Liberal Catholics have asked for a meeting with Pope Francis so that their voices and views can be added to the talks occurring the beginning of October regarding changes being made to the Catholic Church’s structure.
Some 100 reform-minded Roman Catholic groups sent the pontiff and eight of his cardinals an open appeal to include them in the efforts to reform the Church and the Curia, the Vatican’s central bureaucracy.
Rene Reid of Catholic Church Reform said that “Our fondest hope is that Pope Francis will accept a delegation of our leaders at the Vatican. He has been reaching out to atheists, gays and others. He wants dialogue. We want that too.”
The groups come largely from much of the English-speaking world as well as large portions of Europe and India. They listed some of the reforms they would like to be brought up for consideration; though, Pope Francis has already ruled out some of them.
The pontiff is willing to change how the Church functions, but not the traditional doctrines.
The Pope has already said that he would like to decentralize the Catholic Church’s decision-making including giving local clergy and lay people a say in who gets elected to the bishoprics. This has a lot to do with the fact that bishops have had little accountability or reason to be accountable to the local flocks and that has often resulted in the bishops prioritizing the honor of the Church over the people that the bishops serve.
The letter backs that reform, but also asks that divorced and remarried Catholics be allowed to receive the Eucharist, which is something Francis has said should be studied, and that dissenting theologians be rehabilitated back into the fold rather than defrocked or excommunicated like Australian priest Greg Reynolds.
The letter backs the possibility of married priests, which is something that Pope Francis is at least open to. They want to allow women to be ordained as priests, which has been ruled out by the pontiff. The letter also calls for homosexual Catholics to be allowed to have “full participation in the life of the Church and its service.”
While Pope Francis has been less belligerent towards LGBT people, he is adamant that homosexual sex is a sin, and has been excommunicating priests who dare to call for marriage equality.
Still, the letter praises Francis for his “new style of leadership, less that of a monarch, more as a simple servant-bishop. Many around the world – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – hope that your election will mark a turning point in the history of the Church.”
The Rainbow Sash Movement, an LGBT Catholic group, noted that there has been a lot of damage done by the Catholic Church towards people in general, and said in relation to Pope Francis’ recent words that “Many people have been abused by the Church; many were forced to leave the Church because of integrity. There is so much pain and alienation among Catholics today many are asking why they should stay and continue to be brutalized such as women and LGBT Catholics.”
The group went on to say that “The Pope’s words will not bear any real fruit until he is willing to address the issues of sexism and homophobia in the Church under the mantle of clericalism.
They concluded that “The RSM is also calling the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to stop its aggressive opposition to gay marriage. Finally, we are calling on Cardinal Dolan as President of the USCCB to make sure that the Pope’s tone is communicated to his fellow Bishops such as Cardinal Francis George of Chicago who is aggressively opposing Gay Marriage in Illinois.”
So, the big question is, just how far is the Catholic Church willing to go to reform itself.