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Democracy by Any Other Name (Sun Jan 2, 2005 12:29 pm )

In civil society, John Paul II calls it "secular," but within the Church, he calls it "Communion." In his address to U.S. Bishops, Dec. 5, 2004, John Paul II said that the Church does not have the same categories and structures as civil society. For the Pope, the key to genuine cooperation between the laity and their pastors, particularly the bishops, is found in what he calls "communion."

IN THE LAST MONTHS OF 2004 Pope John Paul II gave these instructions to the U.S. Bishops:

1)"An appreciation of the distinct gifts and apostolate of the laity will naturally lead to a strengthened commitment to fostering among the laity a sense of shared responsibility for the life and mission of the Church,"

2) "In stressing the need for a theology and spirituality of communion and mission for the renewal of ecclesial life, I have pointed to the importance of making our own the ancient pastoral wisdom which, without prejudice to their authority, encouraged pastors to listen more widely to the People of God,"

3) "Certainly this will involve a conscious effort on the part of each bishop to develop, within his particular Church, structures of communion and participation which make it possible, without prejudice to his personal responsibility for decisions he is called to make by virtue of his apostolic authority, to listen to the Spirit who lives and speaks in the faithful," the Pope said.

4) "More importantly, it calls for the cultivation, in every aspect of ecclesial life, of a spirit of communion grounded in the supernatural 'sensus fidei' and the rich variety of charisms and missions which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the whole body of the baptized in order to build them up in unity and fidelity to the word of God," the Holy Father continued.

5) "An understanding of cooperation and shared responsibility which is firmly rooted in the principles of a sound ecclesiology," he added, "will ensure a genuine and fruitful collaboration between the Church's pastors and the lay faithful, without the danger of distorting this relationship by the uncritical importation of categories and structures drawn from secular life."

Do the U.S. Bishops take him seriously? DID HE REALLY MEAN what he said about: "Cooperation," "shared responsibility," "structures of communion and participation," "sensus fidei," "listen to the Spirit who lives and speaks through the People of God"?

If these ideas sound familiar to you, they are the democratic categories and structures that ARCC has claimed and proclaimed for the Church throughout the past 25 years as being a return to the structure of the early Church and essential for the Church in the future.

Dear Bishops, To quote the Pope, please "LISTEN MORE WIDELY TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD"! "Listen to the Spirit who lives and speaks in the faithful," as we call you to change the antiquated structures you persist in using that are causing such devastation in our Church!

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(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

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