Pope calls for healthy decentralization of the Church
Francis delivered a sleeper bombshell of a speech over the weekend kicking off the final week of the synod in which he called for nothing less than a revolution in the concept of the Catholic Church itself. He said it's not a top-down organization with the pope in charge but rather an inverted pyramid where the summit – the pope – is underneath and in service to the "holy faithful people of God" who are its base. He called for a "healthy decentralization" of authority on certain problems from Rome to local bishops' conferences, and said the papacy itself should be rethought, with the pope guiding the church but really just one bishop among many. Pope Calls for decentralization of the Church
Decentralization under discussion by some Bishops
Since consensus is looking unlikely to happen on key issues in the Synod, some Bishops see local decisions as the answer. For example, consensus on the issue of Cardinal Kasper's proposal promoting a path for the the divorced and civilly remarried to have access to the Eucharist remains elusive. Some who support the proposal are trying a new strategy, suggesting that rather than making a decision in Rome, it could be handed over for local control. Bishop Kurtz, president of the U.S. conference of Bishops, cautions against this saying that it could lead to a "fracture" in the Church. It would not be good for the church to have some civilly remarried couples receiving communion in some parts of the world and denied this privilege in other parts. But, in a sense, isn't this what is happening now as many priests counsel couples to follow their conscience? Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia said that he estimated that opposition to the Kasper proposal to be 65/35 majority inside the Synod. But by framing it in terms of decentralization, it could bring more people on board, perhaps resulting in a 50/50 split.Breaking down the decentralization issue
Progressive Bishops speak out
In their second interim report at the Synod on the Family, the German-speaking group of bishops emphasized the importance of "gradually" leading people to the sacrament of marriage. The bishops wrote of the "great pastoral challenge" but also the "great joy" of leading people fromnnon-binding relationships, to cohabiting partners, to couples who have only married in a register office, and finally to those in a valid, sacramental church marriage."
German language small group urges step-by-step approach on marriage
Bishop Wuerl, one of nine Americans attending the Synod of Bishops, said one concern facing the prelates is wanting to have clarity about church teachings while knowing how to apply the teachings to where people are in their lives. Wuerl questions why both cannot be done. "You don't go out to meet people where they are to scold them," he said. "You go out to bring them the truth but sometimes to be heard you have to let the person know you know their struggle if you're going to accompany them at all."
Progressive laity speak out as Synod
Congratulations to Sharon Cole, Board Chair for Parents Centres of New Zealand, for her presentation to the Synod. She told the Synod: "The experience of many lay people has been of being judged, of being labelled as 'intrinsically disordered' and of being rejected by their Christian community. There are those who have walked away never to return and the others who are just waiting, hoping to again be fully in communion with the Church. They say that this failure to love enough is the reason."
She quotes the Catechism as saying: "The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy." She points out that "Charity demands beneficence, friendship and communion. When we as Church are not merciful and in communion with our own, is this not a failure of the virtue of charity?. . . .
The Church's vision on conjugal love and responsible parenthood as expressed in Humanae Vitae has great beauty and depth. However its declaration that sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive [is] so intrinsically wrong provoked massive dissent from the moment the encyclical was promulgated. Many Catholic married couples have made their own decision in conscience about how to exercise responsible parenthood which may mean the use of artificial contraception. For some, this has meant leaving the church. Others remain but often with a sense of unease."
Conservative petition called for a walk out of the Synod
A petition by a conservative group urges the conservative bishops to walk out of the synod fearing that the conclusion is going to favor the progressives. Even though the conservative bishops are unhappy with the process of the Synod, they ignore the call. Cardinal Pell spoke out against it as well.
Final decision rests with Pope Francis
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Texas said the 10 bishops who make up a drafting committee for the Synod's final document – a group that includes Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC – will have to find a way to take the small group suggestions and weave them into a document that honestly reflects the synod's thinking. But in the end, the Synod is not a legislative body but rather an advisory one.
The Synod's end game rests with Pope Francis.
We progressives may find hope and encouragement by the panic among conservatives. For your enjoyment, you may want to read articles from the Spectator, a conservative Catholic online magazine. For example, they see the pope at war with the Vatican curia and fear the destruction of the Church if the pope gets his way (which they fear he will).
What you can do while the Synod is still in session
1. It is not too late to Sign this petition joining with other international reform organizations who have sent an Appeal outlining the fundamental problems experienced by Catholic families throughout the world:
The social and economic problems of the family should be widely discussed by the Synod, particularly those affecting the most vulnerable, children and women.
Regarding the divorced and remarried and their admission to the Eucharist, the practice of the early Church should be adopted, as it is done in the Orthodox Church.
Concerning the Motu Proprio (Apostolic letter) of Pope Francis on the canonical process of nullity of marriage we agree with and welcome the simplification of the procedure, but question the concept of annulment as such.
Homosexual individuals and same-sex couples should be considered as full members of the Church with every right and every duty.
'Humanae Vitae' has not been accepted by the majority of the People of God; couples following their conscience must be respected.
The Synod should send a clear and public message of repentance to the survivors of clerical sex abuse and their families.
However much we hope for solutions to these many problems from the presently constituted Synod, we assert that a major flaw of the synod is its clericalized nature and especially the non-representation of the many Catholic family forms we experience in our contemporary world.
If you wish to sign as an organization, send us an email.
2. Join Archbishop Durocher and urge the Synod to consider a greater role for women in the Church. Sign petition now.
3. We invite you to participate in our blog called
The People Speak Out, which will continue through the Jubilee Year and be delivered to Pope Francis and the Bishops. Here you have the opportunity to share your own very personal story of how the Church teachings being discussed at the Synod have shaped your life . . . for better or for worse.
Our blog issues include a variety of topics. If you are divorced and remarried, do you feel cut off from the Sacraments? If you are gay or lesbian,do you feel disenfranchised by the Church? If you are a woman, how have you been treated? Has the Church's teaching restricting artificial contraception had an impact on your life and marriage? If you are living with someone outside of marriage, do you feel welcomed to the Sacraments? If you were a priest and left because you fell in love, how has the obligation for celibacy impacted your life? If you left the Church, share the circumstance that led to your leaving and what, if anything, would it take to bring you back? We ask you to share your very personal story on any of these issues.
Click on the link below now. Pope Francis wants to hear your story and, more importantly, to have the Bishops hear them.