Recent statements from Vatican officials, including Pope Francis, that women and lay people should be more fully represented in Church structure are undercut by the announcement of who will have voting authority at the upcoming Synod on Youth, say leaders of We Are Church International, a group in the forefront of global church reform. The list of those with the right to vote includes cardinals, bishops, ordained Vatican officials, priests, and even a few brothers. Women and the young adult lay representatives who are the focus of the Synod are described as “collaborators” and “observers,” and they are specifically banned from voting.
“Once again, the Vatican is demonstrating its total unwillingness to share power and authority with those of us who make up the vast majority of the Catholic church,” said Colm Holmes of Dublin, Ireland, Chair of We Are Church International. “It is a shame that those with the real expertise on the experience, gifts, hopes, and needs of young people are sidelined as observers as decisions that will shape their futures are made. And, of course, women, whom Pope Francis has repeatedly said should have more authority in the church, are excluded from the vote, as well. How long can this institution continue being so deaf to the cries for equality that are coming from every part of the church?”
In his 20th August letter ‘To the People of God’ on the abuse crisis, Pope Francis calls for “every one of the baptised to feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion”.
We Are All Church, a movement of Catholics in South Africa (WAACSA) echoes this and repeats its long-standing call for a radical renewal in the life of the Church. Two roots of sexual abuse named by Pope Francis are a culture of fear and silence, and clericalism, both sustained by the abuse of power embedded in Church structures. To eradicate these, and for our Church to undergo conversion, open dialogue and co-responsibility between laity and clergy are required.
To know more about WAACSA, or to contact us, go to: www.weareallchurch.co.za.
Background re WMoF: There were two requests from countries to host the WMoF in 2018 in their countries. Neither request was from Ireland. But Pope Francis decided that the 2018 WMoF should be held in Ireland and this was announced at the 2015 WMoF in Philadelphia, the same year that Ireland had voted by Referendum to approve Marriage Equality (62% in favour). In January 2018 WAC Ireland spotted that images of same sex couples had been edited out of the WMoF preparatory Booklet. And shortly afterwards WAC Ireland noted an online video of a Bishop speaking about different family configurations was edited to remove all references to other family configurations. Both WAC Ireland and Global Network for Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) applied for stands at the WMoF. Neither was given a stand and a large number of stands were left empty at WMoF.
Background re Ireland: Ireland for centuries sent missionaries across Europe and around the world to spread the message of Christ. Even as part of the British Empire when our Catholic faith was suppressed it continued to support our population. After we gained independence in 1922 the Catholic Church assumed a central role in providing education, health and social services. Our governments heeded advice freely given by church leaders on many issues. When Pope (now Saint) John Paul ll visited Ireland in 1979 some 1.30 million gathered in the Phoenix Park for his mass. At that time over 80% of Catholics attended mass weekly. In 2018 only some 20% of Catholics attend weekly mass. What led to this huge turnaround? In 1980 artificial contraception was made legal; in 1995 Divorce was introduced; but by far the biggest factor was the disclosure of sexual abuse by priests which was covered up by moving them from parish to parish; the Irish State commissioned 4 judicial reports which in 2011 led to our Taoiseach Enda Kenny stating that “The rape and torture of children had been downplayed or 'managed' to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, which are its power, standing and 'reputation'. The Irish embassy to the Vatican was closed later that year. In 2013 a Report on the Magdalene laundries where unwed mothers were separated from their children and provided free labour was published. The reputation of the Catholic Church as trustworthy had collapsed. The majority of young people see it as an outdated institution with no real relevance to their lives. The 2015 Marriage Equality Referendum was followed by the 2018 Referendum to allow abortion in Ireland (66% in favour).
International Background: Pope Francis has struggled with the Clerical Abuse scandal for which he appointed a Pontifical Commission in 2013. Ireland’s Marie Collins (herself a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest as a child) was appointed to that Commission, but resigned after 3 years because of the ongoing obstruction to the work of the Commission in the Vatican. The Royal Commission in Australia in 2017 reported horrific stories of abuse and institutional cover ups. Earlier this year Pope Francis visited Chile where he supported the newly appointed Bishop Barros despite many calls for his removal. Pope Francis on his return did a U-turn and appointed a special investigator which led to all 34 bishops in Chile offering their resignations, 5 of which have been accepted. In June this year US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was removed from all ministries and he resigned as a Cardinal following abuse of a minor and many seminarians over many years. Then just days before the WMoF was due to start the Pennsylvania grand jury released a 1,356-page report claiming that bishops, priests, and deacons within the Catholic Church in almost every diocese in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse over a period of 70 years. Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Cardinal Donald Wuerl who were both scheduled for key roles at WMoF announced at a few days notice that they would not be travelling to Ireland. The withdrawal of Cardinal O’Malley gave rise to great concern as he has been heading the Pontifical Abuse Commission for over 5 years and his presentations had been eagerly awaited.
“Voices Pope Francis will not hear” organized by the Wijngaards Institute was held in Trinity College Dublin the day before the WMoF opened. The issues addressed included the marginalization of women; the vilification of LGBT Catholics; the ongoing silencing of priests & theologians; the harm caused by the papal ban on contraception; the abuse scandal and the 8th amendment abortion debate. The speakers were Dr Hille Haker; Jamie Manson; Dr Luca Badini; Tony Flannery; Dr Gina Menzies; Dr Siobhán Garrigan.
