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AFTER THE CRISIS IN THE CHURCH THERE IS NEW LIFE AHEAD

15 September 2018 No Comment

AFTER THE CRISIS IN THE CHURCH THERE IS NEW LIFE AHEAD
Father John Walsh

The Catholic Church is imploding before our eyes. We are in crisis. The list of priests who committed criminal acts of sex-abuse against children is growing longer every day and the subsequent cover-ups by the authorities is a shameful moment in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. The greatest change that has been effected has gone unmentioned: The Church is a grass-roots church to be built from the ground up and not from the top down. The Roman Catholic Church is not a Papal Church. It is a theological church. It is a church of collegiality, operating in a synodal manner, and respecting subsidiarity. Francis refers to himself as the bishop of Rome. He has given everyone mobilizing theological images of the church, which have been never been know until now: a church of the poor for the poor, one that is hurting and dirty and out in the streets, a field hospital to heal the wounded, a mother who teaches but has mud on her shoes in the streets. Priest are to be street priests and know the smell of the sheep. He calls imposters priests, deacons and bishops who do not prepare their homilies. He strongly condemns clericalism and careerism. He offers the message of Jesus as subversive. Francis reaches out to the popular movements, those who have pious practices and asks everyone to go to the people in the peripheries and bring them to the center where everyone can experience mercy. In his first interview he said he was a sinner. In his writings he quotes from the pastoral exhortations of the National Conferences of bishops throughout the world, unheard of before Francis. He uses discernment to search for the church is to be and what it is to become.

Francis is both admired and questioned. The Second Vatican Council defined the church as “the people of God” and that “the Church subsists in the people of God.” He sees ecumenical and interfaith dialogues as essential to the mission of the Church. He has decentralized the church by authorizing local ecclesial communities, parishes, to perform certain services of reconciliation that had previously been the sole jurisdiction of the Pope or a bishop.
It appears evident that Francis no longer ascribes solely to a theology of theism, with an interventionist God and with a separation of a supernatural world and a natural world. His concern is for this world leads more to a theology of panentheism in which what people do and say for and to each other offer intimations of a transcendent plan. It is clear that Francis seeks the principle of interconnectivity: care for our common home and care for the poor. .
The two synods on the family projected a synodal manner of deliberation in which the bishops were to express themselves with parroussia which means that no one should worry about how others react, but with humility.
The October synod of bishops on youth, discernment, and vocation already has made mention of the LBGTQ2 community and Francis asked the youth to give him an earful and put a youthful face on the Church.
The priest sexual abuse of young people is a crisis that has rocked the church and caused pain and suffering of the victims. The victims are to always be held in the spotlight. Asking for forgiveness is not enough. There is a need for structural change, total transparency, and a healthy lifestyle for the ordained and non-ordained ministers. The hope is that the church will use all possible social sciences to provide new structures of liberating people in a new Catholic culture which will be an open and transparent community welcoming all who wish to taste and see the goodness and mercy of God, expressed in concrete ways and in liturgical celebrations.
One person best expressed what needs to be done when she said, we must no longer look upward but forward. There is always a new dawn and while at this time of our history we are at noon when the sun is hottest and shines on our the problems with full disclosure, one day there will be a sunset in the calm of what has been accomplished by everyone to assure all people, Catholics and people of other faith traditions, that together we believe that God is a God of surprises who will make all things new as we wait for a new heaven and a new earth, a new Church or no church.

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