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For a Lady Pope

The protest finally comes to the fore

140 German, Austrian and Swiss Catholic theologians ask for reform

Today, the protest has finally reached the heart of the Catholic Church itself. In February 2011, more than 140 German, Austrian and Swiss Catholic theologians asked for wide reforms within the Catholic Church, including that of the ordination of women.

This is a healthy reaction.

157 priests in the United States come out in favour of the ordination of women

The priest, Roy Bourgeois, who had shown his support for the ordination of women, received support from numerous catholic priests (157) in the United States, something that would have been unthinkable several years ago. They claim that the Reverend Roy Bourgeois has the right to express himself (see the chapter on this site:  Women only have one right when it comes to ordination – the right to keep quiet!)

An appeal to disobedience by Austrian priests

The “Pfarrer-Initiative” is a group of some 300 Parish priests, created in Austria in 2006. They launched an appeal on the 19th June 2011.

The appeal stems from the “Roman refusal for a reform of the Church which has been necessary for a long time, and the inaction of priests”. Some of the measures they ask for are:

-  to stop denying communion to believers of good faith. This particularly applies to remarried divorcees or members of other Christian faiths, even to those who have left the Church.

-  to drop the ban forbidding competent laymen or religious teachers to read the sermon.

-  to ensure that each Parish has it’s own leader, be it a man or woman, married or not, and whether or not it is their main role in life.

-  to use all occasions to speak out in favour of the ordination of women or married people.

- to show solidarity with all colleagues who have had to interupt their vocation because they have got married and to all colleagues who continue to practice their profession, even though they are in a relationship with someone.

Cardinal Schöborn, Archbishop of Vienna has obviously been embarrased by this act of rebellion. He has called on the unity of the Church, reminding priests of the promise of obedience they made to their bishop during ordination. He has said that he is ready to talk to the priests who have started the movement (many of them have remained anonymous in order to avoid the wrath of Rome).

The cardinal however also says that, « he, who having examined his conscience, decides that « Rome » is on the wrong path, and he who seriously contradicts the will of God, should draw the conclusion that he should probably no longer go forward with the Roman Catholic Church ».

Laymen give their opinion within the Catholic Church

One discussion that is often heard among Catholics is the one on whether it is right to not always agree with the hierarchy on some of the Church’s doctrines. ‘If you don’t agree, go elsewhere,’ is the reply one often gets. It is quickly said, but firstly it is not very evangelical and secondly, it contradicts the Church’s teachings laid down in the Code of Canon Law.

In the Code of Canon Law (209 §1) it is written that Christ's faithful are bound to preserve their communion with the Church at all times, even in their externalactions.”

Certainly, (Can. 212 §1) “Christ's faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound to showChristianobedience to what the sacredPastors, who representChrist, declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church.”

However, (Can.212-§2) “Christ's faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritualneeds, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church.” “They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacredPastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their viewsknown to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, showduereverence to the Pastors and take into account both the commongood and the dignity of individuals.” (Can.212-§3)

The Canon Law adds (Can. 218), “Those who are engaged in fields of sacredstudy have a justfreedom to researchmatters in which they are expert and to express themselves prudentlyconcerning them, with due allegiance to the magisterium of the Church.”

And finally, (Can. 227), “To laymembers of Christ's faithfulbelongs the right to have acknowledged as theirs that freedom in secularaffairs which is common to all citizens. In using this freedom, however, they are to ensure that their actions are permeated with the spirit of the Gospel, and they are to heed the teaching of the Churchproposed by the magisterium, but they must be on guard, in questions of opinion, against proposing their own view as the teaching of the Church.”

The problem is to properly understand the principles and the integrity of the Code of Canon Law and its morals. In the Presentation chapter, “Who are we?” we repeat that we do not dismiss evangelical values. We don’t reject the commandments asking us to honour our fathers and mothers, to respect human life, to remain faithful throughout marriage, not to covet, not to unjustly take someone’s goods, not to speak ill of others and not to make those around us unhappy.

But questions are asked. What right does the Church have to decide that the attitudes, behaviour and ways of thinking, which have nothing to do with the teachings of love thy neighbour, should be fixed as dogmas and what right do they have to claim that they are relevant to the Law?

In the Vatican Council II, the principle of universal communion, bestowed on all those baptised and announcing the equality of all those baptised in the evangelical mission, was taken up with force when they referred to Peter’s first epistle (1P 2,5). Through baptism, Christ calls on all those baptised to become a priest, prophet and king.

It is therefore the layman’s right and duty to say to the Church that….

  • births should be planned by all couples, so why continue to forbid the use of artificial contraception, going against the beliefs of 96% of Western European Catholics (in other words in opposition to 96% of universal priesthood).
  • imposing celibacy on priests is an internal disciplinary rule that other Christian Churches don’t apply. It isn’t a question of faith or morals and therefore we should be able to say that we disagree with this rule (the opinion of 80% of loyal Catholics).
  • allowing women to be ordained is an internal disciplinary rule that isn’t a question of faith or morals, but rather a problem of equality (the opinion of 70% of Catholics in the West). Why can’t a layman have the same point of view as one of the most eminent theologians, Karl Rahner, who believes that nowhere in the Scriptures is sex referred to and so there is no valid reason for forbidding the ordination of women.
  • with all due respect to the hierarchy, the manner in which the Catholic Church’s has managed the problem of pedophile priests is considered undignified by the majority of Catholic laymen,
  • the refusal of Rome to see that obliging celibacy is an obsolete disciplinary measure, intolerable for the majority of the clergy and incomprehensible for the worshippers (the opinion of 70% of laymen).
  • the refusal once more by the Church to fundamentally review its functionning - in this case giving local communities far more autonomy and allowing followers to particpate in the choice of bishops…. Is equally incomprehensible.

None of the above points affect the principles of faith and morals.

If today, the Church refuses to allow laymen to give their opinions, it is contradicting itself.  This is the case until proven otherwise.

This is also why everyone should put forth his/her opinion strongly and with a clear conscience The hierarchy should be shown respect, even if its opinions don’t match our own. By using the title “For a Lady Pope”, we hope to encourage complete equality between men and women in the Church and this in all ranks, from the very top to the very bottom.

Loyal worshippers are used to leaving the floor to the clerics. However that time has passed. Social networks on the Internet mean that everyone can react and express his or her feelings and opinions.

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