e-mail us


To call for a new council just click

A new council,” writes a cardinal and 30 bishops in an open letter asking Pope John Paul II to convene a new ecumenical council, “would help the Catholic church to respond evangelically, in a spirit of dialogue, in close collaboration with the other Christian churches and religions, to the great challenges facing humanity, especially persons in situations of extreme poverty.”

That the people of God share the belief of these bishops that the church urgently needs an opportunity to pause and reflect on the problems and challenges of the 21st century is clear from the response of our readers to our recent request to them (NCR, May 3) to propose an agenda for Vatican III. The three key issues that emerged were: democratization of the network of Catholic churches; a radical option to live with and be in solidarity with the poor and oppressed as the United States lurches into a new phase of its imperium; and interfaith encounter.

The petitioning bishops, along with our readers, give a high priority to making the church less hierarchical and more democratic in keeping with the spirit of the times. They call for a participative and conciliatory council process, beginning at local and regional levels. This would enable all of us to offer our reflections on issues that are important to us so that our contribution will be the material for the debates and decisions of the council.

What is needed now is a worldwide collection of signatures that will demonstrate the depth and breadth of the grass-roots support for the initiative of these bishops. A group located in Madrid, Spain, the Information and Mediation Service, has undertaken to coordinate the campaign. The group has an extremely user-friendly Web site on the Internet at www.proconcil.org. By striking just a single key at “Petition to Pope” one can bring up the full text, which -- unlike many official church documents -- is short and to the point.

A second keystroke at “Please sign” brings up a document on which you can enter your name, and can complete the operation by striking “Send.” All who are deeply and actively concerned for those whom the bishops call “persons in situations of extreme poverty” might consider devoting a couple of hours to getting their friends to sign up, too. To do this, they click “signatures capture model” and print out the text and a form on which to collect the signatures. If they have access to a scanner, they can e-mail the signatures to the Madrid group at proconcil@proconcil.org. If they do not, they can mail to Apartado de Correos 141, Rivas 28529, Madrid, Spain.

We think this is an important initiative and we are confident that our readers will agree. If each of you signs on and encourages friends to do the same, we could together collect several hundred thousand signatures. That would be a wonderful affirmation of our belief that the church not only can but must play a major role in our rapidly transforming and increasingly interconnected world.

National Catholic Reporter, May 31, 2002