The vicar general and synodal council of the Catholic Church in the canton of Zurich have called on Pope Francis to renew the church. The church is "on fire," they write.
"The appalling thing is: shepherds appointed to serve the Gospel have started this conflagration."Numerous people are "alienated, outraged and embittered" in the face of the abuse scandal," according to an open letter published Thursday in various media outlets.
More separation of powers and independent courts
Important for overcoming the crisis is the realization that sexual abuse cannot be reduced to the misdemeanors of misguided individuals. "It is rather rooted in the structures of the Catholic Church," they say.
The signatories, Synodal Council President Franziska Driessen-Reding and Vicar General Josef Annen, call for more separation of powers and the shared responsibility of everyone in the Catholic Church.
What is needed are independent courts before which basic rights can be enforced, more leadership responsibility for women, and synodal processes in which the conditions for access to church offices, such as compulsory celibacy, can be decided regionally.
"Time is running out. Set reform processes in motion"
The Pope's clear words on the subject are important, but not enough. Far-reaching reforms cannot be postponed. "The situation of the church is dramatic – similar to the situation on the eve of the Reformation here in Zurich 500 years ago," it says. "Time is pressing. 'Set the reform processes in motion,' letter signers address Pope Francis.
The church had repressed and demonized human sexuality "for centuries, instead of caring for and cultivating it," Driessen-Reding and Annen said. A repressed and immature sexuality is the soil in which abuse thrives, he said.
Therefore it needs a church sexual morality oriented at the "love message of the gospel" and the today's human sciences as well as close to life.