There are Catholic reform groups in about 40 countries all over the world who have joined in a network, We are Church/Wir sind Kirche. These groups want to bring about renewal and change through an open discussion in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
We have studied the programme of the international movement for reform. We have reflected on it and discussed it for a long time. We have now arrived at a series of positions that we want to make public. In this way we hope to gauge the interest in Sweden for thinking along these lines. "We" re already a greater number than those who have chosen, as a symbolic gesture, to sign this manifesto.
During recent decades we have witnessed an increasing decentralization of the Church. Each diocese, each Catholic is immediately and in detail dependent on decisions made by the Pope in Rome, or by individuals close to the Pope. In our view this is not a reasonable state of affairs and it cannot be justified by Jesus’ call to Peter: "feed my lambs, tend my sheep".
- We think that the Petrine office should be unifying, not "uniforming".
- We wish for a regionalisation of the Church in concrete terms in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.
- We think, as a matter of urgency and having regard to the importance of ordination, that the conditions under which church leaders can be elected democratically be looked into.
- We think, for instance, that the Pope should be appointed by a college of electors consisting of both men and women of various ages and from various walks of life.
- All decisions in dioceses and parishes that are not necessarily reserved to the ordained should be made democratically. Democracy may be exercised in accordance with local conditions. In Sweden the natural choice is to use the traditional democratic associations and self-study groups.
- In our view it is increased effective influence by the laity that will encourage the faithful to take responsibility for the life and development of the Church.
We want to be able to say the following of the Church:
- Differences of opinion is seen a stimulating gift, not a threat to the powers that be. Questioning should be welcomed as a means of deepening and widening the Church’s presence in the reality of various cultures.
- There is complete equality between men and women in all respects. Women serve the Church on the same conditions and in the same positions as do men. Women called to ordination are joyfully accepted in the seminaries.
- Secular clergy may choose whether to live as celibates or to marry. Their formation is directed with increasing effectiveness towards living in cooperation with the laity.
- Any love between people that is responsible, caring and faithful is beautiful in the eyes of God and the Church and a blessing. Homosexual love is as beautiful and desirable as heterosexual love.
- It is part of the human condition to fail – also in life’s greatest tasks. But after failure you get up and do the best of where you are. To remarry after divorce is for many people the best way forwards.
- The Church welcomes to communion all who hunger and thirst for Christ.
- The Church emphasises the responsibility of men and women for their fertility and regard contraceptives without medical side effects as important means to this end.
- The Church encourages respect, consideration and care in all relationships – between people and between people and the rest of creation. Only one moral rule is absolute: no one must act against his or her conscience.
- The Church assumes its co-responsibility for the world through its concerted and indefatigable mission to promote peace, its contribution to the resolution of world-wide conflicts, eradication of weapons of mass-destruction, the protection of the environment, its work for social justice, the eradication of poverty, starvation, homelessness, drug addiction and violence, and its help to halt the spread of epidemics and other serious diseases (in particular HIV/Aids).
- A courageous and prophetic ecumenical process, proceeding step by step, emphasizes the possibilities rather than the problems, and glory in diversity.
- The interreligious dialogue gains broader and deeper commitment at all levels.
- The Church knows that God’s embrace is cosmic. Therefore, the Church’s presence is characterized in secularized societies by warmth and encouragement and discussions based on good and appropriate arguments.
Elisabet Albertsson, Linköping
Lena Blomgren, Stockholm
Ann-Marie Cervin, Katrineholm
Gert Gelotte, Lerum
Dan Hanqvist, Järfälla
Gun Holmertz, Angered
Michael Hultsten, Stockholm
Krister Janzon, Stockholm
Irène Nordgren, Stockholm
Yvette Pasquier Brzozowski, Stockholm
Agneta Sofiadotter, Lund
Dan Stenborg, Stockholm
Sven Volk Jovinge, Helsingborg
Eva Winiarski, Stockholm