Hans Küng writes in the NCR:
"Who could have imagined what has happened in the last weeks?
When I decided, months ago, to resign all of my official duties on the occasion of my 85th birthday, I assumed I would never see fulfilled my dream that -- after all the setbacks following the Second Vatican Council -- the Catholic church would once again experience the kind of rejuvenation that it did under Pope John XXIII.
Then my theological companion over so many decades, Joseph Ratzinger -- both of us are now 85 -- suddenly announced his resignation from the papal office effective at the end of February. And on March 19, St. Joseph’s feast day and my birthday, a new pope with the surprising and programmatic name Francis assumed this office.
Has Jorge Mario Bergoglio considered why no pope has dared to choose the name of Francis until now? At any rate, the Argentine was aware that with the name of Francis he was connecting himself with Francis of Assisi, the world-famous 13th-century downshifter who had been the fun-loving, worldly son of a rich textile merchant in Assisi, until at the age of 24, he gave up his family, wealth and career, even giving his splendid clothes back to his father.
It is astonishing how, from the first minute of his election, Pope Francis chose a new style: unlike his predecessor, no miter with gold and jewels, no ermine-trimmed cape, no made-to-measure red shoes and headwear, no magnificent throne."
We thank We Are Church (Ireland) for hosting this talk. They have just revised their website which is well worth a visit.
A report from one of our members on the inspiring talk by Sr. Florence Deacon, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) on Monday 13th May at the Jesuit Conference Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin.
The cars and the people kept coming, until the Conference Hall in Milltown Institute was filled to over-flowing. Over three hundred people listened as for about 45 minutes, Sr. Florence spoke on: ’50 years since Vatican II; on fire with, or trying to tame, the Spirit?’
She traced her own faith-journey from understanding ‘Church’ as ‘building’, to her present-day understanding of Church as all the People of God, bishops, priests and people together forming the one Body of Christ. She emphasised how all the baptised are called to read the signs of the times, listening to one another in respectful dialogue. Many times she quoted Pope Francis similarly calling for listening and respect, and reminded us of his question in a recent homily, whether we have domesticated the Spirit. She pointed out how already he has exemplified many of the qualities which the LCWR had named before the conclave, as desirable in the new pope. She invited all to keep him in prayer that he may have the courage to make necessary changes.
Speaking of the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR, she explained how it is based on a flawed understanding of the role of this organisation. She stressed that the LCWR wishes for open and honest dialogue with Vatican authorities, which “can only take place outside the glare of the media”. This was why she was willing in this talk to deal only with points which were already public and why she did not comment on the most recent talks in Rome between the LCWR and the Vatican.
Sr. Florence’s talk was followed by time for questions. In response to a question why the LCWR did not take a stronger stance, publicly, in relation to the Vatican authorities, she shared her experience of how respectful dialogue was a more helpful process than confrontation. The query whether she could confirm that the investigation of women religious in the US was at the instigation of a few American bishops including one currently based in Rome, elicited the diplomatic response that ‘There is speculation about that’.
However, even more than her words, it was the integrity, courage and Gospel-based witness of Sr. Florence which spoke most strongly through her input. It evoked a response of heart-felt solidarity and support from the gathering.
She – and We Are Church Ireland – invites all to continue to pray for the Sisters in the LCWR. The Executive meets at the end of this month with the three bishops charged with the ‘renewal’ of the LCWR. It is clear that the dialogue they hope for will require much patience, prayer and the wisdom of the Spirit. Hopefully It is a God-incidence that her talk happened in these days before Pentecost!
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From 'Another Voice'
Professor Hans Küng — now 85 like his former professorial colleague Joseph Ratzinger — offers some reflections about church reform and Francis the new Bishop of Rome.
“What is to be done if our expectations of reform are dashed? The time is past when Pope and bishops could rely on the obedience of the faithful. A certain mysticism of obedience was also introduced by the eleventh-century Gregorian Reform: obeying God means obeying the Church and that means obeying the Pope and vice versa.
“Since that time, it has been drummed into Catholics that the obedience of all Christians to the Pope is a cardinal virtue; commanding and enforcing obedience – by whatever means – has become the Roman style. But the medieval equation of ‘obedience to God = to the Church = to the Pope’ patently contradicts the word of Peter and the other apostles before the High Council in Jerusalem: ‘a person must obey God rather than any human authority.’
“We should then in no way fall into resigned acceptance. Instead, faced with a lack of impulse towards reform from the hierarchy, we must take the offensive, pressing for reform from the bottom up.
“If Pope Francis tackles reforms, he will find he has the wide approval of people far beyond the Catholic Church.
“However, if he allows things to continue as they are, without clearing the log-jam of reforms now in progress, such as that of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, then the call of ‘Time for outrage! Indignez-vous!’ will ring out more and more in the Catholic Church, provoking reforms from the bottom up.
“These would be implemented without the approval of the hierarchy and frequently even in spite of the hierarchy’s attempts at circumvention. In the worst case – as I wrote before the recent papal election – the Catholic Church will experience a new Ice Age instead of a spring and will run the risk of dwindling into a barely relevant large sect.”
More information here:
Press Release Munich / Erfurt, 27 April 2013
We are Church on
The Federal Labour Court judgment "Termination for leaving the church"
The church reform movement We Are Church opines that for the sake of the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church a review the right of self-determination of religious communities, which was taken over from the Weimar Constitution, is urgently required. The Catholic reform movement calls on all political parties and their Members of Parliament to finally undertake a review of Article 140 of the German Fundamental Law, given the recent judgment by the Federal Labour Court.
Article 140 of the Fundamental Law which was taken from the Weimar Constitution (Article 137 WRV) guarantees each religious community the right to arrange and manage their affairs independently, but within the limits of the law that is valid for all. For modern legal understanding this regulation leads to increasingly frequent conflicts between fundamental rights of the individual and the rights of an institutional religious community. So it is no longer acceptable that the churches and their associated charities may invoke at terminations of employees that they are facilities based on ideology (philosophy?), even in the cases when no religious content is taught. This is especially true given the fact that these facilities are state-funded in their totality or to a very large extent.
A primeros de marzo, días antes del cónclave, la revista de información social y religiosa Alandar lanzó en Internet una petición llamada Renueva la Iglesia que tuvo un eco inmediato. La elección del papa Francisco, y su primera declaración ("quiero una Iglesia pobre y de los pobres"), hizo decaer levemente el entusiasmo de los firmantes, como si la frase diera respuesta a muchas de las tribulaciones —y esperanzas y demandas— de los millones de católicos que forman la Iglesia de base.
Lo cuenta Cristina Ruiz Fernández, directora de Alandar, que ha rebautizado la campaña como Francisco, te pedimos que renueves la Iglesia. "Nadie podía imaginar su opción por los pobres. Eso, y otros gestos, son muy esperanzadores. Es una ocasión única para actualizar la institución y hacerla útil a las personas", explica Ruiz Fernández.
Thank you to Dr Paul Collins for permission to reproduce this article.
At first all we had to go on were the signs. The first sign was when Pope Bergoglio defined himself by taking the name Francis after the rich man from Assisi who repudiated his wealth to live like Christ, the poor man who had nowhere to lay his head. Then we saw a pope who 'dressed down' without the ermine lined, red mozzetta (the short cape worn over the shoulders) and the metres of lace that had characterised the previous papacy. Francis has rejected the trappings of 'royalty' moving out of the papal palazzo and into the quite modest, motel-like and accessible Casa Sancta Marta in the Vatican grounds. All the signs pointed not only to a different style but to a substantial change in direction.
Five weeks into his papacy Francis has moved-on from signs and now squarely faces tackling the hard issues. So far (21 April 2013) he has only appointed eleven bishops and seven of these would have been in the appointment system well before he was elected. But Francis has personally appointed two: Mario Aurelio Poli, 65, to replace him in Buenos Aires and Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, 59, former minister general of the Franciscans and President of the International Union of Superiors General, who has been appointed Secretary to the Vatican congregation that oversees religious orders. What are these men like?
Vittorio Bellavite, We Are Church (Italy), and François Becker, FHEDLES, represented us at the World Social Forum. A flavour of the gathering is in the video.
During an interview with Iglesia Descalza, Sr Teresa Forcades was asked
So, don't you think the time has come for the "necessary renewal" of the Church which you advocate in your book?
She replied: Any change in history, both at the church and the societal level, has started from below. When John XXIII was chosen, for example, there were already renewal movements like Nouvelle Théologie in France and the Movimiento Litúrgico, which was very important here in Montserrat. Well, I see something similar happening now: constructive and faithful criticism is rising from the grassroots so that -- I don't know if it will be this pope -- but the time will come when it can't be ignored.
We are Church congratulates
Pope Francis I from Argentina
Press release, Rome, 13 March 2013
The International Movement We are Church congratulates the new Pope on his election and hopes the Holy Spirit will accompany him for the good of the whole Church and the good of Christianity.
At a critical moment in both the Church and the world the Catholic Church is at a turning point in history. That’s why, joined by many faithful Catholics around the globe, we are calling on the new Pope, the new Bishop of Rome, to follow the need for a renewed Church.
First, he needs to start to reform the Vatican and decision making process inside of the Roman Curia, especially he has to clarify its banking system and should give much more self-determination to local churches. We furthermore need a Church much more sincerely committed to social justice, especially to the poor and disadvantaged. We hope that the new Pope will be sensitive enough to build bridges to other religions so that we can all work together for peace and development.
