National churches should stand up to the Vatican

A senior German Cardinal has called on national churches to speak up more courageously in their dialogue with Rome, claiming that their lack of courage has made Rome “over-powerful”.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, the former president of the German bishops’ conference, said in an interview with the Cologne-based daily Kölner Stadtanzeiger: “We need to be more courageous in dialogue within the Church. We complain that Rome is over-powerful but the reason why Rome is so strong is because we are too weak,” said Lehmann.

He also cautioned against expecting all church renewal to come from the Pope. “I get very annoyed when we expect everything from the Pope as far as church renewal is concerned but do nothing towards renewal ourselves, or just remain silent.”

He urged Catholics to free themselves of “lethargy” and overcome the “lifeless complacency of a merely handed-down faith”.

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  1. Fergus P Egan says:

    A senior German Cardinal has called on national churches to speak up more courageously in their dialogue with Rome, claiming that their lack of courage has made Rome “over-powerful”.

    How has Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz communicated the recent questionnaire from the Vatican, and what has he chosen to include, or exclude, in its submission to Rome?

    I recently learned that the Vatican had requested feedback from the laity in the form of a questionnaire. Unfortunately, I did not learn of this questionnaire until after the submission deadline. I wonder if its existence was widely known, or even publicised. I learned that US diocese had until the end of December to collect data, and that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops had until the end of February to send the data to Rome.

    The link for the questionnaire is http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20131105_iii-assemblea-sinodo-vescovi_en.html

    Regarding the questionnaire:
    The questions are all focused on “Family”, but heavily on the sexual end – divorce , same-sex relations etc. Can we ever get away from “sex”?

    Secondly, the questions are structured so that answers can only be given within a carefully crafted narrow context.

    Thirdly, matters such as Holy Orders for women, General Absolution, and many other pressing matters, are excluded.

    Fourthly, the most pressing matter is not so much “Church Teaching” (although much can be said on short-falls in this), but rather the wide gulf between orthodox teaching and its practical application in real life (pastoral care).
    We live in an imperfect world where we are faced with imperfect options, and we live with less-than-perfect results from our choices. It would be nice to know that we are still accepted within the family without the taint of alienation. (Consider those who opted for divorce, abortion, artificial birth control, not because they consider these options as “good”, but because they were faced with choosing the “least evil” option in difficult situations.)

    Fifthly, and it is not just the laity either. Church leadership itself is broken. Consider the abuses in the church, the cover-ups, the denials etc., some of which we have experienced first-hand. The failing broken Church Leadership is not addressed at all in the questionnaire.

    Lastly, there is no “send” button in the questionnaire. Who gets it?

    I have faith in God (more hope than faith); but I have very little faith in the Church.

    Fergus P Egan
    Ontario, Canada

  2. Mary O Vallely says:

    Well said, Cardinal Lehmann, soon to be ‘layman’ if he continues speaking out so courageously! Wonder is he about to retire? He’s right, of course, but I suppose old habits of passivity and blind obedience are hard to change. I hope and pray others pay heed to his words. Collegiality? Co-responsibility? Courage, mes amis. 🙂

  3. James Conway says:

    Cardinal Karl Lehmann, former, elected Head of the German Bishops Conference is almost 78. So it’s nearly three years since he handed in his resignation.

    Wouldn’t it be a good idea if the Irish bishops elected their chairperson/president!

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