The National Catholic Review
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Our pilgrim church, “at once holy and always in need of purification,” must constantly follow “the path of penance and renewal” (“Constitution on the Church,” No. 8). As in the United States eight years ago, in Ireland, Germany, India, and in Rome, steps are now being taken to institute strict accountability for the sexual abuse of minors. But direct efforts to correct and prevent abuse of minors are only the most obvious part of a larger healing needed in the church. The less obvious part is the reform of structures of church governance that turned a deaf ear for so long to the victims and repeatedly disparaged bishops who were seeking remedies to the problems haunting their dioceses. At all levels, right down to the parish, much of the church has proven deficient in its ability to listen and interact with adult believers. But at the center of the present crisis are found members of the Roman Curia.

The Latin word curia means both administration, as in a government apparatus, and court, as in a company of hangers-on whose life revolves around flattery and the favor of a ruler. Pope Benedict made a good start on responding to the Irish scandals, but that promising beginning was upended by the misguided statements of others in the Vatican. For weeks we witnessed the hard issues of sexual abuse being dodged while elderly and retired Curial officials, prodded by the press, made the red herring of Pope Benedict’s possible past mistakes the focus of their attention. Intelligent leadership was obscured by a black cloud of flattery. As it turned out, some of these same prelates stood at the very heart of the crisis, accepting payments from friends, like the disgraced Marcial Maciel, and offering high-level support to bishops for stonewalling civil authorities. What appeared to be vigorous emotional support for the pope turned out to be smokescreens for their own unconscionable actions. In those trying weeks, we witnessed the Vatican at its worst—as the last Renaissance court.

Beyond taking responsibility for the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by clerics, the renewal of the church must include the reform of the Roman Curia proposed by the Second Vatican Council and begun by Pope Paul VI. The interpersonal and institutional practices that blocked proper handling of abuse cases must be rooted out. Many American bishops can testify to their frustration in their attempts to get support from Vatican offices for disciplining offenders. Along with the victims, many bishops have suffered because of this. Favoritism and personal influence can never be wholly eliminated, but they can be held in check. Institutional reform is not the most elevated religious activity, but it is religiously necessary; and it is precisely the kind of endeavor for which God blesses us with the gift of wisdom.

To begin with, a system that effectively grants favored individuals virtual life-tenure as heads of offices must be ended. There must be term limits for senior officials and rotation back to regular pastoral roles for secretaries and prefects of congregations, as there are for ministers in secular governments and for major religious superiors. (In 1967, Paul VI tried to set five-year terms, with the possibility of one renewal.) In addition, communication and interaction between Vatican offices need to be improved. Crises occur, we are told, because communication within the Vatican itself is “broken.” To stimulate the needed give-and-take will require overcoming a culture in which major offices function as baronies immune to influence from others. Interagency committees, protocols for inter-office consultation and coordination would help; but recruitment of personnel with listening skills and readiness to cooperate with others, not just their superiors, are equally necessary, as are leaders who encourage open communication both with their peers and their subordinates.

Likewise, two-way communications must open up between bishops and the Holy See. In an age of globalization, centralized church government has a special role to play, but overcentralization was a contributing factor to the dysfunction that has prolonged this crisis for more than two decades. Curial officials expected deference and bishops gave it. Centralization will be healthy only insofar as there is genuine subsidiarity within the church, with dioceses and bishops’ conferences able to carry on their pastoral activities without undue intrusion from favored cliques and individuals in Rome.

Finally, the council called for laymen and laywomen to be given greater voice and to take greater part in church affairs. Diocesan pastoral councils, presbyteral councils and parish councils must have a say in the running of their local communities. Pastors or bishops who dissolve them or refuse to work with them regularly should be regarded as delinquent. For the good of the whole church, the faithful need to be heard and fully engaged in local church life. Bishops and people, priests and people must act as the one body of Christ.

Read "Pilgrim Church Part I."