We need equal rights and responsibilities of men and women in the Church if we want to have the credibility to foster human rights and justice in the world. We need a new understanding of priesthood, including the acceptance of married priests. And we need a revised moral teaching, especially on contraception and homosexuality. The future of the Catholic Church depends on seeking truth, justice, and reconciliation for the grave crimes committed and concealed by Catholic clergy worldwide.
The agenda the new Pope has to work on – hopefully with the Cardinals, the Bishops and the People of God all over the world – is very long. To make changes for the better the Cardinals, particularly those who will return to their dioceses, must be more accountable to the people of God in the future.
The new Pope has to accept and follow the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which are still valid but not put into practice consistently. One of the keywords of this council was dialogue. It is high time that the new Pope and the Catholic hierarchy began talks with loyal and devout Catholics seeking reform and renewal according to the Second Vatican Council. Only then will the new Pope be listened to and his teaching respected by all members of the Church worldwide..
Press contact in Rome:
- Dr. Martha Heizer (We are Church Austria / Intern. Movement We are Church),
Press contact in Italy:
- Vittorio Bellavite (Noi siamo chiesa Italy)
Collegiality, pastoral wisdom, justice and the hopes of the people of God featured in presentations made at the Monastero delle Suore camaldolesi all'Aventino on Thursday evening (7 March 2013)
Noi Siamo Chiesa and the International Movement We Are Church arranged the meeting to offer analysis and reflection at this important moment in the the life of the Church.
Journalists, church workers and representatives of various organisations and movements heard brief presentations by Catholic speakers from three continents. More information may found by clicking on their names
- Martha Heizer (Austria), Chair and co-founder of the We Are Church movement.
- Vittorio Bellavite (Italy), Coordinator of Noi Siamo Chiesa
- Michael Walsh (United Kingdom), Church historian, writer and commentator on Roman Catholic matters.
- Marylin Hatton (Australia), represents her country to Womens Ordination Worldwide
- Anthony Padovano (USA), theologian, writer and Professor at the University of New Jersey.
- Paul Collins (Australia), broadcaster, writer and historian of the Papacy
Following the presentations the speakers were pleased to receive and answer many questions.
The opening day of the Conclave has not yet been decided; but today as in 2005, there are great expectations that this might mark a turning point in the Church and make the gospel of Jesus more and more heard in ourworld. The problems experienced during the pontificate of John Paul II are still unresolved, or have worsened. Nonetheless the conviction remains that the situation can change for the Word of salvation is powerful.
It is the duty of the College of Cardinals to recognise the seriousness of the situation, to read the signs of times. The Cardinals have in their hands both the book of the Gospel and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. They must read them, and meditate on them. Within them are the directions, sometimes implicit but often very explicit, for the road the Church must travel. The expectations of those who appeal to the Council have already often been voiced. “We are Church” has contributed to raising issues about the Church as a whole, but with especial emphasis on the reform of the Papacy, because that is the key to the entire structure of what is the modern Catholic Church. We shall briefly recall four main issues.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is calling for major changes in the Catholic Church and says the current crises are in large part the result of church power being invested in one gender, which is wholly unacceptable in the 21st century.
Lady Kennedy joined forces with Lord Hylton and feminist and spiritual writer Professor Ursula King at the Houses of Parliament (Tuesday March 5) to sign the Catholic Scholars’ Declaration on Authority in the Catholic Church.
The Declaration, calling for a more collegial system of church governance in the church, has already gained the backing of 180 leading theologians and Catholic Scholars worldwide. It has already been submitted to more than 20 cardinal electors in Rome this week.
Professor King signed the Declaration on behalf of women in the church, Lord Hylton signed on behalf of the underprivileged and marginalised, and Lady Kennedy added her signature for all men and women suffering from misguided church rulings on sexual ethics including contraception, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage.
Paul Collins, historian, author, former Catholic Priest and ABC Broadcaster, talks about the Catholic Church, the Papacy, his relationship with the church and his latest book The Birth of the West.
This is an interview published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
How do you see the situation of the Church?
The Church is tired, in prosperous Europe and in America. Our culture is out of date; our Churches are big; our religious houses are empty, and the Church’s bureaucratic apparatus is growing, and our rites and our vestments are pompous. Do such things really express what we are today? ... Prosperity weighs us down. We find ourselves like the rich young man who went away sad when Jesus called him to become his disciple. I know that it’s not easy to leave everything behind. At least could we seek people who are free and closer to their neighbors, as Bishop Romero was and the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador? Where among us are heroes to inspire us? We must never limit them by institutional bonds.
With the appointment by Pope Benedict XVI of the Bishop of Regensburg, Professor Dr Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, as Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, he is taking up this office in an extremely difficult phase of Church history, in which the reception and implementation of the Second Vatican Council, which opened just fifty years ago, is at stake. It will soon become clear whether with Professor Mueller the window of the Second Vatican Council will again be opened wider, so as be effective as Church in the world – or whether the very last shutters of the window will be closed so that the Church shuts itself off from the world.