Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Thomas J. Reese, SJ, former editor of America magazine, is a senior
fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. He writes, in the April 25 issue of Commonweal:
Reforming the Vatican
What the Church Can Learn from Other Institutions
Thomas J. Reese, SJ
Too often when someone proposes the reform of church structures, the reformer is attacked for borrowing from the secular political field, as if this were necessarily a bad thing. But throughout history the Vatican has often imitated the organization of secular political institutions. Today the governance of the church is more centralized than at any time in its history. To make the church more collegial, the Vatican should once again adopt practices of the secular political world.
[What practices does Father Reese recommend that the Vatican adopt? Click here.
Reese writes, in conclusion:]
These six reforms will not bring about the kingdom of God. No governance structure is perfect, and every reform has negative side effects. But these reforms would help the church follow the principles of collegiality and subsidiarity. It is worth remarking that most of these reforms would mean a return to earlier practices and structures of the church. Of course, spiritual reform and conversion are finally more important than structural reform, but that doesn’t mean that structural reform is unimportant.
What are the chances of such reforms actually taking place? As a social scientist, I’d have to say they’re probably close to zero. The church is now run by a self-perpetuating group of men who know such reform would diminish their power. It is also contrary to their theology of the church. But as a Catholic Christian, I still have to hope.