Posts Tagged Roman Catholic Church reform
I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola Marymount University between 1981-1985. I often think fondly of the priests and nuns there — with whom I was a doting student, and with a few became friends — but the memories of most of them are bittersweet.
“My LMU years happened to fall almost exactly 20 years after the three-year span of Vatican II, from 1962-1965. The male and female clergy at LMU who were over 40, as most were, had been fresh, idealistic novices during Vatican II. Without exception, they were all deeply affected both by that brief period of optimism and upheaval, as well as the aftermath of the recoil as those institutional doors snapped back shut.”
By Amy Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter — Click here or on the title above to read the rest of this commentary.
As anyone who paid attention in history class knows, when Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés landed in what’s now Mexico in 1519, he promptly scuttled his ships, thereby leaving his men no choice but to press on in conquest of the Aztec empire. For centuries, that rash act has loomed as an object lesson in total commitment.
“This week (week of July 7) Pope Francis scuttled some ships of his own, on two fronts which have been sources of scandal and heartache for the Catholic Church: sex and money.
“On Monday (July 7), Francis held his first meeting with victims of clerical sexual abuse. Two days later, the Vatican announced a sweeping financial overhaul, including new leadership and a sharply limited role for the troubled Vatican bank.”
By John L. Allen, Jr., The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this article.
As the media continue to size up Pope Francis’ papacy at the one-year mark, David Gibson of Religion News Service writes about Francis’ plan for reform. He says Francis wants to overhaul and upend “the institutional culture of Catholicism” by leveling the hierarchy, teaching Catholic leaders to teach and to trust and evangelizing the world. Read his article, “Pope Francis’ Plan for Reform: Convert the Church,” by clicking here.
Since Pope Francis took office in March, almost everything he has said and done indicates that he is bent on carrying through a thorough reform of the Roman Catholic Church, beginning with the Vatican itself.” By Hans Kung, The Tablet. You can read the rest of Kung’s commentary by clicking here.
Voice of the Faithful® also finds hope in Pope Francis for Church reform. Many of the sentiments he has expressed complement those Voice of the Faithful has always espoused. Here are a few:
- During an interview with America magazine, Pope Francis said, “Human self-understanding changes
with time and so also human consciousness deepens. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith
to defend without nuance or different understanding is wrong.”
- In its mission statement, VOTF commits itself to providing the Church with “a prayerful voice, attentive
to the Spirit,” thereby attuning its organizational conscience to the Spirit’s guidance, as espoused by Vatican II. “Catholics should try to cooperate with all men and women of good will to promote whatever is true, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable (cf. Phil. 4:8). They should hold discussions with them, excel them in prudence and courtesy, and initiate research on social and public practices which should be improved in line with the spirit of the Gospel.” (Apostolate/Laity #15)
- In addressing the reorganization of Vatican congregations, Pope Francis said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should continue to “act decisively as far as cases of sexual abuse are concerned, promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past (and) the necessary procedures against those who are guilty.”
- In its statement concerning Pope Francis’ Vatican reorganization, VOTF said, “If Pope Francis wishes
to demonstrate that the Church will, at last, ‘act decisively,’ in matters of child sexual abuse, these are instances (examples of bishops allegedly complicit in abetting or covering up clergy sexual abuse) where he can hold accountable the bishops who fail to act in such cases. Voice of the Faithful® urges Pope Francis
to call for investigations under canon law or to censure these bishops directly. He is the only person in the Church who can do so.”
- In addressing the role of the clergy, Pope Francis said, Priests should be “shepherds living with the smell
of the sheep,” and, “Leaders of the Church have often been Narcissuses, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy … This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us
… The church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.”
- Voice of the Faithful has long decried this clericalism in the Church. In 2011, VOTF criticized the John Jay Institute’s Study of the Causes and Context of the Sexual Abuse Crisis for describing clericalism but not naming it as a principal cause for clergy sex abuse and coverup. “Clericalism,” VOTF’s report noted, “is an overriding set of beliefs and behaviors in which the clergy view themselves as different, separate, and exempt from the norms, rules and consequences that apply to everyone else in society.”
- In addressing women’s roles in the Church, Pope Francis said, “Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The Church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the Church … I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the Church.”
- In its paper on re-establishing the ordained women’s diaconate, Voice of the Faithful® said, “One of the best kept secrets of the Catholic Church is that for the first half of its history, that is, for more than 11 centuries, women were ordained to the diaconate by bishops, within the sanctuary, with the laying on
of hands … Yet, since the close of the Second Vatican Council, the Vatican has not moved to restore the female diaconate in the Catholic Church, even though, … the Church today has both the authority and the power to ordain women deacons.”
A new international network of reformist Roman Catholic priests is pushing to give lay people a bigger role in a Church that Pope Francis wants to bring closer to grassroots members. Speaking as dissidents from six countries met in Austria Oct. 11 for the first time, clergyman Helmut Schueller said the Church should draw on people in local parishes that are under threat of vanishing as the ranks of the priesthood dwindle.” By Michael Shields, Reuters
Read the rest of Shields’ story by clicking here.
