200 theologians call for fundamental changes in Church
Two hundred theologians have declared that reform of the Roman Curia must be widened to become reform of the whole Church.
The theologians, from throughout the world, issued a declaration at the end of a theological congress in Germany earlier this month.
The title of the gathering in Munich was “Opening the Council – Theology and Church under the Guiding Principle of the Second Vatican Council”.
In a five-page declaration, 200 leading international theologians called for fundamental changes in the Church.
Reform of the Roman Curia must be expanded to a reform of the whole church and of church offices, they wrote.
Greater participation must be given to the laity and the synodal structures strengthened, the statement continued.
“Synodality must once again become a structural principle in the Church,” the text underlined.
It must be fully implemented legally, must be enforceable and “practised at all Church levels”.
Important Church decisions must not be made behind closed doors, the theologians agreed.
The theologians recalled Pope Francis’s words that “Everyone must have a say in what concerns everyone”.
Christoph Böttinger, a fundamental theologian from Eichstätt who presented the declaration, said it was addressed to all theologians, but also to the general public.
German Cardinal Karl Lehman told the congress that the Church’s synodal structures must be strengthened at every level.
The cardinal, who was once an assistant to Karl Rahner, said this “synodality” was more important than possibly holding a Third Vatican Council.
There are great opportunities for the Church in a globalised world as long as it discards its centralist approach, he emphasised.
The council’s decrees have not always been adequately applied or implemented, Cardinal Lehmann said.
German bishops’ conference president Cardinal Reinhard Marx said Vatican II texts must be used as sources for further developing Church reform today.
In October, Pope Francis outlined his vision of a synodal Church at every level that listens, learns and shares mission.
TTThhanks to ‘CATHNEWS’ for this hanks to New Zealand-based ‘CATHNEWS’ for this latest news of activity on the world-wide Roman Catholic front.
At a time when some in the Anglican Communion would like a more centralised authority to be set up, under the failed attempt at ‘Anglican Covenant’; our Roman Catholic friends and co-religionists are looking to a more decentralised model – that of the local synods – in order to allow for local decisions to be made that do not deny the basic concepts of Faith and Order as promulgated at the Centre, but encourage local initiatives for ‘mission in context’.
Calling for reform – on the model of the Vatican II Council of the 1960s, instigated by Pope John XXIII – 200 theologians from around the world-wide Roman Catholic Church have met to discuss how best to equip the Church for its mission to the modern world. This is entirely in line with the revealed intention of Pope Francis, whose own initiatives have promised to up-date the ecclesiastical bureaucracy – with devolution of some authority to the diaspora.
Synodality – such as has been long practised in most Anglican Provinces around the world – is being promoted by these theologians, as the best way of opening up the Church to a new era of openness to the world in its various different contexts, a new procedure recommended by the Vatican Council 50 years ago. Since the Council, however, there have been attempts to rein in the forward-looking aspects of Church government, in ways that have frustrated those who long for reform of out-dated theological concepts and ecclesial structures.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand