Indian Christian Women’s Movement 1st National Convention ‘Women Take Wing’
PRESS RELEASE 13th August, 2018
About 100 women including nuns and ordained women from churches all over India strongly condemned the weak institutional response of the church to gender violence faced by women in the Church.
The women were attending the first National Convention of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM) at Jnanadeepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, on the theme ‘Women take Wing’.
In her keynote address, Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Advanced Center for Women’s Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, traced the history of Indian women’s movement and the importance and relevance of ICWM in this larger context.
The delegates, cutting across age, region and Christian denomination expssed dissatisfaction at the lack of voice, role and decision making for women in Church structures, and declared their determination to struggle for justice equality, dignity and rights for women, children, Dalits, Tribals, Transgender people and LGBQIA.
They resolved to work together to enhance women’s participation, representation, decision making in the Church and related structures.
In the new normal of sexual violence and polarization in the country, and the abuse of women’s and children’s bodies to settle political and communal scores, the ICWM resolved to partner and work in solidarity with civil society groups and movements in the ongoing battle for justice for survivors and their families.
From Colm Holmes in The Phillippines
The energy and joy of the young people, aged 20-30, from 14 Asian countries is wonderful. Although of a much older generation I have been warmly welcomed to join in and participate.
Here are some pictures.
Enjoying the cultural evening
Friends from Korea
Friends from Myanmar
Friends from Vietnam
Today our minds turn to the Asian Theological Forum with a keynote speech by Bishop Alwyn de Souza. I will be introducing We Are Church later.
Colm Holmes is representing We Are Church International as this year's gathering in the Phillippines alongside 60 delegates from 14 different countries.
To give a taste of the joy, enthusiasm and friendship please take a look at some pictures from last year's meeting.
July 25, 2018.
On the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, We Are Church-International dedicate their commemoration of this milestone to all of the Catholics who have challenged the legitimacy of official teaching and honored their own consciences in making decisions about contraception and other important moral issues. We Are Church-International celebrates the integrity of all those who contribute to the Sensus Fidelium (“the sense of the Faithful”) in determining whether a teaching is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore legitimate.
“Over the past 50 years, billions of Catholics have read or been taught what Humanae Vitae says about the use of contraception, and the vast majority, after careful consideration, have rejected this teaching,” said Colm Holmes, Chair of We Are Church-International. “Most have done so while believing they remain good Catholics. In doing so, they have asserted a new level of authority in our Church. We believe this is the real significance of this anniversary.”
Recent statements by Pope Francis and top Vatican officials support the need to bring more lay women to top leadership positions at the Roman Curia. However, Voices of Faith is concerned about the apparent difficulties and lack of transparency in regard to how those women are chosen and the process undertaken to appoint them. In an extensively quoted interview with Reuters on June 17th 2018, Pope Francis is reported saying, “I don't have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery." At the same time, he talks about difficulties in finding the right candidates and convincing curial officials to accept women for leadership positions. The Prefect of the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, stated that the Vatican is "overloaded with clerics" and that "administrative functions within the church can be done by anybody" including laity.
Today, Thursday 7th June We Are Church Ireland is launching a petition calling on Pope Francis to change Vatican theological language that is gravely insulting to LGBTQI people.
Words like 'objectively disordered ' and ' intrinsically evil' to describe any human being is wrong but for an institution like the Catholic Church to teach that these words are an expression of the mind of God to describe her image in LGBTQI persons is not alone scandalous but blasphemous.
The petition is being launched by Ursula Halligan of WAC Ireland, Senator David Norris and Pádraig Ó Tuama of the Corrymeela Community.
Find the petition on Change.org at:
'We Are Church Ireland encourages every Catholic who continues to be enraged by this Vatican Un-Christian language to sign the petition demanding the withdrawal of this offensive language to describe our LGBTQI sisters and brothers' stated Brendan Butler.
Brendan Butler, We are Church spokesperson.
Mobile 086 4054984
7 June 2018
31 May 2018
We Are Church International (WAC-Int’l) strongly rejects Archbishop Luis Ladaria’s claim that the ban on ordaining women to the Catholic priesthood has “definitive character” and “is a truth belonging to the deposit of faith.” This teaching is outlined in Pope John Paul’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
Ladaria, who currently heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and who will be elevated to the order of Cardinals in June 2018, also said that Jesus’ intent is clear, as he bestowed the sacrament of ordination on “the twelve apostles, all men, who, in turn, communicated it to other men.” Of course, Jesus never ordained anyone. If being commissioned by Jesus to preach the Gospel is what is meant by ordination, wouldn’t Mary Magdalene, told by the risen Christ to proclaim the resurrection, be a priest?
Ladaria further said that challenging this teaching “… creates serious confusion among the faithful, not only about the Sacrament of Orders as part of the divine constitution of the Church, but also about the ability of the ordinary magisterium to teach Catholic doctrine in an infallible way."
Colm Holmes, Chair of WAC-Int’s, said, “Archbishop Ladaria’s attempt to invoke Jesus to justify the continued exclusion of women from church ministry and leadership is a distortion of our faith. The claim that patriarchal structures have divine origins and that women’s second-class status is sanctioned by God is a fallacy perpetuated by the celibate male clerical class. It undermines the church’s social justice work around the globe and puts the lives of women and children at risk.”
Holmes noted, “The ordination of women is supported by majorities of Catholics in many nations, including Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, and the US.* Catholics understand that God’s call to service and leadership transcends gender, and know that women are entirely capable of ordained ministry.”
Holmes said, “The inequality of women in the Catholic church is a matter of intense global conversation at the moment,” noting former Irish President Mary McAleese’s well-regarded recent address at the Voices of Faith convening in Rome on International Women’s Day where she said: ‘the Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny. It has never sought a cure though a cure is freely available. Its name is “equality”’.
“Catholic women and the men who support them are pushing back against policies and teachings that reinforce misogyny and discrimination. Archbishop Ladaria’s ill-advised comments are another example of the hierarchy’s desperate effort to maintain its status as an all-male power block. However, as we are seeing around the world, time is up for such exclusion and injustice.”
