Sunday 23 December 2012

Democratic principles for the church of today

Several Catholic clergymen did find again the way church has to be build.

Marie-Therese van Lunen Chenu
Dr Marie-Thérèse van Lunen Chenu 

"The history of the birth of the 1983 code of church law speaks volumes as regards the collusion between magisterium, theology and law. There was not one woman among the 127 members of the Commission for revision of Canon Law (1982 directory) and if some lay people were consulted, how many of those were women? Who chose them? The Roman hierarchy, it is well known, as regards the issue of women, has never agreed to create a structure which would truly give them a voice. Anyone who knows the already lengthy history of the attempts of feminism and women’s associations to dialogue with the religious authorities, would consider they had the right to doubt the true legitimacy of a jurisdiction and a theological function which remains the monopoly of an exclusively masculine authority. The first Convention on the rights of women, adopted at Seneca Falls in the USA in 1848, declared: 'Man has usurped the prerogatives of Jehovah himself, in assigning the sphere of action to woman, when this belongs to the conscience of the woman herself and to God."
Prof Daniel C. Maguire  says " Most Catholic theologians today are scandalously timid in reimagining the new forms the church should be taking today. For at least a century after Jesus the idea of a monarchical bishop in charge of a diocese was not the norm."

From the beginning Jesus envisaged that important decisions should be taken by the whole group of his disciples, by the 'community'. In the case of a dispute between believers which cannot be resolved amicably, Jesus recommends: "Report it to the community" (Matthew 18,15-17). Such common decisions, Jesus added, will be sanctioned in heaven, i.e. by God (Mattthew 18,18; see also Mt 18,19-20).

“And if your brother sins against you, go and reprove him, between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. “But if he does not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word might be established.’ “And if he refuses to hear them, say it to the assembly. And if he refuses even to hear the assembly, let him be to you like a gentile and a tax collector. “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind {1} on earth shall be having been bound {1} in heaven, and whatever you loosen {1} on earth shall be having been loosened1 in heaven. {Footnote: 1 Binding and loosening is Hebidiom for exercising authority (to prohibit and permit).}
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning any matter that they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in the heavens. “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 18:15-20 The Scriptures 1998+)

 The word used for 'community' in Matthew's Greek Gospel is εκκλήσία - ecclesia in Latin - which soon became the common expression for a Christian community [= church]. εκκλήσία stood for 'the whole community', and more specifically: 'the community in full assembly'. In the hellenistic [= Greek] world of the Early Church, decisions made by an εκκλήσία were made democratically - another Greek word. It means that all members of the εκκλήσία had a vote in the assembly.

When we read the Acts of the apostles we can see that a sort of democratic process was the rule in the formation of the meetings and in the working together of those who wanted to follow Jesus. To the community, never was demanded to follow one person in particular.

Torchlit procession to mark the 50th anniversa...
Torchlit procession to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council at the Vatican (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))
It is very significant that the apostles addressed their inspired letters to the whole community - εκκλήσία - in a particular town. “For instance: 'I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle, sends greetings to the church (εκκλήσία) of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ . . .' ” (1 Corinthians 1,1-2.) Several priests and bishops are now aware that "Church" denoted not the hierarchy, nor an institution but the People of God. They say that the Second Vatican Council stressed this notion again in Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium § 9-17. And the Council reiterated that all members of the People of God share in responsibility, and therefore in a measure of authority, for the whole community. Every baptised person carries authority as priest, prophet and queen/king with Christ and takes part in Christ's universal mission.

“The faithful who, by baptism are incorporated into Christ, are placed in the people of God, and in their own way share the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ, and to the best of their ability carry on the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world.”
Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium § 31.
At last they know that Each member of the People of God shares responsibility for the good of the whole community of faith. In the community it is not just one person who is responsible for all the others or who can lead all the others telling them what to do or what not to do.

"By divine institution Holy Church is ordered and governed with a wonderful diversity. "For just as in one body we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another"(Romans 12,14-6). Therefore, the chosen People of God is one: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism"(Ephesians 4,5); sharing a common dignity as members from their regeneration in Christ, having the same filial grace and the same vocation to perfection; possessing in common one salvation, one hope and one undivided charity. There is, therefore, in Christ and in the Church no inequality on,the basis of race or nationality, social condition or sex, because "there is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all 'one' in Christ Jesus"(Galatians 3,28; cf. Colossians 3,11).
If therefore in the Church everyone does not proceed by the same path, nevertheless all are called to sanctity and have received an equal privilege of faith through the justice of God(cf. 2 Peter 1,1). And if by the will of Christ some are made teachers, pastors and dispensers of mysteries on behalf of others, yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ. "
Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium § 32. 
For I say, through the favour which has been given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he should think, but to think soberly, as Elohim has given to each a measure of belief. For as we have many members in one body, but all members do not have the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Messiah, and members each one of one another. Now having different gifts, according to the favour which was given to us, let us use them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of belief; if serving, in the serving; or he who is teaching, in the teaching; or he who encourages, in the encouragement; or he who is sharing, in sincerity; he who is leading, in diligence; he who shows compassion, joyously.
(Romans 12:3-8 The Scriptures 1998+)
Brothers, as a man I say it: a covenant, even though it is man’s, yet if it is confirmed, no one sets it aside, or adds to it.
(Galatians 3:15 The Scriptures 1998+)

But the Scripture has shut up all mankind under sin, that the promise by belief in יהושע  {Jeshua} Messiah might be given to those who believe. But before belief came, we were being guarded under Torah, having been shut up for the belief being about to be revealed. Therefore the Torah became our trainer unto Messiah, in order to be declared right by belief. And after belief has come, we are no longer under a trainer. For you are all sons of Elohim through belief in Messiah יהושע . For as many of you as were immersed into Messiah have put on Messiah. There is not Yehuḏite nor Greek, there is not slave nor free, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Messiah יהושע . And if you are of Messiah, then you are seed of Aḇraham, and heirs according to promise.
(Galatians 3:22-29 The Scriptures 1998+)

When the Messiah, who is our life, is manifested, then you also shall be manifested with Him in esteem. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: whoring, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed of gain, which is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of Elohim is coming upon the sons of disobedience,{1 Footnote: 1Eph. 2:2, Eph. 5:6. in which you also once walked when you lived in them.} But now, also put off all these: displeasure, wrath, evil, blasphemy, filthy talk from your mouth. Do not lie to each other, since you have put off the old man {1} with his practices, {Footnote: 1Rom. 6:6, Eph. 4:22.} and have put on the new one who is renewed in knowledge according to the likeness of Him who created him, where there is not Greek and Yehuḏite, circumcised and uncircumcised, foreigner, Scythian, slave, free, but Messiah is all, and in all. Therefore, as chosen ones of Elohim, set-apart and beloved, put on compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another, indeed, as Messiah forgave you so also should you. But above all these put on love, which is a bond of the perfection. And let the peace of Elohim rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one Body, and be filled with thanks. Let the Word of Messiah {1} dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing with pleasure in your hearts to the Master in psalms and songs of praise and spiritual songs. {Footnote: 1John 12:48, Dt. 18:19, Rev. 19:13.} And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Master  יהושע, giving thanks to Elohim the Father through Him.
(Colossians 3:4-17 The Scriptures 1998+)
God distributes the gifts of the Spirit to the faithful of every rank. That is why all rightly share in the decision making processes of and for the community.

Ministry of the Apostles, a complex multi-figu...
Ministry of the Apostles, a complex multi-figure icon with a full-height image of Jesus Christ, surrounded by sectors with scenes of His disciples' calling, ministry and martyrdom. Icon from the Yaroslavl Museum Preserve. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When the Church grew and became more organised, it assimilated government structures first from the Roman Empire, then from the secular kingdoms of the Middle Ages. Soon it was to adapt certain pagan rites and ideas as well as holy days, because other-while they would come in trouble with the local governing committees.To make it easier to get in unison with the civil governing official they introduced the civil ruling system and hierarchy.  The exercise of authority became top-down, hierarchical and feudalistic.

Anno 2012 many bishops and priest of the Roman curia find that "While retaining some of the useful organizational tools acquired in the past, the Church of our own time should re-instal the pattern of true universal co-responsibility envisaged by Christ and the apostles. It can do so by adopting many of the excellent democratic principles of the secular societies in which we live."

God does not want us to follow people or institutions. Also Jesus did not to take him as the wonder-doer  or to honour him. He told people to listen to his words but to recognise them as the message from his Father, to whom we also should pray "Our Father". In many of his parables and preachings Jesus clearly showed others he importance of following the One and Only One True God, his Father in heaven.

As the seed of Abraham we should be one united people. We may not be isolated individuals but should be one family and behave like brothers and sisters in Christ. Jehovah God wants us all to be part of the salvation not as a “me and Jesus” thing. Rather, He desires to save us as His Set -Apart or holy, beloved people. Each individual in the Church of God has to submit himself to the Master Builder's hand. Our sacrifices offered to God must be of ourselves; each in our measure must try to follow Jeshua (Jesus) who set himself apart and kept away from sin, living a life according to the commandments of his Father, the Elohim Jehovah God. This anointed one, who offered himself, is the one we should follow.

Because it is contained in the Scripture, “See, I lay in Tsiyon a chief corner-stone, chosen, precious, and he who believes on Him shall by no means be put to shame.” {1} {Footnote: 1Isa. 28:16.} This preciousness, then, is for you who believe; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner-stone,”{1} {Footnote: 1Ps. 118:22.} and “A stone of stumbling and a rock that makes for falling,”{1} who stumble because they are disobedient {2} to the Word, to which they also were appointed. {Footnotes: 1Isa. 8:14. 2See John 3:36, Heb. 3:18.}
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that you should proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light, who once were not a people, but now the people of Elohim; who had not obtained compassion, but now obtained compassion.
(1 Peter 2:6-10 The Scriptures 1998+)

So do not be ashamed of the witness of our Master, nor of me His prisoner, but suffer hardship with me for the Good News according to the power of Elohim, who has saved us and called us with a set-apart calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and favour which was given to us in Messiah יהושע  before times of old, but now revealed by the appearing of our Saviour יהושע  Messiah, who indeed abolished death and brought life and incorruptibility to light through the Good News,
(2 Timothy 1:8-10 The Scriptures 1998+)
All those who call themselves Christian should be followers of Jesus, keeping to his words and holding his commandments, going out in the world preaching the Good News, evangelizing and bringing as much people back to Jesus his Father, Jehovah God.

God nor Jesus never intended Church to be a bureaucracy. It had to be a means to feel united as children of God and to give live structure under the guidance of the Word of God.
All Christians should have a greater awareness that our faith is necessarily ecclesial. The ecclesia should be the home of the people who want to follow Christ and continue their search to come as close as possible to the Father of Jesus, who is also our Father and should be the only Holy Father.
It is in the ecclesia that faith should be celebrated, lived, and shared in brotherly love, with respect and equality for everybody.

Democratic principles

Leonard Swidler"We can learn tried and tested democratic principles such as the following:
* creating councils through which people's voice can be heard;
* the fair election of leaders;
* accountability for all entrusted with tasks;
* a limited term for office holders;
* transparency;
* ensuring that all groups in the Church are duly represented;
* due process of law;
* and the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers."
Len Swidler


Do find the call on all members of the People of God to assess the situation in the Catholic church.: Due democratic process should be used in decision making. > Catholic Scholars' Jubilee Declaration

Please do read:
  1. What and why Ecclesia
  2. Meetings
  3. Not bounded by labels but liberated in Christ
  4. Reasons to come to gether
  5. Look for your Refuge by God
  6. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit
  7. Position and power
  8. Raising digression
  9. Politics and power first priority #1
  10. Politics and power first priority #2
  11. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit
  12. The Ecclesia in the churchsystem
  13. Manifests for believers #5 Christian Union
  14. Philippians 1 – 2

 Also of interest:

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