The World is Now Scrutinising the Church

Nov 20, 2022 | 0 comments

“The fact is that now it is no longer the church scrutinizing the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. It is also the signs of the times – beginning with the voices of victims and survivors of abuse – scrutinizing the church in the light of the Gospel.”

This sentence from a recent striking NCR article – by theologian Massimo Faggioli and papal advisor on the safeguarding of children in the church Hans Zollner – has struck home with a regular contributor here, Soline Humbert of We Are Church.

Soline comments:

“We are in the midst of both our national Irish synodal pathway and, at the level of the universal church, in the phase of reflection on the Continental document, with our feedback requested by 22nd December.

“I believe the article linked below and quoted above is timely in raising, in the context of the synodal discernment process, the issue of abuse in the church: sexual abuse of children and vulnerable persons, and more broadly spiritual abuse and abuse of power.

“Some, perhaps many, will be tempted to say: enough about all this talk of abuse, let ‘s move on!…

“But can we, should we?

“When I first read the article, this particular sentence resonated strongly with me:

The fact is that now it is no longer the church scrutinizing the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. It is also the signs of the times – beginning with the voices of victims and survivors of abuse – scrutinizing the church in the light of the Gospel.”

“In a week when we heard, again, on our national airways the powerful testimonies of brave survivors, we cannot but ask ourselves: What is the Spirit telling us through their voices through their tears through their cries for justice, healing?

“At the same time I have been watching in France (my country of origin) the ever-increasing number of cardinal(s), archbishops, bishops being named as perpetrators of abuse, as well as of covering up. The systemic nature of abuse in the church is being exposed at the highest levels.

“Many of us have been affected, directly or indirectly, by these abuses for several decades. We know well the deadly fruit they bear, the evil they spread.

“I agree with the authors that we cannot leave the abuse scandal out of the mainstream of synodal deliberations.

“To do this would be to avoid our responsibility to our sisters and brothers and therefore to Christ who said: ”What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to Me.”

“As a church, let us be courageous and unflinching in shining the light in all the dark corners and trust that the truth, and only the whole truth, will set us free.

Now is the time, the kairos.

The abuse crisis should be the center of the pope’s ongoing synodal process (NCR).

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ACI’s Campaign for Lumen Gentium 37

The Promise of Synodality

What we have experienced of synodality so far gives ACI real hope that a longstanding structural injustice in the church may at last be acknowledged and overcome.

As all Irish bishops well know, the 'co-responsibility' they urge lay people to share - as numbers and energies of clergy decline - has been sabotaged time and again by canonical rules that deny representational authority and continuity to parish pastoral councils.  ACI's 2019 call for the immediate honouring of Lumen Gentium Article 37 becomes more urgent by the day and is supported by the following documents - also presented to the ICBC in October 2019.

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church
It was Catholic parents and victims of clerical abuse who taught Catholic Bishops to prioritise the safeguarding of children in the church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God
It was for challenging religious hypocrisy and injustice that Jesus was accused and crucified. He is therefore a model for the common priesthood of the laity and for the challenging of injustice - in society and within the church.

A Suggested Strategy for the Recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church
Recovery of the church depends upon acknowledgment of the indispensable role of the common priesthood of the lay people of God and the explicit abandonment by bishops and clergy of paternalism and clericalism - the expectation of deference from lay people rather than honesty and integrity.

For the full story of ACI's campaign for the honouring of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, click here.

Prayer

"Come Holy Spirit, Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen."

Saint Pope John XXIII, 1962 - In preparation for Vatican Council II, 1962-65.

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