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THE CRISIS IN RELIGIONS: The Catholic Church



Though little publicized, all religions are in crisis, including the Catholic Church. One of the most interesting characters of the present age is Karen Armstrong, a highly intelligent English woman who for twenty years was a nun. She quit the Church, and wrote very successful books on the major religions. She is openly critical of the Catholic Church, with its authoritarian Pope. Since she probably does view herself now as a Catholic,I do not think she was involved in the "shadow synod" about which Bienvenido Macario has sent me a Reuter's (10/4/01) release. The official synod made a great TV show, but, looking at all those prelates, I wondered what to make of them. Not being a great show, the shadow synod got no TV coverage. Here is the essential part of the release:

ROME - Calling the Vatican "the world's last absolute monarchy," dissident Roman Catholics from around the world demanded radical reforms in their Church, including ordination of women priests. The dissidents are holding a "shadow synod" to counter an official synod of Roman Catholic Bishops at the Vatican, a gathering they say is just another symbol of a male-dominated church. "We're talking about vast numbers of Catholics who want change about many issues," said Valerie Stroud, the shadow synod's general secretary and a leader of movements for reform in the Catholic Church in Great Britain. "The Vatican is the world's last absolute monarchy, but we are a Church that is not built with stones. We are human beings. The strength of the people is the Church and that's what we're talking about when we talk about democracy," she said. "We have to have the courage to stand and speak on behalf of people who want change but have no voice," she told a news conference.

OPEN LETTER

"When you look at the structure of our Church it is not a coincidence that we speak about women's rights because those who are excluded from authority are women," said Elfride Harth, spokeswoman for 'We Are the Church Movement', a reform group. "We have no way of having a say in our Church when it comes to decision making. The woman's question will arrive everywhere -- when you talk about celibacy you talk about women, when you talk about sexual morality you talk about women, when you talk about justice you talk about women because most of the poor in the world are women," she said. Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW), an international coalition of Catholic groups for female priesthood, plan to hang banners near the Vatican reading "Ordain Women Priests" during the official bishops synod. "By not ordaining women the Church 'fathers' are depriving the Church of a gift and they will be held accountable for that," said Soline Vatinel, a WOW spokeswoman from Ireland.

Other issues the shadow synod will discuss are the Church's ban on divorce, artificial birth control, contraceptives and married priests. "Marriages do not last. People change. What do we do as a community about the re-married?" said Stroud. "Many people in the Church are homosexuals and the bishops don't want to talk about it," said Christian Weisner, the shadow synod's spokesman. "We want to see reform in the church generally," said John O'Brian of the U.S.-based Catholics for a Free Choice. "The Vatican has tried to close off discussion about changing the position on contraception. But the reality is that Catholics from Ireland to Lithuania to Latin America do not obey the teachings on contraception, so it's a lie," he said.

My comment Wow!! The Pope's comment: Wow!!! As for his reply, the rest is silence.

Ronald Hilton - 10/11/01


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