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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stand Up for Vatican II


The Stand Up for Vatican 2 meeting held in London last night (26 Jan 2010) attracted supporters from all over the UK and, although the venue had been changed to a much larger room, the order of the day was 'standing room only'.   Those present represented a cross-section of the Church in these islands: clergy, religious and laity.   They were of one mind, loyal to the Church they loved but also critical of its failure to move forward in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1966)  .

The meeting called for the Church to stop messing around with whose 'tassels are the longest'  (Matt 23) and to get on with its mission to bring about God's realm in the world, a realm of true justice and peace for everyone.

This cannot happen without good leadership and pastoral care.  It was acknowledged that our Bishops are afraid.  They have been intimidated into colluding with the bureaucracy that is now crippling and asphyxiating the mission of the Church.

One speaker proposed that the optimum size for a local Catholic community should be about 70.  Jesus himself found this number congenial to work with and activate (Luke 10).   Leaders and ministers for these congregations are readily available if those in authority realise that "God does not have favourites ..." (Acts 10).
There was resounding applause when there was a call from the floor for those in Holy Orders, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, to 'serve to build up the People of God' (Catechism of the Catholic Church) rather than 'lord it over them'.  Speaking afterwards, Valerie Stroud, Co-ordinator of We Are Church (UK) said, "We want leaders who genuinely listen; who are prepared to engage in dialogue; who explain in words the ordinary man and woman understand; who are open and honest with believer and unbeliever alike; who do not indulge in and foster discrimination against sections of the community.  If the Bishops heed God when he said "Do not be afraid" they will find they have the support of the vast majority of Catholics and the Church will go from strength to strength."

It was pointed out that Catholics who wanted to stand up for the reforms of Vatican 2 felt very vulnerable at the present time and needed the support of like minds.   E-mail addresses were collected at the end of the evening and We Are Church invites anyone of goodwill to join their electronic group.   Sign up by sending a blank message to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it     The Moderator will admit you and welcome you to a group of spiritual friends.   (The group does not permit verbal abuse or fundamentalist diatribe but welcomes a diversity of opinion.)

Our account of the meeting of Stand Up for Vatican 2 begins:

Frank Regan, Editor in Chief of 'Renew', opened the meeting (26 January) by welcoming everyone.  He professed his deep commitment to all that the Second Vatican Council stood for.  From his perspective, chief among these reforms was the commitment to work for Justice and Peace together with lay participation in the Church.

He reminded us that any form of change implies tension between those who want to move forward and those who are comfortable with the status quo.  As the Church, and not mere members of it (Pope Pius XII, 1946), all Catholics need to reflect on its future and ask the question "Where is it going?"

With benign humour he noted the grey-power in the room and reminded us of the lack of young people in the Church.  They were not interested in internal political struggle or dead Services when attending church.  They wanted something that would inspire them to make the world a better place.  The question we, of the senior generation, needed to address was how we were going to hand the Church on to the next generation.

We Are Church's recommendation:

Obtain a copy of "The Basic Sixteen Documents Vatican Council 11" by Austin Flannery OP and read what the Council said.  Fr Flannery also published two volumes of all the documents from the Council.   They are very readable and you will appreciate the wonderful courage of Blessed Pope John XXIII in council with all the Bishops in fearlessly opening the doors to the modern world.
Fr Derek Reeve, a Priest for over 50 years, echoed Frank's welcome, saying that he had not remotely imagined that so many people would turn up and from so widely in the UK.

Blessed Pope John XX111 had been widely regarded as a 'caretaker' Pope.  No one, least of all the Cardinals, had expected him to announce a General Council of the Church at Mass on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul in 1959.

Pope John's vision of Church perceived that it needed urgent renewal.  Some Catholics today look back to a blissful time before the Council when myth says that all was well.   The Pope knew this was not entirely true and had the courage to do something about it.  His aim was to bring the Church into the modern world and enable it to dialogue with modernity to bring about justice and peace.

Fr Derek spoke about the excitement among Catholics on hearing and sharing Pope John's vision.  Among his own parishioners, people began looking forward with hope and anticipation.   The vision of the Church as the People of God and the Kingdom as a realm which could be worked towards by all in the Church was inspiring.

Vatican II was not an end in itself.  It was the beginning of a process.  We do not want its renewal and reforms to disappear, like many in previous Councils.

Fr Derek ask everyone to pray, and pray hard, to invoke the Holy Spirit to once more blow through the Church and "enkindle the hearts of the faithful" to go forward in faith, hope and love.

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