Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A church hungry for change

From The London Guardian-

Sitting in the rain with 100,000 people at the closing service of the recent Munich Kirchentag, I noticed that my free plastic rainhood was surplus stock from the August 2005 Cologne World Youth Day. Then the sun shone, the crowds cheered, and the pope grinned his most benevolently vulpine grin, amidst talk of a Catholic renaissance in Germany. The showers held off five years ago, but it's all over now.

For Bavarians, Catholicism is a way of life, not a dogmatic package. It's a matter of identity rather than conformity. The Bavarian Catholic church is too firmly embedded to be, as one traditional journalistic cliche has it, rocked by sexual abuse scandals. However what is usually described as a crisis of trust runs though its heart, as 'Blackpool' runs through Blackpool rock. Old certainties are not holding up well, and lay progressives are on the march.

If I wanted to devise an exquisite form of torture for English RC reactionary critics of the second Vatican council, I would force them to sit as I did recently with tens of thousands of Bavarian Catholics, cheering enthusiastically for the ending of compulsory celibacy, women's ordination, and birth control.

At one point I heard Fr Klaus Mertes, the Jesuit theologian who blew the whistle on sexual abuse at the Canisius College in Berlin, crack a joke — if it carries on like this, the only people we will be able to ordain will be women. Laughter spread through the 8,000 in the hall, followed by a rousing round of rugby club applause.

More here-


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