Dr Martha Heizer and her husband, Gerd, will no longer be able to receive Communion at Mass in the Roman Catholic Church because they and their group celebrated the Eucharist together without a Ministerial Priest being present.
There are a variety of opinions within the We Are Church movement about this and so response has been left to individual national groups.
Statements by We Are Church groups
Wir sind Kirche Austria - Vertrauen für Martha Heizer grosse Richtungsdiskussion angesagt
Wir sind Kirche Deutschland - Zur Exkommunikation durch Bischof Scheuer
Wir sind Kirche Austria - Martha remains in the Chair
We Are Church Ireland - Support for Martha Heizer
0gså vi er kirken, Norway - Sad News
We Are Church - France - Soutien à Martha et Gert Heizer suite à la décision d’excommunication
Vi är kyrka - Sweden - FÖR VÄKS HEMSIDA
Katolsk Vision - Sweden - Excommunication clarifies the differences of opinion within Wir sind Kirche movements
Vi Er 0gså Kirken, Denmark - A commentary on excommunication of Martha Heizer
Nous Sommes aussi l'Eglise, France - La présidente du mouvement international Nous Sommes Eglise excommuniée
We Are Also Church, South Africa - Statement regarding the excommunication of Martha Heizer.
Statements and Comments by others
For All Eternity - Statement by Dr Thomas Plankensteiner, founding Chairman of We Are Church in Austria.
Commentary by Dr Paul Collins (Catholica)
Rome, 22 May 2014
The International Movement We are Church (IMWAC), on the 20th Anniversary of the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, ‘Ordinatio Sacerdotalis’, entitled ’Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Only‘ calls on Pope Francis to recognise that this Magisterial teaching is not supported by the vast proportion of the Catholic Faithful and ought to be changed.
We believe that the call to Priesthood is a Charism of God, based on Baptism and confining it to ‘men only’ limits the power of God. This continued ban on women from priestly ordination is an injustice in the Church which must be confronted by the Catholic Faithful as a matter of conscience. Accordingly Canon Law 1024 which states that only a male can be validly ordained is an unjust law and should be withdrawn as a matter of urgency.
What Pope Francis wrote in his recent letter ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ regarding the ordination of women - ‘The reservation of the Priesthood to males , as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist ,is not a question open to discussion’ - does not represent the Sensus Fidelium of the convictions of not only the Catholic faithful but of very many clergy and some hierarchy as well.
In this letter Pope Francis is reiterating what Pope John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic letter 20 years ago condemning women’s priestly ordination - ‘we declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer Priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitely held by all the Church’s faithful – ‘ . Even at that time this magisterial teaching banning women from Priestly Ordination was disputed by Bishops and Faithful alike within the Catholic Community.
In April 1976 the Pontifical Commission concluded unanimously that ‘It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in any clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible access of women to the Priesthood‘ and by a significant majority it concluded that ‘The church could ordain women to the Priesthood without going against Christ’s wishes‘.
This magisterium of these Biblical theologians has been rejected by successive Popes including Pope Francis. Equally the magisterium of the ’Sensus Fidelium’ has been rejected by successive Popes.
It is now the right time that the Papal magisterium should allow free and open discussion of Women’s ordination within the Catholic Church without fear of excommunication . It is also right that those within our Catholic Community who have been unjustly excommunicated because they publicly articulated that reserving priestly ordination to men only has no basis in scripture or human reason should be fully accepted back within our Communion.
Banning women from Priestly Ordination is a continuing injustice which has no basis in the New Testament, is a continued stain on the fabric of the Catholic Communion and most importantly the younger generation find this ban a stumbling block to their Faith in the Risen Lord.
Read more: "Correct an injustice: Ordain women“, National Catholic Reporter, December 2012:
‘The International Movement We are Church wishes to express its solidarity with your sisters as you continue to negotiate with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith and Archbishop Sartain over the issues arising from the Doctrinal Assessment .
We take heart from the positive comments of Cardinal Kasper and his emphasis that dialogue not condemnation is the Christian way to overcome all difficulties.
The work of the LCWR is an invaluable contribution to the life of the American Church and indeed to the universal Church which takes great heart from your patient and courageous negotiations with the CDF .
The theological concept and the pastoral approach of the CDF has to be redefined according to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and of the guidelines Pope Francis has given so far.
We offer you all our prayerful support. Rest assured that the Spirit of our God is as active today in our midst and yours as on the day of Pentecost.’
Response from LWCR (10 May 2014)
Thank you for this very strong expression of support. Please continue to pray for us that what will emerge from these conversations will be healing and strengthening for the Church.