The launch of EqualFuture2018.com was organized in a pub directly opposite the WMoF so that journalist could easily attend. This website is aimed at young LGBT people and their families & friends to tell their stories ahead of the Youth Synod (October 2018). The website automatically send the stories to the Youth Synod delegates of the relevant country. The launch featured young persons from USA, Mexico, Venezuela and Ireland, as well as an audio link to a young LGBT man in China.
WAC Ireland helped organize a Rainbow Choir outside the WMoF who sang two songs: “Something Inside So Strong” and “We Are Family”. The 18 strong choir (who are all professional singers) wore T-shirts HEAR OUR VOICES and were heavily outnumbered by the huge media presence. The Gardai were very helpful and closed one lane of traffic as the media spilled on to the roadway.
WAC Ireland organized a colourful Welcome for Pope Francis on the Ha’penny Bridge at 10am on 25 August 2018. Together with Women’s Ordination Worldwide (who were holding their annual Steering Committee in Kildare where St Brigid lived) and Dublin Pride we decorated the Ha’penny bridge with Purple Umbrellas (WOMEN PRIESTS); Rainbow Umbrellas & flags in support of justice for LGBT’s and Blue Ribbons in solidarity with the survivors and victims of clerical sex abuse and cover ups. Again large numbers of international media attended to film, photograph and interview the large gathering. We carefully did not block the Ha’Penny Bridge for other users, which had been the main concern of Gardai.
Pope Francis met Leo Varadkar, our Taoiseach (Prime Minister), who in a strong yet respectful speech expressed his hopes for a new chapter in the relationship between Ireland and the Church, one “in which religion is no longer at the centre of our society, but in which it still has an important place.” Varadkar is the son of an Indian Hindu doctor and an Irish nurse, brought up Catholic, openly gay, and at 38 when entering office, the youngest Taoiseach in Irish history. The contrast between the 81 year old Pope Francis and our young, gay leader only half his age for me also marked the contrast between the new Christian Ireland where there is a welcome for all and the clerical church which Pope Francis is trying to reform.
Pope Francis visited Brother Kevin Crowley who runs the Capuchin Day Care Centre in Dublin and is regarded as a living saint.
Pope Francis met with 8 survivors of clerical sex abuse, including Marie Collins. Pope Francis gave a lot of time to each of them to tell their own stories and to ask their own questions. The 8 survivors who met him in Dublin were amazed when he told them he had never heard of the Magdalene Laundries. Marie Collins asked him why he had not followed through on the Independent Tribunal to examine Bishops and Cardinals, which Pope Francis had approved, but the CDF had rejected. Pope Francis said there were existing procedures already in place. Later on his plane back to Rome Pope Francis said Marie Collins was “fixated” about the need for an Independent Tribunal. Marie Collins after the meeting said she despaired at the lack of an Independent Tribunal.
At the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park only 130,000 attended, despite 500,000 tickets having been issued. That shows a 90% decline on the 1.3 million who attended the mass with Pope John Paul ll in 1979. A sign of hope was that 3 members of the All Are Welcome mass brought the Offertory Gifts up to Pope Francis at the mass. The All Are Welcome Mass is held every 3rd Sunday each month and includes a special welcome for LGBT people, their family and friends.
At the same time as the Papal Mass some 10,000 people gathered at the Garden of Remembrance for the Stand4Truth event in solidarity with the survivors and victims of clerical sex abuse and cover ups. After some speeches and several famous singers all 10,000 marched in silence to the nearby Magdalene Laundry.
Conclusion: Pope Francis has many important issues to deal with. Ireland has been tackling the clerical sex abuse scandal for many years now. There was disappointment that Pope Francis only offered apologies and did not indicate any new procedures in particular to deal with bishops and cardinals. With the Vigano letter and the former Cardinal McCarrick issues Pope Francis could certainly do with an Independent Tribunal to clear his own name and identify the guilty. No CDF tribunal can do that. WAC Ireland has issued a call for an Assembly of the Church in Ireland to propose new Structures for the Catholic Church, which include the people of God in all decision-making. We will also continue our work at grass roots level to build the church we want to see.
1 September 2018
From: Francophone Baptized Catholics Conference, 76 rue de la Verrerie, Paris 75004
31st August 2018,
Dear Very Holy Father,
Following the massive disclosures of a large number of scandals of the Church concerning the sexual abuse of minors by priests, you have addressed a letter to God’s People, in which you condemn clericalism as one of the causes of this evil and you have appealed to the baptized persons to help you resolve the problem. We want to respond to your appeal.
Please visit the website www.EqualFuture2018.com and support Young LGBT people at the Youth Synod
We Are Church is asking all our members and supporters to visit the website www.EqualFuture2018.com and give your support to young LGBT people at the Youth synod.
You do not have to be LGBT yourself to support this global initiative: just tell your personal story about the LGBT people in your life. The stories collected with this global initiative will be forwarded to our delegate bishops who will be representing us at the Youth synod in October 2018.
This initiative was launched during the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland on 22 August 2018 by Emily Dever, Xorje Olivares, Carlos Velasquez, Tiernan Brady and Ursula Halligan.
We Are Church is supporting this global initiative.
Please share this Call to Action on your websites and social media.
We are Church International, Chair
30 August 2018
We Are Church International joins Catholics and other people around the world in its horror at the revelations in the recently released Grand Jury report on clergy sexual abuse and cover up in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. We express our solidarity with the victims, survivors, and their families in their quest for justice and consolation. We call on the leaders of our Church to ensure that its response to this report is humble acceptance of the Grand Jury’s recommendations, and, at long last, to take the steps needed to demonstrate that they are committed to atoning for the grievous harm that has been done, and to creating more transparent and accountable structures.
Specifically, We Are Church International calls on Catholic leadership to:
- Open all files regarding sexual abuse at the Vatican, national bishops’ conference, and diocesan levels to review bypeople with expertise in analyzing them
- Remove all bishops who reassigned sexually abusivepriests from their leadershippositions and ensure that future bishops have never facilitated abuse
- Immediately cease efforts to block the lengthening or eradication of statutes of limitations on sexual abuse of minors
- Provide payment for counseling and financial compensation to anyone bringing forth any allegation(s) of sexual abuse by church staff that is deemed credible by an independent panel of expert reviewers
- Develop a process of public reconciliation, based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, where victims and survivors of abuse can speak out to church leaders
- Ensure that anyone still eligible for criminal prosecution of abuse or obstruction of justice is made available to civil authorities
- Develop panels of laity to review and respond to all complaints of sexual abuse
- Make individual apologies to every victim and affected family
Only by dismantling the systems that facilitated this abuse and cover up for so long will Church officials be able to begin to demonstrate that they are serious about repentance and ensuring that children remain safe and whole.
We Are Church International recommits ourselves to stand with the survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and to working for the justice they so clearly deserve.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
Indian Christian Women’s Movement 1st National Convention ‘Women Take Wing’
PRESS RELEASE 13th August, 2018
About 100 women including nuns and ordained women from churches all over India strongly condemned the weak institutional response of the church to gender violence faced by women in the Church.
The women were attending the first National Convention of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM) at Jnanadeepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, on the theme ‘Women take Wing’.
In her keynote address, Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Advanced Center for Women’s Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, traced the history of Indian women’s movement and the importance and relevance of ICWM in this larger context.
The delegates, cutting across age, region and Christian denomination expssed dissatisfaction at the lack of voice, role and decision making for women in Church structures, and declared their determination to struggle for justice equality, dignity and rights for women, children, Dalits, Tribals, Transgender people and LGBQIA.
They resolved to work together to enhance women’s participation, representation, decision making in the Church and related structures.
In the new normal of sexual violence and polarization in the country, and the abuse of women’s and children’s bodies to settle political and communal scores, the ICWM resolved to partner and work in solidarity with civil society groups and movements in the ongoing battle for justice for survivors and their families.
From Colm Holmes in The Phillippines
The energy and joy of the young people, aged 20-30, from 14 Asian countries is wonderful. Although of a much older generation I have been warmly welcomed to join in and participate.
Here are some pictures.
Enjoying the cultural evening
Friends from Korea
Friends from Myanmar
Friends from Vietnam
Today our minds turn to the Asian Theological Forum with a keynote speech by Bishop Alwyn de Souza. I will be introducing We Are Church later.
Colm Holmes is representing We Are Church International as this year's gathering in the Phillippines alongside 60 delegates from 14 different countries.
To give a taste of the joy, enthusiasm and friendship please take a look at some pictures from last year's meeting.
July 25, 2018.
On the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, We Are Church-International dedicate their commemoration of this milestone to all of the Catholics who have challenged the legitimacy of official teaching and honored their own consciences in making decisions about contraception and other important moral issues. We Are Church-International celebrates the integrity of all those who contribute to the Sensus Fidelium (“the sense of the Faithful”) in determining whether a teaching is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore legitimate.
“Over the past 50 years, billions of Catholics have read or been taught what Humanae Vitae says about the use of contraception, and the vast majority, after careful consideration, have rejected this teaching,” said Colm Holmes, Chair of We Are Church-International. “Most have done so while believing they remain good Catholics. In doing so, they have asserted a new level of authority in our Church. We believe this is the real significance of this anniversary.”
Recent statements by Pope Francis and top Vatican officials support the need to bring more lay women to top leadership positions at the Roman Curia. However, Voices of Faith is concerned about the apparent difficulties and lack of transparency in regard to how those women are chosen and the process undertaken to appoint them. In an extensively quoted interview with Reuters on June 17th 2018, Pope Francis is reported saying, “I don't have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery." At the same time, he talks about difficulties in finding the right candidates and convincing curial officials to accept women for leadership positions. The Prefect of the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, stated that the Vatican is "overloaded with clerics" and that "administrative functions within the church can be done by anybody" including laity.
Today, Thursday 7th June We Are Church Ireland is launching a petition calling on Pope Francis to change Vatican theological language that is gravely insulting to LGBTQI people.
Words like 'objectively disordered ' and ' intrinsically evil' to describe any human being is wrong but for an institution like the Catholic Church to teach that these words are an expression of the mind of God to describe her image in LGBTQI persons is not alone scandalous but blasphemous.
The petition is being launched by Ursula Halligan of WAC Ireland, Senator David Norris and Pádraig Ó Tuama of the Corrymeela Community.
Find the petition on Change.org at:
'We Are Church Ireland encourages every Catholic who continues to be enraged by this Vatican Un-Christian language to sign the petition demanding the withdrawal of this offensive language to describe our LGBTQI sisters and brothers' stated Brendan Butler.
Brendan Butler, We are Church spokesperson.
Mobile 086 4054984
7 June 2018
31 May 2018
We Are Church International (WAC-Int’l) strongly rejects Archbishop Luis Ladaria’s claim that the ban on ordaining women to the Catholic priesthood has “definitive character” and “is a truth belonging to the deposit of faith.” This teaching is outlined in Pope John Paul’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
Ladaria, who currently heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and who will be elevated to the order of Cardinals in June 2018, also said that Jesus’ intent is clear, as he bestowed the sacrament of ordination on “the twelve apostles, all men, who, in turn, communicated it to other men.” Of course, Jesus never ordained anyone. If being commissioned by Jesus to preach the Gospel is what is meant by ordination, wouldn’t Mary Magdalene, told by the risen Christ to proclaim the resurrection, be a priest?
Ladaria further said that challenging this teaching “… creates serious confusion among the faithful, not only about the Sacrament of Orders as part of the divine constitution of the Church, but also about the ability of the ordinary magisterium to teach Catholic doctrine in an infallible way."
Colm Holmes, Chair of WAC-Int’s, said, “Archbishop Ladaria’s attempt to invoke Jesus to justify the continued exclusion of women from church ministry and leadership is a distortion of our faith. The claim that patriarchal structures have divine origins and that women’s second-class status is sanctioned by God is a fallacy perpetuated by the celibate male clerical class. It undermines the church’s social justice work around the globe and puts the lives of women and children at risk.”
Holmes noted, “The ordination of women is supported by majorities of Catholics in many nations, including Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, and the US.* Catholics understand that God’s call to service and leadership transcends gender, and know that women are entirely capable of ordained ministry.”
Holmes said, “The inequality of women in the Catholic church is a matter of intense global conversation at the moment,” noting former Irish President Mary McAleese’s well-regarded recent address at the Voices of Faith convening in Rome on International Women’s Day where she said: ‘the Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny. It has never sought a cure though a cure is freely available. Its name is “equality”’.
“Catholic women and the men who support them are pushing back against policies and teachings that reinforce misogyny and discrimination. Archbishop Ladaria’s ill-advised comments are another example of the hierarchy’s desperate effort to maintain its status as an all-male power block. However, as we are seeing around the world, time is up for such exclusion and injustice.”
* Univision, 2014.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
25 May 2018
[ Italian ]
We Are Church International expresses solidarity with the survivors of clerical sexual abuse in Chile, Somos Iglesia Chile, and the Osorno Lay Organization for their courageous and tenacious advocacy to achieve justice for those who suffered years of abuse and cover up by church officials. Their commitment to the truth has resulted in a new level of accountability from the Vatican and from Chilean church leaders.
We Are Church International believes that it was right and appropriate for the more than 30 bishops from Chile to tender their resignations to Pope Francis, in light of the systemic cover-up of abuse and vilification of many survivors. We urge a thorough review of each bishop’s history and careful consideration of whether he deserves the privilege of continuing as a diocesan leader.
We Are Church International applauds Pope Francis for acknowledging that he made an error in his initial assessment of the impact of clerical abuse on the victims, survivors, their families, and the church in Chile. We agree that the appointment of Archbishop Scicluna to investigate the accusations brought against numerous bishops for widespread failures to act on accusations of abuse was a critical step in demonstrating respect for those victimized for so long. We await the publication of the full report on the investigation, and hope that the Pope will accept the majority of the resignations that have been offered. We expect that bishops and cardinals from other nations who have been charged with failure to act to protect the people of the church will also be subject to purposeful investigation.
Sexual abuse of children and adults and the cover up of this abuse is a problem for the church not just in Chile but across the globe. We Are Church International calls for justice for all who have suffered and urges the Vatican to learn from what occurred in Chile, and to apply these lessons to the entire Church. We believe that these scandals point to the need for structures that enforce transparency and accountability on the part of church leaders. The people of the church must have a voice in determining who leads individual dioceses, and in assessing the effectiveness of their leadership. These are important factors in establishing the “inverted pyramid” church of which Pope Francis has spoken, a church where the leaders are truly servants of the people of God.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
To all Catholic Women,
Catholic Women Speak and Voices of Faith have collaborated to write an open letter to Pope Francis appealing for greater participation of and dialogue with women in the worldwide Church. They have asked for our support of this effort to open a meaningful dialogue with women in the church so that women can have a more "decisive" presence in the universal Church. Please read the letter and, if you agree, you are invited to sign the letter and, in turn, circulate it to your networks.
As you will see, the letter is supportive of Pope Francis and seeks to open up a dialogue. The creators of this website believe it is important to express our concerns about the language used to describe women, and this letter strives to do so gently - not to provoke a confrontation
Here is the link to the website with the letter and the signature form: We are grateful in advance for your support.
It is worth reflecting on Bishop Michael Curry's address at the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on 19 May 2018. Bishop Michael is the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA.
"And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the Song of Solomon, in the Bible: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, and I quote: 'We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.'
There's power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't even over-sentimentalise it. There's power, power in love.
If you don't believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to centre around you and your beloved. Oh there's power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There's a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it - it actually feels right. There is something right about it. And there's a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant - and are meant - to be lived in that love. That's why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself: the source of all of our lives. There's an old medieval poem that says: 'Where true love is found, God himself is there'. The New Testament says it this way: 'Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God.' Why? 'For God is love.'
- There's power in love.
- There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can.
- There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.
- There's power in love to show us the way to live.
Set me as a seal on your heart... a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death.
But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we're all here. Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up. But it's not just for and about a young couple, who we rejoice with. It's more than that.
Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses, and he went back and he reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.'
And then in Matthew's version, he added, he said: 'On these two, love of God and love of neighbour, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world... love God, love your neighbours, and while you're at it, love yourself.' Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history.
A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world - and a movement mandating people to live that love, and in so doing to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I'm talking about power. Real power. Power to change the world.
If you don't believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America's Antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way. They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It's one that says 'There is a balm in Gilead...' a healing balm, something that can make things right. 'There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.' And one of the stanzas actually explains why. They said: 'If you cannot preach like Peter, and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all.' Oh, that's the balm in Gilead! This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it. He died to save us all.
He didn't die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn't... he wasn't getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world... for us. That's what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world. If you don't believe me, just stop and imagine.
- Think and imagine a world where love is the way.
- Imagine our homes and families where love is the way.
- Imagine neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way.
- Imagine governments and nations where love is the way.
- Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.
- Imagine this tired old world where love is the way.
When love is the way - unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.
- When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.
- When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.
- When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.
- When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.
- When love is the way, there's plenty good room - plenty good room - for all of God's children.
Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well... like we are actually family.
- When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.
My brothers and sisters, that's a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.
And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament: that's fire. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - and with this I will sit down, we gotta get you all married - French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a mystic. In some of his writings, he said, from his scientific background as well as his theological one, in some of his writings he said - as others have - that the discovery, or invention, or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history.
- Fire to a great extent made human civilisation possible.
- Fire made it possible to cook food and to provide sanitary ways of eating which reduced the spread of disease in its time.
- Fire made it possible to heat warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates.
- Fire made it possible - there was no Bronze Age without fire, no Iron Age without fire, no Industrial Revolution without fire.
- The advances of fire and technology are greatly dependent on the human ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good. Anybody get here in a car today? An automobile? Nod your heads if you did - I know there were some carriages. But those of us who came in cars, fire - the controlled, harnessed fire - made that possible. I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, that Jesus walked on the water. But I have to tell you, I did not walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here.
- Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other.
Fire makes all of that possible, and de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love - it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.
Dr King was right: we must discover love - the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world.
My brothers, my sisters, God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love."
On the occasion of the events that the Chilean Catholic Church faces and that reach the whole Church, we allow ourselves to present 7 new Orientations to face the crisis of power in the Chilean Church and in the universal one, by the theologianJosé Comblin,who exposes his article"On power in the Church",which we make ours as"Movement We Are Also Church-Chile".
What would be the new orientations regarding power in the Church today?
1) In the first place, it is necessary torecognize the power of the laity,based on the spiritual gifts and charisms they received, the evangelizing responsibilities they assume, etc.
2) In all instances, from the ecumenical council to the parochial councils,the laity must have a deliberative voice and can decide with the clergyon everything that does not refer to definitively defined doctrine.
3) Lay people should havean active voice in elections at all levels from the election of the Pope until the election of the parish priests.
4) The laity must have a deliberative voice in regard to the liturgy, catechesis and the organization of the Church.>
5) The basic principle is thatpower can not be concentrated in a single person.
6) The basis of all the reform of the power system is advertising. The preparation of decisions must be open, published and the necessary documents must be available to all. There can be no secrecy of appointments, nor of practical decisions taken by a single authority.
7) It is necessary to create an independent legal entity in which people who feel victims of injustice can appeal. At present, a layperson has no defence against clergy or religious; the religious have no defence against the clergy; the priests have no defence against the bishop; and the bishops have no defence against the Pope.
The basic principle is that power is in all Christians albeit in different degrees and that the structure must recognize this situation.
The second principle is that no human person represents simply the power of God and therefore can be corrected in everything that is not God's power, but affirmation of itself. For that there must be a fraternal correction that must be public.
The power of God creates, builds, edifies, increases, confers more freedom. All the ecclesiastical powers that do not act in that sense, are not God's power and must be contained, limited, structurally corrected. Structures must take away opportunities for abuses of power as in any society, and to diminish them, there must be rules that balance the powers of all.
Juan Subercaseaux (lawyer) - Enrique Orellana (professor).
DECLARACIÓN - "Movimiento También Somos Iglesia-Chile"
Con motivo de los hechos que enfrenta la Iglesia Católica chilena y que alcanzan a la Iglesia toda, es que nos permitimospresentar7 Orientaciones nuevas para afrontar la crisis del poder en la Iglesia chilena y en la universal, del teólogoJoséComblin, que exponeen su artículo"Sobre el poder en la Iglesia", que hacemos nuestras como"Movimiento Tambíén Somos Iglesia-Chile".
¿Cuáles serían las orientaciones nuevas con relación al poder en la Iglesia hoy día?
1) En primer lugar se necesitareconocer el poder de los laicos, basado en los carismas y dones espirituales que recibieron, las responsabilidades evangelizadoras que asumen, etc.
2) En todas las instancias, desde el concilio ecuménico hasta los consejos parroquiales los laicos deben tener voz deliberativa y pueden decidircon el cleroen todo lo que no se refiere a la doctrina definida definitivamente.
3) Los laicos deben tenervoz activaen laseleccionesen todos los nivelesdesde la elección del Papa hasta la elección de los párrocos.
4) Los laicos deben tenervoz deliberativaen lo que se refiere a la liturgia, a la catequesis y la organización de la Iglesia.
5) El principio básico es queel poder no puede ser concentrado en una sola persona.
6) La base de toda la reforma del sistema de poder es la publicidad. La preparación de las decisiones debe ser abierta, publicada y los documentos necesarios deben estar a disposición de todos. No puede haber secreto de los nombramientos, ni de las decisiones prácticas tomadas por una sola autoridad.
7) Es necesario crearunainstancia jurídica independienteen la que las personas que se sienten víctimasde injusticia puedan recurrir. En la actualidad, un laico no tiene defensa frente al clero o a los religiosos; las religiosas no tienen defensa frente al clero; los sacerdotes no tienen defensa frente al obispo; y los obispos no tienen defensa frente al Papa.
El principio básico es que el poder está en todos los cristianos aunque en grados distintos y que la estructura debe reconocer esta situación.
El segundo principio es que ninguna persona humana representa sencillamente el poder de Dios y por lo tanto puede ser corregido en todo lo que no es poder de Dios, sino afirmación de sí mismo. Para eso debe haber una corrección fraterna que debe ser pública.
El poder de Dios crea, construye, edifica, aumenta, confiere más libertad.. Todos los poderes eclesiásticos que no actúan en ese sentido, no son poder de Dios y deben ser contenidos, limitados, corregidos estructuralmente. Las estructuras deben sacar las oportunidades de abusos de poder como en cualquier sociedad, y para disminuirlos es necesario que haya normas que equilibren los poderes de todos.
Juan Subercaseaux (abogado)-Enrique Orellana(profesor).
May 17, 2018.
[ Italian ]
Leaders of We Are Church International today expressed serious concerns about the expansion of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life to include deepened reflection on the role of women. The broadening of the mission, headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, is the result of new statutes issued by Pope Francis that took effect May 13, 2018.
Colm Holmes of Dublin, Ireland, Chairperson of We Are Church International, said, “It is certainly critically important that the Vatican reflect and take action on the oppression women experience in our Church and in most cultures. However, putting this responsibility under the direction of the very man who recently banned at least two equality-minded women from speaking at the Vatican raises doubt that real progress will be possible. In addition, couching the consideration of women’s roles in the traditional Vatican language of ‘the relationship between men and women in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity’ and ‘feminine genius’ indicates a tenacious commitment to the very beliefs that put women in a second class status.”
Holmes continued, “We Are Church International calls on Pope Francis to establish a Dicastery for Women’s Equality. As former Irish President Mary McAleese pointed out in her remarkable address on International Women’s Day earlier this year, the Catholic Church needs to stop spreading the virus of misogyny and inequality throughout the world. A separate dicastery with a clear mission of dismantling the structures of oppression that result from Church teachings and practices is a necessary first step. We believe this Dicastery should be led by a team of directors, women and men, who can work collaboratively, modeling a new form of ministry and leadership at the Vatican. Their first mission should be to travel around the world, listening to women about their lives, their faith, and their relationship with the Church with no closed doors. What they learn should inform the Dicastery’s ongoing work of discerning the work of the Spirit.”
We Are Church International has long stood for women’s equality in the Church, including opening ministry and decision-making roles to women. The group supports all efforts that help advance this goal but sees the current direction as ineffective and problematic.
On Pentecost Sunday (20 May 2018) wear a red stole, a red scarf, a red top!
Thereby you announce your belief that the Holy Spirit lives in all of us!
| I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows her; but you know her, because she is with you, she is in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.(John 14: 16-18)
What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5: 22-23)
In the Bible it says the “Spirit is our life” (Galatians 5: 25) and “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5: 18).
This is one of the Joint Projects agreed between EN-RE and WAC-I at our Joint meeting in Rome on 16 March 2018.
Representatives from countries around the world.
Pictured, Sigrid Grabmeier, We Are Church (Germany) hands the Chair of the Council to Colm Holmes, We Are Church (Ireland).
A personal reflection from Colm Holmes
25 delegates from 12 countries attended meetings in Rome where much was discussed and ideas shared.
For me there were two highlights:
- Our Prayer Vigil close to St Peter’s at 10pm on St Patrick’s Day
- Our shared Eucharist
Those were two very special occasions where we prayed and shared at a deeper level with the Holy Spirit very present.
On the Friday we had a Joint meeting with the European Network Church on the Move (EN-RE). Martha Heizer shared her experiences from the AYA/ATP meeting in Indonesia where young leaders from 10 Asian countries discussed how they deal with life and death issues. Edson Silva presented an overview on Liberation Theology which led right up to the assassination of Marielle Franco, a young woman Council Member in Rio on 14 March 2018. We hope Edson’s paper will be translated into English.
The Joint meeting with EN-RE produced suggestions for 5 possible Joint Projects.
The WAC-International meetings included:
- Country Reports
- We have 21 members in 19 countries (2 members each in both France and Brazil)
- 500th anniversary of the Reformation witnesses outside and inside churches in 17 countries and 6 continents and using social media to share over 500 photos
- Red scarf Pentecost celebration
- 18 Press Releases issued
- Next WAC-International meeting will again be held in Rome at the end of March 2020.
- We linked up online with Ashik Naz Khokhar in Pakistan
- The election of our new Coordinating Team:
§ Chair Colm Holmes (Ireland)
§ Vice Chair Martha Heizer (Austria)
§ Communications Valerie Stroud (Great Britain)
- - Assistant Ashik Naz Khokhar (Pakistan)
§ Media coordinator Marianne Duddy Burke (U.S.A.)
§ Treasurer ? [Interim: Colm Holmes Ireland]
§ Membership In-Reach Martha Heizer (Austria)
- - Assistant Erik Westerberg (Sweden)
§ Outreach Jean-Pierre Schmitz (France)
- - Assistant Ed Schreurs (Netherlands)
Following up from the Council 50 meeting in Rome there is a large team working on the GCN Aparacida meeting in Brazil 15-18 November 2018 which has three titles:
- 2nd Global Forum of the People of God from Medellin 1968 to Aparacida 2018
- “EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH AND IN SOCIETY”
- The Gospel challenged by globalization: justice, peace, democracy, environment, spirituality
The keynote speaker will be Leonardo Boff with many other Brazilian and international speakers.
My sincere thanks to all our members who give freely of their time, energy and expertise to help to reform our Church into a more Christ like body.
Press release Rome / Tuebingen, March 17, 2018
International Reform Movements celebrate the 90th birthday of the Swiss theologian Hans Küng (19 March 2018)
We Are Church International (WAC-I) and the European Network Church on the Move (EN-RE) at their joint conference in Rome offer their heartfelt congratulations to the great theologian and ecumenist Professor Hans Küng on the completion of his 90th year of life. "His lifelong perseverance for the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church as well as his commitment to ecumenism and to the dialogue between world religions remain for us a great encouragement, inspiration and incentive at the same time", they explain. Küng is also one of the spiritual fathers of the grass root movements of EN-RE and of the We Are Church Referendum of 1995. They are grateful for his support to the First Forum of the People of God that that took place in 2015 in Rome.
Appointed by Pope John XXIII as an official advisor to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), notwithstanding the later ecclesiastical marginalization, this Swiss theologian of world renown has made decisive contributions to the understanding of the Catholic faith, ecumenical theology and interreligious dialogue. His 1957 dissertation entitled "Justification" on the Protestant theologian Karl Barth and a Catholic response was also praised by Joseph Ratzinger, who taught Dogmatic Theology from 1966 to 1969 alongside Küng in Tübingen/Germany. With his foundational works ("The Church" in 1967, "Being a Christian" in 1974 and "Does God exist?" 1978), Küng not only brought to the public selective ideas of reform, but intensively substantiated these in his works both biblically and systematically.
With his ecumenical commitment, Küng made a significant contribution to the 1999 establishment of a Catholic-Lutheran agreement in the doctrine of justification. Eucharistic Hospitality, for which the Institute for Ecumenical Research founded by him in 1963 in Tübingen, spoke at the Berlin Ecumenical Kirchentag 2003, was a step in the right direction for Küng.
Küng and the permanent problem of church reform
Like no other contemporary, Hans Küng has raised and kept alive the question of truth and credibility in Christianity. After the Council and the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" on birth control (1968), Küng in his 1970 book "Infallible? A question" raised the question of infallibility of the papal magisterium.
For this reason, on 18 December 1979, under Pope John Paul II, his ecclesiastical teaching permit ("missio canonica") was withdrawn. But Küng did not withdraw his theologically based statements about the controversial infallibility dogma of 1870 and thereby showed that not obedience, but resistance - a rather rare Catholic "virtue" - is demanded when it comes to resisting Roman prescriptions.
In 1968 he initiated and designed the Declaration "For the Freedom of Theology", which was revised by Yves Congar, Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx and finally signed by 1,360 Catholic theologians from around the world, including Joseph Ratzinger. In 1989, Küng was a co-signer of the "Cologne Declaration," which argued for open Catholicism and against an overarching papal authority.
The second volume of his memoirs "Controversial Truth" gives a historical and systematic justification of the concerns of We Are Church, which had been clearly defined since the Second Vatican Council and for which Küng fought for with great intensity in the 1960s and 1970s. In Volume 6 of his Complete Works he describes in the introduction the "permanent problem of church reform":
The fact that Küng's questions to the papacy are far from resolved is shown by the growing conflicts between Rome and the local churches and the conflicts between Pope Francis and parts of the Curia. Compulsory celibacy, the ordination of women and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper remain in the discussion, despite all the prohibitions from Rome, indeed there are and remain urgent reform points.
Since the withdrawal of the Missio Canonica (1980), Küng has devoted himself to inter-religious dialogue with great intensity. He also published three major works on Judaism (1991), Christianity (1995) and Islam (2004). Since 1990 he has been developing the Global Ethics Project, which he has been promoting since 1995 in the "Global Ethics Foundation". A milestone is the "Declaration on Global Ethics", adopted by the Chicago World Religions Congress in Chicago in 1993, which has led to a worldwide network of interfaith relationships.
Kueng and the grass root movements
Hans Küng is one of the spiritual fathers of the Initiative Church from Below, member of EN-RE, founded in 1980, and of the We are Church Referendum in 1995, which resulted in the Movement We Are Church. At the opening of the Conciliar Assembly "Signs of the Times - Hope and Resistance" in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, his last big appearance in Germany, he said: "We must not give up ... Especially in the current phase of the internal church restoration, it is important to ... keep our breath for longer", a word that applies especially to the current turning point in the history of the church.
Half a year after the election of Pope Francis, he wrote about We are Church: "In its demands, it has the message of Jesus Christ behind it, and at the same time meets the requirements of today's democratic and pluralistic society. During the time of the restoration pacts Wojtyla and Ratzinger there was little hope that their concerns would be heard in the hierarchy. With Pope Francis, however, a turnaround seems to have occurred which makes it easier to fulfill many of their demands. In the winter church the Church Movement kept the embers glowing under the ashes. May the fire of reform finally seize the whole Church and also the Vatican. So continue, dear friends, courage, creativity and perseverance!"
Vatican News:Watch the official trailer for Wim Wenders’ new film, Pope Francis - A Man of His Word. “Pope Francis - A Man of His Word,” is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions. From his deep concern for the poor and wealth inequality, to his involvement in environmental issues and social justice, Pope Francis engages the audience face-to-face and calls for peace.
>The film goes on general release on 18 May. It is produced by Wim Wenders with Samantha Gandolfi Branca, Alessandro Lo Monaco (The World's Smallest Army) Andrea Gambetta, and David Rosier (The Salt of the Earth). The film is a production of Celestes Images, Vatican media. Solares Fondazione della Arti, PTS Art's Factory , Neue Road Movies, Fondazione Solares Suisse and Decia Films.