* Univision, 2014.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
25 May 2018
[ Italian ]
We Are Church International expresses solidarity with the survivors of clerical sexual abuse in Chile, Somos Iglesia Chile, and the Osorno Lay Organization for their courageous and tenacious advocacy to achieve justice for those who suffered years of abuse and cover up by church officials. Their commitment to the truth has resulted in a new level of accountability from the Vatican and from Chilean church leaders.
We Are Church International believes that it was right and appropriate for the more than 30 bishops from Chile to tender their resignations to Pope Francis, in light of the systemic cover-up of abuse and vilification of many survivors. We urge a thorough review of each bishop’s history and careful consideration of whether he deserves the privilege of continuing as a diocesan leader.
We Are Church International applauds Pope Francis for acknowledging that he made an error in his initial assessment of the impact of clerical abuse on the victims, survivors, their families, and the church in Chile. We agree that the appointment of Archbishop Scicluna to investigate the accusations brought against numerous bishops for widespread failures to act on accusations of abuse was a critical step in demonstrating respect for those victimized for so long. We await the publication of the full report on the investigation, and hope that the Pope will accept the majority of the resignations that have been offered. We expect that bishops and cardinals from other nations who have been charged with failure to act to protect the people of the church will also be subject to purposeful investigation.
Sexual abuse of children and adults and the cover up of this abuse is a problem for the church not just in Chile but across the globe. We Are Church International calls for justice for all who have suffered and urges the Vatican to learn from what occurred in Chile, and to apply these lessons to the entire Church. We believe that these scandals point to the need for structures that enforce transparency and accountability on the part of church leaders. The people of the church must have a voice in determining who leads individual dioceses, and in assessing the effectiveness of their leadership. These are important factors in establishing the “inverted pyramid” church of which Pope Francis has spoken, a church where the leaders are truly servants of the people of God.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
To all Catholic Women,
Catholic Women Speak and Voices of Faith have collaborated to write an open letter to Pope Francis appealing for greater participation of and dialogue with women in the worldwide Church. They have asked for our support of this effort to open a meaningful dialogue with women in the church so that women can have a more "decisive" presence in the universal Church. Please read the letter and, if you agree, you are invited to sign the letter and, in turn, circulate it to your networks.
As you will see, the letter is supportive of Pope Francis and seeks to open up a dialogue. The creators of this website believe it is important to express our concerns about the language used to describe women, and this letter strives to do so gently - not to provoke a confrontation
Here is the link to the website with the letter and the signature form: We are grateful in advance for your support.
It is worth reflecting on Bishop Michael Curry's address at the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on 19 May 2018. Bishop Michael is the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA.
"And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the Song of Solomon, in the Bible: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, and I quote: 'We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.'
There's power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't even over-sentimentalise it. There's power, power in love.
If you don't believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to centre around you and your beloved. Oh there's power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There's a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it - it actually feels right. There is something right about it. And there's a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant - and are meant - to be lived in that love. That's why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself: the source of all of our lives. There's an old medieval poem that says: 'Where true love is found, God himself is there'. The New Testament says it this way: 'Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God.' Why? 'For God is love.'
- There's power in love.
- There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can.
- There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.
- There's power in love to show us the way to live.
Set me as a seal on your heart... a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death.
But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we're all here. Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up. But it's not just for and about a young couple, who we rejoice with. It's more than that.
Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses, and he went back and he reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.'
And then in Matthew's version, he added, he said: 'On these two, love of God and love of neighbour, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world... love God, love your neighbours, and while you're at it, love yourself.' Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history.
A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world - and a movement mandating people to live that love, and in so doing to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I'm talking about power. Real power. Power to change the world.
If you don't believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America's Antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way. They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It's one that says 'There is a balm in Gilead...' a healing balm, something that can make things right. 'There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.' And one of the stanzas actually explains why. They said: 'If you cannot preach like Peter, and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all.' Oh, that's the balm in Gilead! This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it. He died to save us all.
He didn't die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn't... he wasn't getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world... for us. That's what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world. If you don't believe me, just stop and imagine.
- Think and imagine a world where love is the way.
- Imagine our homes and families where love is the way.
- Imagine neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way.
- Imagine governments and nations where love is the way.
- Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.
- Imagine this tired old world where love is the way.
When love is the way - unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.
- When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.
- When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.
- When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.
- When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.
- When love is the way, there's plenty good room - plenty good room - for all of God's children.
Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well... like we are actually family.
- When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.
My brothers and sisters, that's a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.
And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament: that's fire. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - and with this I will sit down, we gotta get you all married - French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a mystic. In some of his writings, he said, from his scientific background as well as his theological one, in some of his writings he said - as others have - that the discovery, or invention, or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history.
- Fire to a great extent made human civilisation possible.
- Fire made it possible to cook food and to provide sanitary ways of eating which reduced the spread of disease in its time.
- Fire made it possible to heat warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates.
- Fire made it possible - there was no Bronze Age without fire, no Iron Age without fire, no Industrial Revolution without fire.
- The advances of fire and technology are greatly dependent on the human ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good. Anybody get here in a car today? An automobile? Nod your heads if you did - I know there were some carriages. But those of us who came in cars, fire - the controlled, harnessed fire - made that possible. I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, that Jesus walked on the water. But I have to tell you, I did not walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here.
- Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other.
Fire makes all of that possible, and de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love - it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.
Dr King was right: we must discover love - the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world.
My brothers, my sisters, God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love."
On the occasion of the events that the Chilean Catholic Church faces and that reach the whole Church, we allow ourselves to present 7 new Orientations to face the crisis of power in the Chilean Church and in the universal one, by the theologianJosé Comblin,who exposes his article"On power in the Church",which we make ours as"Movement We Are Also Church-Chile".
What would be the new orientations regarding power in the Church today?