Comments

JOHN FOLEY MR/MRS | 7/19/2010 - 11:03am
Great article! Thank you for your brave apostle-ship.
Angela Marczewski | 6/6/2010 - 10:21am
AMEN!!!!
olol invest | 6/2/2010 - 7:49pm
For Ipmulligan:
Hi again. Why you think Chris Saidou’s criticism above is too harsh; ie not accurate and fair?
There seems to be confusion between the responsibilities to teach and protect the Faith that bishops have and those civil obligations also held by Bishops. Its not one or the other but both have to be maintained. Render unto Caesar ...
The Bishops should have reported “realistic” claims to the police and or advised the 'alleged victims' to go to the police themselves. (One should ask why haven't they done so already? How would the police have regarded their claim?) Regardless that is not for the Pope to oversee; that is not his role, structural or otherwise and it would be impossible for such to occur. But the current structure if not abused by those within it, well serves its function, that is to teach and protect the Faith to all in unity, and that should be communicated to the media.
l mulligan | 5/23/2010 - 10:16am

I assume Mr. Saidou, in comment #28, is making reference to Mt 16:17-19 & chapter 16 of Acts.  It is interesting to note that The Catholic Study Bible distinguishes between the word used for "church" in the former from elsewhere (except Mt 18:17) in the gospels.  Having read those passages this morning, I find the criticism at comment 26 to be harsh.  I wonder what Mr. Saidou would recommend, if not a change in structure, as a means to see that what we have learned of the way our children were treated by various ministers of the Church, and the way those ministers were then put in positions where they could reoffend, will never happen again? 

W/ my admittedly limited knowledge, it seems that where "bishops are only accountable to the Pope, and the Pope is only accountable to God" (quoting Cardinal Jan Schotte, Rome, 2001), there is a built in lack of accountability for the protection of children in the Church's current structure. I question that Jesus, given his expressions concerning children, would approve of that situation continuing.

olol invest | 5/23/2010 - 1:25am

For IpMulligan:

I'm not sure all of your question reflects a knowledge of the actual situation re the Pope however, Christ at Mt 16 established the authority of the teaching Church and this authority was similarly confirmed and repeated elsewhere in scripture. Further the practice of the early church even from the Jerusalem council onwards confirmed that same understanding. Likewise the practice through the millenia confirmed it and indeed the failure of Protestant unity also confirms it.

It would be a ridiculous notion that maintained the Holy Spirit did not successfully guide the Church over such a period, to the structure we have today.

That structure is apostolic and how we have it now.  Although many bishops and priests have white anted that structure, the Magisterium together with the Papacy has been incredibly successful at fulfilling its functions. But again, it's level of success depends on the willing assent to unity as was re-iterated at Vatican II ... Christus Dominus. St Paul said no differently. The structure is such that the prime responsibility is for the bishops to present and act on the one True Faith, more than for the Vatican to act as a policeman on such matters.  Not withstanding that, there is an inherent authority and obligation given to the successors of Peter to satisfactorily deal with bishops and others who confuse the Faithful and threaten the unity.

So even though one may see the need for minor administrative reform, it must leave the structure of the teaching Church undamaged and must be directed at rooting out 'confusion' and promoting unity.

May I suggest that if one wants to get rid of the Curia, then lets *first* get rid of *the need* for it.

l mulligan | 5/23/2010 - 12:21am

Mr. Saidou states, in comment #26, that "Christ did indeed leave a structure for us to adopt and implement."  I wonder if that structure could be described in detail and the evidence that Jesus left it for us could be provided, so that those of us not familar with those matters could become better acquainted with the idea that one person like the  Pope was left by Jesus to supervise the 5,000 or so bishops we now have.  Thank you very much.

olol invest | 5/22/2010 - 11:15pm

Sorry but I found this article very one sided, disingenuous, mostly unsubstantiated (where evidence was required) and designed to tell a target audience what they want to hear.

There has been no rationale laid out which would justify throwing the baby out with the bath water. It is not the structure of the Church at fault but individuals within it and indeed, individuals at all levels including those who cannot blithely assume that "wisdom is with us".

The crisis in the church is firmly rooted in dissent, wilful ignorance of the Faith and a somewhat egotistical desire to attack the Church with cries of a "self serving democracy". The sexual abuse scandal is but a symptom of the wider malaise yet it is being used by those with an agenda to attack the wider Church.

You wouldn't know it from this article, but Christ did indeed leave a structure for us to adopt and implement. Recalcitrant bishops, used to wilting in the face of an ever increasing secular laity, fail in their duties by buck passing their responsibilities 'up the chain'. Furthermore, we all need to practice our Faith in all aspects, not pick and choose, before the Bishops will have the support to do as was (and is) required with those whose "tolerance" of aberrant sexual behaviour should have been surgically removed in seminaries.

Mary Louise Hartman | 5/21/2010 - 8:11am

Please package these two editorials  (Pilgrim People I and II) circulate them everywhere.   Those of us working for reform in the Church have been working for these structural changes for almost 30 years.   I am so pleased that America is speaking out.   The abuse crisis is the unfortunate wake up call that can bring about the much needed reform of the Curia you detailed.   Just when I begin to think it is all hopeless,   I am presented with the excellent writings of these last two issues.   Perhaps Part I should be tacked up on the doors of every Catholic parish in the world!

ED SALVA | 5/16/2010 - 2:33pm

I applaud America for this article and for having the courage to write it.  We are the Church, the People of God, and everyone needs to be listened to.  God bless you. 

Rodolfo Valenzuela | 5/15/2010 - 11:51am

Really interesting articles, for us the church in central América all this coverage of the sexual abuse crisis in the USA and Europe helps us learn and be prepared for whatsoever may happen here.


Thanks.


Rodolfo Valenzuela N.


Bishop of Verapaz, Cobán, Guatemala C.A.

Mary Emmick | 5/13/2010 - 6:52pm

That the church is not listening is so true. They are living in some make believe world of their own and it is obvious that they need to join the rest of the human race. They have thought they are above the law and have been acting in this "old boys' network" for way too long.  Many people have considered the vatican a tourist attraction and now it's just an embarrassment.

6466379 | 5/13/2010 - 10:16am
I agree with the editorial, "Pilgrim People II." Fortunately the Church is both human and Divine, but structurally there's little in its human part that resembles what Jesus left behind. Thankfully, at its Divine level it is the impeccable Mystical Body of Christ through which all holiness flows. That's where I place my faith, hope and love.

This is not to say that a Vatican directed Church-bureaucracy is necessarily bad, since genuinely good things like outreach to the poor, among other works of mercy, do happen. However, I do mean that Vatican Church-bureaucracy can become (is) a "wormy apple" contaminated by worldly interests, masquerading as authentic Christianity while webbed in political intrigue, egotistical ambitions and much more. This easily gives rise to a "wink-wink" approach to the abuse of power among ecclesial elites and allows toterance of Church scandals and the cover-ups of cover-upsto exist. All of this for "the good of our Holy Mother the Church." If such behavior is "for the good" then, sad to say, I have a lot to learn about what goodness is!

In the Book of Acts there's a model of how the the Church should function as Jesus intended and the Church at its human level does function that way to a degree. But a lot of baggage weighs down the Church, pompous and regal, which i thought Vatican II had laid to rest. Not so!

Recently a Bishop, surely a good man, maybe even a holy man, pontificated at the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross offered in the Unbloody Manner, as the Mass, using the Tridentine form. There I saw a picture of him walking down the asile, triumphant in episcopal grandeur, including a long train of red cloth trailing behind him, part of his garment. My first impression was laughter, thinking to myself, "He looks like a strutting peacock!" Forgive me as cringe at what may appear as ridicule of an apostolic successor, But in this day and age it did make me laugh! Then, remembering Jesus on the Cross, almost naked with just a loin cloth wrapped around his tortured Body, offering the Bloody Sacrifice of the Cross, no Renaissance Church there, I began to feel angry!

The simple truth is, the Church's first "Caretakers" of sheep and goats, our Bishops, never dressed regally. Pope St. Peter never wore a jeweled cross. The only cross he ever wore was the one on which he was crucified upside down at his request. History documents that sometimes if the crucified remained alive on the cross for a day, or more, they would helplessly urinate and defecate on themselves. As shuddering as it may be, imagine what may have happened to the first "Servant of the Servants of God" St. Peter, the Lord. Vicar, as he hung long on his cross upside down! The Church at its human institutional level has been doing that on itself forever it seems, the latest being the horrific clergy sex abuse of minors scandal!

It's time for the Church at its human level to "take a bath" -to reform its managerial and magesterial ways, bringing itself more in line with the Church at its Divine level, called as it is to make itself visible to the world in Godly ways. Maybe in one of his Letters, St. Paul shows the way when he says, "Paul (the priest/bishop) plants, Apollos, (the layman/woman) waters, But God, gives the growth!" Let this be part of the "New Evangelization" we await, the "New Springtime" promised by Pope John Paul the Great of happy memory. May it happen soon!
Bruce Byrolly | 5/12/2010 - 8:45pm

I tried to e-mail you privately but couldn't get your address to download.

Thank you for the excellent editorial Pilgrim People II.

This sex mess is THE opportunity for the reform of the church "in head and members.

2726068 | 5/11/2010 - 3:17pm

What a grace Pilgrim People, Part I and II!  The Holy Spirit is alive and well. And the editors of America are listening.  Let America not be a voice in the wilderness, but the beginning of a chorus, a new song sung to God.  We love the Church.  We can't abandon our mother in her hour of need.

What is needed is a new model of structures, both internal and external.  Undue secrecy must end.  Responsibilities must be shared.  Subsidiarity respected.  The art of listening and communicating openly and lovingly must be cultivated.

The Pope would continue to be the Servant of the servants of God, but forms of decentralization need to be imagined at all levels.  Effective participation by the whole people of God would allow the Holy Spirit to break through present internal and external structures.

C Walter Mattingly | 5/11/2010 - 5:44am

Apparently some commentators, having in the past experienced pastors who spent the parish's resources on their whims, are not holding their breath for change. In our parish, for some years, any expenditure over $10K must be approved by the Parish Council, which is a body of parish members elected by parishioners for set terms. Very large expenditures must be approved by the parish council and also are subject to diocesan review.  Smaller expenditures are summarized and reviewed by the council and the diocese and annual budgets are submitted to the Parish Council and approved by the bishop's office.   In this area, on this subject at any rate, the weather changed some time ago.

John Quinn | 5/10/2010 - 3:01pm

Power and authority are the issues

The sex abuse crisis is not fundamentally about sex. The phrase is a convenient tag that has been applied to a deeper, ongoing problem that, at its core, has to do with power and authority and how it is used in the church.

 So the National Cathlic Reporter editorializes on April 30,2010.

Newcatholictimes has been saying this for sometime now. The question is why and how do we get out of this dead end morass which is alienating Catholics by the millions.

Having a sense of history helps one here. It also gives us hope in the long run.

The Catholic Church, in the words of Matthew Arnold, seems to be "wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless (so far) to be born." When one views the church historically and as an institution stripped of ontological, ahistorical language, one sees a tired clerically dominated organization, overly centralized and bureaucratized. The institutional superstructure, a hierarchical reidue from the medieval era has simply not moved with the times ("signs of the times"?) to reflect changes in theological thinking or accepting the fact that the church is basically a lay movement served by clerics. The Second Vatican Council, insisted that this hierarchical structure, medieval and monarchical, must give way to a new model, one which honours the Spirit present in all of the baptized as the one people of God, a discipleship of equals united in baptism.

