When he addressed the Anglican Lambeth Conference this summer, the Vatican’s Cardinal Walter Kasper noted that the Catholic church could learn from the way Anglicans “debate, listen to each other and produce decisions that come from within and are not imposed from above.”

The Cardinal went on to say that ecumenical relations between the Catholic and Anglican churches had been harmed because of the latter’s ordination of women priests, consecration of women bishops and because of its wavering on the morality of homosexual activity.

On the above issues – women priests and bishops and the condemnation of homosexual activity – it is alleged that the Catholic church is quite clear. But this is clarity that is imposed from above and is at odds with what many Catholics really believe. Many Catholics find the exclusion of women from decision-making and the exercise of power in the Church intolerable, and the description of homosexual activity as “disordered” offensive.

That the leadership of women and the complexities of sex could be definitively clarified by some all-male elite (most of them septuagarians) is thought by many Catholics to be simply incredible. These are good, faithful Catholics, deeply committed to the Gospel affirmation of each human being.

They do not wish to be labelled “dissenters”. They are happy to toast the Pope and even wave a banner in St. Peter’s Square but, when it comes to finding guidance through the thicket of the secular world, they have often, with some sadness, given up on the clarities “imposed from above.”

In this way authority in the Church is undermined, not so much through dissent, but through the refusal of those in authority (the male celibate septuagarians in Rome) to allow open debate, to listen, and produce decisions that come from within.

Father Peter Cornwell is a priest in good standing in London, England. He writes of this problem: “Instead of rather smugly parading our doubtful certainties, we Catholics should respond to the problems of the Anglican Community by saluting the courage of its leaders in struggling to stay together while openly facing issues that the Catholic Church has tried to sweep under the rug.”

Do you agree?


  1. 1
    Chimera Says:

    “Do you agree?”

    I’m trying to figure out why I should care. After all, I’m not Catholic, although most of my family is, and whatever happens in the Vatican does not affect me because I refuse to allow it to do so.

    I will say this (again), though: if the Church does not adapt and change with the times and its own people, it will die. And maybe it’s time.

  2. 2
    Joe Agnost Says:

    I agree with Chimera – who cares?? The RCC is so irrelevant these days… it may THINK it is relevant, but even the catholics aren’t listening!

    Look at how many catholics are pro-choice, or use birth control.

    The RCC is like a bad club – they still have members, but not even the members take it seriously anymore…

  3. 3
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Boring, but I do agree with Chimera and Joe.
    However, I would not bury the Church just yet. I remember what one of my priest teachers once told us:”Gentlemen, the fact that for the last 2 000 years, the Popes, the Vatican and the clergy have not managed to totally destroy the Church is proof of it’s divine foundations” He may have had a point. However, like with all organized religions it has lost the divine impulse paralyzed by rituals, pomps and circumstances and material considerations, not to mention political power.

  4. 4
    jim Says:

    “In the beginning” it was long walks and word of mouth and to fill the gaps here’s a Bible. Thank you. Don’t call me I’ll call you. From now on it’s between God and me, two people I can’t intentially fool. It was all so spiritual. Now you screwed it up and introduced religion. Bye.

  5. 5
    Joe Agnost Says:

    They (the RCC) could do without such hypocritical comments from their pope too!!

    Imagine having the gall to actually say some of things he does! His latest being an attack on the sin of greed and material possessions (0h the irony!).

    So he tells the good folks in France to ‘turn to God and to reject false idols, such as money, thirst for material possessions and power.’. He then boards his private jet, dines on caviar and kobe beef, and thinks about which bedroom he’ll sleep in tonight in his castle.

    (I know, I know, he’s taken a vow of poverty and none of that stuff actually belongs to him…. but how does that change the fact that he lives the life of a rich, famous and POWERFUL man?? It doesn’t… I’ll take HIS vow of poverty any day!)

  6. 6
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    The Catholic Church needs to model itself after a loving caring family.
    Would a family exclude a child from a family meal gathering, if he or she were divorced and remarried?

    Would a family exclude a child who has a same sex partner, from a family meal gathering?

    Would a family exclude a female child from full equality in the family, from a family meal gathering?

    Jesus said “I call you my friends”, among friends there can only be equality, male and female.

    He also said we could call His Father, Our Father. One big loving caring human family. We are all part of the banquet of God.

  7. 7
    Chimera Says:

    Peter, if that family were an autocratic, fundamentalist family, the answers to your questions is, “Absolutely, yes.”

    And Jesus, if the mythology is followed contiguously without separating out individual events and instances, was neither Catholic (although he was rather catholic) nor fundamentalist. Matter of fact, he was his own era’s religious rebel, a sort-of Martin Luther for his time, trying to deconstruct, reform, and reconstruct the religious hierarchy that enslaved his fellow citizens.

    Sadly, he failed. He “died” or deserted the cause just when it needed him most, and some of his followers decided to keep it going, but without the vision. They never did “get” the idea of equality for all, and without his steadying and repetitive philosophy constantly ringing in their ears, the very human attribute of wanting power over others — the very idea he was trying to defeat — took over.

    A lot of Christians today are misnamed. They don’t follow Christ. They follow Paul. A fellow misogynist.

  8. 8
    Kurt Says:

    Are you kidding? Some of you need to go back and study church history before the reformation. If not for the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) there would be a hug hole in history. There would be a lot of missing Christian theology, artwork ( including Michealangelo’s), Christian relics, universities, architecture, etc. Oh yeah, and there would not be a bible. That’s right, the scripture in the Bible was chosen long before the reformation, and it did not just fall out of the sky. This argument that the RCC is irrelevant is bogus. Go visit Rome for a week and see if you still feel the same. You will realize that a lot of buildings in the U.S. are cheap knock-offs of Roman architecture, and a lot of that architecture was preserved by the RCC. The RCC has always been relevant and will always be relevant. This is not because Catholic are special, but because Jesus promised it: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”

    As far as the ordination of women, none of Jesus’s apostles were women (go read the history books). So, you cannot accuse the RCC of being sexist without accusing Jesus of being sexist. Go to any Catholic Church and you will see women participating heavily in the Mass, so claiming that the RCC is somehow oppressive to women is bogus.

  9. 9
    Kurt Says:

    Peter the Catholic Church models itself after Jesus’s teachings, not a dysfunctional family. The Catholic Church does welcome homosexuals, women, and all other types of sinners, just like Jesus. And like Jesus, the Catholic Church encourages all sinners to turn away from their sin and lead a new life.

  10. 10
    Kurt Says:

    Careful about what you say Joe. Tha

  11. 11
    Kurt Says:

    t Pope may be praying for you in his castle 🙂

  12. 12
    neilmckentyweblog2 Says:


    Thank you for your welcome comments.

  13. 13
    Elron Humbred Says:

    @ Kurt. Not in El Paso. The Catholic Church in El Paso TX is becoming more and more like the Westburough Baptist Church, with a horrible anti-gay attitude. Instead of hating the sin, they hate the sinner.

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