Friday, June 29, 2012

More On Democracy in the Church

   Recently a friend asked me, "If you started your own church, what would you call it?"  I replied, "I would call it, 'The Catholic Church that Follows the Teachings of the Catholic Church.'"

   Following Msgr. Lynn's conviction for obeying the church's spiritually corrupt, authority/power system, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a dishonest statement that included a call for honesty.  The statement was dishonest because it focused on abuse without even mentioning the church's criminal authority/power system within which Lynn committed his crime.  So it falls upon the laity to apply the pressure to get the bishops to wake up and obey the true and honest teachings of the church.  And here is a sad point: we don't have to be dissidents to change the church; we have to stop the bishops from being dissidents.    

   In my June 26th post, I gave some "ammunition" for the spiritual revolution that we must fight.  Included was the important point of our equal baptismal dignity.  This is basic because accepting our equal dignity ensures that we accept our own spiritual adulthood and responsibilities.  

   Here is some more "ammunition."  The equal baptismal dignity of all members of the church requires mutual, adult respect.  So, let's stop calling bishops, "Your Excellency," and Cardinals, "Your Eminence."  The address, "Bishop," or "Cardinal," is appropriate and duly respectful.  Maybe some day we'll even call them, "Peter," or "Paul."  And there's no need to kiss any rings.  When I met Pope John XXIII in his private study, he approached me holding out his arms in a gesture of warm embrace, and then he shook my hand.  Actually, I half suspect that at least some bishops would enjoy being thus humanized.

   Here are some canons that will help us.  Read them with our vocation and mission of "apostolic action" to reform the church in mind:

   Canon 215:  Christ's faithful may freely establish and direct associations which serve charitable or pious purposes or which foster the Christian vocation in the world, and they may hold meetings to pursue these purposes by common effort.

   Canon 216:  Since they share the Church's mission, all Christ's faithful have the right to promote and support apostolic action, by their own initiative, undertaken according to their state and condition.  No initiative, however, can lay claim to the title, "Catholic," without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority. 

   What is more Catholic than demanding that the bishops obey the teachings and laws of the church? 

   Canon 221, Par. 1:  Christ's faithful may lawfully vindicate and defend the rights they enjoy in the Church, before the competent ecclesiastical forum in accordance with the law.

   Canon 223, Par. 1:  In exercising their rights, Christ's faithful, both individually and in associations, must take account of the common good of the Church, as well as the rights of others and their own duties to others.

   The common good of the church lies in obeying its teachings and respecting the rights of all people, especially the right of children to complete safety.  Out duties to others are very clear.

  Today, the "state and condition" of the laity includes justified outrage and the right to demand correction from the bishops.  But demanding is only the start.  Now we have to create concrete ways to ensure that the bishops truly and honestly make the changes that are so urgently needed.   

   Catholics are now organizing to create these ways.  I will suggest some on this blog.  I invite your suggestions.           



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