Statement by the We Are Church movement.
12 August 2013
With the first meeting of the eight Cardinals at the beginning of October 2013 Pope Francis will start the reform of the curia. It is of the utmost importance to the future of the Roman Catholic Church. It should not take place behind closed doors, but transparently and as an open dialogue with the local churches.
On the 14th of April, 2013 Pope Francis announced a reform of the curia. He constituted a worldwide commission of eight cardinals. The Pope expects the first suggestions of this commission to be handed in by the beginning of October. So far no pontifical task has been announced for this body. So far none of the Cardinals involved has made any comment. But the reform of the curia as a first step to a structural reform of the whole Roman Catholic Church is so important that the basics should be discussed in public.
That is why the INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT WE ARE CHURCH asks the following questions now, before the first meeting of the commission at the beginning of October 2013:
- What are the objectives of the intended reform, what concepts are behind it and what are the Cardinals’ concrete proposals?
- Did the cardinals consult their national and continental bishops’ conferences and lay organisations beforehand?
- What action is there going to be in the face of the worldwide scandals of abuse and cover-ups?
Nominating an international advisory committee is an important step to a more cooperative and participatory Church leadership, given the many serious crises (Vatileaks, Bank of the Vatican, Society of St Pius X, lack of cooperation and so on) and wrong decisions made by the church leaders. But further steps have to be taken. The Roman Curia has hardened to an absolute power over the past centuries!
It is important that the much needed reform not only increases the efficacy of the curia but helps the spirit of transparency; so that collegial plurality and democratic structures in the institutional Church have a chance to develop (e.g. ‘separation of powers’: independence of legislature, executive and judiciary). Women, who constitute more than half of the church members, are hardly ever represented or involved in decision making. New structures of communication and leadership have to be developed. They should correspond with the demands of the Gospel and meet the requirements of a worldwide net of communities of the faithful in different cultural settings. It has to be asked how a lobby of homosexuals could have been established in the Vatican, as Pope Francis said, and what action is to be taken to prevent such future lobbying. The question of why any form of lobbying exists in the Vatican should be answered.
Pope Francis himself talked about „new wine in old wineskins“ and referred to the tradition of the Church that allows renewal of theology and structure by means of dialogue with people from different cultures (c.f. the Pope’s sermon on the 6th of July, 2013). That is why he is expected to make fundamental decisions during his papacy. These will entail the abandonment of obsolete principles and doctrines in order to secure the future well being of the Catholic Church. A commission of experts in church history, systemic theology and exegesis has to be convened as soon as possible to addresses concerns over dogmatic questions.
With all due respect for tradition and continuity, a fundamentally new culture and structure must be developed, and the process should be characterized by dialogue, communion, reform and openness – according to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which still provides valid and precious guide lines. For the Vatican this means, more communication instead of control, more spirituality and open-mindedness instead of sanctions.
The We Are Church movement believes that key decisions must be about:
- Decentralization of decision-making in the church and the giving of more rights and responsibility to the Church at local levels
- Representation in Rome of all churches in the world
- Emancipation of women at all levels
- Collegial responsibility and the abandonment of absolutist and monarchical structures
- The implementation of human rights in the Church
- A code of behaviour, including accountability of church leaders to the people of God.