Soon it will be the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Catacomb Pact, in which 40 Bishops and Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Councils committed themselves to a Church of the Poor. An occasion which has been all but forgotten for some time, but whose groundbreaking character manifests itself again in view of the disputes recently initiated in the Catholic Church by Pope Frances. Following the motto „Remembering and renewing the Pact of the Catacombs“ it is the aim of a congregation of more than two-hundred Christians to bring this pact to the attention of the public once more and at the same time highlight the importance of a Church standing alongside the poor and excluded.
On 16 November 1965 – three weeks before the end of the Second Vatican Council – 40 Bishops from all over the world met at the Domitilla Catacomb on the outskirts of Rome. In 13 commitments they promised to lead a simple life, to renounce the insignia of power and enter into a pact with the poor. What those bishops did later became known as the Option for the Poor: „Because there are poor people we have to make a new decision. The poor are the living proof that there is something wrong with society. Because of the poor we have to take an option. From this point of view the Church has to fight against injustice,“ explains Norbert Arnzt (Münster/Germany), who has researched the Catacomb Pact and the history of its effects on the development of Liberation Theology. For the Bishops of the Catacomb Pact it was all about a certain image of the church which reappears when Pope Francis writes, „With its words and gestures the 'awakening' Church places itself inside the daily life of others, shortens distances, lowers itself if necessary to the point of humiliation and embraces human life by touching the suffering body of Christ within the people.“ (Evangelii Gaudium 24)
After 50 years, help relight the flame of Vatican II !
We are faithful Catholics loyal to the message of Vatican II. Over the past 50 years, many of us calling for reforms promised at the Council have been ignored. The second Vatican Council encouraged us to speak out for the good of our Church and Pope Francis has now echoed this message in his apostolic exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’
Now is the time for the hidden part of the Church to emerge from the catacombs - Join us for this once in a lifetime meeting of reform groups and leading Catholic scholars from all over the world.
As equal disciples of Jesus, we are called to show the world and the Church that the seeds planted by the second Vatican Council have produced new growth over the past 50 years. We want to hear about our experiences of keeping the Church alive as inspired by the spirit of Vatican II, what our vision is for its future, and how local groups are living and expressing faith today within an evolving world. Our diversity will show the richness and vitality of the people of God in its unity (I cor 12), as in the different colors of a rainbow
Reform groups, associations and movements, grass-root communities, and interested associations, are organizing throughout the world local events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the close of Vatican II that opened new ways of being Church. Remembering how the apostles and disciples of Jesus came together (Acts 15, 2-4), we are inviting delegates of these movements inspired by Council Vatican II to meet together in a worldwide event in Rome on the 20th -22th of November 2015, in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the close of Vatican II, to know each other and to exchange our local experiences and reflections.
 Lumen Gentium IV, 37 : The laity should openly reveal to them their needs and desires with that freedom and confidence which is fitting for children of God and brothers in Christ. They are, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.
Evangelii Gaudium, (26), (29), (31) : At yet other times, the Bishop will have to walk after the people, helping those who lag behind and – above all – allowing the flock to strike out on new paths
Cardinal Capovilla is a great person in the history of the Council
Telegram to Don Loris Capovilla Sotto Il Monte-Bergamo
Dear Father Loris,
For your one hundred years I communicate the warm friendship and deep affection of the international movement We Are Church and of the movement Noi Siamo Chiesa Thank you for all you did for the Church in the spirit of the Gospel and of the Council especially collaborating with Pope John
A fraternal embrace
Vittorio Bellavite (National Spokeperson of Noi Siamo Chiesa)
Rome, 14 october 2015
Telegramma a Don Loris Capovilla Sottoilmonte-Bergamo
Caro don Loris per i suoi cento anni le comunico la viva amicizia e il profondo affetto del movimento internazionale We Are Church e del movimento Noi Siamo Chiesa La ringraziamo per tutto quello che ha fatto per la Chiesa nello spirito del Vangelo e del Concilio in particolare collaborando con papa Giovanni Un abbraccio fraterno Vittorio Bellavite coordinatore nazionale di Noi Siamo Chiesa
Roma, 14 ottobre 2015
“Follow Pope Francis’ way of dialogue and reform!”
To date more than 50 international Catholic organisations have signed an ‘Appeal to the Synodal Bishops’ due to meet in Rome in October 2015 to address major issues related to Catholic family life.
In a spirit of dialogue as urged by Pope Francis and motivated by the Spirit of God all of these organisations are calling on the bishops to listen attentively to what they are saying so as to make our Church a more compassionate family.
The outcomes from this Synod will have a critical bearing of the relevance of Catholicism to the needs of our time.
The Appeal outlines the fundamental problems experienced by Catholic families throughout the world:
The social and economic problems of the family should be widely discussed by the Synod, particularly those affecting the most vulnerable, children and women.
Regarding the divorced and remarried and their admission to the Eucharist, the practice of the early Church should be adopted, as it is done in the Orthodox Church.
Concerning the Motu Proprio (Apostolic letter) of Pope Francis on the canonical process of nullity of marriage we agree with and welcome the simplification of the procedure, but question the concept of annulment as such.
“Follow Pope Francis’ way of dialogue and reform!”
All matters concerning the family and sexual ethics have been an important part of the reflections of our organizations and movements for many years. We were inspired by the renewal brought into the Church by the Second Vatican Council, which we believe has now been taken up very clearly by Pope Francis.
Over the years we have been deeply concerned about the constantly growing gap between the convictions and conscience of a vast majority of the People of God and the doctrinal teaching and pastoral practice of the Magisterium of the Church.
The two synods called by Pope Francis give hope that the time has come for a new fidelity to the Gospel, so that doctrinal teachings are no longer an obstacle to the faithful who want to practice the Christian virtues in family life.
We participated in the dialogue promoted by the two questionnaires of the Office of the Synod in many ways. As a result, in what follows we present our thoughts and proposals to you as the participants in the Synod on the main issues that we believe should be addressed.
Streamed live on Jul 25, 2015
This day-long forum was an exciting and engaging event designed to inspire, educate and inform participants about the role of women in the church today, and why women are largely missing from the new tone and trends in the church.
Leggendo l’Instrumentum Laboris per il Sinodo di ottobre
La lettura dell’Instrumentum Laboris , il documento base per la discussione del Sinodo dei vescovi di ottobre sulla famiglia che è stato diffuso dal Vaticano martedì 23, è utile per capire a che punto è il percorso verso questa assemblea dopo mesi di interventi pesanti di ogni tipo da parte di conservatori “importanti” come quelli di alcuni Cardinali e di loro amici. Nel frattempo si sono pronunciati tanti gruppi di base che, per la loro stessa natura, non compaiono sulla scena mediatica mentre invece sono abbastanza rappresentativi di quella vasta area dell’universo cattolico che non si sente molto rappresentata da un’assemblea di dignitari ecclesiastici, anziani, maschi e celibi, senza che una donna o dei giovani vi possano intervenire. Per fortuna, grazie a papa Francesco, in questo caso almeno, il sistema delle risposte al questionario, inviato dalla Segreteria del Sinodo per un’ampia consultazione, ha ovviato in parte a questo deficit di presenze.
Ciò premesso, faccio alcune osservazioni leggendo, punto per punto, le questioni principali come emergono dall’Instrumentum (dopo le conclusioni di ottobre con la Relatio Synodi) che ha dovuto tenere conto della consultazione della base.
El culto a los santos y los procedimientos usados para alguien sea así declarado, son con frecuencia ambiguos. Esta forma de religiosidad- la veneración a los santos- se ha mantenido en todo el mundo católico durante siglos. Aunque respetamos los sentimientos religiosos de tantos católicos, nosotros creemos que el culto a los santos debe estar basado en el Evangelio.
“Somos Iglesia” tiene un punto de vista crítico hacia este culto y de manera especial en estos últimos años ya que la mayoría de los santos que se han proclamado proceden de congregaciones religiosas y en concreto, son sus fundadores. En muchos casos se ha dado preferencia a los miembros de grupos conservadores de nuestra iglesia.
Otra razón de nuestra preocupación es la canonización de varios de los últimos papas, ya que parece ser un procedimiento usado por el Vaticano para resaltar más el prestigio y poder del papado.
Sin embargo, esto no significa que no debamos honrar a los cristianos que han sido testigos del Evangelio de manera extraordinaria.
Tal es el caso del asesinado arzobispo de San Salvador, Monseñor Óscar Romero. ¡Nuestra alegría por San Romero!
Con gozo participaremos el 23 de mayo en espíritu y oración en la gran manifestación de alegría del pueblo de El Salvador.
Limerick, 16.04.2015. “With the resignation of Pope Benedict we are at the end of an era, and this is our best chance to renew the church for a long time“, Father Tony Flannery of the Irish Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said during an international conference in Limerick that brought together over 30 Catholic priests and church citizens from Ireland, Austria, Australia, Germany, India, Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.. The four-day meeting was hosted by the ACP.
“The election of Pope Francis has begun a new era in Catholicism”, Father Flannery added. The meeting called on the Bishops of their respective countries courageously and publicly to support the vision and the programme of Francis for the Church. A key issue will be to devolve authority away from the Vatican to local churches. Connected to this is the need to enhance the authority of the local church, especially parishes.
The International Movement We Are Church fully support Ireland’s Marie Collins’s call for Bishop Juan Barros of Chile to be removed from his office as Bishop.
Marie Collins is herself a survivor of clerical sex abuse and Pope Francis in 2014 appointed her to the Vatican Commission for Protecting Children from Clerical Abuse.
We believe that Pope Francis should move immediately to suspend Bishop Juan Barros .
The new bishop is accused of protecting Chile's most notorious paedophile priest Fernando Karadima.
At this year's IMWAC-Council meeting member groups confirmed their support for Pope Francis’ goals for reformation in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and encouraged the bishops to increase their backing.
Key issues were the Family Synod and Council 50 meeting in Rome November 2015.
The delegates decided on three priorities that IMWAC believes should be adopted by the Family Synod:
- An open and sensitive handling of those who have remarried, and Catholics in families that don´t follow the narrow standards of the Roman Catholic teaching.
- Respectful and non-discriminatory acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,
- A fundamentally new understanding of sexuality and major events in human life to guide the development of the Church's moral teaching and pastoral practice.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Innsbruck-Absam / Munich / Rome, March 11, 2015
The International Movement We Are Church, in view of the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, calls to all the forces of reform to continue to support a consistent course of reform in line with the Second Vatican Council and to counteract the growing resistance within the church. The cardinals and bishops here especially have the duty to ensure that the epochal change, launched 50 years ago by the Council, can succeed in the Roman Catholic Church.
‘We are Church Ireland’ held an one hour vigil outside the Papal Nunciature on 14 February 2015 to protest against the continuing display on the website of the Vatican-based Pontifical Council for Culture of a headless and limbless bound figure of a woman which women from over the Catholic world have and continue to find offensive.
At the conclusion of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in 2014 to treat the topic, The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization, Pope Francis decided to make public theRelatio Synodi, the document which concluded the synod’s work. At the same time, the Holy Father indicated that this document would be the Lineamenta for the XIV Ordinary General Assembly to take place from 4 to 25 October 2015 to treat the topic, The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.
The Relatio Synodi, which is sent as the Lineamenta, concludes in the following words: “These proposed reflections, the fruit of the synodal work that took place in great freedom and with a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate points of view that will later be developed and clarified through reflection in the local Churches in the intervening year leading to the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops” (Relatio Synodi, n. 62)
Pope Francis said the theologian is first of all a believer who hears the word of God and who humbly listens to what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. His remarks came in an address on Friday to members of the International Theological Commission. The Pope noted that the Commission’s mission is to study doctrinal problems of great importance, especially those which present new points of view. In his speech, the Pope said he wanted to draw particular attention to the importance of listening. He also noted the significantly greater presence of women on the Commission.
by Christian Weisner
The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops at the Vatican about the family ("The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization") that ended October 19, 2014, is the beginning of a synodal path that Pope Francis explicitly desires. What surprises and tensions happened there, reports Christian Weisner from Rome, who was accredited for the magazine KIRCHE IN in the "Sala Stampa", the press service of the Vatican.
Imagine a global corporation in extreme crisis, which also publishes the negative results of its worldwide customer survey, and then lets its regional representatives deliberate new concepts before the eyes of the world in order to develop concrete solutions within eleven months. This is exactly what has happened in recent weeks and months in the Roman Catholic Church.
After years where dialogue within the church has been suppressed, the first remarkable step was to invite the faithful to respond to the usual pre-Synod questionnaire. Francis wanted to get a factual picture of the living reality at the grassroots, not an over optimistic one made by the bishops. The discrepancy between the teachings of the Church and the lived reality – shown by the "Instrumentum laboris" across cultures - is so obvious that it cannot be put swept under the carpet. What the Church calls "irregular” or “not accepted situations" is a common reality in all parts of the world. "The reality is more important than the idea," said Francis in "Evangelii Gaudium" paragraph 231.
We Are Church groups throughout the world thank Pope Francis for his address, which they consider to be extremely important.
Here, courtesy of Zenit.org, is a translation of the Pope’s address Tuesday to participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements, organized and promoted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and with the Directors of several Movements.
He met with the group in the Old Hall of the Synod.
Again, good morning.
I am happy to be among you; moreover, I will share a confidence with you: this is the first time I have come down here; I had never come here before. As I was saying, I am very happy and I give you a warm welcome.
Thank you for accepting the invitation to discuss so many grave social problems that afflict the world today – you who suffer inequality and exclusion in your own flesh. Thank you to Cardinal Turkson for his hospitality. Thank you, Eminence, for your work and your words.
This meeting of Popular Movements is a sign, it is a great sign: you have come to put in the presence of God, of the Church, of peoples, a reality that is often silenced. The poor not only suffer injustice but they also struggle against it!
We thank Vatican News for this information
The World Meeting of Popular Movements has issued a statement at the beginning of their three day conference in Rome, which begins on Monday.
The culture of encounter at the service of poor people and poor nations
As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality (inequidad) is the root of social ills.1
The thinking of Pope Francis, and how he has constantly accompanied the excluded in their struggles and their efforts to organize, have inspired and motivated us to hold this World Meeting of Popular Movements. We wish to bring to God, to the Church and to the world the voice of the voiceless. Not so that they raise their voice no more, but because they are silenced by those who hold economic power. We wish to practice the culture of encounter in the service of poor persons, of poor peoples and of this poor Church for the poor which, together with the Holy Father, we all long for. We want to listen to one other, to judge and to act on the basis of the lived experience of those sectors most seriously assaulted in their dignity by social injustice, by an economy of exclusion and by an idolatrous system of money. Together we want to discuss the structural causes of so much inequality (inequidad) which robs us of work (labor), housing (domus) and land (terra), which generates violence and destroys nature. We also want to face the challenge Francis himself sets puts to us with courage and intelligence: to seek radical proposals to resolve the problems of the poor.
Media release Rome, October 18, 2014
This day at the end of the Extraordinary Synod has initiated a long overdue process of broad and open dialogue for the entire Church. This cannot be stopped.
The International Movement We Are Church supports all efforts to continue this throughout the global Church until the resumption of debate in the October 2015 Synod. Unlike the current synod, the one in 2015 must herald full application of the theological sciences and active participation of the people in the pews. Only then will informed and realistic answers to the many pressing issues be found.
It is high time that the foundations of the Church's sexual teaching are developed in line with modern science. This must and will lead to a relinquishing of incorrect or outdated doctrines and the further development of teaching.
We believe of importance will be:
- A return to the primacy of individual conscience (Cardinal John Henry Newman).
- A new and holistic view of sexuality, which opens up a reasonable approach to questions of homosexuality and homosexual partnerships.
- An inspiring interpretation of the relevant biblical texts and Jesus’ Message.
- Following the Council of Trent a sophisticated understanding of marriage as a sacrament.
The International Movement We Are Church expects the further discussion among the world’s Bishops in 2015 to produce:
- An offer of welcome to divorced and remarried couples, following the example of the Orthodox Churches and as the Bishops of the Upper Rhine made public in 1993.
- An active stand by the Roman Catholic Church against the criminalization of homosexual people who are being persecuted in many countries, even as far as incurring the death penalty.
- A view of marriage and the various forms of family as a lifetime community, which assumes responsibility in love and solidarity.
- Support, especially for those families who have to live, for social or political reasons, in very bad and detrimental conditions.
After years of suppression of dialogue in the local church, Pope Francis took the remarkable step of asking all members of the Church to respond to the pre-Synod questionnaire. The "Instrumentum Laboris" has afforded a global insight, which can no longer be ignored.
The beatification of Pope Paul VI taking place on the last day of the Synod recognises his great work in opening the Church to the world and continuing the work of the Second Vatican Council convened by his predecessor. However he also determined teaching on marriage and sexual matters exploiting Church politics where he ignored the vast majority of the votes of the Birth Control Commission convened by him. The 1968 Encyclical “Humanae Vitae” resulted in much loss of credibility for the Church as an institution and for its teaching on human sexuality. This must not continue after this Synod.
CONTACT IN ROME:
CONTACT IN AUSTRIA:
Dr. Martha Heizer, Chair of International Movement We are Church
Media release Rome, October 5, 2014
The International Movement We Are Church welcomes the fact that Pope Francis has today launched a bold new process of broad and open dialogue in the Catholic Church. With the beginning of the Synod we are sure it will be accompanied by the Holy Spirit and cannot be stopped.
We are Church asks the Cardinals and Bishops at the Synod not to waste time with fundamentalistic discussions but honestly and jointly pursue pastoral solutions to the many pressing questions. Theological doctrine and pastoral needs should not be played off against each other.
After years of oppression of all dialogue within the church, it was a remarkable development when Pope Francis invited all believers, the “people of God” to answer a questionnaire in preparation for the synod. The worldwide results that the survey “Instrumentum laboris“ clearly shows cannot be ignored: The traditional teaching of the Church has lost contact with real life and with the different types of family life in our time. What they call “irregular or not accepted situations“ is a widespread reality in all parts of the world. „The reality is more important than the idea“ (Evangelii Gaudium 231).
· It is high time that the theological basis for the sexual teaching of the church are re-developed in line with the findings of modern human sciences. Even the survey „Instrumentum laboris” finds the traditional understanding of natural law “highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible”.
· It is high time that the “sensus fidelium” (the „sense of the faithful”) as well as the primacy of individual conscience (Cardinal John Henry Newman) is re-discovered as the key point of Christian life and teaching.
· It is high time that church leaders open up a new approach to homosexual partners and divorced and remarried couples - not only out of mercy but of justice. Why don’t they follow the example of the Orthodox Churches with remarried couples?
· It is high time that the church supports all families who live in very poor and hard situations because of the neoliberal economic systems in an authentic and credible way.
This first meeting of the Synod has an overwhelming majority of Cardinals and Bishops who were appointed by the two previous Popes. There are very few women, experts and auditors in the Synod. Until now, people from reform groups are not invited to the synod, although We Are Church proposed a number of experts to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. Therefore the process of the Synod can not and must not be limited to the Synod Hall. The International Movement We Are Church will support processes of open dialogue in many countries in the period up to the second Synod meeting in October 2015.
Dr. Martha Heizer (Chair), cell phone in Rome:+43 650 4168500, email@example.com
Christian Weisner, cell phone in Rome:+ 49-172-5 18 40 82, firstname.lastname@example.org
We thank FutureChurch for this commentary
Along with Synod participants, thousands filled St. Peter’s Square this evening for a prayer service to open the Synod. Several couples gave testimonies about their lives. One couple told the story of their separation and reunion during a difficult period of their marriage.
Prelates lined up in chairs and appearing later in the service Pope Francis offered hopeful words prioritizing mercy over rigid adherence to unbending rules.
He asked for three things.
1. The gift of listening for the synod fathers: to listen in the manner of God, so that they may hear, with him, the cry of the people; to listen to the people, until they breathe the will to which God calls us.
2. Openness toward a sincere discussion and a spirit of fraternity
3. A willingness to be able to overcome situations of difficulty with persistence, patience and creativity
As he ended he prayed, “The wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod’s work, on the Church and on all of humanity….Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope.”
Let’s hope that Pope Francis gets at least a little of what he wants. We know Catholics stand with him in hoping for the same.
From Christian Weisner
At breakfast we welcomed Miriam Duignan from the London based Wijngaards Catholic Institute for Research.
In the morning, Martha attended the second day of CCRI’s seminar in the Oratory of S. Francesco Saverio del Caravita and had lunch with Rene Reid.
I was busy too preparing the press pack and my statement for tomorrow’s press conference.
In the afternoon Martha Heizer, Miriam Duignan, Deborah Rose-Milavec and I were at the International Conference "The ways of love" of the European Christian LGBT Forum in the Faculty of the Waldenses. It was the same room where we had our Shadow Synod in autumn 2001. The forum was chaired by the Vatican expert Marco Politi. The Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson was one of the speakers. Here I met him for the first time. I thanked him deeply for his clear analysis he made in his book "Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus". Five years ago I had helped to organize the German translation of his book.
Later this evening Raquel arrived from Spain.
The video is in Italian but below is information in English
Vatican City, 3 October 2014 (VIS) – A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office during which Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, outlined the structure of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, to be inaugurated by the Pope during a solemn mass in St. Peter's Basilica next Sunday.
The Cardinal explained that among the 191 Synod Fathers there will be 61 Cardinals, one Cardinal Patriarch, 7 Patriarchs, one major archbishop, 67 metropolitan archbishops, 47 bishops, one auxiliary bishop, 1 priest and 6 religious. There will also be 16 experts, 38 auditors and 8 fraternal delegates. He also remarked that since this assembly will consider the theme of the family, special emphasis has been given to married couples, parents and family heads, a total of 12 persons; there is also one married couple within the group of experts.