Martha Heizer and I have arrived with a train in Rome this evening. Our Hotel is only 150 meter away from the Vatican. In the local „Trattoria“ I met four journalists I know quite well from Germany. Martha, Deborah (Future Church) and myself enjoyed the simple but very good food and discussed the recent deveopements in the Church. Everybody is curious if the Synod will bring any hope and results.
There is still a lot do for IMWAC’s press conference on Saturday. Mariella Laera (Silver&Cherry) from Rome is very, very helpful in many ways: Sending out our invitation to the media, printing the press-pack and posters, signposting, organizing a translator and translation equipment. Tomorrow I will have to finalize our statement and our press pack.
A number of We Are Church groups support the work of Kairos Palestine and agree with their statement concerning the situation in Gaza.
Diplomatic pressure for Peace: A call for Sanctions
"So now, you kings, come to your senses, You earthly rulers, learn your lesson”.
What is going on these days in Gaza is not war. It is a massacre of civilians, men, women and children. More than 650 people killed and over 4000 injured, the majority being civilians; this cannot be justified as an act of self-defense! What is going on in Gaza is blind evil striking out through a wrong vision of security, self-defense and peace.
We implore God Almighty who told us: “Ask and it will be given to you, search and you will find,, knock and the door will be open to you.” ( Mt.7;7) O lord we have asked, and we have knocked, and we have been seeking justice and peace for years. But no doors have been opened and we have been treated very unjustly. Lord, open the hearts and minds of all, those who are afraid and insecure, those who kill, and the people of Gaza who, despite a 7 year-old siege and three consecutive assaults believed that they were secure in their rebuilt homes, but their homes are demolished and their lives taken.
It is time for a radical change of concepts and positions. Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace and mutual love if the root causes of injustice are removed. Education given to the people was negative in past years. A new education must start: love is possible, coexistence is possible. The concept of fear and insecurity should change. The concept of killing so easily hundreds of men, women and children must change. Lords of war, you are on the wrong path. All the killings, all your violence, all your weapons will not bring you security and will not take away your fear.
The ways of peace are ways of peace. Only these can lead to security and peace. Israel and all Israel's friends must understand that after sixty years of killing and violence, the salvation and the survival of Israel will never be achieved by the present violence.. Israel's friends must help Israel understand, if their love for Israel is sincere and if they truly care for the human being, whether Israeli or Palestinian, things must change. The present Palestinian Authority has chosen this path of peace, and maintains its right and constant position, even if it has lost its popularity among its own people, who see that these ways of peace facing Israeli violence are fruitless.
The same conversion should happen in the hearts of Israeli Authorities. All their armies, weapons and reprisals are useless and fruitless. Seeking peace can only be achieved through peaceful means.
We call upon all who care for human dignity, and human life to act now without any further delay. We call upon the international community, governments, churches and civil society to exert pressure on Israel to abide by international law and to lift the siege on Gaza and put an end to its military occupation of the Palestinian Territories in accordance with UN resolutions. And to overcome and remove all the obstacles that have hindered the long awaited peace. It takes wisdom and compassion over and above being fair to both parties of this conflict – especially when one is an occupier and the other is occupied. There needs to be an exerted effort and resolve to bring about peace for all: Israelis and Palestinians whereby everybody feels secure and enjoying freedom and equal rights in a democratic sovereign state. No more repetition of invasions and massacres and senseless killing, whether individual or collective as it is happening now in Gaza.
We call on the Churches to assume their responsibilities towards the Holy Land, the land of their roots, if they truly care for their roots, and for the Holy Land and its people. Many churches seem to be indifferent or intimidated to take action. Churches need to put pressure on Israel and also on their governments to end Israeli impunity and hold her accountable.Such Diplomatic pressure is needed now more than ever. It is a question of saving lives but also imposing accountability for criminal acts. As in similar International situations, now is the time for Economic and Military Sanctions .
Almighty God, heavenly Father, hear our prayers. Help us work together towards freedom, justice and peace Fill our heart with love and compassion and help us achieve just peace without which no security can be guaranteed for anybody. Remind us that we are all created in your image, and that we can all triumph over every evil and live in your peace, and not only by human treaties and agreements.
National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine
We followed the reports from the conference and applaud the patience and dignity with which the affairs were conducted. We are very happy that Sr Elizabeth Johnson was honoured for her contribution to the people of God through her theological reflection.
We wish Sr Sharon Holland every blessing in her new role as leader of LCWR.
Rest assured we are in solidarity with you all as you discern the way forward for hopeful new outpourings of the Spirit on our Church and the full involvement of all in ministries in the Church.
We Are Church in:
+43 650 4168500
+49 172 5184082
+353 01 8454776
Maria Joao Sande Lemos
+351-91 460 2336
What has been going on in Iraq recently against our Christian sisters and brothers and the Yazidi people is terrible and is a cause of pain and indignation for all the Christian community and for any "person of good will".
Once again, as all too often in history, violence and massacres are perpetuated in the name of God.
We think that every religious leader must speak out and invite responsible political leaders to act in order to solve the situation.
