Pope Francis has called for a Church that is far more decentralised, where the laity play a greater role, bishops’ conferences take care of certain problems, and even the Papacy is rethought, reports AP on Crux.
Francis issued the call during a ceremony on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops, a consultative body formed during the Second Vatican Council that was intended precisely to encourage more collegiality in the running of the Church by inviting bishops to offer their advice to Rome.
Over the past five decades, the synod has been little more than a talk-fest. But Francis has sought to re-energise it, and the contentious meeting under way at the Vatican, in which conservative and progressive bishops are squaring off over ministering to families, has been the result.
Francis noted that he launched the family synod process two years ago by sending out a questionnaire to Catholic families around the world asking for their input – a strong sign that ordinary lay Catholics have an important role to play in the governance of the Church and spreading the faith.
“How would it have been possible to talk about the family without engaging families, listening to their joys and hopes, their pain and anxieties?” he said.
One of the main themes running through the current synod is whether individual bishops’ conferences can take on greater responsibility in charting pastoral strategies to deal with issues like ministering to gays and divorced and civilly remarried couples.
Conservatives insist that only Rome can offer such doctrinal guidelines; progressives say the local churches know better what individual circumstances require.
Photo: Pope Francis delivers a blessing during a meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Synod of Bishops on Saturday (AP)
Pope says Church needs more decentralisation, changes to papacy (Reuters/Yahoo7)
God wants Church to make ‘journey of synodality’, says Pope (CNS/Catholic Herald)