El prelado, defensor de los indígenas, falleció a los 91 años de edad en Goainia
El obispo brasileño Tomás Balduíno, conocido por su defensa de la reforma agraria en favor de los derechos de los "pobres de la tierra" y de los indígenas, ha fallecido en Goiania, capital del estado de Goiás, informó hoy la Comisión Pastoral de la Tierra (CPT), de la que fue fundador.
“The whole system of canonizations is now questionable and its democratization is essential”, says Dr. Martha Heizer, chair of the International Movement We are Church (IMWAC). “The reform of the canonisation process should now be added to the other reforms of governance, transparency and accountability Pope Francis has started and that are essential if the Catholic Church is to become the ‘Light of the World’.”
IMWAC believes the process of canonisation needs to be democratised and become less a politicised instrument of Vatican policy. The canonisation of both Popes, with most of the rest of recently deceased Popes already on the canonisation ladder, glorifies the absolute nature and infallibility of the Papacy at the expense of the rest of the People of God.
The Church has a tradition of celebrating the lives of Christian people who have lived lives of outstanding virtue and of martyrdom by adding them publicly to the calendar of the Saints. However there has been a disproportionate emphasis in this tradition in the canonisation of catholic clergy and nuns.
We Are Church recalls from the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) the universal call to holiness of all the People of God as proclaimed in Lumen Gentium: “each in her /his own way is called by the Lord to that perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect” (Lumen Gentium, Chapter 11).
Reservations about the hasty canonisation
While we praise and rejoice in the human and holy lives of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, the undue haste in the canonisation of the latter is a cause of concern. IMWAC believes that the reforms of Vatican 2 were almost abandoned in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II (see the annexed IMWAC statement of 16.1.2011).
The Apostolic Constitution “Divinus Perfectionis Magister” of 25 January 1983 by Pope John Paul II introduced changes to the canonisation process which reduced the traditional time frame from fifty to five years or less between the death of a person and her/ his nomination for Sainthood whilst it also abolished the ‘Devil’s Advocate’. Both radical changes resulted not only in the increase of canonisations but also less attention being given to contra-indications against a person being speedily canonised. These changes allowed Pope John Paul II to be canonized in record time with no Devil’s Advocate to argue against his inaction against clerical sex abuse and his public support for the sex abuser Fr. Maciel, founder of the Legionaires of Christ.
Does it mean that once a cleric is elected Pope that sainthood becomes a corollary of the role or is it the case that only saints are elected Popes? This situation is against the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
Moreover, we must continue to examine the relationship between popular piety and the radical Gospel message of Jesus. The glittering pomp and glory of the medieval Catholic Church will again appear in St Peter’s Square next Sunday and will be in contradiction to the lives of the majority of the people of God who live in poverty, marginalization and rejection. This Church of the poor is espoused by Pope Francis and we offer him our support as he attempts to reform this Church of pomp into one of solidarity with the poor, a church that will reflect the reign of God where the last shall be first.
Rome, April 23, 2014
International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC)
We Are Church press release, January 16, 2011
Rome, …. March 2014
One year ago, our Catholic Church showed real potential for self-reform. Reform for which we had hoped and waited for a very long time. The resignation of Benedict XVI was instrumental in the election of Francis which has given hope to Christian people that a new course in the history of the Church has begun. The crisis at the top had reached such a low point that it is impossible to believe that the Holy Spirit did not breathe on these events.
Pope Francis has put the Gospel and the joy of living in the present moment at the centre of his ministry. Those who feel healed and saved by the Word of Jesus are able, therefore, to love much, to forgive, to suffer with all.
This is Francis’ basic message, a simple message for all ordinary people; all those who are poor in spirit, of whom is the kingdom of heaven. This message has been obscured for too long. Often in many situations, it was hardly visible, buried by the stiffling situation in the Church. Now everything is easier. There was great expectation for this to happen. Movements at the grassroots desired to make the message of Jesus more visible and understandable, even to those who are not believers or are in search of the truth.
FOR RELEASE FEBRUARY 20, 2014
International Church Reform Groups Seek Meeting with Pope Francis
Groups Send Letter Urging Increase in Women’s Leadership, Access to Communion
Contact: Anthony Padovano, 973-539-8732
Linda Pinto, 570-296-5326
As the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election approaches, leaders of 52 organizations from the United States, Europe, and Asia working towards renewal and reform in the Catholic Church have sent a letter to the Pope. They are urging him to take immediate steps to appoint more women to Church leadership positions, and to stop the practice of banning people from Communion. They have also asked the pontiff to meet with them, saying they represent “millions of Catholics around the world who are deeply committed to our Church, but hope for changes on issues of governance and care.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The recent statement against the Vatican of the Committee for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child confirms, with the authority of the structure of the United Nations, what has been known for some time and which victims of sexual abuses have denounced for years.