1) In the first place, it is necessary torecognize the power of the laity,based on the spiritual gifts and charisms they received, the evangelizing responsibilities they assume, etc.
2) In all instances, from the ecumenical council to the parochial councils,the laity must have a deliberative voice and can decide with the clergyon everything that does not refer to definitively defined doctrine.
3) Lay people should havean active voice in elections at all levels from the election of the Pope until the election of the parish priests.
4) The laity must have a deliberative voice in regard to the liturgy, catechesis and the organization of the Church.>
5) The basic principle is thatpower can not be concentrated in a single person.
6) The basis of all the reform of the power system is advertising. The preparation of decisions must be open, published and the necessary documents must be available to all. There can be no secrecy of appointments, nor of practical decisions taken by a single authority.
7) It is necessary to create an independent legal entity in which people who feel victims of injustice can appeal. At present, a layperson has no defence against clergy or religious; the religious have no defence against the clergy; the priests have no defence against the bishop; and the bishops have no defence against the Pope.
The basic principle is that power is in all Christians albeit in different degrees and that the structure must recognize this situation.
The second principle is that no human person represents simply the power of God and therefore can be corrected in everything that is not God's power, but affirmation of itself. For that there must be a fraternal correction that must be public.
The power of God creates, builds, edifies, increases, confers more freedom. All the ecclesiastical powers that do not act in that sense, are not God's power and must be contained, limited, structurally corrected. Structures must take away opportunities for abuses of power as in any society, and to diminish them, there must be rules that balance the powers of all.
Juan Subercaseaux (lawyer) - Enrique Orellana (professor).
DECLARACIÓN - "Movimiento También Somos Iglesia-Chile"
Con motivo de los hechos que enfrenta la Iglesia Católica chilena y que alcanzan a la Iglesia toda, es que nos permitimospresentar7 Orientaciones nuevas para afrontar la crisis del poder en la Iglesia chilena y en la universal, del teólogoJoséComblin, que exponeen su artículo"Sobre el poder en la Iglesia", que hacemos nuestras como"Movimiento Tambíén Somos Iglesia-Chile".
¿Cuáles serían las orientaciones nuevas con relación al poder en la Iglesia hoy día?
1) En primer lugar se necesitareconocer el poder de los laicos, basado en los carismas y dones espirituales que recibieron, las responsabilidades evangelizadoras que asumen, etc.
2) En todas las instancias, desde el concilio ecuménico hasta los consejos parroquiales los laicos deben tener voz deliberativa y pueden decidircon el cleroen todo lo que no se refiere a la doctrina definida definitivamente.
3) Los laicos deben tenervoz activaen laseleccionesen todos los nivelesdesde la elección del Papa hasta la elección de los párrocos.
4) Los laicos deben tenervoz deliberativaen lo que se refiere a la liturgia, a la catequesis y la organización de la Iglesia.
5) El principio básico es queel poder no puede ser concentrado en una sola persona.
6) La base de toda la reforma del sistema de poder es la publicidad. La preparación de las decisiones debe ser abierta, publicada y los documentos necesarios deben estar a disposición de todos. No puede haber secreto de los nombramientos, ni de las decisiones prácticas tomadas por una sola autoridad.
7) Es necesario crearunainstancia jurídica independienteen la que las personas que se sienten víctimasde injusticia puedan recurrir. En la actualidad, un laico no tiene defensa frente al clero o a los religiosos; las religiosas no tienen defensa frente al clero; los sacerdotes no tienen defensa frente al obispo; y los obispos no tienen defensa frente al Papa.
El principio básico es que el poder está en todos los cristianos aunque en grados distintos y que la estructura debe reconocer esta situación.
El segundo principio es que ninguna persona humana representa sencillamente el poder de Dios y por lo tanto puede ser corregido en todo lo que no es poder de Dios, sino afirmación de sí mismo. Para eso debe haber una corrección fraterna que debe ser pública.
El poder de Dios crea, construye, edifica, aumenta, confiere más libertad.. Todos los poderes eclesiásticos que no actúan en ese sentido, no son poder de Dios y deben ser contenidos, limitados, corregidos estructuralmente. Las estructuras deben sacar las oportunidades de abusos de poder como en cualquier sociedad, y para disminuirlos es necesario que haya normas que equilibren los poderes de todos.
Juan Subercaseaux (abogado)-Enrique Orellana(profesor).
May 17, 2018.
[ Italian ]
Leaders of We Are Church International today expressed serious concerns about the expansion of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life to include deepened reflection on the role of women. The broadening of the mission, headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, is the result of new statutes issued by Pope Francis that took effect May 13, 2018.
Colm Holmes of Dublin, Ireland, Chairperson of We Are Church International, said, “It is certainly critically important that the Vatican reflect and take action on the oppression women experience in our Church and in most cultures. However, putting this responsibility under the direction of the very man who recently banned at least two equality-minded women from speaking at the Vatican raises doubt that real progress will be possible. In addition, couching the consideration of women’s roles in the traditional Vatican language of ‘the relationship between men and women in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity’ and ‘feminine genius’ indicates a tenacious commitment to the very beliefs that put women in a second class status.”
Holmes continued, “We Are Church International calls on Pope Francis to establish a Dicastery for Women’s Equality. As former Irish President Mary McAleese pointed out in her remarkable address on International Women’s Day earlier this year, the Catholic Church needs to stop spreading the virus of misogyny and inequality throughout the world. A separate dicastery with a clear mission of dismantling the structures of oppression that result from Church teachings and practices is a necessary first step. We believe this Dicastery should be led by a team of directors, women and men, who can work collaboratively, modeling a new form of ministry and leadership at the Vatican. Their first mission should be to travel around the world, listening to women about their lives, their faith, and their relationship with the Church with no closed doors. What they learn should inform the Dicastery’s ongoing work of discerning the work of the Spirit.”
We Are Church International has long stood for women’s equality in the Church, including opening ministry and decision-making roles to women. The group supports all efforts that help advance this goal but sees the current direction as ineffective and problematic.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
On Pentecost Sunday (20 May 2018) wear a red stole, a red scarf, a red top!
