Roadblocks to Reform

 
What’s the biggest obstacle to positive reform in the Church? Reactionaries in the Roman Curia? Conservatives in the conference of bishops? The Code of Canon Law?
 
The correct answer is none of the above. The biggest obstacle to reform is the roadblock thrown in its way by self-styled reform groups themselves. By advocating changes that clash with the doctrine, discipline, and best interests of the Church, they give reform a bad name and lead sensible people to reason that if this is what "reform" means, they want no part of it.
 
Not to leave you guessing, I mean Voice of the Faithful, Call to Action, and the gaggle of single-issue outfits pushing for women’s ordination, approval of the homosexual lifestyle, and the return to active ministry of men who quit the priesthood and got married.
 
Some months back, I had an experience that told me a lot about the mindset at work in such groups.
 
Shortly after publishing a book on the abuse of secrecy in the Church, I got an e-mail from a woman associated with one of these groups who wanted me to help with planning a project — a national "synod of the laity" several years down the line.
 
But I had reservations.
 
For starters, I explained, a synod, in the Christian tradition, is an officially convened convocation, not something any old group can throw together on its own. For Voice of the Faithful to call its meeting a synod would be needlessly provocative and invite trouble. But the woman seemed unpersuaded, and after further back and forth along these lines I broke off the conversation.
 
I see from the Voice of the Faithful Web site that the synod of the laity has apparently morphed into a mere "historic assembly" to reform the Church. Currently it’s planned for Detroit in the fall of 2011. I wish the organizers well, but I doubt that I’ll be attending. Among other reasons, I strongly suspect that the historic assembly, supposing it takes place, will be one more nail in the coffin of reform.
 
But here let me answer a question that may have occurred to readers: What kind of reform do I have in mind? For a reply, I offer a well-known authority on the subject — Pope Benedict XVI.
 
Last May 26, speaking to a pastoral convention of the Diocese of Rome, Benedict gave a remarkable talk that deserves far more attention than it’s gotten to date. In it, he discussed the successes and failures in realizing the vision of the laity’s role in the Church as set out by the Second Vatican Council, and proposed a program for the future.
 
"There is still a long way to go," he said. "Too many of the baptized do not feel part of the ecclesial community and live on its margins." The solution, he suggested, lies in revising pastoral structures "in such a way that the co-responsibility of all members of the People of God in their entirety is gradually promoted." And then he added:
 
This demands a change in mindset, particularly concerning lay people. They must no longer be viewed as "collaborators" of the clergy but truly recognized as "co-responsible", for the Church’s being and action, thereby fostering the consolidation of a mature and committed laity.
 
Remarkable.
 
Co-responsibility was a watchword of advanced — but responsible — thinking about reforms in the decision-making processes of the Church in the early 1970s. The concept eventually foundered for a variety of reasons, including the disastrous fiasco of the original Call to Action Conference in 1976. For Benedict to revive it now suggests that, 35 years later, the idea still has an essential soundness and vitality that have yet to be realized. That’s what responsible efforts at reform should be working on now.
 
 
But Voice of the Faithful, Call to Action, and the rest aren’t going to do the job.
 
VOTF was founded in 2002 as a response to the sex-abuse crisis, but it long since wandered into other areas well beyond its competence. Its 2009 national assembly scheduled for this October will be a shrunken affair in a Long Island hotel, beginning Friday evening and ending Saturday afternoon and featuring two perennial gadflies of progressive Catholicism: Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B., and Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J.
 
But don’t bet that the group will make it till then. VOTF was recently reported $60,000 short of what it needs to keep going through the summer; a last-minute appeal raised the necessary funds, but the future is still uncertain. Its strategic plan, available on the Web, admits that it suffers from "general apathy and discontent among leadership" and a persistent "inability to clearly define ourselves."
 
Call to Action’s national conference in November in Milwaukee will last a full two-and-half days, but otherwise there’s a family resemblance to VOTF, with an emphasis on shopworn jargon and the themes of dissent. Featured speakers will address such winning topics as "forms of marginality" and "recent trends in liberation theology regarding pluralism and eco-theology."
 
