200 theologians call for fundamental changes in Church

Two hundred theologians have declared that reform of the Roman Curia must be widened to become reform of the whole Church.

The theologians, from throughout the world, issued a declaration at the end of a theological congress in Germany earlier this month.

The title of the gathering in Munich was “Opening the Council – Theology and Church under the Guiding Principle of the Second Vatican Council”.

In a five-page declaration, 200 leading international theologians called for fundamental changes in the Church.

Reform of the Roman Curia must be expanded to a reform of the whole church and of church offices, they wrote.

Greater participation must be given to the laity and the synodal structures strengthened, the statement continued.

“Synodality must once again become a structural principle in the Church,” the text underlined.

It must be fully implemented legally, must be enforceable and “practised at all Church levels”.

Important Church decisions must not be made behind closed doors, the theologians agreed.

The theologians recalled Pope Francis’s words that “Everyone must have a say in what concerns everyone”.

Christoph Böttinger, a fundamental theologian from Eichstätt who presented the declaration, said it was addressed to all theologians, but also to the general public.

German Cardinal Karl Lehman told the congress that the Church’s synodal structures must be strengthened at every level.

The cardinal, who was once an assistant to Karl Rahner, said this “synodality” was more important than possibly holding a Third Vatican Council.

There are great opportunities for the Church in a globalised world as long as it discards its centralist approach, he emphasised.

The council’s decrees have not always been adequately applied or implemented, Cardinal Lehmann said.

German bishops’ conference president Cardinal Reinhard Marx said Vatican II texts must be used as sources for further developing Church reform today.

In October, Pope Francis outlined his vision of a synodal Church at every level that listens, learns and shares mission.


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