- Reform, rebuild and renew
On Thursday Pope Francis will have completed a year as Bishop of Rome, a year in which he has begun to transform the Church. But be in no doubt, argues our Rome correspondent, of just how wide and how deep go his aims for change
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Robert Mickens is a grandmaster of detail and procedure (The Tablet, 4 January).
He was right to point to the important sees now vacant or held by caretakers. Since the first World War these have been filled by somewhat top-down procedures, based on recommendations by nuncios. Would it not be better to consult the whole church in the major countries with vacancies about the kind of servant-leaders that they need? Similarly, with the Synod of Bishops, it would be good to see its members arriving in October 2014 with clear ideas about the kind of supporting structures that they need, in order to become an effective collegial body. When this is known, it will be easier to reshape the Roman Curia.
The Synod is also likely to have suggestions about the kind of global media that would be most helpful for commending the gospel across the world. As to the "Vatican Bank", should it be assumed that such an institution is necessary, just because it has existed for some time? Many commercial banks have had a poor record in recent times, but perhaps there is still enough competition and ethical behaviour in some of them to provide placements for the Church’s necessary working funds.
Robert Mickens was right to mention the harm to the Church’s credibility caused by sexual abuses. It has implications for the kinds of support necessary to the stability of celibate clergy and religious. It must have damaged the progress of ecumenical relations and clearly demands more transparency and better accountability. The role of women in the church was compressed into a single sentence. This is a subject worthy of full consideration by synods and consultations. It in turn should influence the way in which the structures should be renewed in line with collegiality and subsidiarity. Let us all play our part as God’s pilgrim people in the world, in the joyful spirit shining through Evangelii Gaudium.
Lord Hylton, Hemington, Bath