“It is high time for a council”

Ceremonial Opening of the Second Vatican Council on 11. October 1962 © Ernst Herb (KNA)

Should Pope Francis convene a new council for the universal church? In the struggle over the future course of the Catholic Church, a well-known voice in Catholic journalism has now spoken out in favor of this for the first time.

Francis must quickly convene a worldwide assembly of all bishops, says editorial in "Christ in der Gegenwart" magazine.

"It is high time for a council in which the bishops decide collegially with and under the pope or the pope alone as supreme legislator," writes editor-in-chief Johannes Roser in the current ie. "Christ in der Gegenwart" has a circulation of about 30.000 copies, it is one of the most influential Catholic weeklies in Germany and is read by numerous church decision-makers.

Councils take place very rarely

Only the pope can convene a council as a world assembly of all Catholic bishops. Councils take place very rarely; there have been three such gatherings in the past 500 years. The last time the bishops met in Rome for the Second Vatican Council was from 1962 to 1965. At that time, the Catholic Church began to open up to the modern world and its ideological pluralism.

Only with a new council can "clarity" be achieved, the magazine continues. The current "vague back and forth with endless frustrations" must end, he said. "Pope Francis should show his colors. Touching human gestures and popular closeness are no longer enough," said Roser. The pope is challenged to no longer leave pressing questions for the future of the Catholic Church "in the innocuous".

In addition to the current controversial ies such as celibacy, the position of women in the church, sexual morality or the distribution of power, a council would also have to address real "core problems of faith," the commentary demands: "What could inspire Christianity anew, favor it in a world with horizons of experience that can no longer be reconciled with very many dogmatic models of conception, especially when one looks at the (natural) scientific revolutions?."A council must face the task of how faith in God can gain new plausibility in an "age of the most powerful disenchantments" and radical secularization.

Worldwide problems in the Catholic Church

For "Christ in der Gegenwart," the "epochal erosion" of the faith is by no means limited to Germany or Europe. In North America, too, the generation of young people for the Christian faith is breaking away. In the once Catholic Latin America people turned to evangelical communities. In the urban zones of Africa or Asia, atheism is growing. Everywhere where the modern Enlightenment is taking hold, so the analysis, the traditional beliefs are eroding.

The Catholic Church in Germany is currently planning a process of reform and dialogue in the form of a "synodal journey". This format was last criticized by the Vatican on canonical and dogmatic grounds. Among other things, Rome warned that there should be no national special paths. Many questions raised could only be decided at the level of the world church.

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Christina Cherry
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