All around the world, the Christians must, above all, pray and put in place concrete forms of solidarity. Moreover every existing good relationship and dialogue between Christians and Muslims must continue unabated.
We call on our Muslim friends, our brothers and sisters, to honour their responsibilities and recognise the situation; at the same time we Christians must recognise that the situation in Iraq and in the Middle East has the roots in actions and interventions of different types over many years by the "Christian" West.
We strongly pray to God that people of all religions, but especially those of the Book, strive and work urgently for peace, dialogue, human rights and an ethical world.
We Are Church in
On Tuesday, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told L'Osservatore Romano newspaper"above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don't want to gobble up a woman a day!"
The Vatican is not misogynistic???
We beg to differ. And we have proof.
Introducing our newest video project: Vatican: It's A Man's World. Throughout this video you will hear just a small sampling of misogynistic quotes from the hierarchy. Please watch, share, and help us raise awareness about sexism in the Roman Catholic Church.
What you have just heard are quotes from:
Pope Francis, July 20, 2013 Pope Francis, May 12, 2014 Canon Law 1024 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 2013 Signed by Pope Benedict XVI, Normae de gravioribus delictis 2010 Pope Francis, La Stampa December 14, 2013 Pope Francis, Big Open Heart to God September 30, 2013 Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, May 29, 2008 Pope Francis, On Heaven and Earth 2010
"It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” Performed by James Brown Courtesy of Polydor Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Vatican City, 4 October 2013 (VIS) – The first meeting of the Council of Cardinals ended yesterday afternoon, according to a communique from the Holy See Press Office.
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Council will take place from 3 to 5 December, to be followed by third meeting in February 2014. This will enable the work of the Council – especially in this initial phase – to proceed at a rapid pace.
Vatican City, 3 October 2013 (VIS) – The reform of the Curia and the attribution of of more incisive role to the laity were among the principal themes considered yesterday afternoon and this morning in the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, instituted by the Pope to assist him in the governance of the Church, said the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., in a briefing with journalists.
Before commenting on the issues discussed by the cardinals, Fr. Lombardi referred to the words of the Pope at the end of the audience with participants in the meeting held to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of John XXIII's encyclical, “Pacem in terris”, in which he recalled the victims, currently numbered at 90, of the shipwreck this morning near the Italian island of Lampedusa. “In the light of this new tragedy”, he said, “we understand more clearly the value and meaning of the first trip of Francis' pontificate”.
Moving on to the work of the Council of Cardinals, he stated that the Pope was present yesterday in the afternoon session, held between 4 and 7 p.m. “The Holy Father goes to pray at the Chapel at seven o'clock, and that is the end of their collaboration, although the the cardinals may join him together, if they see fit. This morning he was not present as he received in audience the participants in the meeting organised by the Pontifical Council 'Justice and Peace'”.
The cardinals worked principally on the reform of the Curia. “The direction of their work would not indicate an updating of the apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus', with retouches and marginal modifications”, explained Lombardi, “but rather, a new constitution with significant new aspects. It will be necessary to wait a reasonable amount of time following this Council, but the idea is this. The cardinals have made it clear that they do not intend to make cosmetic retouches or minor modifications to 'Pastor bonus'”.
The intention of the cardinals is to emphasise the nature of the service on the part of the Curia and the universal and local church “in terms of subsidiarity, rather than the exercise of centralised power. The intended direction would be to put this into practice in the service of the Church in all her dimensions”.
Another important theme was the nature and functions of the Secretariat of State, which “should be the secretariat of the Pope; the word State should not give rise to doubt. This body serves the Pope in the governance of the universal Church. The meeting of the Council is very useful at the moment, in view of the directions the Pope will give to the new Secretary of State, who will assume his role shortly, on 15 October”.
Again in relation to the Curia, the Council will address the matter of relations between the heads of the dicasteries and the Pope, and co-ordination between the various bodies. “In this context, mention was made of the role of a 'Moderator Curiae' (moderator for the Curia), and the functions of such a figure. The issue was touched upon but no decision has been made as to whether it will form part of the new constitution; however, it is in fact one of the hypotheses suggested by the Council”.
With regard to a possible reorganisation of the administration of temporal goods, the cardinals touched upon this matter but without exploring the theme in depth, since they are awaiting the “reports of the referring commissions on the matter, who will communicate the results of their work [to the Council]”.
The question of the laity merited “significant attention” from Council members, as they had received many suggestions and questions on this subject from their various areas of origin. “When dealing with the reform of the curia and its institutions, the Council also plans to give more specific attention to issues relating to the laity, so that this dimension of the life of the Church is properly and effectively recognised and followed by the governance of the Church. Now there is a Pontifical Council for the Laity, but it is still possible to think of ways of strengthening this aspect”.
This morning, in view of the preparations for the next Synod, debate on the matter was reopened.
Finally, Lombardi said that yesterday no date had been set for the next meeting of the Council, although mention was made of a meeting in spring next year, of an informal nature. “The intention”, he concluded, “is to continue, without waiting for too long. Also, it would be incorrect to assume that nothing happens between one meeting and another; the cardinals and the Pope continue to exchange opinions and messages, even in the absence of a plenary meeting of the Council”.
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.