp this idea yet are Pope Francis, the CDF and probably the majority of the world’s Bishops.

The culture of the Roman Curia has certainly not been transformed enough for Marie Collins. She had experienced the levels of incomprehension and resistance when she came to realise that the CDF, which had been directed expressly by Pope Francis to cooperate closely with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, had been stonewalling, dissembling and running interference. Collins protested to no effect so she resigned. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the CDF, proceeded to reject Collins’ criticisms.  Her response to Müller’s statement is refreshing candid:

“I would ask that instead of falling back into the Church's default position of denial and obfuscation, when a criticism like mine is raised the people of the church deserve to be given a proper explanation. We are entitled to transparency, honesty and clarity.” 16

Much has been said already about the urgent need to purge clericalism from ecclesial life. It is toxic at its core. It is narcissistic, narrowly self-interested, takes cover behind a wall of secrecy and avoidance of accountability. One of its worst tendencies is the habit of claiming the high ground of doctrinal orthodoxy and ‘pastoral’ orthopraxis while subverting and attacking those it judges to conform to neither.

 Archbishop Coleridge is one of the few Australian bishops who is finally coming to  understand and name the deep seated cultural distortion, denialism and pathology in the governance of the Catholic Church in Australia. The problems are not superficial and transitory. They are at the very core of the institution and will not go away unless they are purged:
“I for one never imagined the scale of the problem in years past. The data is there for all to see now. There is almost certainly more out there that has not come to light. I have long abandoned any suggestion of it being only bad apples, and I have said for years in fact now that we are dealing with something that is cultural and systemic.” 17

Some concluding thoughts 

The 1971 Roman Synod document of the Practice of Justice was strongly supported,  endorsed and proclaimed by Pope Paul VI against the vigorous protests of influential figures in the Roman Curia. The document therefore enjoys the authority of the Magisterium. It should  be welcomed by all Catholics and given special place not only in the Agenda for the 2020 National Plenary Council but also as a key discussion item for during the diocesan/regional/parish listening sessions leading up to the Plenary:

“….. , the members of the Church should have some share in the drawing up of decisions, in accordance with the rules given by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the Holy See, for instance with regard to the setting up of councils at all levels.” 18

 Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council has the final word and rightly so:

“For my mind the clearest message is this. If people of good will, the good priests, the willing religious, the enlightened leaders, but more importantly people like you – the engaged and informed Catholics – don’t continue to push for change then, as sure as night follows day, the reactionaries will overcome and nothing will change.

If we do not continue to push – and push hard – the impetus for change will fade, inertia will set in, reformists will be shunned, and the victims of what has been the greatest betrayal in the Catholic Church in Australia will remain mired in hopelessness, despair and anger.  This is a very dangerous time for the Catholic Church in Australia.

If the Church in Australia doesn’t see continuous, concerted change from our leaders driven and backed by an active and demanding Catholic Community, then our Church as a religion will become a marginalized rump, stripped of credibility and relevance, left to preach to an ever aging congregation with eyes on an ever dimming here after. …
….Changes must be made, and if they are not made willingly they will most certainly be forced upon us.” 19

If the Catholic Church in Australia, and probably world wide, is to experience internal healing, reconciliation and renewal these movements of grace must assume an external shape of  a system of ecclesial accountability and responsibility in governance which will ensure that abuse of authority in all its forms will be dealt with swiftly, transparently and justly. All of the matters raised by Archbishop Coleridge, the Facts, the Drift and the New Paradigm must all be essential  to any planning for and discussions at regional synods/listening sessions and at the 2020 Plenary Council. At least this is a beginning after repeated calls by Pope Francis who has repeatedly challenged has all the bishops of the world to foster the growth of a synodal Church. 20


End Notes


  1. Mark Bowling, “Brisbane Archbishop calls for first synod for entire Catholic Church in Australia since 1937” The Catholic Leader, August 17, 2016. (Accessed 14/02/2017 http://catholicleader.com.au/news/brisbane-archbishop-calls-for-first-synod-for-entire-catholic-church-in-australia-since-1937).
  2. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Public hearing – Case Study 50 (Day 252. Transcript Ref: .21/02/2017 (252 Page: 25784). See also, Pat Power, “The Royal Commission and the need for reform.” Pearls and Irritations, March 1, 2017 (Accessed 06/03/2017  http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9620); “It’s the story of what  the Royal Commission and others call ‘clericalism’ which lies at the heart of the failure, and we are going to take a pounding on that score in the final hearing, and I suspect in the final report of the commission that will be with us next year, and the implications of which wil be with us for many years to come.”  Staff, “Seminary turns 75: Queensland training base for priests is ‘God’s work of art’The Catholic Leader,November 9, 2016 (Accessed 19?03/2017 http://catholicleader.com.au/news/seminary-turns-75-queensland-training-base-for-priests-is-gods-work-of-art);

see also the 2010 SBS Nightline interview of a George Negus interview withTom Doyle which has been republisehd in by Colleen Koch in an April 2010 edition of Enlightened Catholicism (Accessed 26/02/2017http://enlightenedcatholicism-colkoch.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/father-tom-doyle-uncensored.html)’

  1. ‘Enda’ “Back to following the Way,” Catholica Forum  (Accessed13/03/2017 http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=196668 )
  2.  “The Royal Commission,” Pearls and Irritations 08/03/2017 (Accessed 11/03/2017 http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9695).
  3. Larry Sidentop, Inventing the Individual. The Origins of Western Liberalism. (UK: Penguin, 2015) 185-186 (Bold added).
  4. Electing Our Bishops. How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders, (New York, NY: Sheed and Ward, 2007) 40, 37-64.
  5. “Is it time to return our origins  in the Selection of Bishops?  Catholica 01 March, 2016   (Accessed 18/02/2017 http://www.catholica.com.au/gc4/pw/009_pw_070316.php); “Why the delays in appointing Australia’s Bishops?” Catholica, April 03, 2016 (Accessed 18/03/2017 http://www.catholica.com.au/gc4/pw/010_pw_080616.php); “Choosing Melbourne’s next Archbishop of Melbourne.  How it should occur and why it is important.” Catholica  1 Jun. 2016 (Accessed 18/03/2017 http://www.catholica.com.au/gc4/pw/011_pw_200716.php)
  6. Catholics for Renewal, “Having a Say in Selecting Our Bishops Report of an Online Survey Conducted by Catholics for Renewal Full Report,”  February 1, 2017 (Accessed 18/032017 http://www.catholicsforrenewal.org/Survey%20report%20on%20Needs%20Qualities%201%20February%202017-4.pdf).
  7. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO INSTITUTIONALRESPONSES TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE Public Hearing - Case Study 50. (Transcript .21/02/2017 (252) lines 25-45).
  8.  Joshua McElwee, “O’Malley pledges pope still committed to rooting out clerical sex abuse ,” NCR Mar. 23, 2017 (Accessed 24/03/2017 https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/omalley-pledges-pope-still-committed-rooting-out-clergy-sex-abuse).
  9. “Vatican II from below – Constitutional Catholicism, A ten-step programm to a democratic Parish – and Church,” Pissed Off and Passionate, Feb 21, 2011.(http://www.scouserquinn.com/?p=3291);  See the original commentary in Leonard Swidler,Vatican II from below – Constitutional Catholicism, A ten-step programm to a democratic Parish,” Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (No date) (Accessed 18/03/2017 http://www.arcc-catholic-rights.net/lenten_5.htm).
  10.  The Performance of Justice, Justice in the World. World Synod of Catholic Bishops, Rome 1971. (Accessed 12/03/2017  https://www1.villanova.edu/content/dam/villanova/mission/JusticeIntheWorld1971.pdf)James Biechler, “Justice in the Church: Our Catholic Crisis,” Call to Action Conference, Lincoln, NE 2000. (Accessed 18/03/2017 http://www.arcc-catholic-rights.net/justice_biechler.htm).
  11. Tony Flannery, “Goal of Working Group on fundamental rights in the Church,” Feb. 08, 2017. (Accessed 12/02/2017 http://www.tonyflannery.com/goal-of-working-group-on-fundamental-rights-in-the-church/); “THE RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS1/ OF ALL THE CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL [Canons 208-223]” Elephants in the Living Room  (Accessed 02/02/2017  http://www.elephantsinthelivingroom.org/canons/Canons_208-223_Introduction.pdf); It is widely believed that priests such as Fr Flannery, Fr Brian D’Arcy, Fr Gerard Moloney, Fr Owen O’Sullivan, the late Fr Seán Fagan and other priests were disciplined by Rome due to secret denunciations by Catholic rightwing clergy and laity in Ireland who combined to act as a kind of “thought police.”  (Accessed 20/01/2017 http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/why-the-catholic-right-wants-cleanout-in-maynooth-1.2745542); http://www.elephantsinthelivingroom.org/; It is a website created by a group of reform-minded priests from the Archdiocese of Detroit, USA and most of them members of the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCAP).
  12. Tony Flannery, “The CDF is doing great harm to the Church,” Blog, March 21, 2017(Accessed 25/03/2017 http://www.tonyflannery.com/the-cdf-is-doing-great-harm-to-the-church/). Tony Flannery and Paul Collins, “ A New Process for the Church and for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” We are Church International, 08 February, 2017 (Accessed 02/03/2017 http://www.we-are-church.org/413/index.php/library/abuse-of-power/565-a-new-process-for-the-church-and-the-congregation-for-the-doctrine-of-the-faith)
  13. The Performance of Justice,  Justice in the World, # 46.
