From the blog coordinator:
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What is WAACSA?
We Are All Church (South Africa) is a prophetic movement initiated by a small group of Catholics in South Africa in November 2010 who wished to grow the Church’s commitment to the vision of the second Vatican Council. The movement was intended to be, and subsequently became, an affiliate of The International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC).
WAACSA grew quickly by word of mouth, and today {13.02.2013} has 300 Members and Friends throughout South Africa. There are currently three branches: Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, and the Western Cape.
A letter informing the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) about WAACSA was not acknowledged, but a meeting with the Archbishop of Cape Town lead to the Western Cape group being banned from using Church property for their meetings. The national coordinator of WAACSA was subsequently not allowed to continue being an Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist.
During 2011 all branches initiated monthly meetings of members and friends, and much of the early discussions ranged around defining WAACSA’s mission as distinct from that of IMWAC. A mission statement was finalised in October 2011, and was sent to the SACBC, who responded by suggesting that WAACSA meet with the SACBC’s Theological Advisory Commission. WAACSA would like to maintain meaningful dialogue with the bishops, and to play a recognised role in renewing the Church in Southern Africa. WAACSA wishes to work within the Church, and sees itself as a prophetic or reform movement, and not as a dissident group.
Branches continue to meet regularly, and sometimes have outside speakers on special topics. Three public lectures by theologians were organised during 2011, which drew substantial numbers of people. In 2012 WAACSA will continue to educate its members about Vatican 2, to deepen and renew their faith, to promote public dialogue and debate, and to discern what the Holy Spirit wishes us to do in Southern Africa.
Brian Robertson
National Coordinator
Cape Town
January 2012


History of the Movement
Church Referendum We Are Church started in Austria, Germany and South Tyrol.
2.5 million signatures for a renewal of the Roman Catholic Church according to the intention of the Second Vatican Council.
  • The creation of a Church of brothers and sisters
  • Full participation of the women in all aspects of Church life
  • Removal of the obligation of clerical celibacy
  • A positive attitude towards sexuality and recognition of the primacy of an informed moral conscience
  • A message of joy and not threat or discrimination.
International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC) founded in Rome
Participation in the 2nd European Ecumenical Assembly in Graz, Austria (despite the intervention of Cardinal Ratzinger)
Incontro Internazionale Del Popolo Di Dio in Rome to present signatures to the Pope
2nd Council of the international movement We Are Church in Rome, Italy
"Pope for the Time to Come: Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor"
More than 145 major groups world-wide endorsed the document
Forum of European Catholics shadowing the Bishops' Synod for Europe in Rome
3rd Council of the international movement We Are Church in Santa Severa, Italy
Synod of the People of God - with participation from around the world shadowing the Xth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome
4th Council of the international movement We Are Church in Rome, Italy
We Are Church - Youth at Challenge the Church parallel to the World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada
2003 & 2004
5th Council of the international movement We Are Church in Barcelona, Spain
Conclave Project, "Visions of a New Church" in Rome, 14-16 April
"We Are Church - Worldwide", celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Church referendum in Innsbruck, Austria, in June
We Are Church - Youth initiates "WorldYouthDay4All" during Catholic World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in August
6th Council of the international movement We Are Church in Freising near Munich, Germany - 16-18 June
10th Anniversary of the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC) founded in Rome on 25 November 1996
Copyright © 2010 International Movement We Are Church.
All Rights Reserved.


Perspectives of Church Reform under Pope Benedict XVI


1.1     The five goals of the We are Church Referendum of 1995 – together with specific amendments like ecumenism and social justice in several countries – bring a vision of a renewed Church in line with the Second Vatican Council and the theology and pastoral practice arising from this Council.

1.2     We are Church and its Referendum is based on the dogmatic Council Constitution "Lumen Gentium" Art 37 and on Can 212 §°3 of Church Law. In accordance, the faithful have "the right and at times even the duty to advise their spiritual leaders of their opinion In what pertains to the good of the church and to inform the other faithful, whilst safeguarding the entirety of faith and morals and the reverence towards their pastors and under consideration of the common good and the dignity of people".

1.3    We are Church and international religious studies (e.g. Greely/Hout) have proved that the demands for reform are theologically sound and are almost the same in all parts of the world. The purple stole has become a worldwide impressive symbol for women’s ordination. The issue of married priests is now seen together with the issue of pastoral care for parishes and their right to receive the sacraments (Can. 213 CIC).

