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We Are Church International (WAC) and European Network Church on the Move (EN) strongly oppose the canonization of Pope Paul VI, and the recent trend to quickly canonize many who serve as Popes. The rush to canonize Popes soon after their death which began late in the twentieth century contrasts strongly with prior Catholic tradition, which wisely allowed the passage of decades or even centuries to reveal both the personal character and impact of the papacy of each individual who served in that position. It also seems to be creating an idolatry of the papacy, again in violation of Catholic tradition and values. Many of our colleagues from other Christian denominations note that the trend also frustrates efforts to increase ecumenical collegiality. This concern must be taken seriously.
Considering these concerns, WAC and EN call for a reexamination of the entire process of canonization. We believe that the process must be conducted with transparency, that Popes should not be considered for sainthood until at least 100 years following their deaths, and that every member of the Church should have the opportunity to voice their support for or concerns about any candidate for sainthood.
On the specific case of Pope Paul VI, WAC and EN believe that his early work advocating for peace, increasing globalization, expanding interfaith collaboration, making liturgy more engaging of the laity, and raising up the voices of members of the church in Latin America must be balanced with the centralization of Vatican power, the damage done to the church by his promulgation of Humanae Vitae, and his insistence on obedience to ecclesial authority. It will take more time, we believe, for the church to understand whether his papacy advanced the Gospel agenda in our church and our world. In addition, the church must be able to consider archival records and testimonials that address his personal characteristics and determine if he truly embodies the qualities that deserve to be honored by the bestowal of sainthood.
We Are Church International (WAC) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
The European Network Church on the Move (EN) is a spontaneous convergence of organizations – associations, communities, informal groups and networks – of European Christians who are in majority Catholic, sharing
(1) the vision of a Church prophetic, ecumenical, liberating, supporting, loving, which neither excludes nor discriminates and which follows on the steps of Jesus the liberator
(2) the will to work, respecting cultural and religious diversity, for peace, justice, freedom, human rights and democracy, including in the Catholic Church (Cf Declaration of rights and freedoms in the Catholic Church, European Network 1994)
Recent statements from Vatican officials, including Pope Francis, that women and lay people should be more fully represented in Church structure are undercut by the announcement of who will have voting authority at the upcoming Synod on Youth, say leaders of We Are Church International, a group in the forefront of global church reform. The list of those with the right to vote includes cardinals, bishops, ordained Vatican officials, priests, and even a few brothers. Women and the young adult lay representatives who are the focus of the Synod are described as “collaborators” and “observers,” and they are specifically banned from voting.
“Once again, the Vatican is demonstrating its total unwillingness to share power and authority with those of us who make up the vast majority of the Catholic church,” said Colm Holmes of Dublin, Ireland, Chair of We Are Church International. “It is a shame that those with the real expertise on the experience, gifts, hopes, and needs of young people are sidelined as observers as decisions that will shape their futures are made. And, of course, women, whom Pope Francis has repeatedly said should have more authority in the church, are excluded from the vote, as well. How long can this institution continue being so deaf to the cries for equality that are coming from every part of the church?”
Conversations are going on in all parts of the world about the most recent reports of clergy sexual abuse of children that have been covered up by Bishops under the pretext of "protecting the image and reputation of the Church." The truth is they are only protecting themselves and their clerical status.
We can be silent no longer. It is past time for the baptized Faithful, who are the Church, to take action. We invite you to join with us on our Facebook page and share your views on how we the People of God can move responsibly forward to be the Church as intended by Jesus.
Pope Francis has outlined his vision for a church that is "synodal" at every level, with everyone listening to one another, learning from one another and taking responsibility for proclaiming the Gospel. We at CCRI feel that all of us in the reform movement have spent far too many years trying to communicate with the hierarchy and convince them of the necessity of reform and restructuring within the Church. But are convinced beyond any doubt that our trying to change them is fruitless. Consequently, our strategy is no longer to put our energy into "reforming" the institutional church which seems beyond repair but rather to focus on "re-founding" the Church in the spirit of the early Christians. The Vatican is not the Church. By virtue of our baptism, we are the Church and we believe that we have the responsibility to enrich the future leadership and management of our church. But how? What IS within our power to do is to join or start small faith communities by whatever name they are called in various parts of the world: Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs), Base Christian Communities (CEBs), or Small Christian Communities (SCCs). Scroll to the end of this newsletter to learn what you personally can do.
Background re WMoF: There were two requests from countries to host the WMoF in 2018 in their countries. Neither request was from Ireland. But Pope Francis decided that the 2018 WMoF should be held in Ireland and this was announced at the 2015 WMoF in Philadelphia, the same year that Ireland had voted by Referendum to approve Marriage Equality (62% in favour). In January 2018 WAC Ireland spotted that images of same sex couples had been edited out of the WMoF preparatory Booklet. And shortly afterwards WAC Ireland noted an online video of a Bishop speaking about different family configurations was edited to remove all references to other family configurations. Both WAC Ireland and Global Network for Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) applied for stands at the WMoF. Neither was given a stand and a large number of stands were left empty at WMoF.
From: Francophone Baptized Catholics Conference, 76 rue de la Verrerie, Paris 75004
31st August 2018,
Dear Very Holy Father,
Following the massive disclosures of a large number of scandals of the Church concerning the sexual abuse of minors by priests, you have addressed a letter to God’s People, in which you condemn clericalism as one of the causes of this evil and you have appealed to the baptized persons to help you resolve the problem. We want to respond to your appeal.