  14. Marie Collins, “Comment,” Blog, March 2017 (Accessed 20/03/2017 http://www.mariecollins.net/comment.html) “Exclusive: Marie Collins responds to Cardinal Muller’s allegations about abuse commisssion/National Catholic Reporter,” VOTF, March 15, 2017 (Accessed 15/03/2017 https://voicefaithful.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/exclusive-marie-collins-responds-to-cardinal-mullers-allegations-about-abuse-commission-national-catholic-reporter/).
  15. Mark Bowling, “Cultural Change the key to protecting children, Archbishop Coleridge says,” The Catholic Leader, February 8, 2017 (Accessed 20/02/2017 http://www.catholicleader.com.au/news/cultural-change-the-key-to-protecting-children-archbishop-coleridge-says).
  16. The Performance of Justice # 45.
  17. “Where to from here?” Pearls and Irritations, 15 March, 2017 (Accessed 15/03/2017    http://johnmenadue.com/?p=9759); see also Mark Bowling, “Shocking extent of Church abuse revealed at Royal Commission,”   The Catholic Leader, February 8, 2017(Accessed 16/03/2017 http://catholicleader.com.au/news/shocking-extent-of-church-abuse-revealed-at-royal-commission) ; TJHC submission to Royal Commission examines causes of child sexual abuse in Catholic Church, in Cathnews, March 17, 2017. (Accessed 20/03/2017 http://cathnews.com/cathnews/28703-tjhc-submission-examines-abuse-causes); see also Gerard O’Connell’s March 31, 2017 interview with Francis Sullivan in America Magazine: Gerard O’Connell, “Victim advocate: The abuse scandal has broken heart of the Catholic Church in Australia”. America Magazine, March 31, 2017 (Accessed 01/4/2017 http://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/03/31/victim-advocate-abuse-scandal-has-broken-heart-catholic-church-australia); and again: “These days I’m still astounded by the resistance in some quarters of the Church to actually look honestly at how the culture of the Church has contributed not only to the actions of perpetrators but also to the mismanagement of the cases, the perpetrators themselves and to the pastoral care of victims. And it is on this last issue, the proper care of victims that the church still appears to be well behind the mark.”  (Accessed 13/04/2017 http://www.tjhcouncil.org.au/media/tjhc-blog.aspx);  Mark Bowling, “We created the abuse: Church official leading response to child sexual abuse tells priests it’s time to listen to the Community,” The Catholic Leader, April 11, 2017 (Accessed 12/04/2017. http://www.catholicleader.com.au/news/we-created-the-abuse-church-official-leading-response-to-child-sexual-abuse-tells-priests-its-time-to-listen).
  18. Massimo Faggioli, “Are the bishops up to the pope’s challenge to build a synodal Church?’ La Croix International, April 18, 2017 (Accessed 19/04/2017 https://international.la-croix.com/news/are-the-bishops-up-to-the-popes-challenge-to-build-a-synodal-church/5036?UTM_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=e-mail&utm_content=19-04-2017&utm_campaign=newsletter__crx_Ici&PMID=47765922ca935ed104281ce03e24b04a) Paid subscription applies;  J. A. Dick, “Springtime Reflections for Church Renewal,” Another Voice, April 20, 2017 (Accessed 21/04/2017 https://anothervoice-greenleaf.org/2017/04/20/springtime-reflections-for-church-renewal/).

David Timbs is a member of Catholics for Renewal.


A People not a Pyramid I & II were published in the February 27, 2017 issue of We are Church International


Further Reading: Background material on Pope Paul VI’s Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis:

 Joseph A. Komonchak,  “Vatican II and the New Code/Vatican II et le nouveau code..In:
Archives de science sociale des religions, n.62/1, 1986. pp.107-117. (Accessed 28/02/2017 http://www.persee.fr/doc/assr_0335-5985_1986_num_62_1_2405)    

Thomas J. Green,  “THE REVISION OF CANON LAW: THEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS,”  Theological Studies, 47 (1986) 617-652. (Accessed 28/02/2017 http://cdn.theologicalstudies.net/40/40.4/40.4.1.pdf)

Leonard Swidler, “Where did God or Jesus say that democracy has no place in the Catholic Church?”  (Accessed 28/02/2017 republished in a 14 part series in Catholica , Australia 2007. http://www.catholica.com.au/gc1/ls/001_ls_151007.php).

ACC, “Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”, June 2011 (Accessed 28/02/2017 http://americancatholiccouncil.org/files/2009/05/CBRR.pdf)
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Accessed 28/02/2017 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf)