(NSAE – March 2013)
An outmoded institution
We would like the honourable resignation of Benedict 16 to be experienced as an appropriate time to invite Catholic communities to rethink the organization governing them as well as the medieval privileges prevailing in it. The Vatican and Papacy appear as an unusual male State, endowed with an influent diplomatic representation, which is also helped by thousands of women the world over, in different departments of its organization. The institution consists in a system ruled by officers sure of an ideology that the Holy Spirit is credited with. That system is a very long way from the attention paid by Jesus to the most vulnerable ones in society, from Jesus’ disinterestedness, from his confiding approach to the world. Jesus could read the signs of the times; to do so today, you have to be in tune with reality.
Listening to the world of today
Are the cardinals, who are going to meet and who have the responsibility to determine the future of the Church, going to ignore that, beyond their own circle, there is the world – in great difficulty – and that those who work in it make up the laity? And that, as a consequence, they would better listen to what they say, however diverse their culture and the way they express their faith? Trust the People of God, instead of being their keeper, trust the women and men committed to proclaiming the liberating and emancipating message of the Gospel everywhere in the world.
Daring the Gospel
We expect from the voting cardinals that the fear, the shame, the humiliation that are now besieging the Church as an institution do not prevent them from attempting “novelty” where uses “of old” are dead, to search for a prophetic alternative able to arise revolutionary ideas again, in order to endow it with new evangelical strength.
We expect from the Church that it may rethink its relation to the Scripture according to which God is supposed to have revealed eternal truths, held in the Bible, of which it would be the only guardian. Because God establishes a relationship with mankind and because the Bible tells about the experience of that relationship, we think the part of the Church consists in allowing the experience to carry on – and not in giving everybody a lecture – finding inspiration in the Scripture and setting about listening to the poorer ones.
Freeing the intelligence of the Church
A troubled Church needs free minds more than ever. One of the first decisions to be taken would be to give a right to speak back to the prophetic theologians who were silenced, so as to open up new paths of hope along with them for a mankind in search of new horizons as well. What is in question is dispassionately freeing the intelligence of the Church, which was locked up by outmoded condemnations and excommunications.
We are open to the hope of changes at the head of the Church, and we will welcome any step towards a greater faithfulness to the Gospel. But, above all, we are convinced our first mission is not to endeavour to preserve any Church structure, but to dare live the Gospel at the heart of mankind.
That text was adopted by NSAE Council (2 March 2013)
Nous Sommes Aussi l’église, 68 rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris