Martha Heizer and Christian Weisner gave a brief overview of our 25 years with regular meetings, attending synods and supporting our 5 Goals with Press Releases and letters and organizing demonstrations, while building networks with like minded groups around the world.
Colm Holmes presented his 80 - 20 proposal: We Are Church has promoted our 5 Goals for reform in our church for 25 years. The best way to continue to promote reforms is to BE THE CHURCH WE WANT TO SEE. That means democratic structures and all ministries open to all. So we should give 80% of our efforts to this and only 20% to trying to persuade our hierarchy to introduce reforms. He gave Pope Francis a score of 27% measured over 12 reform issues.
Christian Weisner spoke about the MHG study which led to the Synodal Path. The MHG study identified 4 risk factors: Clericalism; Sexual morality; exclusion of women; misuse of power. WAC Germany are not part of the Synodal Path but are providing regular briefing papers and press statements. The Synodal Path has led to deep discussions on the main issues (Power; Priesthood; Sexual Morality; Women). Pope Francis in his June 2019 letter to the German people called for evangelization. But before evangelization can proceed the obstacles to it need to be cleared up. He noted none of the German Laity Association had been invited to the Vatican – only bishops are received. “Priests transform the hosts; Pastoral workers transform the people”.
Martha & Gert Heizer and Harald Prinz confirmed that Fr Helmut Schüller and 7 other parish priests are each training 4/5 lay people to lead their parishes when the parish priest retires. What if the lay people are not allowed to take over the parishes? That bridge will be crossed when they come to it. We are all baptized as “Priests, Prophets and Kings”. If no specialist is available, then the community can still celebrate the Eucharist. Official theology is built mainly on the Eucharist. With fewer priests, all should be allowed to celebrate the Eucharist. In one parish the pastoral assistant took over after the priest became ill and left. There were two religious communities in the parish with priests and one priest gave his name to avoid problems. Priests celebrated mass every 2 weeks. In between there were Liturgies of the Word with distribution of pre-consecrated hosts, led mainly by women. Baptisms were performed for 10 years without permission; that permission has now been given by the bishop. We can’t always wait for permission. Very little contact with bishop. Some bishops try to forbid Liturgies of the Word with pre-consecrated hosts on Sundays. Do we need priests? “Where two or three are gathered in my name…” For larger groups the presider needs to be qualified. It can be stressful preparing such events. It was suggested replacing the word “priest” with “presbyter”. Can a community not ordain their own presbyter?