The reform of the Curia and the attribution 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.” By Vatican Information Service
Read the rest of this story by clicking here.
The Positive reception to Pope Francis from all quarters is itself almost as astounding as the man himself. A kind of global sigh of relief has greeted his humane and kindly manner, a signal that the human family, even in a secular age, longs for a rescue of transcendent value. The Catholic Church, for all of its problems, and if only because of its history as a pillar of Western culture, remains a universal object of fascination …
“… The pope aims to start “a long-run, historical process” on behalf of the poor. No one denies his seriousness on this issue — from the choice of his name, to the place where he lives, to his witness in Brazil. But the pope knows as well as anyone that the single most powerful engine drawing people out of poverty is improvement in the economic status of women, which can only occur within a larger cultural transformation. Education. Participation. Power. Reproductive freedom. Yes, women’s liberation. There can be no other strategy for ending poverty.” By James Carroll, The Boston Globe
Read the rest of Carroll’s commentary by clicking here.
The Six Most Important Reforms Voice of the Faithful Would Like Pope Francis To Discuss with His Advisors In October
Pope Francis meets in Rome Oct. 1-3 with his eight cardinal advisors on Church governance. Voice of the Faithful® would like at least the following six reforms to be on the Pope’s agenda, and as a start, Voice of the Faithful sent a letter to Pope Francis in late August asking that a VOTF proposed for a change in the process of bishop selection be placed on the agenda:
1. Disciplinary action for any bishop who has covered up clergy sexual abuse
- Clerical Culture: Reality & Concerns
- Voice of the Faithful’s Conclusions about the John Jay College Report: The Causes & Contexts of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010
- The Pope’s Real Target: Clericalism
- Clerical Culture Among Roman Catholic Diocesan Clergy
- Voice of the Faithful Urges Pope Francis to “Act Decisively” Regarding Bishops, Clergy Sexual Abuse & His Message to Vatican Congregation
2. The ordination to the priesthood of married Catholic men
- A Petition to the American Bishops for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Married Catholic Men in the United States
- Crisis in the Priesthood: Conversations about Celibacy
- A Brief History of Celibacy
- Mandatory Celibacy: Time to Discuss Its Flaws
3. An expanded role for clergy and laity in selecting local bishops
- VOTF Letter to Pope Francis
- Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for the Episcopacy
- Lay Input into Bishop Selection Process
4. The ordination of women to the diaconate
- Women Deacons: How Long Will It Take the Church to Open This Door
- Women in the Church: Suggested Readings
5. Removal of the mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
- Nun Justice Project: Support the Sisters
- Leadership Conference of Women Religious
- LCWR: ‘Radical Feminism’ or ‘Living the Gospel’
6. Financial accountability and transparency
Austrian Reformist Priest Fr. Helmut Schuller Concludes U.S. Tour in Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC
Austrian reformist priest Fr. Helmut Schuller started his 15-city U.S. speaking tour, Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Helmut Schuller, in New York City July 16. He concluded his tour there Aug. 8 in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He brought his Roman Catholic Church reform message to more than 5,000 people during his tour and received a good deal of media coverage in the U.S. and Europe. After speaking to supporters in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fr. Schuller delivered thousands of actual and virtual red ribbons symbolizing the Holy Spirit and support for reform goals to the office of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also delivered the following letter to Cardinal Dolan:
August 8, 2013
Dear Cardinal Dolan:
Over the past three weeks, I have met with thousands of Catholics – laity and clergy – in 15 cities across the U.S. to share experiences and to learn from one another. At each place I visited, participants in our conversations wore red ribbons, signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit given to all the faithful. These ribbons as well as nearly 2,000 online signatures have been collected, and we offer them to you as a sign of our commitment to our church, a community where the People of God should be represented at every level of leadership and decision-making.
I learned much during my conversations with American Catholics. I discovered very many who are working hard to meet the challenges facing us all and to give voice to their needs, as is their right and obligation under Canon 212. I also heard from many priests who are concerned about the future of their parishes and their ministries. Sadly, many do not feel free to speak openly about their concerns. This must be a matter of concern to you as president of the USCCB. I do not believe that there is any place for fear or intimidation in our Church, and yet I found it time and again in my talks with fellow priests. I also found this same intimidation in the attempts to prevent Catholics from hearing me in Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit.
My hope is that my visit contributed to an authentic Christian conversation that must take place across our Church in every country. As we all are inspired by the example of Pope Francis, we should engage in an honest dialogue about the challenges we must overcome in making our Church a sign of the Kingdom and a sacrament to the world of the 21st century. As you know, I and my fellow priests have been working in Austria and in other parts of Europe to cultivate this dialogue. We stand ready to assist you here in the U.S. in any way we can to encourage the same honest and fearless exchange of views.
In the peace of Jesus Christ,
Rev. Helmut Schüller