The International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC) has been part of the international mobilization on this very serious issue and share the position of the Committee, concerning how the Vatican has dealt, in the majority of cases, with the issue of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church. The attempts to minimize the responsibility of too many Church leaders are at odds with reality; reports and judgments from different countries now make this very clear.
We know that the responsibility for this situation is not individual priests or bishops only, but goes back to the central structures of the Church. The Vatican had the serious responsibility of having tried to wash the dirty linen at home, and in this way it was washed very badly or not at all, and certainly too late.
Pope Francis needs to be uncompromising and to take action very quickly. The decision to establish an ad hoc committee is completely inadequate. There is a need for a directive, which should impose to the Bishops' Conferences in the different countries obligations of transparency and publicity. Church authorities should be obliged to accept, request and support the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators by the judiciary.
These obligations were, and are still, stubbornly refused by the CEI, the Italian Bishops Conference, as confirmed in the recent meeting of its Permanent Council, despite that pedophilia crimes have been committed by the clergy in Italy not less than in other countries.
As believers in the gospel and members of this Church we are deeply saddened by this situation, which makes us suffer and for which we pray.
* * *
The International Movement We Are Church, founded in Rome in 1996, is represented in more than twenty countries on all continents and is networking world-wide with similar-minded reform groups. We Are Church is an international movement within the Roman-Catholic Church and aims at renewal on the basis of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). We Are Church was started in Austria in 1995 with a church referendum.
Wenn die österreichischen Bischöfe heute, Montag, zum Ad-limina-Besuch beim katholischen Kirchenoberhaupt eintreffen, sind die Ergebnisse von Tausenden Einzelbefragungen mit im Gepäck. Das sind die Rückmeldungen der Gläubigen auf den vatikanischen Fragenbogen. Mehr als 34.000 heimische Katholiken beteiligten sich an der päpstlichen Umfrage zu Ehe und Familie. Die Fragebögen werden dem Generalsekretariat der Bischofssynode übergeben, das die Synode zur Familie vorbereitet. Nach dem Pontifikatswechsel sind die Erwartungen an eine grundlegende Kirchenreform groß.
12 gennaio 2014
I nuovi cardinali di papa Francesco: molti vengono “dalla fine del mondo”, Bassetti è cardinale mentre sono fuori i ruiniani Nosiglia, Moraglia e Fisichella. La porpora a Loris Capovilla è un sicuro messaggio di fedeltà al Concilio
Il portavoce nazionale di “Noi Siamo Chiesa” Vittorio Bellavite ha rilasciato la seguente dichiarazione:
“Non è facile capire il significato delle nomine dei diciannove nuovi cardinali, sedici a pieno titolo e tre ultraottantenni. Bisognerebbe conoscere di ognuno di essi la pratica pastorale e l’impegno effettivo per una Chiesa povera e a favore della pace fondata sulla giustizia sociale.
Un giramento di testa, un incontro mancato, un commento brusco alle scelte del nuovo pontefice. Mercoledì scorso, nell’arco di poche ore, è suonato un campanello d’allarme per papa Bergoglio.Finita l’udienza generale in piazza San Pietro – la temperatura era fredda – Francesco si è sentito girare la testa e il lieve malore lo ha costretto ad andarsi subito a riposare, rinunciando all’incontro con il cardinale Angelo Scola, venuto appositamente da Milano per parlargli di una futura visita all’Expo. Non è una cosa da niente. Scola è stato il principale antagonista di Bergoglio al conclave: non per motivi personali naturalmente, ma come esponente di un’altra piattaforma. Scola è tuttora una delle personalità più autorevoli tra i vescovi italiani e un buon rapporto con lui è decisivo per orientare la Cei sulla linea di riforma, che il papa ha in testa.
Hans Küng writes in NCR:
Church reform is forging ahead. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis not only intensifies his criticism of capitalism and the fact that money rules the world, but speaks out clearly in favor of church reform "at all levels." He specifically advocates structural reforms -- namely, decentralization toward local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favor of a more effective presence of women in the church, above all in the decision-making bodies. And he comes out equally clearly in favor of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, especially with Judaism and Islam.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dublin/Ireland, November 5, 2013
International Movement We are Church agree in Dublin on a clear agenda for the next years
The International Movement We are Church (IMWAC) supports Pope Francis’ course for substantial reforms in the RC Church and asks the Bishops to clearly support this new course for more transparency, decentralisation, and dialogue with the faithful. Almost eight months after the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina as Bishop of Rome he is marking out a new course in Rome like the questionnaire for the Family Synod in Rome in 2014 that was published last week.
Representatives from 11 European Countries (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom) and the United States gathered in All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland 1 - 3 November 2013 to discuss their contribution to the present reform process of the RC Church.
Pope Francis: A bishop is to serve, not dominate
Pope Francis on Thursday afternoon consecrated two new Archbishops in St. Peter’s Basilica. The two new Archbishops are both Papal Nuncios. French Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich was named Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana in August, while Italian Archbishop Giampiero Gloder was in September named the President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which is dedicated to the training of the priests who will serve in the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See.
In his homily Pope Francis said the bishop is like the head of the family, and should always have the Good Shepherd as an example. He also reminded the new Archbishops that there new position is one of service, not honor. “Always in service,” the Pope repeated. “Keep in mind that you were selected to serve, not to dominate.” He also said a bishop must be a man of prayer, because otherwise he will fall into worldliness.
He told them to love those entrusted to them like a father, to always respond immediately when a priest calls them. He said to do this also with the poor, the helpless, to those in need. He told them to pray also for those outside of the Church, because they are also entrusted to them.
Text from the Vatican Radio website
The opinion of the International Movement We Are Church
Today Pope Francis has announced in Consistory the date of the canonization of Pope John Paul II on April 27, 2014 - together with Pope John XXIII.
The decision concerning Pope John Paul II is not agreed by all in the Catholic Church. The International Movement We Are Church has expressed its opinion already in a press release on 16 January 2011.
Pope John Paul II was a pope of great contradiction. His tragedy lies in the discrepancy between his commitment to reform and dialogue in the world and his return to authoritarianism within the church.
It was his penchant for spiritual authoritarianism that contributed to the greatest tragedy of his tenure as pope: the sexual abuse of thousands of children globally. By holding church hierarchy paramount above the needs of the people, John Paul II perpetuated a toxic environment in which priests were permitted, often repeatedly, to sexually abuse children as long as the criminal behaviour was kept secret, preserving the public image of untarnished leadership.
Perhaps one of the best reflections of this is seen in John Paul II’s strong relationship with the Legion of Christ and its founder Marcial Maciel. Maciel is accused of decades of serious abuse against women and youth, much of which was allowed to percolate due in part to the 1983 bylaws John Paul II approved for Maciel’s religious order that demanded secrecy and prohibited criticism of its founder.
It was John Paul II’s same need for hierarchical control that also lead to the constriction of theology with scarring impact on people’s lives. His attempt to discredit liberation theology left thousands working for liberation without the full theological and ecclesial support they deserved while suffering under brutal political regimes.
Spiritual authoritarianism was also seen in John Paul II’s attempt to suppress discourse on gender equality which, in turn, deprived the Catholic world of the gifts women would bring to church leadership. His stance against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people places him in complicity with local churches and governments who continue to deny the civil and moral equality of LGBT persons. Additionally, his repeated denouncements of condom use complicated the moral choice of millions around the world attempting to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and promote sexual health.
The International Movement We Are Church believes that beatification and ultimately sainthood should not be measured by whether a “miracle” can be attributed to a particular person, but rather, whether someone’s life truly embodies the values of Christ who sought, not power, but the well being of God’s people.
|Por ocasião da Abertura do Semestre no Mestrado em Ciências da Religião da UNICAP, com a aula inaugural do teólogo Carlos Mendoza, sobre “Perspectivas antissistêmicas e futuro das religiões”, no dia 15 de agosto de 2013, às 15h, no auditório do CTCH da Universidade, será lançado o Núcleo de Estudos José Comblin. O lançamento contará com palavras de abertura do amigo de Comblin e estudioso da sua obra, o pastor Paulo César Pereira, além de apresentação de número da Revista Paralellus dedicado a Comblin (http://www.unicap.br/ojs-2.3.4/index.php/paralellus) e do site do Núcleo (http://www.unicap.br/comblin).|
(Google translation into English) On the occasion of the opening of the semester in the Master of Science in Religion UNICAP, with the inaugural class of the theologian Carlos Mendoza on "Perspectives antissistêmicas and future of religions", on August 15, 2013, at 15h, in the auditorium of the CTCH University, will be released the Study José Comblin. The launch will feature opening remarks from Comblin friend and student of his work, Pastor Paulo César Pereira, besides presenting issue of the Journal dedicated to Paralellus Comblin ( http://www.unicap.br/ojs-2.3.4 / index.php / paralellus ) and the website of the Center (http://www.unicap.br/comblin ).
Outreach Secretary, Didier Vanhoutte, has sent us the following pictures from the theology conference he is attending in Thailand. He is sending messages each day to the IMWAC Council and these will be compiled into a report after the conference. He is delighted to be among a group of enthusiastic, highly committed and devout Catholics.
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.
Fr Helmut Schüller, Austrian Priests' Initiative, speaks in Cleveland, USA