Joint Press Release from We Are Church International and the European Network - Church on the Move
8 March 2018
Five years after the election of Pope Francis (13 March 2018) We Are Church International (WAC-I) and European Network Church on the Move (EN) appeal to Pope Francis to continue the reform process of the Roman Catholic Church and to intensify it with dramatic action. The election of the first South American Pope, who began his Papacy by asking the people of the world to pray for him, stirred great hopes in the hearts of many Catholics, especially many who had been frustrated by the failure of our Church to realize the promises of the Second Vatican Council, which was seen as having great potential to be more faithful to the Gospel and for modernizing aspects of the Church.
Today, delegates and representatives of the international Catholic Church Reform and Social Justice movements give Pope Francis decidedly mixed reviews. WAC-I and EN praise Francis for modelling a life in solidarity with the poor, encouraging dialogue within and beyond the Church, attempting to rein in hierarchical abuse of the Church’s wealth and power, and speaking in ways that are accessible to many. Yet, many of his reforms have been resisted by Church officials appointed by the previous Popes, John Paull II and Benedict XVI. WAC-I and EN call on the Cardinals, bishops, and all Catholics to embrace Francis’ vision of the Church as servant and steward.
WAC-I and EN leaders commend Pope Francis for his relentless advocacy on behalf of refugees and migrants, for his strong engagement for peace founded on justice in the world, for his proposal of nonviolence in every conflict, his visible presence among communities typically marginalized, and opting for simplicity in his personal life. They applaud the stewardship of the Earth promoted in Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. They recognize his courage in chastising and demoting bishops and cardinals who flaunted wealth and instructing church leaders to focus on pastoral care rather than bureaucracy. They appreciate that the Pope has focused on under-represented areas of the globe in the appointment of new Cardinals and has emphasized pastoral skills in designating bishops. They support the Pope’s attempts to open dialogue on issues of importance to families and youth and inviting input from members of the church in preparing for these Synods. The groups celebrated Pope Francis’ efforts to increase the accountability in financial matters, and his respectful engagement with leaders and members of other faiths.
The groups also expressed significant disappointment with the lack of substantive changes in some areas of Church policy and dogma, and about the opposition the Pope’s attempts at reforms have met within the Curia. They noted that the People of God remain excluded from decision making at all levels of the Church and Pope Francis call for dialogue has not been heeded at all levels. They also noted that there has been no significant movement on the inequality of women in the Church, despite the appointment of a study commission to consider the questions of women in the diaconate. The Pope has maintained the Church’s emphasis on complementarity, which prescribes roles for women and men based on gender, and on recognizing only the permanent, exclusive marriage of a man and woman open to the procreation and nurture of children. This means that divorced, remarried, cohabiting, LGBTI people, and those who use contraceptives, build families through assisted reproductive technologies, or have abortions are often excluded from full participation in the church. The Pope did appoint a commission to deal with the issue of clerical abuse in the Church, but opposition to its work among Curial members led to it being unable to accomplish its mission. A strong advocate and survivor of abuse resigned in protest, the Commission’s authority was allowed to expire, and when recommissioned, it was with members many characterize as weaker and less likely to challenge Church leadership. The Church should give up the procedures of condemnation and excommunication and show more respect for pluralism, especially in theology. Christian unity remains blocked by our Church refusing to accept shared communion. WAC-I and EN also noted that, despite several invitations, the Pope has failed to meet with leaders of Church reform and renewal networks to address areas of common concern.
We Are Church International and European Network Church on the Move call on Pope Francis to renew his commitment to the comprehensive reforms needed to free the Catholic Church from rigid hierarchical tradition, engage more of the laity and especially women, and ensure that the Church truly lives the Gospel of Jesus in a world that is in deep conflict and turmoil. We pray that this fifth anniversary marks a time of radical renewal for our Church.
The European Network Church on the Move (EN) is a spontaneous convergence of organizations – associations, communities, informal groups and networks – of European Christians who are in majority Catholic, sharing
(1) the vision of a Church prophetic, ecumenical, liberating, supporting, loving, which neither excludes nor discriminates and which follows on the steps of Jesus the liberator
((2) the will to work, respecting cultural and religious diversity, for peace, justice, freedom, human rights and democracy, including in the Catholic Church (Cf Declaration of rights and freedoms in the Catholic Church, European Network 1994)
Interim results: Pope Francis revitalizes Vatican II reforms by Christian Weisner
I cinque anni di papa Francesco. Noi Siamo Chiesa appoggia il nuovo corso ma continua il suo impegno contro le troppe resistenze che vi si oppongono. by Noi Siamo Chiesa
March 10, 2018.
We Are Church International today issued its complete and unanimous endorsement of Mary McAleese’s groundbreaking speech at the Voices of Faith International Women’s Day event Why Women Matter.
We call on Pope Francis to immediately develop a credible strategy for including women as equals at all levels throughout our Church and in both ministerial and decision-making roles. This strategy must begin with the Pope and other Catholic leaders listening to what women have to say, without rebuttal or limits on what can be said. They must then develop clear and measurable goals for reversing the centuries of oppression and discrimination women have faced within our church, as well as a system to audit and report on progress toward these goals.
We Are Church International believes, as Dr. McAleese proclaimed, “The Catholic Church has long been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny. It has never sought a cure though a cure is freely available. Its name is ‘equality.’
The time to seek that cure is now.