1.4    The International Movement We are Church has succeeded in building up a worldwide network linking different cultural and language groups. For the first time in history, with the help of electronic networking, we have counteracted the vertical hierarchical flow of information. The old Roman principle/standard “divide and rule” is no longer effective. We are Church is the only movement that was able to organize a series of seminars ”Visions of a New Church” after the death of Pope John Paul II and before the Conclave started.

1.5    We are Church has stood its ground for 10 years now and may take the credit for the fact that some Roman decisions are not as bad/ controversial/ counterproductive as they could have been (e.g. Apostolic Letter “Spiritus et Sponsa” about the Liturgy, withdrawal of the demission of Fr. Tissa Balasuryia) and can’t be set into practice (e.g. Instruction on the laity 1997).

1.6    We are Church is the most comprehensive, most important and most spread reform movement within the Roman-Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council. We are Church is working together with renowned theologians and became known to the international media as “voice of the people in the pews”.

1.7    The extensive mentioning of We are Church in Cardinal Ratzinger’s book “Salt of the Earth” and several letters from the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith trying to prohibit the proliferation of We are Church show how influential this reform movement is valued even by the Vatican.

1.8    Our goals mustn’t be taken from Utopia. Seeing the Roman Catholic Church as a closed clerical system with 2000 years of experience defending its power we should not see it as our fault that we have not succeeded in bringing concrete changes in Church Law within only 10 years.


2.1   The Second Vatican Council brought so many substantial changes into the Roman Catholic Church that it is quite natural that many people in the Church – clerics as well as lay people – are trying to stop the implementation of the Council or to restore the pre-council situation.

2.2   The election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope has disappointed or even shocked many reform orientated Catholics esp. in Third World countries because of his lack of pastoral experience, Eurocentric thinking, and conservative position. But his election should be used as a positive challenge/opportunity because Ratzinger’s way of thinking is well known and gives us many good reasons for serious discussion/arguments.

2.3   With the help of the mass media Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for more than 23 years, has totally changed his image and is now seen by many people as a mild, smiling and humble Pope. Like TV showings, emotions seem to be more important than actual facts. Even those who suffer from his decisions, seem to have positive reflections on him as Pope.

2.4   More than one year and a half after his election it has become clear to the public that Pope Benedict (like his predecessor) is not willing to start reforms concerning the laity, the women in the Church, and sexuality. //does not have reforms concerning the laity, the women in the Church, and sexuality on his agenda.// Benedict XVI rather focuses on structural reforms of the Vatican which makes the Roman Catholic Church even more centralized and the Roman Curia even more powerful in relation to the local churches and bishops.

2.5   In times of political, social, and economic uncertainty people want the Papacy as a symbol representing security, stability and continuity but they did not want to follow the Papal line when it did not suit them. The institutional Church is far more conservative than 40 years ago, but there is also a deep yearning for change.

2.6   The entire Church is confronted with severe pastoral problems which are deeply connected with the five goals of the Church Referendum. In the Synods for Asia, Africa and America as well as during the Eucharist Synod in 2005 the Bishops demonstrated that they are moving in that direction. But until now the Pope and the Roman Curia do not take any action to solve/tackle the pastoral problems.

2.7   The surprising meeting with the critical theologian Professor Dr. Hans Küng in September 2005 was seen by many as a proof for Joseph Ratzinger’s openness and willingness for dialogue. But in fact reform topics were excluded from this talk from the beginning. It should be noted that Hans Küng was inviting the Pope to embark on reform after his first year in office.

2.8   The dispute with Islam after Benedict’s lecture in Regensburg may draw off the attention of reform issues within the church. But if the Pope demands dialogue with Islam, we have very good arguments to demand dialogue within the church.

2.9   The answer of the German Nuntius in reply to our letter to the Pope could be seen at least as a first sign of acknowledgement/recognition of the International Movement We are Church, even if the Vatican itself denies to dialogue with reform movements like We are Church. But the letter of the German Nuntius is an obligation to all Bishops to have dialogue with us.


3.1   The rapid growth of traditional conservative and pre-council groups within our Church makes it essential to bring together people, initiatives, and movements in favour of the Second Vatican Council. We are Church has to emphasize that we are a legitimate group within the church and should ask for the same rights to be acknowledged in the Church as the traditionalists (who don’t accept the Council).

