Reform group calls for Vatican III

 We Are Church (UK), has written to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O,Connor as President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales, and to Archbishop Keith O'Brien, President of the Scottish Catholic Bishops' Conference, calling for new international and national church councils. In a statement, WAC: "urges the bishops to move away from panic reactions to what is portrayed as a sudden crisis, occasioned particularly by concerns over the ever expanding panorama of abuse in the Church." They call on the Archbishop and Cardinal to recognise the current situation as "a kairos moment for the whole Church, a time of grace and opportunity, and take a more strategic approach in partnership with the laity." The letter, entitled 'A kairos for the Church' highlights the plight of divorced and remarried people, clergy who have married, women, lesbian and gay people, and the black and minority ethnic communities. It focusses particularly on: "the hurt and anger of those abused emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually, and whose voice is not heard." WAC spokesperson, Valerie Stroud, said: "Instead of dealing with the current concerns as if they are all quite unrelated matters, it's time for the Church's leadership to wake up to the fact that these issues reflect a much more fundamental and structural dysfunction in the Church. Too many doors are being shut in people's faces when greater openness is needed. "It's no good dealing with this piecemeal, through inquisitions or silencing. The Church's pastors should offer full repentance for the abuse of power, at the heart of the problems in the Church, and a firm purpose of amendment." The group urges Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Archbishop O'Brien: "to call upon the Pope to convene a formal Council of the Catholic Church to include not only all the Church's Bishops but with full and not simply advisory participation of lay and other ordained members, as well as representatives of other faith communities." It also urges support for an international Catholic petition to the Pope to convene a new Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. This was launched last week with the support of Japanese Archbishop Stephen Hamao, the President of the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for Migrants and Refugees, Cardinal Paolo Evaristo Arns, retired Archbishop of Sao Paolo, Brazil and 20 other Latin American bishops and theologians. WAC also calls for a National Pastoral Congress to be held in Britain, with the aim of building on the work of the 1980 National Pastoral Congress for England & Wales, held in Liverpool. For more information visit the We Are Church (UK) website at:

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