Martin Mallon (Ireland)
Martin's previous articles
OF THE TIMES
Pope John XXIII called on us to read the signs of the times; he did not see them as being all negative but could see the positive influence of grace in these signs.
Some of the signs apparent in the present day are the tensions building between:
1) the European/ Roman Curial/Developed World Church and the South American/African/Asian Second and Third World Church, this latter Church now being the largest but with very little say in the running of the Church as this is still centred in Rome. In fact, since Vatican II there has been, and continues to be, an increase in the centralisation of power and authority in
2) the Conservative/Status Quo Roman Curia and those in favour of change, the so called progressives or dissenters, who agree with Blessed John Henry Newman that “to change is good, to change often is perfect.” It is important to point out here that most of these “dissenters” do not disagree with the teachings of the Church, the most authoritative recent teachings being those of Vatican II, as they agree with the teachings and the spirit of Vatican II, but they are called dissenters because they dissent from teachings promulgated after Vatican II which contradict Vatican II or which prevent discussion of legitimate topics. In addition, the treatment of some dissenters is in contradiction of Church teaching on human dignity, human rights, social justice and are not Christian. This situation must be fixed; yes, it is broken.
These tensions that the Holy Spirit has allowed to arise make it likely that an Ecumenical Council will be called in the not too distant future, to be held in, say, Rio de Janeiro and to be attended by representatives of all sections of the People of God. The discussions and debates would be freely available, live, on all modern media, the internet, etc. Votes on non-theological matters could be held over the net e.g. on whether or not Canon 129, that only ordained ministers can hold official posts in the Church, should be abolished. This non-traditional and non-christian, power grabbing Canon has no place in the
Such tensions reflect grace apparent in the signs of the times as it is inconceivable that a new Council would leave unfinished the work of Vatican II:
- collegiality and subsidiarity would become mandatory, breaking the power of the Roman Curia;
- following on the above the Roman Curia could be released for more worthwhile work;
- centralisation of power in Rome would automatically be curtailed;
- the Holy Spirit would now be “allowed” to be present at national conferences and at synods;
- the overall authority of the Church as the People of God, guided by the Holy Spirit as reflected in the sense of the faithful, the Sensus Fidelium, would have to be reflected in future Church governance ( Ephesians 5:10-17 ). This would result in the top-down monarchical model of Church governance coming to an end.
- “definitive” teachings, a new form of teaching introduced by Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, which breaches the “hemeneutic of continuity”, would be examined and probably discarded.
The Holy Spirit appears to be leading us to a form of church which will more closely reflect the Church envisaged by Vatican II and the early Church, where the People of God participated in the first Council (Acts 15) and had a say in theology and discipline.
In 1 John we are instructed “But you have the anointing from the Holy One, so that all of you have true wisdom.” And again in 1 John “You received from him an anointing, and it remains in you, so you do not need someone to teach you. His anointing teaches you all things, it speaks the truth and does not lie to you; so remain in him, and keep what he has taught you.” The above quotes, taken together with Ephesians 5:10-17, make it clear that the whole People of God must be involved in the next Council, as it is in the People of God that the fullness of the Sensus Fidelium, the sense of the faithful, resides.