"Can the church
become more people friendly?"
Sullivan (Oxford, England)
Please feel free
to contact me with your thoughts -
Forty Years in the Desert
It will soon be forty years since the opening of the Council.
But where is the joy and vision of Pope John?
In 1962, the world was listening, was full of expectation. Pope John
was pointing, like his namesake, to Christ the light of all nations,
with the message to shed His radiance on all man and to brighten the
countenance of the Church. Then we had our chance: like teenagers,
bursting our of maturity: vital, powerful, restless to break out
into the New Pentecost. We had hoped.
One of the main problems is the "struggling for the mastery". Some
of the more agitated of the laity are thwarted because nobody seems
to be listening to them, the lively among the clergy are smarting
under the burden of the slowness of growth, and even those bishops
who were at the Council are saddened and weary at the loss of that
sparkle which they breathed shortly for a time while they were in
What ever happened to the Spirit so hoped for by Pope John and the
crowd of Bishops who so enthusiastically rebelled in the first
session in St Peters against the paternalism of the then Roman
Authority in Peril
To the willing and discerning eye, one can trace a deeper and more
searching unease within the words of the Popes themselves. Pope Paul
VI himself was completely shattered at the exuberant and mature
reaction of many of the faithful to his famous encyclical - the
whole concept of Papal authority, power and loyalty which he had
inherited from generation of Popes since Trent was put on the rack.
How could good Catholics clergy and even bishops challenge a Pope's
decision so openly?
This na´ve paternalism so deeply embedded in Rome shows itself more
glaringly in Pope John Paul. He seems at home with the lively
secularity of the young but when it comes to theology he can be
equally hopelessly inflexible demanding strict obedience even to
non-fallible statements and rules of the magisterium. On the one
hand he seems committed to the "transcendental dignity of the human
person" and even to the "excellence of human liberty". On the other
hand he seems to feel he is bound by the concept of Papal authority,
power and the demands of loyalty.
Is it that Romanism, and authoritarianism, part of the baggage of
Reformation history that we in Britain have grown out of and have
left behind in our political maturity?
Pope Paul tried to reform the Roman Curia and its power. He failed.
Pope John Paul II tried too but they proved stronger than him. He
failed the bishops by not granting to the Synods and the Episcopal
Conferences any collegiate authority. He also impoverished the
growth of the diversity of church practise and liturgy in accordance
with the diversity of cultures throughout the world even though this
was recommended by the Council.
But what about the local church? Our Bishops and priests are
traditionally in a conflict situation. They are, most of them, busy
looking over their shoulders to the power of Rome instead of acting
in accordance with the real needs of the local church.
There is also among the laity, sometimes organised, sometimes not,
who claim for the pope, the Roman Curia and often themselves, a kind
of power and authority which contradicts the teaching of Jesus on
the role of authority in his church "Let it not be so among you".
Perhaps new life beings at forty
This may be true of the church today, but we will have to work at