Vatican' ll's rediscovery of the entire People of God as the bearer of revelation brought into focus the priesthood of all believers. The restoration of this priesthood has gradually missioned the faithful to demand co-responsibility in the church. Baptism is now understood as the central sacrament not Holy Orders.

The longtime Trinitarian focus on equality of persons trumped hierarchical stratification. Relationship not power ergo should define the church in its fundamental structure. This was a radical step toward a more just paradigm, one that reflected more faithfully the divine life. This was extarordinarily good news for the church at large, a giant step to adulthood and a long overdue move away from the infantilization of the majority of its members. For many clergy, and in particular the curia, this has been a grave threat to their diminished power, hence the attempted restoration to the status quo, the doomed anti-evangelical insistence on hierarchy. Jesus and hierarchy somehow do not mix. Communio must be the way forward for all adult believers.That this will be painful we are just now beginning to understand. Power is never ceded gracefully.

It was the sex abuse scandal and the clerical coverup in 2002 that woke Catholics from their passivity in the church yet the perfect storm had been brewing for decades. On one hand you had the massive exodus of the best and brightest clerics from the church, most to marry, then a massive influx of trained lay people in parishes filling the gap. As this proceeded apace we witnessed the drying up of vocations to the male priesthood and the concomitant attempt to fill the gaps with lesser qualified men. The explosion of lay theological literacy along with the just demands of women to be treated with justice in the church further heighthened tensions.

Certainly one of the most neuralgic issues has been the failure to create an open church, one where dialogue not monologue reigned. There simply are few places where Catholics could express themselves with candour and honesty. The baptized, used to democratic structures in society and more transparent and accountable work places became absolutely frustrated with literally having no voice in the church they loved. Even attempting to point this out risked censure, marginalization and in too many cases repression. The internal life of the church was dying and the clerical leadership seemed not to care. Secrecy,silence, lack of accountability.rules and regulations, clerical ambition was turning the chuch into a massive bureaucracy which seemed to be obsessed with itself and not its mission to the world.

So the crisis is about authority according to NCR. You bet. Educated Catholics have little trouble with authority but grave problems with the rigid authoritarianism they have been experiencing for far too long.

In the near future we will have many concrete suggestions to offer a way forward. This will be a long-term project not without dead ends, anger, frustration but if the Holy Spirit cannot contradict herself, the church may yet become the inclusive institution it was meant to be, less judgmental, less arrogant, one that exists for the health and salvation of the world.This was posted earlier and taken down but I am not sure why. It is the editorial in the current edition of new catholic times sensus fidelium of which I am co-editor. It can be found at www.newcatholictimes.com As a small, independent, Canadian, Catholic online magazine I do not think we pose any threat to America’s subscription and are supportive of most of what America says. This could be attributed to my early Jesuit schooling at St. Francis Xavier’s College, Liverpool and later graduate studies at Boston College.


ED THOMPSON | 5/10/2010 - 2:20pm

Incremental reform of the Curia will not work.  What is needed is a new model of structure, one based on equal status and shared responsibilities.  I greatly admire many of the American women religious' structures of management.  They are not hierachicial, but are based on a circle of managerial duties where all in management functions are equal, with the Leader having ultimate decision-making in cases of ties. 

The Pope would continue to be the Servant of the servants of God, but the Circle of Bishops model would decentralize all church management from the parish level all the way to Rome.  Then the laity would truly have a voice in how the parish and diocese were managed.  Secrecy and obfuscations by Rome and some local bishops would cease since all matters would be discussed and adjudicated openly and honestly.

Local selection of Bishops would be commenced throughout the world.  Questions and discussions would ensue about the 500 lbs gorilla questions no one up to now is willing to tackle,  like mandatory celibacy, women priests, and homosexual rights.  Church attendance would increase greatly due to this new openness, donations to the poor would triple and all the people of God would finally begin to trust again. 

Elaine Tannesen | 5/10/2010 - 2:04pm

Bravo American Editors! for your compassionate and big picture Pilgrim Church I article and for your courageous Pilgrim Church II article. You are the voice for so many of us in the pews who have loved our church and are pained to see its dysfunction.

We have a hierarchy swishing around in their long robes who are so out of touch with the rest of the church that they don't even appear to understand what all the commotion is about.  We had a pope with his theology of the body that was whipping himself while preaching no birth control to the rest of us.  We have a hierarchy of bishops chosen for their loyalty to authority rather than connection with the laity.  And so we have a hierarchy that, with impunity, chose to protect the institution rather than its most vulnerable members. This hierarchy continues to be protected by the institution.

Its all about power.  Its all about holding onto power.  When the laity and especially women were no longer in subservient positions after Vatican II the hierarchy reacted by attempting to consolidate their power. We see this in the attempt to return to the authoritarianism of pre Vatican II.

We are no longer in the Middle Ages. Now it is no longer possible to hide behind that level of secrecy in an age where communication and transparency are paramount. And the news it out that half the world is female and equally capable to men in every arena.

No one gives up power willingly and so it will be interesting to see how the church itself deals with this issue.  Come Holy Spirit!

J B | 5/10/2010 - 11:30am

Just look at the photograph accompanying this article and it's easy to identify one part of the problem in the church. Where are the women?  Women (and lay men also) still fight for even a tiny voice at the parish level, since the pastor still has total autonomy.  Women act as administrators in parishes and dioceses, and they teach. But they teach only that which male celibates in Rome "allow" them to teach. Feminine understanding and spirituality do not inform church teaching nor church governance. This is a big part of the problem.  Catholics should read Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's book - even if not agreeing with all he says, his ideas, esperience, and insights are provocative and valuable. They make you think.

I left the church 4 years ago. Our young adult children (who attended Catholic schools most of the time) do not practice and I doubt that their children will be raised Catholic-which will probably be a good thing, especially for any daughters that they may have someday. We will certainly not "pressure" them to raise their kids Catholic. In fact, perhaps it's well past time to break the family ties with the Catholic church.

Re-read the right-on observation of this poster above -

"This church is a "gated community" and sometimes the "owners" hire some of us to mow the lawns."

All who give money to the church enable this situation, reducing or even eliminating any chance for reform.  Why should they do anything?  They have always managed to "get away" with it, and as soon as the media turns its spotlight somewhere else, the people in the pews settle down and stop thinking about it, dutifully putting their envelopes in the basket every week. There is no incentive for those who hold the power to reform the structure. Unfortunately all parishes are "taxed" - people should refuse to donate to bishop, cardinal, and Peter's pence appeals, and should specifically target all parish donations to parish-limited projects. Perhaps even set up outside foundations whose only "charity" is the parish - pay the light bill, pay the salaries, support the various ministries directly, etc, and keep your money out of the hands of men who live lives of luxury in chanceries and in Rome, while protecting the criminals who preyed on our children.

Molly Roach | 5/10/2010 - 9:20am

I think the Vatican City State itself needs to be dismantled.  The Pope is the bishop of Rome, not a head of state and the confusion between these two is mighty.  I think having a diplomatic corps is misleading in these days when phones and the internet make international communication a daily commonplace.  The current curia strikes me as so corrupt as to be impossible to turn around.  They certainly don't seem to be involved in any pastoral mission of the Church. Rather, they are seeking their own institutional survival and have shown themselves to be incapable of listening to anyone but those who are their fans.  These people also do not reveal their work to the People of God.  They are not accountable to any recognizable entity.  Send them home, make them earn a living and let the Pope become a real pilgrim instead of a celebrity attended by an entourage.

Pat Lythe | 5/9/2010 - 5:40pm

I fully agree with the comments in this article. While I am a laywoman in a diocesan position and feel fully supported by my bishop I see the frustration and tension of dealing with the Vatican bureaucracy, especially when you live so far away in a country most of them have never been to.

