Reform group urges ‘holy disobedience’

AN organisation of Catholics opposed to the direction of the Church under Pope Benedict XVI has called on other followers to engage in a campaign of “holy disobedience”.

The group We Are Church is formally re-launching after 14 years in existence. It expressed deep concern about the intransigence of the Pope in addressing the need for major reform in the Church.

It claimed the forced imposition of the new Roman missal, in the face of strong reservations from groups like the Association of Catholic Priests, was further evidence of such intransigence.

The organisation said the Pope’s views were in direct conflict with the vast majority of Catholics and it was Pope Benedict who was “out of step”.

We Are Church said it had five main objectives to reform, including the ordination of women priests, the removal of the vow of celibacy and the establishment of an inclusive Church which would welcome gay and lesbian followers and divorcees.

Spokesman Brendan Butler said its sister organisations in Germany and Austria were already proving themselves as a force for change in the Church.

We Are Church, established in Austria in 1995, set up its Irish branch in 1997 and has about 100 members.

Mr Butler claimed the Vatican’s attempt to suppress legitimate discussion was “reprehensible” and should not be tolerated.

“The enforced silence, especially of theologians, is a punishment more associated with authoritarian governments than with a Church committed to the Gospel,” he said.

Mr Butler condemned Church leaders for merging parishes due to the shortage of priests rather than open up ministry to women and married priests. “It seems the Church authorities would prefer parishes to die,” he said.

The group claimed the refusal by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, last year to allow women to become deacons was another example of the Church’s “misogynistic attitude”.

Mr Butler said bishops had an “endemic paralytic fear” of facing the current crisis in the Church because of the absolute obedience demanded by Pope Benedict.

Mr Butler said the group had not formed any view on withholding donations to the Church or the recent decision to close the Irish embassy to the Vatican.

The group will hold an advent assembly in the Tara Towers Hotel, Booterstown, Co Dublin on Sunday, November 27 at 3.15pm.

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