By Janet Hauter January 22, 2016
My quick response would be “NO!” In their last national meeting, the agenda made my response clear since none of Pope Francis’ invitation to all Catholics was present as topics for discussion/decision.
I hearken back to the Swiss theologian, Hans Kung, highly regarded and applauded by reformers globally who identified the principles needed for the Church to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of the people.
- Church reform must be from the bottom up. At the American Catholic Council, that is our goal.
- The role of the Papacy needs to be clearly redefined. Pope Francis has taken on that challenge.
- The election of bishops by their own communities should be reintroduced. An initiative we need to take on this year after the Pope appoints new bishops mid-year as this process is already underway.
- The Synod of Bishops should assume a guiding role within our complex world. That is what Francis is calling them to do—to be close to us, to understand the world we live in, to embrace the complexities of our lives by journeying with us. Rather, our national business want no change; they have overtly and covertly worked for the status quo.
- Co-responsibility on all levels needs to be given to the Synod of Bishops. The American bishops do not understand collaboration with the laity and have tended toward avoidance of all calls to responsibility. This will have to be a future initiative because there are many steps that would have to precede this.
- Leadership choices should be conducted democratically. While the clerical culture has consistently said that the Church is not a democratic institution, yet democratic votes among them select the next Pontiff all the time.
- The Roman Curia requires radical reform. That was one of the main reasons that Francis was selected by his peers—to clean up the dysfunction, the illegalities, the fraud, the culture. We have more than enough nauseating evidence that it has been rampant in the Curia for too long and we all know that power corrupts. Since there has been no actual oversight, accountability or morality within the Curia and that is why Francis has focused like a laser in cleaning it up.
- The doctrinal congregation should use independent professional advisors. We have too long seen evidence of the mean-spirited, punitive response this congregation has initiated against theologians. Many look at the world and the doctrine that addresses issues and logically claim a disconnect. The Roman monarchical dictates coupled with punitive consequences for not following their mandates have caused many to simply vote with their feet.
Hans Kung believed that if those principles and a few others were followed, we could celebrate A Catholic Church transformed by 2020. We potentially have 4 years as grassroots Catholics to initiative many of these changes. Will you join us?