This article is taken from the Australian blog site entitled “Catholica”. However, it is part of the Catholic media as well. What are you thoughts and reactions to this news story? Do you want to comment on it? Let’s hear from you. Your opinions are invited. DrNick
‘Now is the time for ordinary Catholics to speak out about their concerns for their Church, and for their pastors to listen to them’ is a major theme in an Open Letter addressed to Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Bishops of Australia, launched today.
Catholics for Renewal, the recently-formed grassroots community group which prepared the Open Letter, points out that under Canon Law all Christ’s faithful have a right and duty to voice their concerns for the good of the Church.
The Open Letter, which can be viewed and signed online at: www.PetitionOnline.com/adlim11/petition.htmlhas been released to coincide with the Australian Bishops’ preparation for their Ad Limina visit to Rome, a 5-yearly opportunity to meet with the Pope to give an account of their dioceses and the state of the Church in Australia. By signing the Open Letter, Australian Catholics who are concerned for their Church will be able to let their leaders know in a concrete way how they feel.
The Open Letter expresses two principal concerns: that the Church in Australia no longer adequately inspires many of its communities, and that it has been tainted by injustice and blemished by bad decisions. The reasons for these concerns include the alienation of many Catholics especially the young, the shortage of priests for parish ministry, the sexual abuse scandal and the failed response, the recent removal of Bishop Bill Morris, the refusal to allow discussion on sensitive issues, and the failure to implement true collegiality and subsidiarity.
The Open Letter is forthright and positive about what needs to be done. It calls for a renewed Church that follows Christ more closely in every way, is committed to authentic collegiality and subsidiarity, is open, transparent and accountable, respects due process, rejects every form of discrimination, listens to its people, promotes co-responsibility in every facet of its mission and ministry, and is compassionate to its core.
The Open Letter also calls for an outward-facing Church totally committed to justice, peace, ecumenism and dialogue with other faiths, and which advocates unequivocally for the rights of the oppressed and disadvantaged while tending practically to their needs. It looks to a Church where ‘all are one in Christ, with no more distinctions …between male and female’ (Galatians, 3:28) and whose leaders read well the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel.
As a first step towards collegiality and subsidiarity, the Open Letter calls on each Australian diocesan bishop to convene at an early date a synod in his diocese, under the provisions of Canon Law (C.460-468), to discuss how the local Church might be a more authentic witness in the 21st century. Synods have a long tradition in the Church as effective instruments for renewal, planning and governance. They allow a diversity of voices within the diocese to be heard.
However, in the 177 years of the Catholic Church in Australia, just 6 out of 28 dioceses have held a total of 11 diocesan synods. Since Vatican II concluded in 1965 only 7 diocesan synods have been held in Australia, with 5 of these in the last 8 years.
The Open Letter also calls on Pope Benedict to allow a return to a more accountable and consultative process for the appointment of bishops, giving both priests and people a real voice, as was earlier Church practice. It suggests that this could commence with the appointment of the next bishop of Toowoomba.
Catholics for Renewal are circulating copies of the Open Letter to all parishes throughout Australia with the request that Catholics who support its message add their signatures.
Catholics for Renewal will present the Open Letter with signatures to the Australian Bishops before they undertake their Ad Limina visit to Rome in October this yea