Thereby you announce your belief that the Holy Spirit lives in all of us!
| I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows her; but you know her, because she is with you, she is in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.(John 14: 16-18)
What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5: 22-23)
In the Bible it says the “Spirit is our life” (Galatians 5: 25) and “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5: 18).
This is one of the Joint Projects agreed between EN-RE and WAC-I at our Joint meeting in Rome on 16 March 2018.
Representatives from countries around the world.
Pictured, Sigrid Grabmeier, We Are Church (Germany) hands the Chair of the Council to Colm Holmes, We Are Church (Ireland).
A personal reflection from Colm Holmes
25 delegates from 12 countries attended meetings in Rome where much was discussed and ideas shared.
For me there were two highlights:
- Our Prayer Vigil close to St Peter’s at 10pm on St Patrick’s Day
- Our shared Eucharist
Those were two very special occasions where we prayed and shared at a deeper level with the Holy Spirit very present.
On the Friday we had a Joint meeting with the European Network Church on the Move (EN-RE). Martha Heizer shared her experiences from the AYA/ATP meeting in Indonesia where young leaders from 10 Asian countries discussed how they deal with life and death issues. Edson Silva presented an overview on Liberation Theology which led right up to the assassination of Marielle Franco, a young woman Council Member in Rio on 14 March 2018. We hope Edson’s paper will be translated into English.
The Joint meeting with EN-RE produced suggestions for 5 possible Joint Projects.
The WAC-International meetings included:
- Country Reports
- We have 21 members in 19 countries (2 members each in both France and Brazil)
- 500th anniversary of the Reformation witnesses outside and inside churches in 17 countries and 6 continents and using social media to share over 500 photos
- Red scarf Pentecost celebration
- 18 Press Releases issued
- Next WAC-International meeting will again be held in Rome at the end of March 2020.
- We linked up online with Ashik Naz Khokhar in Pakistan
- The election of our new Coordinating Team:
§ Chair Colm Holmes (Ireland)
§ Vice Chair Martha Heizer (Austria)
§ Communications Valerie Stroud (Great Britain)
- - Assistant Ashik Naz Khokhar (Pakistan)
§ Media coordinator Marianne Duddy Burke (U.S.A.)
§ Treasurer ? [Interim: Colm Holmes Ireland]
§ Membership In-Reach Martha Heizer (Austria)
- - Assistant Erik Westerberg (Sweden)
§ Outreach Jean-Pierre Schmitz (France)
- - Assistant Ed Schreurs (Netherlands)
Following up from the Council 50 meeting in Rome there is a large team working on the GCN Aparacida meeting in Brazil 15-18 November 2018 which has three titles:
- 2nd Global Forum of the People of God from Medellin 1968 to Aparacida 2018
- “EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH AND IN SOCIETY”
- The Gospel challenged by globalization: justice, peace, democracy, environment, spirituality
The keynote speaker will be Leonardo Boff with many other Brazilian and international speakers.
My sincere thanks to all our members who give freely of their time, energy and expertise to help to reform our Church into a more Christ like body.
Press release Rome / Tuebingen, March 17, 2018
International Reform Movements celebrate the 90th birthday of the Swiss theologian Hans Küng (19 March 2018)
We Are Church International (WAC-I) and the European Network Church on the Move (EN-RE) at their joint conference in Rome offer their heartfelt congratulations to the great theologian and ecumenist Professor Hans Küng on the completion of his 90th year of life. "His lifelong perseverance for the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church as well as his commitment to ecumenism and to the dialogue between world religions remain for us a great encouragement, inspiration and incentive at the same time", they explain. Küng is also one of the spiritual fathers of the grass root movements of EN-RE and of the We Are Church Referendum of 1995. They are grateful for his support to the First Forum of the People of God that that took place in 2015 in Rome.
Appointed by Pope John XXIII as an official advisor to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), notwithstanding the later ecclesiastical marginalization, this Swiss theologian of world renown has made decisive contributions to the understanding of the Catholic faith, ecumenical theology and interreligious dialogue. His 1957 dissertation entitled "Justification" on the Protestant theologian Karl Barth and a Catholic response was also praised by Joseph Ratzinger, who taught Dogmatic Theology from 1966 to 1969 alongside Küng in Tübingen/Germany. With his foundational works ("The Church" in 1967, "Being a Christian" in 1974 and "Does God exist?" 1978), Küng not only brought to the public selective ideas of reform, but intensively substantiated these in his works both biblically and systematically.
With his ecumenical commitment, Küng made a significant contribution to the 1999 establishment of a Catholic-Lutheran agreement in the doctrine of justification. Eucharistic Hospitality, for which the Institute for Ecumenical Research founded by him in 1963 in Tübingen, spoke at the Berlin Ecumenical Kirchentag 2003, was a step in the right direction for Küng.
Küng and the permanent problem of church reform
Like no other contemporary, Hans Küng has raised and kept alive the question of truth and credibility in Christianity. After the Council and the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" on birth control (1968), Küng in his 1970 book "Infallible? A question" raised the question of infallibility of the papal magisterium.
For this reason, on 18 December 1979, under Pope John Paul II, his ecclesiastical teaching permit ("missio canonica") was withdrawn. But Küng did not withdraw his theologically based statements about the controversial infallibility dogma of 1870 and thereby showed that not obedience, but resistance - a rather rare Catholic "virtue" - is demanded when it comes to resisting Roman prescriptions.
In 1968 he initiated and designed the Declaration "For the Freedom of Theology", which was revised by Yves Congar, Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx and finally signed by 1,360 Catholic theologians from around the world, including Joseph Ratzinger. In 1989, Küng was a co-signer of the "Cologne Declaration," which argued for open Catholicism and against an overarching papal authority.
The second volume of his memoirs "Controversial Truth" gives a historical and systematic justification of the concerns of We Are Church, which had been clearly defined since the Second Vatican Council and for which Küng fought for with great intensity in the 1960s and 1970s. In Volume 6 of his Complete Works he describes in the introduction the "permanent problem of church reform":
The fact that Küng's questions to the papacy are far from resolved is shown by the growing conflicts between Rome and the local churches and the conflicts between Pope Francis and parts of the Curia. Compulsory celibacy, the ordination of women and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper remain in the discussion, despite all the prohibitions from Rome, indeed there are and remain urgent reform points.
Since the withdrawal of the Missio Canonica (1980), Küng has devoted himself to inter-religious dialogue with great intensity. He also published three major works on Judaism (1991), Christianity (1995) and Islam (2004). Since 1990 he has been developing the Global Ethics Project, which he has been promoting since 1995 in the "Global Ethics Foundation". A milestone is the "Declaration on Global Ethics", adopted by the Chicago World Religions Congress in Chicago in 1993, which has led to a worldwide network of interfaith relationships.
Kueng and the grass root movements
Hans Küng is one of the spiritual fathers of the Initiative Church from Below, member of EN-RE, founded in 1980, and of the We are Church Referendum in 1995, which resulted in the Movement We Are Church. At the opening of the Conciliar Assembly "Signs of the Times - Hope and Resistance" in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, his last big appearance in Germany, he said: "We must not give up ... Especially in the current phase of the internal church restoration, it is important to ... keep our breath for longer", a word that applies especially to the current turning point in the history of the church.
Half a year after the election of Pope Francis, he wrote about We are Church: "In its demands, it has the message of Jesus Christ behind it, and at the same time meets the requirements of today's democratic and pluralistic society. During the time of the restoration pacts Wojtyla and Ratzinger there was little hope that their concerns would be heard in the hierarchy. With Pope Francis, however, a turnaround seems to have occurred which makes it easier to fulfill many of their demands. In the winter church the Church Movement kept the embers glowing under the ashes. May the fire of reform finally seize the whole Church and also the Vatican. So continue, dear friends, courage, creativity and perseverance!"
Vatican News:Watch the official trailer for Wim Wenders’ new film, Pope Francis - A Man of His Word. “Pope Francis - A Man of His Word,” is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions. From his deep concern for the poor and wealth inequality, to his involvement in environmental issues and social justice, Pope Francis engages the audience face-to-face and calls for peace.
>The film goes on general release on 18 May. It is produced by Wim Wenders with Samantha Gandolfi Branca, Alessandro Lo Monaco (The World's Smallest Army) Andrea Gambetta, and David Rosier (The Salt of the Earth). The film is a production of Celestes Images, Vatican media. Solares Fondazione della Arti, PTS Art's Factory , Neue Road Movies, Fondazione Solares Suisse and Decia Films.
Joint Press Release from We Are Church International and the European Network - Church on the Move
8 March 2018
Five years after the election of Pope Francis (13 March 2018) We Are Church International (WAC-I) and European Network Church on the Move (EN) appeal to Pope Francis to continue the reform process of the Roman Catholic Church and to intensify it with dramatic action. The election of the first South American Pope, who began his Papacy by asking the people of the world to pray for him, stirred great hopes in the hearts of many Catholics, especially many who had been frustrated by the failure of our Church to realize the promises of the Second Vatican Council, which was seen as having great potential to be more faithful to the Gospel and for modernizing aspects of the Church.
Today, delegates and representatives of the international Catholic Church Reform and Social Justice movements give Pope Francis decidedly mixed reviews. WAC-I and EN praise Francis for modelling a life in solidarity with the poor, encouraging dialogue within and beyond the Church, attempting to rein in hierarchical abuse of the Church’s wealth and power, and speaking in ways that are accessible to many. Yet, many of his reforms have been resisted by Church officials appointed by the previous Popes, John Paull II and Benedict XVI. WAC-I and EN call on the Cardinals, bishops, and all Catholics to embrace Francis’ vision of the Church as servant and steward.
WAC-I and EN leaders commend Pope Francis for his relentless advocacy on behalf of refugees and migrants, for his strong engagement for peace founded on justice in the world, for his proposal of nonviolence in every conflict, his visible presence among communities typically marginalized, and opting for simplicity in his personal life. They applaud the stewardship of the Earth promoted in Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. They recognize his courage in chastising and demoting bishops and cardinals who flaunted wealth and instructing church leaders to focus on pastoral care rather than bureaucracy. They appreciate that the Pope has focused on under-represented areas of the globe in the appointment of new Cardinals and has emphasized pastoral skills in designating bishops. They support the Pope’s attempts to open dialogue on issues of importance to families and youth and inviting input from members of the church in preparing for these Synods. The groups celebrated Pope Francis’ efforts to increase the accountability in financial matters, and his respectful engagement with leaders and members of other faiths.
The groups also expressed significant disappointment with the lack of substantive changes in some areas of Church policy and dogma, and about the opposition the Pope’s attempts at reforms have met within the Curia. They noted that the People of God remain excluded from decision making at all levels of the Church and Pope Francis call for dialogue has not been heeded at all levels. They also noted that there has been no significant movement on the inequality of women in the Church, despite the appointment of a study commission to consider the questions of women in the diaconate. The Pope has maintained the Church’s emphasis on complementarity, which prescribes roles for women and men based on gender, and on recognizing only the permanent, exclusive marriage of a man and woman open to the procreation and nurture of children. This means that divorced, remarried, cohabiting, LGBTI people, and those who use contraceptives, build families through assisted reproductive technologies, or have abortions are often excluded from full participation in the church. The Pope did appoint a commission to deal with the issue of clerical abuse in the Church, but opposition to its work among Curial members led to it being unable to accomplish its mission. A strong advocate and survivor of abuse resigned in protest, the Commission’s authority was allowed to expire, and when recommissioned, it was with members many characterize as weaker and less likely to challenge Church leadership. The Church should give up the procedures of condemnation and excommunication and show more respect for pluralism, especially in theology. Christian unity remains blocked by our Church refusing to accept shared communion. WAC-I and EN also noted that, despite several invitations, the Pope has failed to meet with leaders of Church reform and renewal networks to address areas of common concern.