The first of the keynoters (there are three) will be Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M., who’s led a long-running campaign against the army’s School of the Americas and who tangled with the Vatican last year over his involvement in the "ordination" of a woman in a Unitarian Universalist church.
 
Plainly, the group has a past, tracing its name to the 1976 Call to Action Conference. Whether it has a future is questionable.
 
Poorly as these groups seem to be doing, nevertheless, they have enough life left to be obstacles to reform. They do that by providing ammunition to super-reactionaries who’d like the Church to be just as it was in 1958 (the year that Pope Pius XII died, in case you’ve forgotten) and discouraging others from taking a serious look at needed changes.
 
Pope Benedict did his best to give structural reform a jump-start last May. But it won’t happen as long as the reform groups keep getting in the way.


Russell Shaw is the author of
Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church (Requiem Press), Nothing To Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church (Ignatius Press), and other works.

Russell Shaw

By

Russell Shaw is the author of Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church (Requiem Press), Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church (Ignatius Press), and other works.

  • Austin

    I am not a fan of VOTF or Call to Action, but I don’t believe that they are obstacles to reform. Since when does Pope Benedict worry about what they have to say? Since when do the Bishops or priests or even a majority of the laity worry about what they have to say? We keep hearing how the Church is not a democracy, so I seriously doubt that Pope Benedict is paralized into inaction due to fear of what VOTF or some other small dissident group of laity have to say.

    Exactly what does Pope Benedict propose? I would be curious to know what reforms he is proposing. Is he proposing that the laity will have a voice at the parish level in parish finances, etc? I don’t see the laity having a voice in changing doctrine, however, when it comes to finance and bricks and mortar, the laity are not without talents. Perhaps it is time to tap into them?

    VOTF, Call to Action, etc are small, dissident groups that wield much less influence than the traditionalists seem to think. I doubt that Pope Benedict worries about what they say.

  • dave carlin

    Russell Shaw has hit the nail right on the head.

  • Chrissy G

    I didn’t get the idea from the article that Papa Ben was “paralyzed into inaction” by these groups, but rather that the average Catholic (laity or hierarchy) has an aversion to anything called a “reform” because they associate the word with dissent movements such as those mentioned here. The word “reform” seems to have gotten a certain connotation. Maybe we should just work to “improve” things instead?

  • Austin

    It would seem that much of the hierarchy has the idea that the mission of the laity is to “pay, pray and obey,” period. Perhaps if there was a real and legitimate movement by the hierarchy to actually involve the laity and stop treating us like stupid children, dissident groups like VOTF would wither away?

    The idea of “improvement” by much of the curia consists of “cracking down” and nothing else. Loyalty oaths from nuns?
    What next Stalinist show trials? People are voting with their feet, lots of them. It’s time for some real “improvement” rather than just cracking down and loyalty oaths.

    Shaw slams Fr Reese as a “gadfly” but I’ll take Fr. Reese anyday over that pervert and Vatican fair haired boy Maciel.

  • Joe H

    “They do that by providing ammunition to super-reactionaries who’d like the Church to be just as it was in 1958”

    What was so wrong with the Church in 1958?

    I ask in all seriousness. It isn’t that I despise every reform that has been made since then – it’s that I suppose I still don’t truly understand why they were necessary to begin with, or what they have accomplished since then.

    I’ve looked online for documents that clearly state what the problems were, and I can’t seem to find any.

    I’d like to see maybe three big problems that the Church circa 1958 could not address, that absolutely demanded a reform movement. I’d like to see how those three problems were solved by Vatican II and how the Church is in a better position today because of it.

  • Carlist

    Re: V.O.F.: One of it’s founders was Richard McBrien. That about sums up its worth to the Church!

    Agree with Joe H. as to the pre-Conciliar Church in which I spent the first quarter of my life.

    What we’re witnessing is a Church which is trying to deal with the Enlightenment on its own terms, a fact which Pontiffs from 1789 through 1958 knew and taught as nonsensical.

    It’s more than past time to put the Nouvelle Theologie to sleep!

  • Mark

    “What was so wrong with the Church in 1958?”

    My guess is that it was a matter of (mis)perception and the opinion that the Catholic Church was not “modern” enough. After 1930 the Protestant denominations fell like dominos regarding the issue of artificial birth control.

    My question is how can Catholics fulfill their call to holiness while also striving to be modern?

  • Carlist

    Mark:

    Especially when “modern” per “Englightenment” standards denotes a “man” as opposed to God centered universe!

    A True Faith prioritizes the vertical over the horizontal!

  • Rick Gibson

    What are the roadblocks to “reform” of the Church? Well, that very much depends what you mean by “reform.” I am not trying to be cute here.

    “Reform” just means changes, and the question is, what sort of change? If by “reform”, we mean married clergy, gay bishops, ordained women and the rest of the Left agenda, what is blocking reform is that it is contrary to the teachings of the Church.

    One time, a Latin American bishop presented John Paul II with a petition signed by hundreds and hundreds of people, priests, bishops and so forth, calling for a married clergy. He took the petition, and in front of the bishop, he tore it in half.

    In short, if “reform” means gutting the traditions of the Church, and replacing it with the agenda of the Left, then what blocked reform was John Paul. And Benedict is following in his footstepts, albiet less dramatically.

    What else might “reform” mean? Here is a suggestion. I am a lay person. “Reform” may mean, listen to the laity. Here is I want. I want a leadership in the mold of John Paul II. I wants bishops and cardinals who do not equivocate about the Faith. Cracking down harder on bishops who condoned child molesters would not hurt any either.

  • Austin

    Rick, it would appear that you do not want to deviate one centimeter from the Council of Trent? The Council of Trent was held in the 1550’s to counter the Reformation. To say that we can “never change” is unrealistic. How will married clergy shatter the faith? You seem to think that John Paul II was ideal, but remember that JP II protected that pederast Maciel and had a real blind spot with many things. I’ll take John XXIII thank you.

  • Steve K.

    The first of the keynoters (there are three) will be Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M., who’s led a long-running campaign against the army’s School of the Americas and who tangled with the Vatican last year over his involvement in the “ordination” of a woman in a Unitarian Universalist church.

    N.B. Fr. Bourgeois was excommunicated over the “ordination.”

  • Rick Gibson

    Rick, it would appear that you do not want to deviate one centimeter from the Council of Trent? The Council of Trent was held in the 1550’s to counter the Reformation. To say that we can “never change” is unrealistic. How will married clergy shatter the faith? You seem to think that John Paul II was ideal, but remember that JP II protected that pederast Maciel and had a real blind spot with many things. I’ll take John XXIII thank you.

    Austin:

    My position is one of firm conservatism on most issues. Why? Because I am a child of the 1970s. I grew up surrounded by all of the voices advocating for free sex, abortion, no fault divorce and all of the rest of it. And I saw what all of these changes did to our culture. I see the Sexual Revolution as having done immense damage, particularly to the most helpless in our society, both the unborn and to children who, all too often, come in last, now that everything is all about giving freedom to adults to indulge their impulses, regardless of the consequences.

    John Paul was one of the giants of our time. He had three immense achievements. First, he was one of the central figures in defeating Communism. Second, he prevented the Church from adopting secular values, and preserved it as a bulwark against the insanity of our time. Third, he was perhaps the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul. He took the Gospel further than any person has ever taken it.

    I am well aware of his limitations. His protection of Maciel is a source of sorrow to me. But that does not alter his status as the greatest Pope that any of us will ever see.

    How will married clergy shatter the faith, you ask? I do not believe that married clergy is in violation of any of the fundamentals of the Faith. Obviously, there have been times in the life of the Church where this has been permitted, and the faith survived. Other Christian sects permit married clergy, and some of them are obviously fine and godly people.

