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More Cardinals Call for Change

In the last several months the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy -O’Connor, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and even Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger have spoken publicly about the need for more openness, decentralization and greater participation of clergy and laity in church decision making.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s new book At The Heart of the World (Darton, Longman andTodd) criticizes the Church for its failure to give clergy and laity an effective voice. He also accuses the Church of immaturity in the exercise of authority, calls for greater openness and transparency and questions if the Church has given bishops the shared responsibility advised by Vatican II: “Has sufficient provision been made to ensure consultation between the Pope and local Churches before important decisions are made at international or local level? These are major questions and the answers will not be found easily or overnight.” (As reported in the Tablet, March 6, 2004)

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former archbishop of Milan said in April that the Church should be more democratic, allow women to be deacons and give laypeople a say in selecting bishops. Martini also said the conclave should include heads of the national bishops conferences and called for bishops synods to be given more of a decision making role than a consultative one as it has now. He called for a “permanent reigning council” to help run the Church with the pope. Martini was interviewed by the Rome newspaper Il Tempo. (Reuters, 4/7/2004)

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger admitted that there are instances in which the Vatican intervened too often in the affairs of the local church. He surprised journalists with his remarks following a requiem Mass for Cardinal Franz Konig in Vienna. As prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger often clashed with Konig who advocated more decentralized church governance. He told journalists he was now prepared to think about where more decentralization could be applied in the Church saying it is important to both maintain unity and allow local Churches to develop their charisms. (as reported in the Tablet, April 3, 2004)

Summer 2004



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