To rotate the heads and staffs of dicasteries and have short term 5 years, renewably for 2 years maybe and have officials from different countries would make the church more open, multi listening in cultural ways.

Another point: in canon law a diocesan pastoral council is "optional" while a finance committee is mandatory. Excuse me?

Michael Barberi | 5/8/2010 - 6:03pm

Bravo!  An excellent article, well written and on point.  I read all the previous comments and most support the changes suggested in this article. 

Change by itself is not necessarily a solution to every crisis.  However, the larger issues mentioned in this article have been around for over 50 years.  We cannot continue to debate issues to death and forever.  We need Vatican action and reform. 

I add little to this debate because my comments echo many past remarks.  However, I applaud America for an excellent article and I encourage more of the same.  We need our collective voices to be heard.   The Head and Body of Christ must be able to talk to each other and act in unity.  Unfortunately, the Head has been separated from its Body for some time. 

Dan Hannula | 5/8/2010 - 5:23pm

"Finally, the council called for laymen and laywomen to be given greater voice and to take greater part in church affairs."

 I won't hold my breath. I was a teenager when the Second Vatican Council convened.  I am in my sixties now.  I was on a Catholic school board for many years.  Our pastor showed up occasionally for board meetings but hired and fired the teachers and administrators that he wanted and spent money on what he thought was important. This church is a "gated community" and sometimes the "owners" hire some of us to mow the lawns.

Mike Bolognese | 5/8/2010 - 11:41am

A well writen article for sure.  While I don't agree with all of it I must admit that you are at least trying to bring the Church into a holier condition by taking aim at some of her less than holy acts.

Please keep a friend of mine in your prayers who enjoyed reading your magazine.  He recently passed.  His name was Ed O'Connor.

john fitzmorris | 5/7/2010 - 10:41pm
America is beginning to get there, getting ever closer to being the prophetic voice that the Church needs.
What we need is some institution or individuals within the Church to stand up and be prophetic.
We need someone or some group to speak truth to power and demand real reform:radcial reform of the papacy and the curia. To thier roots! Is America going to be that prophetic voice? You are getting close.
Play the prophet by addressing the issue that money has played in this scandal and plays in the hierarchial church. It seems that the most notorious villain in this scandal Marciel Maciel Degollado used the vast sums of money at his disposal to insinuate himself into the Papal apartments and the confidence of Pope John Paul II. The priest in Wisconsin who molester hundreds of deaf boys was allowed to continue in his vile ways because he was the money raiser who was too good to dismiss. The role of money and the influence that wields in the affairs of the Vatican needs to be unmasked. The hierarchy needs a good dose of Christian poverty. Can America make them swallow the medicine?
Eugene Kleinhans | 5/7/2010 - 9:57pm
I think the idea of "term limits" so popular for a while in American politics may actual work here. All clergy first and foremost have a pastoral obligation, even as we recognize Paul's writing that we each have our own individual and special gifts. Some are better at administration than others, but no one should come to regard a position as belonging to them. One council made it very clear that bishops are to reside in their dioceses and are to be called to Rome only for special needs. And no, this is not something that Vatican II brought up for the first time. That was the official position of Trent.
As for why stay in the Church? The answer always is another question. Where else would you go? I am not saying that the Roman Catholic Church is the only spiritual community in the world. Far from it, if only because Jesus himself said that he would be wherever 2 or more were gathered in his name, and I am not about to challenge that authority. However, having been a cradle Catholic, then an inactive one, and for several years now an active, practicing one again, I simply find nothing else to feel as sacramental. Some would say it's my upbringing and background; others would say it's simply the truth experienced. Either way I stay, recognizing all along that we are in deed a pilgrim church, both as an organization and the collection of people within it. All of us are at a different point on our roads to salvation, but then when has a family really ever been homogenized? We are all responsible for our own actions, including those who are not willing to recognize and act upon that fact.
But I cannot change the world, only my little part of it, and to do that I need both the Eucharist and my parish community. When Francis of Assisi was fist told to "rebuild My church" he did so by rebuilding, literally, a local one that had fallen into ruin. Every unresponsive hierarchy, unresponsive monarchy has fallen when the people at the grass roots level no longer found their actions and ideas worthy of notice. I hang on to my faith as best I can with the help of my local church and in the process may be part of what brings an unresponsive, secretive hierarchy to its senses.
Wellborn Jack | 5/7/2010 - 7:06pm

