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Prague – møte – WAC

April 10, 2023      Internasjonalt, Nyheter      Torstein Seim      no responses

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Prague Proves Patriarchy still Prominent

I was in Prague for the Continental meeting 5 – 9 February 2023. There were 210 delegates from 39 Bishops conferences plus 27 guests (the guests included Cardinals Hollerich and Grech as well as groups like Opus Dei). There were a further 390 delegates online who produced short summaries after several long breakout sessions.

We Are Church International were outside the meeting hall, but used every opportunity to meet with the delegates and discuss the issues. We displayed our banner EQUALITY outside the conference and outside the cathedral after the mass on 8 February 2023. We also had a meeting with NÊKDO TI UVÊRI (“Someone Will Believe you”), a Czech group founded only in 2020 to support victims and survivors of clerical sex abuse.

These are my 5 main impressions from Prague:

  1. The Irish delegates (both in Prague and online) clearly articulated the calls for reforms heard across Ireland. They did not resort to bland statements but clearly identified key issues that need to be addressed: The role of women in ordained ministries and leadership; full equality for LGBTQ+ people; laity sharing in decision making; addressing the deep seated structures which facilitate abuse and cover ups; focus on the poor and on our earth. The short (2 x 3 minutes) addresses by Ms Julieann Moran and Fr Eamon Fitzgibbon are well worthwhile listening to again.
  2. Germany’s Bishop Georg Bäzing and Dr Irme Stetter-Karp are a great role model for clergy and laity working together. The German Synodal Path has with great transparency addressed 4 key forums: Power; Priesthood; Sexuality and Women. The Synodal Path Assembly is made up of equal numbers of clerics and laity. Bäzing summarised the Prague meeting succinctly: No progress on the DCS document; there is no good alternative to the Synodal Process and we must all continue to make it a reality in our church. Stetter-Karp also spoke in support of the Synodal process; she also added that during the Prague meeting she felt deeply hurt when “the devil” was mentioned and one delegate turned to stare deep into her eyes.
  3. Patriarchy was very prominent in Prague. Rows and rows of altar boys, priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals all lined up in order of rank to parade into the cathedral wearing their mitres. All the masses I attended were in Latin(except for the sermons). Most strikingly of all were the 9 men and no women at the top table on Day 1 which was commented on by several delegates. But on the last day there were 7 men and no women at the top table. Optics are important and the clear message was that the patriarchy want to hold on to their power and privileges.
  4. There was uncertainty in Prague up to the last day as to whether the final document would be put to the delegates in Prague and online for their votes of approval. In the end there was no voting and indeed no final document as the editing team were to continue to work on the paper for several days or even weeks.
  5. We Are Church International called for “Equality At Synod”, meaning that laity should have equal numbers as the clerics, all with equal voting rights. If there are 400 bishops at the Synod in Rome, then there should be 400 Lay women & men at the Synod as well! We are Church international will be in Rome in October 2023 to promote our call for Equality at the Synod!

Colm Holmes

Chair, We Are Church International

11 February 2023

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