We Are Church International and European Network Church on the Move call on Pope Francis to renew his commitment to the comprehensive reforms needed to free the Catholic Church from rigid hierarchical tradition, engage more of the laity and especially women, and ensure that the Church truly lives the Gospel of Jesus in a world that is in deep conflict and turmoil. We pray that this fifth anniversary marks a time of radical renewal for our Church.
The European Network Church on the Move (EN) is a spontaneous convergence of organizations – associations, communities, informal groups and networks – of European Christians who are in majority Catholic, sharing
(1) the vision of a Church prophetic, ecumenical, liberating, supporting, loving, which neither excludes nor discriminates and which follows on the steps of Jesus the liberator
((2) the will to work, respecting cultural and religious diversity, for peace, justice, freedom, human rights and democracy, including in the Catholic Church (Cf Declaration of rights and freedoms in the Catholic Church, European Network 1994)
Interim results: Pope Francis revitalizes Vatican II reforms by Christian Weisner
I cinque anni di papa Francesco. Noi Siamo Chiesa appoggia il nuovo corso ma continua il suo impegno contro le troppe resistenze che vi si oppongono. by Noi Siamo Chiesa
March 10, 2018.
We Are Church International today issued its complete and unanimous endorsement of Mary McAleese’s groundbreaking speech at the Voices of Faith International Women’s Day event Why Women Matter.
We call on Pope Francis to immediately develop a credible strategy for including women as equals at all levels throughout our Church and in both ministerial and decision-making roles. This strategy must begin with the Pope and other Catholic leaders listening to what women have to say, without rebuttal or limits on what can be said. They must then develop clear and measurable goals for reversing the centuries of oppression and discrimination women have faced within our church, as well as a system to audit and report on progress toward these goals.
We Are Church International believes, as Dr. McAleese proclaimed, “The Catholic Church has long been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny. It has never sought a cure though a cure is freely available. Its name is ‘equality.’
The time to seek that cure is now.
W hear catholic voices from across the globe speaking on women and leadership in the Catholic Church.
Keynote speech by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland 1997-2011, at the Voices of Faith conference, Rome, 8 March 2018
8 March 2018
The Israelites under Joshua’s command circled Jericho’s walls for seven days, blew trumpets and shouted to make the walls fall down. (cf. Joshua 6:1-20). We don’t have trumpets but we have voices, voices of faith and we are here to shout, to bring down our Church’s walls of mysogyny. We have been circling these walls for 55 years since John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris first pointed to the advancement of women as one of the most important “signs of the times”.
“they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons” .[…] The longstanding inferiority complex of certain classes because of their economic and social status, sex, or position in the State, and the corresponding superiority complex of other classes, is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
At the Second Vatican Council Archbishop Paul Hallinan of Atlanta, warned the bishops to stop perpetuating “the secondary place accorded to women in the Church of the 20th century” and to avoid the Church being a “late-comer in [their] social, political and economic development”. The Council’s decree Apostolicam Actuositatem said it was important that women“participate more widely […] in the various sectors of the Church’s apostolate”. The Council’s pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes said the elimination of discrimination based on gender was a priority. Paul VI even commissioned a study on women in Church and Society. Surely we thought then, the post-Conciliar Church was on the way to full equality for its 600 million female members. And yes-it is true that since the Council new roles and jobs, have opened up to the laity including women but these have simply marginally increased the visibility of women in subordinate roles, including in the Curia, but they have added nothing to their decision-making power or their voice. Remarkably since the Council, roles which were specifically designated as suitable for the laity have been deliberately closed to women. The stable roles of acolyte and lector and the permanent deaconate have been opened only to lay men. Why? Both laymen and women can be temporary altar servers but bishops are allowed to ban females and where they permit them in their dioceses individual pastors can ban them in their parishes. Why?
Back in 1976 we were told that the Church does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination. This has locked women out of any significant role in the Church’s leadership, doctrinal development and authority structure since these have historically been reserved to or filtered through ordained men. Yet in divine justice the very fact of the permanent exclusion of women from priesthood and all its consequential exclusions, should have provoked the Church hierarchy to find innovative and transparent ways of including women’s voices as of right and not in trickles of tokenism by tapping, in the divinely instituted College of Bishops and in the man made entities such as the College of Cardinals, the Synod of Bishops and episcopal conferences, in all the places where the faith is shaped by decision and dogma and doctrine. Just imagine this normative scenario- Pope Francis calls a Synod on the role of Women in the Church and 350 male celibates advise the Pope on what women really want! That is how ludicrous our Church has become. How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership, legal and doctrinal discernment and decision-making?
It was here in this very hall in 1995 that Irish Jesuit theologian, Fr. Gerry O’Hanlon put his finger on the underpinning systemic problem when he steered Decree 14 through the Jesuits 34th General Congregation. It is a forgotten document but today we will dust it down and use it to challenge a Jesuit Pope, a reforming Pope, to real, practical action on behalf of women in the Catholic Church.
Decree 14 says:
We have been part of a civil and ecclesial tradition that has offended against women. And, like many men, we have a tendency to convince ourselves that there is no problem. However unwittingly, we have often contributed to a form of clericalism which has reinforced male domination with an ostensibly divine sanction. By making this declaration we wish to react personally and collectively, and do what we can to change this regrettable situation.
“The regrettable situation” arises because the Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny. It has never sought a cure though a cure is freely available. Its name is “equality”
Down the 2000 year highway of Christian history came the ethereal divine beauty of the Nativity, the cruel sacrifice of the Crucifixion, the Hallelujah of the Resurrection and the rallying cry of the great commandment to love one another. But down that same highway came man-made toxins such as misogyny and homophobia to say nothing of anti-semitism with their legacy of damaged and wasted lives and deeply embedded institutional dysfunction.
The laws and cultures of many nations and faith systems were also historically deeply patriarchal and excluding of women; some still are, but today the Catholic Church lags noticeably behind the world’s advanced nations in the elimination of discrimination against women. Worse still, because it is the “pulpit of the world” to quote Ban Ki Moon its overt clerical patriarchalism acts as a powerful brake on dismantling the architecture of misogyny wherever it is found. There is an irony here, for education has been crucial to the advancement of women and for many of us, the education which liberated us was provided by the Church’s frontline workers clerical and lay, who have done so much to lift men and women out of poverty and powerlessness and give them access to opportunity. Yet paradoxically it is the questioning voices of educated Catholic women and the courageous men who support them, which the Church hierarchy simply cannot cope with and scorns rather than engaging in dialogue. The Church which regularly criticizes the secular world for its failure to deliver on human rights has almost no culture of critiquing itself. It has a hostility to internal criticism which fosters blinkered servility and which borders on institutional idolatry.
Today we challenge Pope Francis to develop a credible strategy for the inclusion of women as equals throughout the Church’s root and branch infrastructure, including its decision-making. A strategy with targets, pathways and outcomes regularly and independently audited Failure to include women as equals has deprived the Church of fresh and innovative discernment; it has consigned it to recycled thinking among a hermetically sealed cosy male clerical elite flattered and rarely challenged by those tapped for jobs in secret and closed processes. It has kept Christ out and bigotry in. It has left the Church flapping about awkwardly on one wing when God gave it two. We are entitled to hold our Church leaders to account for this and other egregious abuses of institutional power and we will insist on our right to do so no matter how many official doors are closed to us.
At the start of his papacy Pope Francis said “We need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church” words a Church scholar described as evidence of Francis’ “magnanimity”. Let us be clear, women’s right to equality in the Church arises organically from divine justice. It should not depend on ad hoc papal benevolence.
Pope Francis described female theologians as the “strawberries on the cake”. He was wrong. Women are the leaven in the cake. They are the primary handers on of the faith to their children. In the Western world the Church’s cake is not rising, the baton of faith is dropping. Women are walking away from the Catholic Church in droves, for those who are expected to be key influencers in their children’s faith formation have no opportunity to be key influencers in the formation of the Catholic faith. That is no longer acceptable. Just four months ago the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin felt compelled to remark that “the low standing of women in the Catholic Church is the most significant reason for the feeling of alienation towards it in Ireland today”.
Yet Pope Francis has said that “women are more important than men because the Church is a woman”. Holy Father, why not ask women if they feel more important than men? I suspect many will answer that they experience the Church as a male bastion of patronizing platitudes to which Pope Francis has added his quota.
John Paul II has written of the ‘mystery of women’. Talk to us as equals and we will not be a mystery! Francis has said a “deeper theology of women” is needed. God knows it would be hard to find a more shallow theology of women than the misogyny dressed up as theology which the magisterium currently hides behind.
And all the time a deeper theology is staring us in the face. It does not require much digging to find it. Just look to Christ. John Paul II pointed out that:
‘we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. […] Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness….As we look to Christ…. it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has been heard and acted upon?’
Women are best qualified to answer that question but we are left to talk among ourselves. No Church leader bothers to turn up not just because we do not matter to them but because their priestly formation prepares them to resist treating us as true equals.
Back in this hall in 1995 the Jesuit Congregation asked God for the grace of conversion from a patriarchal Church to a Church of equals; a Church where women truly matter not on terms designed by men for a patriarchal Church but on terms which make Christ matter. Only such a Church of equals is worthy of Christ. Only such a Church can credibly make Christ matter. The time for that Church is now, Pope Francis. The time for change is now.
 John XXIII encyclical Pacem in terris, 11 April 1963, n. 41.
 Ibid. n. 43
 Cf. Fr. P. Jordan O.S.B., NCWC News Rome correspondent «Changes proposed in role of women in the Church» posted 12 October 1965. Cf. https://vaticaniiat50.wordpress.com /2015/10/12/ changes-proposed-in-role-of-women-in-the-church/
 Second Vatican Council, Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, 18 November 1965, n. 9 in AAS58 (1966), 846-.
 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 7 December 1965, n. 29 in AAS 58 (1966), 1048-1049.
 It reported in 1976.
 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 230 §1. Cf. Paul VI, apostolic letter, Ministeria Quaedam, 15 August 1972, n. 2-4; 7, in AAS 64 (1972) 529-534. Formerly called the minor orders of acolyte and lector, they are: henceforth to be called ministries. Ministries may be assigned to lay Christians; hence they are no longer to be considered as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders. […] In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men.
 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 1031 §2. In 2016 Pope Francis set up a Commission to look at the question of ordaining women to the Diaconate. The report is believed to have been on his desk for a year as of March 2018.
 Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, letter Concerning the use of female altar servers, 27 July 2001.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declaration Inter Insigniores, On the question of the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood, 15 October 15 1976.
 Written with the help among others of two Irish laywomen, Cathy Molloy and Edel O’Kennedy. For the background to the Decree cf. M.J. Heydt, «Solving the Mystery of Decree 14: Jesuits and the situation of women in Church and civil society» http://www.conversationsmagazine.org/web-features/2015/12/27/solving-the-mystery-of-decree-14-jesuits-and-the-situation-of-women-in-church-and-civil-society
 Per UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his opening introduction at the UNGA Seventieth Session, 25 September 2015, UN Doc A/70/PV.3, 1.
 Francis, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24 November 2013, n. 103 in AAS 105 (2013) 1019-1137. Cf. Francis interview with Fr. A. Spadaro SJ for America magazine in which he repeated these words, 30 September 2013 (as amended online).
 P. Zagano, «What the Pope really said», NCRonline 25 September 2013 https:// www.ncronline.org/blogs/just-catholic/what-pope-really-said.
 Francis, Address to the International Theological Commission, 5 December 2014. Cf. H. Roberts «Women theologians are ‘the strawberry on the cake, says Pope», The Tablet 11 December 2014.
 From a talk entitled “The church in Dublin: where will it be in 10 years’ time?” at St Mary’s Church, Haddington Road, as reported in the Irish Times, November 16 2017.
 Response of Pope Francis to a question from a journalist: “Will we one day see women priests in the Catholic Church?” on papal plane returning to Rome from the United States, Sept. 29, 2015. Cf. https://www.ncr online.org/blogs/francis-chronicles/popes-quotes-theology-women
 John Paul II, apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, n. 15 August 1988 in AAS 80 (1988) 1653-1729.
 Interview with journalists on board plane on way to Rio de Janeiro 22 July 2013 cf. John Allen «The Pope on Homosexuals. Who am I to judge?», NCRonline https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/pope-homosexuals-who-am-i-judge
 Cf. Manfred Hauke, Women in the priesthood. A Systematic Analysis in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption, Ignatius Press, 1988.
In her Voices of Faith address on 8 March 2018, Dr.Mary MacAleese referred to a call by the Jesuits to redress the situation of women in the RCC. This was resolved at the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus: Decree 14: “Jesuits and the Situation of Women in Church and Civil Society,” General Congregation 34 (1995). The full text is well worth reading. See link below from Boston College:https://jesuitportal.bc.edu/research/documents/1995_decree14gc34/. It reveals very dear intentions, although twenty-three years later the situation does not seem to have changed much for women in the Church!
January 25, 2018.
Pope Francis' trip to South America reflected the Pope’s usual attention to the reality of the sufferings of the poor and marginalized native populations. But his visit also demonstrated the Pope’s lack of clarity on prioritizing the victims and survivors of clerical sexual abuse, and further undermined the Church’s efforts to show its repentance on this important issue.
The pope asked for forgiveness and expressed shame for clerical sex abusers in his address at the “Moneda” before the Chilean civil authorities. Pope Francis also received a delegation of the victims behind closed doors. These were important steps, but he had not show the same openness with the victims of Karadima.
However, these positive events were completely undermined by Pope Francis’ saying that those who charged Bishop Juan Barros Madrid of covering up child sexual abuse were guilty of “slander.”
Bishop Juan Barros Madrid was appointed Bishop of Osorno in 2015, after his complicity with Karadima became known; prior to that he had been bishop for the Army. His nomination came from the hierarchy in Chile, who were in agreement with the dictatorship of Pinochet and enjoyed the empathy of the Nuncio Angelo Sodano. Bishop Barros was the protector of the serial pedophile Fr Fernando Karadima, an influential and well-known figure amongst the economic and conservative elite in the Catholic world of Santiago. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors protested his appointment, but Pope Francis proceeded with it. There is no suggestion that Bishop Barros himself was an abuser; but he was certainly aware of the serial abuse of Karadima whom he protected.
A base movement was then born in the Osorno diocese that disputed and rejected the appointment of Barros, asking the pope to revoke it. Pope Francis, speaking with a journalist before leaving Chile, said there was no evidence against Barros and accused the abuse survivors of slander. Yet the Karadima abuse survivors – whom Pope Francis refused to meet - have been confirmed as credible. In fact, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, who heads up the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has issued a statement that the pontiff's defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse was "a source of great pain" for survivors. There has also been a reply of the speaker of the lay people of Osorno: “The Pope should understand that he is not a jury, he does not have to decide about crimes, that will be judged by a Chilean jury, his duty is to check if the bishop Juan Barros is really a spiritual leader or not, and understand that he is not fulfilling his mission as a bishop: being a sign of unity in a diocese”.
We Are Church International (WAC) and the European Network Church on The Move (EN) express their support for the legitimate ecclesiastical protest of the Christians of Osorno and share the opinion of Somos Iglesia Chile (national section of the WAC movement) in this matter. We call on Pope Francis to urgently review his support of Bishop Juan Barros for the good of all the church.
| Sigrid Grabmeier
| Enrique Orellana F.
Somos Iglesia Chile
| Raquel Mallavibarrena
European Network Church on the Move
We Are Church International founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.https://www.we-are-church.org/413/index.php
The European Network Church on the Move is a spontaneous convergence of organizations – associations, communities, informal groups and networks – of European Christians who are in majority Catholic, sharing(1) the vision of a Church prophetic, ecumenical, liberating, supporting, loving, which neither excludes nor discriminates and which follows on the steps of Jesus the liberator(2) the will to work, respecting cultural and religious diversity, for peace, justice, freedom, human rights and democracy, including in the Catholic Churchhttp://www.en-re.eu/index.php
January 17, 2018.
We Are Church International, a coalition of 22 Catholic reform organizations from six continents, is calling on Pope Francis to immediately reauthorize the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. This Commission, which oversees the Church’s efforts to ensure the safety of children, has been suspended due to the Pope’s failure to reauthorize it after its original three-year commission expired.
Sigrid Grabmeier, Chair of We Are Church International, said, “It is crucially important for the good of the entire Church that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors be reinstated right away. We just saw Pope Francis apologize to survivors of clerical sexual abuse during his travels in Chile. Allowing the Commission to lapse undermines the sincerity of his words, and makes it seem that the protection of children is a low priority for our Church. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors also has a critical role in ensuring that bishops and cardinals who are guilty of covering up and facilitating clerical abuse are brought to justice. Catholics throughout the world are deeply committed to ensuring that our children are protected from sexual abuse and other dangers. We need our Church officials to take quick action to correct this lapse in the Commission’s operations.”
We Are Church International has repeatedly called for a clear focus on addressing the issue of clerical sexual abuse and the protection of abusers by bishops in many countries, and by the Vatican. Rectifying these sins and providing appropriate care and compensation to the survivors of this abuse and their families, as well as holding those complicit in these cases accountable, are necessary steps for our Church to regain its moral authority. The well-being of children must always be our church’s highest priority. Reinstating the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and ensuring it has the resources and Papal support needed to accomplish its goals are key steps in reflecting this value.
We Are Church International (WACI) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.