Please never despair of making the case which you been making for change in our Church. Your May 7, 2010 editorial piece, Pilgrim People Part II, is an example of what I want more of from you. I see you as following in the footsteps of the great prophets of old. Until what needs to be done in our Church has been done, we will continue to need to be reminded of it. We are a Pilgrim People, with busy days and short memories. We need to be reminded. Properly reminded, sooner or later, given half a chance, we will do worthy things in remembrance of Him. Reminding us is a holy task. Thank you for undertaking it. I pray that you, the editors of America, will continue be there to remind us as long as it takes us.

 

Richard T Rodriguez | 5/7/2010 - 2:21pm

As questionable as it all may seem, young  people are now more eager and ready   to have sexual relations than in years past-both the usual kind and the criminal.  Is this shift in behavior a reflection of what does or doesn't go on at home, and what TV presents?  I think so.  We need to look at the full spectrum, to focus too narrowly can lead to all  manner of distortion and even erroneous conclusions.  We know that 75% of all sexual abuse of minors is perpetrated by married men.

lLetha Chamberlain | 5/7/2010 - 1:32pm

"America" aren't you whipping a "dead horse" to death with this article?  What new is being said-either in the article or in these comments?  I don't know what is happening in other parishes (I have been a member of three in the last two years-and attended daily confession at another)... and I have never felt unheard... by the magisterium or any priest.  Women's voices are coming through loud and clear-and there are plenty of forums and publicity available as well.  "Change" is a hot issue: somehow it is felt "change" is the answer, when good answers can be found within the depository of faith intact as it is.  Since we are not prescient, as is God-our feeble attempts at change only seem to have pulled us into a deeper and deeper morass.  God's will be done!  Thank you for this woman's opportunity to speak. 

Julett Broadnax | 5/7/2010 - 12:24pm

I am one of those women in the pews who became a spiritual director in order to have my calling met to minister to others. It has been a very rewarding and rich ministry - giving me back tenfold spiritually, in what I have invested personally. And guess what - there is no heirarchy to answer to - just a loving Father who encourages and fills me with grace and peace and allows me to remain a practicing Catholic, inspite of my very dis-ease and displeasure with the arrogance of the heirarchy and their striving to return to a pre-Vatican II church. I look forward to reading the many concrete suggestions to offer a way forward, so that I don't feel part of a "dead" to growth church.

Mike Evans | 5/7/2010 - 11:51am

The primary obstacle to be overcome is the church's penchant for secrecy. Begin to do business in the open with genuine transparency and the faithful will support you. Continue to ignore the rank and file, consult with no one but the 'in' group, deny and obfuscate issues, foster enmity between factions, deprecate women, and soon they will have no one to rule over. Ask and ye shall hear what you don't want to hear...

WILLIAM GREEN | 5/7/2010 - 11:39am
Congratulations to the Editors for Pilgrim People Part II. I am delighted that America's editors have recovered from their timidity following the forced resignation of Father Reese as editor. I am not confident that the hierarchy and the Curia are capable of reform. I have watched with dismay as several of our children raised in the Faith by my wife and I have walked away from the church and am resigned to the likelihood that many of our 11 grandchildren will not be Catholics as adults. If America continues to courageously point out the need for reform in the Church, there is at least a glimmer of hope that Church reform could happen. Please keep it up.

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