The demands of the protest group “We are Church”

Source: FSSPX News


On October 4, 2005, the international Catholic protest group “We are Church” launched an appeal in Rome to the Synod of Bishops. Martha Heizer, representing the movement in Austria, Gigi De Paoli, in Italy and Norbert Scholl, former theology professor at Heidelberg in Germany, presented a three-page document asking the bishops not to “regard the Synod simply as a solemn, not to say emphatic confirmation of conclusions already reached”, condemning the orientations of Instrumentum laboris (the preparatory working document at the Synod) towards “what has already been defined”.

 They demanded the abandonment of the concept of sacrifice, stating that “the Eucharistic celebration should be presented as a memorial of the entire life of Jesus”. And also “complete freedom of philosophical and theological interpretation of this mystery”.

 The movement declared itself “disconcerted” by “all of the habitual forms of devotion in the Eucharistic cult – adoration and processions –which sacralize the Eucharist, bordering on idolatry” and maintain that keeping the dogma of transsubstantiation “infers or reinforces a quasi-magic vision and conversely a materialistic and legalistic mentality”.

 In order to respond to the decline in vocations in the Catholic church, the movement demands marriage for priests , the ordination of married men and of women. “The exclusion of women rests on grounds, unsustainable from every point of view, biblical, theological, historical and ecumenical”. The text also tackles exclusions “applied by the hierarchy” and “understood less and less”, notably of people who are divorced and remarried.

 The movement observes that “the ecumenical route opened by Vatican Council II is meeting with obstacles” including “the impossibility of intercommunion”. For this reason, they are demanding that the Synod of Bishops “at least practice Eucharistic hospitality”.

The “We are Church” movement was born in Austria in 1995, after having collected 2.5 million signatures in Germany and in the Italian Tyrol region, for a renewal of the Catholic Church. Founded officially in Rome the following year for “the reform of the Catholic Church on the basis of Vatican Council II, it is currently present in more than twenty countries.

 During the General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2001, the movement organized in Rome, in collaboration with the “European network Church of Freedom” a “parallel synod of the people of God”. Held over four days, it brought together around thirty participants who asked for “a greater proximity of the bishops and cardinals to the people”, the foundation of a “democracy within the Catholic Church”, with popular elections of bishops chosen from among priests or laity, men and women.

 Last April during the conclave, “We are Church” presented a project for “a vision of a new Church” with the aim of influencing the voting cardinals.

 After the election of cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Christian Weisner, the president of the movement, expressed the hope that Benedict XVI would be “less inflexible” than when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith, particularly on questions of “women and ecumenism”.