3.2   We should use a ‘soft’ strategy asking questions, giving positive examples for the future pastoral life of the Church (as we did in the letter of 140 groups “A Pope for the times to come”) and keeping in contact with theologians as many are supporting us.

3.3   We should emphasize the need for freedom of theological research by quoting the “Declaration for the freedom of theologians and theology”, that was signed in 1969 by some 40 scientific theologians among them Joseph Ratzinger, Walter Kasper and Karl Lehmann. The reconciliation of faith and reason, Ratzinger’s favoured issue, is surely supported by We are Church and could be a common topic against evangelical groups.

3.4   Pope Benedict’s work can be and should be evaluated by
        - his announcements after his election (collegiality, ecumenism etc.)
        - his written documents (encyclicals, speeches etc.)
        - his early writings as young theologian who essentially shaped Vatican II.
As he claims that he “remained identical in all essential points” his current work may be evaluated by his earlier statements.

3.5   We are Church’s activities and statements should not be too much centred on the Pope, but should focus on the Church as the People of God and should consider how to address it. We should emphasize the importance of lay people since Vatican II and that we represent the majority within the Roman Catholic Church.

3.6   We should keep faithful to our original aims. The five demands are We are Church’s constitution which can be fused with current issues like inter-religious dialogue, World Ethos or globalisation. If agreed upon, we might focus internationally on just one of the Five Points for a period of time.

3.7   We may learn from other international organisations like amnesty international / Greenpeace / Transparency International who are also confronted with international power structures and who use combined actions of information, education, grass-root work, and visible key actions. We should give victims a voice and should make the best use of media.

3.8   We are Church as a whole or its member groups should speak out on the occasion of major Episcopal or Papal documents or meetings (as we have done several times successfully in Rome and elsewhere) but also on other occasions too. If possible we should not only react but be proactive too. The World Forum on Theology & Liberation in Nairobi, the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly at Sibiu/Hermannstadt, Romania, in September 2007, and the World Youth Day in Sidney in Summer 2008 are some of the events where We are Church should be present.

3.9   We are Church should deepen its spiritual resources for the long-lasting process of reform. Working on an international scale we can encourage each other. We are Church should go on reaching out and enlarge the worldwide network of reform movements.

3.10   The 50th anniversary of Vatican II in 2012 is a very important event that should be prepared carefully. The Council was announced on January 25, 1959 and opened on October 11, 1962. Referring to Can. 212 CIC we should make use of the nice symbolism of the year 2012.

The following were found to be approachable for a few words of encouragement:

Prof. Hans Küng (Germany)
P.Notker Wolf (Germany/Rome)
Bishop Jacques Gaillot (France)/ Katharina Haller (Switzerland)
P. Tissa Balasuryia (Sri Lanka)
P. Walbert Bühlmann (Switzerland)
Sr. Lea Ackermann (Germany)
Prof. Gotthold Hasenhüttl (Germany)

Pierre Stutz (Switzerland)
Prof. Dr. Imbach (Switzerland)
Dr. Erwin Koller (Switzerland, Herbert-Haag-Foundation)
Prof. Dr. Fritz Köster (Germany)
Prof. Dr. Hermann Häring (NL/Germany)


Another point that proves that the We Are Church message has got across to the media is that it was very noticible in Portugal as elsewhere that in all the debate at the time of the death of John Paul II and election of Benedict - the five points of our Petition came up again and again even if the Movement was not directly mentioned.

Ana Vincente


  1. a tiny group of people paid by protestant to smear the catholics with their practices

  2. I am looking for Rosemary (Durban South Africa) - she is in your Members list. Can you help me - Xana McCauley

  3. "...and sees itself as a prophetic or reform movement, and not as a dissident group."...

    uh huh.

    There's a reason for
    "and sees itself as a prophetic or reform movement, and not as a dissident group."

    Vatican II isn't some document that says "oh lets abolish everything".

    The fact of the matter is this is a group that wants to BE in the place of the Good Lord, instead of Listening to Him.

    That's what happens when we say "This is good, but THIS... this I don't like, so I'll just pick and choose... and.. there! that's the church.. now... it's GOT to be our way!" < This is making ones self God, not Listening to Him.

    Pray for all the souls being lead astray by a group like this.