    Nonetheless, I do not support a married clergy, for several reasons. First, it is a radical change. Radical changes tend to have unexpected consequences. I do not want to risk them. Second, it lessens the totality of the clergy’s commitment to God. A married priest, by definition, has strong emotional ties, other than his ties to the Church and to God.

    Here is the general question. Do you like the way that modern society is going, and do you want the Church to be more like the rest of society? Or do you feel that modern society is going in the wrong direction, morally, and that the Church should be a place of refuge from the evils of secular society? Austin, I think you agree with the first statement. I agree with the second.

  • Bob G

    The problem with VoF and CtoA, in my opinion, is that they want to take power from bishops and acquire it themselves. A dead end. They’re simply importing secular “post-modern” theory into the Church. Tthese are post-modern secularists pretending to be Catholics, and to speak for everyone else, which they don’t.

    My uncle had some experience with Fr. Bourgeois (what a name!). Fr. B wanted to show his “concern” for the poor by sleeping in a Bowery flop-house. My uncle was working on the Bowery at the time and got a good look at him. He said Fr. B didn’t do a thing for “the poor” except sleep there and disappear during the day. After about two weeks Fr. B. disappeared for good. My uncle considered him a grandstanding phony. All kinds of do-gooders came through the Bowery to show their “concern,” but almost none of them stayed long.

  • D.B.

    …Everytime this question is asked, you get varied, subjective replies, mealy mouthed and the usual nonsense about a “Pharisee” mentality.

    To Austin: The Church was founded by Jesus Christ himself, and its authority is HIS authority on matters of the Faith. I think much of the problem is that many Catholics no longer believe the Church is a Divine Institution, God’s hand on earth. I for one have no problem with slam dunking dissidents….I have no problem with Anathemas either, or using the word heretic. If, after reasoned, charitable admonishments to return to the true Faith they refuse to recant, well then they are outside the Church…THEY THEMSELVES did that. I say don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, and when you’re ready to stop being a petulant child, the Confessional is over there. Why are we so afraid of asserting orthodoxy because we’re afraid people “will leave?” Many left Jesus in St. John Chapter 6….”this saying is hard who can listen to it?”

  • Austin

    The Church belongs to me as much as you. I am not leaving. Get used to it.

  • D.B.

    Than Obey…otherwise you’ve already left, despite your assertion to the contrary. The Church is the authority…we are its children, its sheep…placed under its care by Christ himself. If the Church declares something as an article of Faith, or says Absolutely Not (in the case of Women “priests”) THATS IT….Debate over. You can put your fingers in your ears and refuse to hear, but the Church has spoken and moved on. Its not going to listen to the half baked ideas of cranky ideologues, nor should it.

    I don’t necessarily place you in that category, Austin…but its quite a simple concept…on matters of Faith and Morals…OBEY…one word, 4 letters.

  • Mark Windsor

    The Church belongs to me as much as you. I am not leaving. Get used to it.

    Ah, the sweet sound of humility…

  • Austin

    ONEY! OBEY! OBEY! I think you forgot to add “Pay and Pray” as well. “Pay, pray and OBEY!” I think there is more to Christianity that this. Perhaps we should go back to selling indulgences and burning heretics at the stake? Ah, the good old days!

  • D.B.

    ONEY! OBEY! OBEY! I think you forgot to add “Pay and Pray” as well. “Pay, pray and OBEY!” I think there is more to Christianity that this. Perhaps we should go back to selling indulgences and burning heretics at the stake? Ah, the good old days!

    The sale of Indulgences was an abuse, not a Teaching.

    The execution of heretics was common practice, irregardless of religion…am not an advocate of that either.

    You have addressed nothing I wrote. There is more to Christianity than Obedience, this is true….but Obedience is a part of who we are. We are obligated to obey the Church on matters of Faith…PERIOD. This is Non-Negotiable. How is this controversial to a Catholic?

  • Austin

    The Vatican has been wrong before [many times], and they are wrong now on some things. The Bishops can pontificate all they want and demand blind obedience. They will not get it. We will eventually ordain married men: for example [we have done so already with the Anglican and Lutheran converts].

    You say the matter is closed, period. It is not. As far as contraception goes, that train has left the station. The Bishops can issue all the documents they want, but they will not be obeyed and they know it. Focus on abortion and feeding the hungry and try to do some good for a change.

    Oh by the way, I’ll take Fr. Reese, Fr. Richard McBrien and Fr. Andrew Greeley any day over Pederast Maciel, goofball Williamson, etc.

  • D.B.

    The Vatican has been wrong before [many times], and they are wrong now on some things. The Bishops can pontificate all they want and demand blind obedience. They will not get it. We will eventually ordain married men: for example [we have done so already with the Anglican and Lutheran converts].

    You say the matter is closed, period. It is not. As far as contraception goes, that train has left the station. The Bishops can issue all the documents they want, but they will not be obeyed and they know it. Focus on abortion and feeding the hungry and try to do some good for a change.

    Oh by the way, I’ll take Fr. Reese, Fr. Richard McBrien and Fr. Andrew Greeley any day over Pederast Maciel, goofball Williamson, etc.

    Married Priests is an issue of discipline, not Doctrine. I personally am against a married priesthood, but if the Church allows it, I will Obey (see there is that word again).

    On the issue of Women “priests”, the matter is definitely closed…and it is sad to watch dissidents flail and rant against the Church…when their words are like blowing dust. Artificial Contraception is a Mortal Sin…Catholic who do it are sinning, period. Doesn’t matter if most of them do it, It is still a Sin…and it needs to be repented of. THAT is Church Teaching. I don’t do Christianity by Poll number…that is ridiculous, and it is laughable when dissidents throw up the X% of Catholics think Rome is wrong, as if that should be any kind of measure for Doctrine. I see a lot of Pride, Austin…a rebelliousness that is not conducive to orthodoxy.

    You hold up clerics who stick their thumb in Rome’s eye as some kind of model to follow? And then you throw up Maciel, as if he is representative of traditionalist orthodoxy? Absurd.

  • Austin

    D.B. You can do what you will and I [along with many others will do what we will}. Yes, I throw up Maciel as an example of Traditionalist orthodoxy, as he was the fair haired boy of John Paul, “an example to follow.” Indeed. I, as all of us, will take our chances with the Almighty. The Ultra Orthodox tend to wallow in self righteousness and look down on the less orthodox.
    Most Catholics say nothing but go their own way. I refuse to be intimidated by sanctimonious, self righteous robots and push back. As I said in an earlier post, I am not leaving. Get used to it and worry about your own conduct and sins.

    By the way, Pope Julius III who presided over the council of Trent was a pederast [like Maciel}. Seems like some ultra orthodox have a problem with this……

  • Del Torkelson

    Austin, you do realize that nearly every argument you have made in IC comboxes over time as to why you believe the Church has erred in its teaching against contraception is often used by people who believe the Church is wrong on abortion.

    I once made a point similar to that of another commenter above–and you dodged the question then too:

    Here are your choices about where the Church gets its authority:

    1) God
    2) Mere Human beings

    Where do you come down on that one?

  • Joe H

    “Most Catholics say nothing but go their own way.”

    Then why not be Protestant?

    Again I ask in all seriousness. One the major reasons the Protestant rebellion came about is that laymen and clergy alike did not want to submit to the authority of the pope and pursue reform internally. Catholics weren’t hated in Britain because they had a little too much reverence for Mary or believed in transubstantiation, but because it was assumed that their first loyalty was to the Papacy and not King and Country.

    If it is all about “smells and bells”, I think there is still an Anglican Church. Not much of it left these days, but its still around. You can have some of the trappings of Catholicism without the pesky inconvenience of having to care about what a bunch of old Italian men and their German leader think. It’s Protestantism for people who don’t want to be crazy iconoclastic Protestants.

    “It would seem that much of the hierarchy has the idea that the mission of the laity is to “pay, pray and obey,” period. Perhaps if there was a real and legitimate movement by the hierarchy to actually involve the laity and stop treating us like stupid children”

    See, I guess I am a spoiled child. At my parish, where we have a Tridentine rite, and where on Sundays for an hour or two its still 1955, this notion would be entirely alien to me. We have a priest who cares about the state of our souls, we have members who organize and participate in mens and womens groups, we have social gatherings, classes, book readings, etc.

    Why anyone would want to come in and destroy all that is beyond me. We don’t need “reform”. We need education. We need to understand why all of these aspects of the traditional Latin Mass are important, why the dogmas of the Church are important. Blind obedience is absurd, but obedience in knowledge makes a certain amount of sense.

    If there are changes that have to be made, moreover, there needs to be some real and present danger. I don’t have a huge problem with married priests myself because I know it has been done in the Eastern rites traditionally, and it wouldn’t be that radical of a change to allow it for the Latin rite either.

    Some of the other demands, however, are just made in a revolutionary spirit. There is no real injustice to correct, just a childish notion that what can be done, ought to be. The nag has the opposite method of the bully towards the same end – the latter tries to compel with external force while the former burrows their way in and tries to compel through persuasion, then guilt trips, and finally hysterical rage. But it is bullying just the same, it is hatred just the same.

    My challenge to you Austin is this: what are three changes you think must be made and why? What are three issues on which the Papacy is wrong, and why? How will these changes improve the Church? Why should those of us inclined to trust the judgment of the Papacy trust yours instead?

    If you can answer these questions, I’ll listen without judgment or condemnation.

  • Wendelin

    It seems like the theme of “obedience” comes up in any discussion of “reform.”

    It’s all too easy to spring forward into these discussions presupposing these are just words, their meaning self-evident. It’s too bad, as Chrissy put, that “reform” has acquired a negative connotation, one of dissent (given that an authority may be correct, dissent is then a bad thing.)

    Obedience, likewise, has more to it than meets the eye- It is an action that only gains moral or ethical form in context and depending upon one’s knowledge. In the case of the Catholic Hierarchy/Magisterium, I can either obey because authority X says so or I can obey something that is true and good as presented by one with authority. These two actions appear to accomplish the same end but differ vastly in their meaning. (Joe H touches on this.)

    This seemingly minute distinction has massive consequences. I argue that this emphasis on greater responsibility and awareness in one’s life of Faith was a large impetus for Vat. II (to answer an earlier question.)

    The Church had Truth, has always had it. That’s never been the question- presentation is. It is difficult to make a case that the Church/Popes/curia etc. weren’t openly hostile to anything Enlightenment, Modernistic etc. for about 150 years. Why throw the “baby out with the bath water?” There are some good things that came with Modernism- namely, the emphasis on personal responsibility for making informed decisions. This is not a bad thing.

    In fact, these threads themselves are a sign that people are engaged. This kind of open discussion, I suspect, was rare if not absent from Catholicism in earlier times. Defining terms, being self-aware- how Post-Modern! Yet, hardly heretical.

  • D.B.

    D.B. You can do what you will and I [along with many others will do what we will}. Yes, I throw up Maciel as an example of Traditionalist orthodoxy, as he was the fair haired boy of John Paul, “an example to follow.” Indeed. I, as all of us, will take our chances with the Almighty. The Ultra Orthodox tend to wallow in self righteousness and look down on the less orthodox.
    Most Catholics say nothing but go their own way. I refuse to be intimidated by sanctimonious, self righteous robots and push back. As I said in an earlier post, I am not leaving. Get used to it and worry about your own conduct and sins.

    By the way, Pope Julius III who presided over the council of Trent was a pederast [like Maciel}. Seems like some ultra orthodox have a problem with this……

    How is it “Self Righteous” to obey Rome? In what Bizarro world is it that a fundamental concept of Catholic belief is treated in this way?

    You reject the authority of the Church and disobey her, you’ve already left…this is a fact. My “final statement” is that if this is the case, than I ask you to repent of it. I know what my sins are, and I will pay for them in this world and the next….disrespect of Church Authority is not one of those sins, however.

  • Mark

    For those who like to use the phrase “that ship has sailed” please be very careful, you do not want to be on any “ship” that leads you away from the truth who is Jesus Christ and His Church no matter how reasonable or logical that ship may appear. Remember, the ship sailed for those who walked away from other difficult teachings of the Church in John 6.

    We all need to pray for humility to replace pride.

  • serreno

    Sadly and unfortunately, folks like Austin have left. Modern day “prodigal children”. Rebels without a cause so to speak. Most of the time I don’t think you can reason with them because of pride. As the song says….”I did it my way”. This is their anthem. Pray that they return to their Fathers House before it is too late. Pray that more don’t leave…myself included. This is not a judgment or being self righteous. This applies to us all.

  • j. Marie

    I believe the real reform that Pope Benedict referred was what the Second Vatican Council was all about – a call to holiness for the laity in all sectors of our lives and all rooms in our house. We can not confine God to an hour on Sunday and say we are Christian people. We are to strive for a virtous life – of which obediance and humility play a major role. After all these are the two virtues personified both in Christ’s life here on earth and by His mother – Mary.

    This life of virtue is far more important than Church finances or being a member of the building committee. It gets to the heart of who we are – sons and daughters of God made in his image and likeness.

    If we want to serve the Church we must first know God and knowing Him means accepting Church teaching. It is prideful to think we can fix the “problems” in the Church when we first haven’t given our lives to the God who made us. He is the Creator – we merely the created. We must always remove ourselves in order that God’s Will be done. I think most of us would agree this can be challenging.

    Let us pray that we see ourselves for who we truly are – sinners who need God, our Creator and Savior. Let us give thanks for Confession where we can be reunited and receive abundant graces from God. Let us be united through Holy Communion that we may authentically be the light to the world that God has fashioned us to be!

  • Bill

    This is a fascinating column.

    Neither the author nor the Pope offered one single specific change.

    Oh, there was lovely verbiage and the outlines of concepts and goals.

    But not one specific change. Are we saying that the power of a parish priest (both practical and erroneously spiritual), one of the roots of the abuse crisis, will be reduced. Will he no longer have absolute power over the policies his parish and start focusing on being a shepherd and teacher rather that an administrator?

    Will the church finally admit that a priest is not a necessity in the process of God forgiving sins and admit that people can ask God for forgiveness directly? Will the Church also admit that a priest is not the “go-between” between the congregation and God, as has ben taught for generations?

    Take away his demi-god status and the chances for abuse dwindle.

    Will the church admit that many of its priests, at least 25-30 percent, are celibate homosexuals and that many were forced into the priesthood, not by divine calling, but because their families wanted to get them into a seminary to either “cure” them or at least prevent them from being an embarasment.

    And how about admitting that the Pope is and has always been a man. He is not infallible on anything and to suggest so is blasphemy. As Jesus was the only perfect person.

    Humility on the part of the church and its leaders and total opennes and honesty and the elimination of ALL secrets, the opening of ALL files and financial records, is TRUE reform.

    Just making the congregants part of the discussion is not real reform. It is a half-step in the right direction. And it is insultingly condescending.

  • Michael Minnis

    It may not technically be “reform”, but something needs to be done about the “Catholic [sic]Campaign for Human Development” (CCHD) and the infiltration of local parishes by the Industrial Areas Foundation (a CCHD grant recipient). Catholic monies, prestige, facilities, and manpower are promoting CCHD/IAF who are Saul Alinsky creations or disciples engaged in mostly leftist political causes. They operate with stealth. Few parishioners are aware of their activities or their community organizing.

  • Todd

    I grew up a very proud Catholic, but now that I have children, realize just how screwed up the Catholic church is. Canon Law mandating celibacy needs to be abolished, and yesterday! How can a priest relate to us in any way?? They need be married and raise children. I have now left the Catholic church because of this, as have all of my friends and family. Who goes to Catholic church any more? Unless the church changes, it will disappear because of the problem they have created with their priests.

  • Bill Foley

    Apparently, Austin does not want to follow the Second Vatican Council as regards obedience to the Holy Father.

    This religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra. That is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known chiefly either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium — number 25)

  • Teri

    I know of a change coming our way. It is subtle, yet beautiful.

    In 2010 some of the text of the Mass will be changed. Ask your bishop and get prepared to assist the priest in teaching the new Mass. I asked my bishop, Michael Sheridan, to explain some of the changes and what he said made me feel so happy. I hope you feel the same way.

    Since Vatican II many of the changes in the English spoken Mass, stripped the meaning from the original version. The text was dumbed down to the local vernacular. The new Mass changes will more accurately translate the Latin Mass to English.

    I find it exciting. It will cause quite a stir. I know many older folks will feel like the Mass has finally come home back to them.

  • Teri

    About my previous post…

    It would be nice if the faithful remnant of the Church would embrace their responsibility to God Himself and His Church to promote, protect, and defend the Mass in the new, more perfect form. That’s the role of the Laity, after all.

    I love the new renaissance of the Church. Be prepared though. A more pure faith necessarily means that “the chaff will be separated from the wheat.”

  • D.B.

    I grew up a very proud Catholic, but now that I have children, realize just how screwed up the Catholic church is. Canon Law mandating celibacy needs to be abolished, and yesterday! How can a priest relate to us in any way?? They need be married and raise children. I have now left the Catholic church because of this, as have all of my friends and family. Who goes to Catholic church any more? Unless the church changes, it will disappear because of the problem they have created with their priests.

    This post is illogical. Who abandons the True Faith because of Priestly Celibacy, something that isn’t even a matter of Doctrine? One can believe that there should be a married priesthood (our Eastern brethren have married priests) and still be in good stead. This is a matter of obedience and discipline, not Doctrine. I am opposed to a married priesthood, but I don’t cast aspersion on the Faith of another who doesn’t agree…and if Rome decides to allow a married priesthood, I would accept its judgement. This post smacks of looking for a justification for something that they in their hearts have already done….cutting themselves off from Holy Mother Church.

  • Ricardo Rambally

    While I laud the desire for reform within the Church, there are a few limitations to the extent I would permit.

    The Holy Catholic and Universal Church was founded on reform. Our Lord said that he came to put a man against his mother. He meant that the old traditions (normally passed on by mothers) no longer held sway…that He was the reformer and promulgator of a new dispensation. Hence one of the reasons the Church made Sunday its Sabbath was to break with the old Judaic Traditions and focus our attention on our NEW Sabbath – the Day of the Resurrection.
    But Our Lord himself went to the synagogues and prayed; He held the Last Supper in true Judaic tradition.

    What this points to is the fact that Christ himself may have been the most radical departure from the Old Testament version of God. But he was not always willing to do away with it. He simply clarified for us that God was not only a God of Justice and Retribution, but He was also the God of compassion and mercy. These “reforms” were virtually unknown to the Jews.

    Essentially, Our Lord used the prophecies andthe traditions of his people as the sound springboards from which He leapt into a new dispensation – Christianity – which blossomed into the marvellous light that shines as the only beacon for the achievement of a true Humanity.

    And one more thing…God himself in the person of the Christ made these reforms. He has appointed Peter as his guide for his flock. He promised us He would never leave us. Be guided therefore by the Holy Spirit. These reforms give me the impression that they are guided by the Worldly Spirit.

    Pope John Paul II? He was was a monumental figure.When he came to my country in 1985, no other figure in the history of my people was ever given such an incredible welcome. As a matter of fact, Catholics in Trinidad made all attempts to keep him here, chanting “John Paul is Our POPE!”
    Spain waited ’till his death to allow same sex marriages! And only after!That man kept the Philistines at Bay!

    All in all , reform is important, but we need to be supremely careful with respect to what we allow through the doors of the Church. Christ never deviated from biblical teaching. He fulfilled it!

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