|Cardinal Pacelli signing the Reichsconcordat with Nazi Germany in 1933. Pacelli was Secretary of State of the Holy See at the time. Later as Pope he got to deal with consequences of his own diplomacy. So did the People of God.|
The following seven areas of reform deal with authority in the Church. It is taken from the blog site churchauthority.org There is a link on their Home page in which folks can add their names to a substantial list of others who agree with these areas of reform. The Home page also lists 27 theologians from multiple countries as academic sponsors. Readers will recognize quite a few of the names. Here are the reforms, but as far as I am concerned, they over look one of the real problems for why the Vatican refuses to reform. The Pope is also the absolute ruler of the Holy See.
A principal source of present-day stagnation lies in misunderstanding and abuse affecting the exercise of authority in our Church. Specifically, the following issues require urgent redress:
The role of the papacy needs to be clearly re-defined in line with Christ's intentions. As supreme pastor, unifier and prime witness to faith, the pope contributes substantially to the health of the universal church. However, his authority may never obscure, diminish or suppress the authentic authority directly given by Christ to all members of the people of God. (Unfortunately the Pope is also the head of a sovereign state, the Holy See, an that entity has zero justification in the Gospels, but wreaks havoc on the spiritual health of the Church. It's aims are too often in conflict with the Gospel and the above paragraph completely ignores this part of the Pope's authority.)
Bishops are vicars of Christ, not vicars of the pope. They carry immediate responsibility for people in their dioceses, and joint responsibility, with other bishops and the pope, for the world-wide community of faith. (Way too many bishops are just mouth pieces for the Pope, much less vicars of Christ and sadly, whole national conferences allow themselves to be bullied and silenced by the Vatican curia.)
The central synod of bishops should assume a more decisive role in planning and guiding the maintenance and growth of faith within our complex world. To execute its task, the synod of bishops needs to be given appropriate structures. (Without structures which insure consistent application of any such power sharing, this will never happen. There are too many forces whose operations need the current structure completely centralized in Rome.)
The Second Vatican Council prescribed collegiality and co-responsibility on all levels. This has not been realised. Priestly senates and pastoral councils, as envisaged by the Council, should involve the faithful more directly in decision making concerning the formulation of doctrine, the running of the pastoral ministry and evangelization in secular society. (The Holy See is an absolute monarchy. There is a reason Vatican II's call for power sharing and collegiality stalled before it got off the ground. It would be real nice though if this reform were at least implemented on a parish/diocesan level.)
The abuse of choosing for leadership offices in the church only candidates of a particular mindset, should be eradicated. Instead, new norms should be laid down and supervised to ensure that elections to such offices are conducted in a fair, transparent and, to the extent possible, democratic fashion.
(This would be a great start if this one ever got off the ground. Too bad the current Cardinals are almost all products of the very mindset which should be eradicated.)
The Roman curia requires a more radical reform, in line with the instructions and vision of Vatican II. The curia should be retained for its useful administrative and executive roles.
The curia will never be reformed as long as the Holy See exists as a sovereign state. The diplomatic corps has way too much power and it's way too influenced by the very wealthy.)
The congregation for the doctrine of the faith should be assisted by international commissions of experts who have been independently chosen for their professional competence.(That would be nice, but I can't see this happening either. The CDF was an effective tool under JPII/Ratzinger for silencing bishops and theologians expressing social justice concerns in Latin America and elsewhere--like Seattle, Wa.
Until the Holy See ceases to exist as it's currently configured, which is basically a rogue state at the beck and call of the Pope, I have zero hope for reform in Roman Catholicism. Politics drives policy. All one need do is study the career of Pius XII as Secretary of State. He negotiated concordats with Hitler and Mussolini, an essential validation for the political governments of these fascist dictators whose combined forces then almost destroyed Catholic Europe. I actually think it was cosmic justice that as Pope Pius XII, Pacelli truly saw the fruits of his diplomatic labors. But in any event, his story perfectly demonstrates the rogue nature of the Holy See. It wasn't the armies of the Vatican City States that won World War II, but those secular democracies that so threatened the Vatican's concept of it's divine right to rule in the world of men.
I would add an 8th reform plank: abolish the Holy See and with it the Vatican Bank. Then we might have a chance at some real reform. No other major religious body has this kind of governmental setup in which it's both a secular global player and a religious player. This hybrid set up has not served the People of God well at all, and it was proscribed by Jesus himself. It's time to end the Constantinian Church of Empire, and the first step is to end the pretensions and political machinations of the Holy See.