Catholic scholars call for changes in church


More than 160 leading Catholic scholars worldwide have signed a “Declaration on authority in the Catholic Church” that calls for change in church governance.

The signatories include leading theologians Hans Kung, Leonardo Boff and Dr John Wijngaards, as well as three Australian bishops, William Morris, Pat Power and Geoffrey Robinson.

In a letter to The Irish Times today, Irish signatories to the declaration speak of the need for “a pope who will redress the present imbalance in the exercise of authority in the Catholic Church.” Their letter continues that “more autonomy should be given to national bishops’ conferences and collegiality enabled at all levels in the church”.

It calls for “a new, more democratic process of electing key office holders in the church including bishops, cardinals and experts of papal commissions”.

It also says that “until the key insights and principles of Vatican II are properly pursued, the Catholic Church will continue to be increasingly isolated and irrelevant within the lives of millions of people across the world.”

Signatories to The Irish Times letter are Prof Deirdre Carabine, vice-chancellor, Virtual University of Uganda, Kampala; Rev Dr Gabriel Daly, professor of theology, Irish School of Ecumenics; Rev Dr Donal Dorr, theologian and writer in Dublin; Prof Seán Freyne, director of the Centre for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies in Dublin; and Dr Linda Hogan, vice-provost and professor of ecumenics at TCD.

Other Irish signatories, on the churchauthority.orgwebsite, are former president of Ireland Mary McAleese; Dr Margaret Daly-Denton of TCD; Rev Prof Seán Fagan, theologian and author; Prof Wilfrid Harrington, author and lecturer; Dr Gerard Mannion, professor of theology and religious studies at San Diego University in California; and Dr Thomas O’Loughlin, professor of historical theology at the University of Nottingham. Other Irish signatories include Rev Dr Joseph O’Leary, professor of English literature at Sophia University in Tokyo, and Dr Michael Lawler, former professor of Catholic theology at Creighton University, Nebraska.