October 26, 2012 (MMD Newswire) -- Popes in the past have been known to overstep the limits of their authority. Pope Urban II (1089) imposed perpetual, unredeemable slavery on the wives of priests. Pope Innocent III (1215) declared the English Magna Carta null and void, and excommunicated all those who would observe it. Pope Innocent VIII (1484) sanctioned the torture and burning of witches by endorsing the infamous Hammer of Witches. Pope Alexander VI (1493) authorised the King of Spain to enslave any natives of the Americas who were at war with Christian powers. They all acted in the spirit of Pope Boniface VIII, who in his bull Unam Sanctam (1302), had affirmed the authority of the pope as the heir of Peter and Vicar of Christ over all human authorities, spiritual and temporal . . . The papacy in our time is again overstepping its limits and should be stopped, say the prominent scholars.
It is the main point of the 'JUBILEE DECLARATION', a document released on the 50thanniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on 11 October 2012. It can be read, in various languages, on www.churchauthority.org.
The 52 theologians who sponsor the Declaration are mostly professors who lecture at 38 universities in 11 countries. They include well-known scholars such as Hans Küng, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Ursula King and Erik Jurgens, one-time deputy speaker in the upper house of the Dutch Parliament. Their academic credentials can be accessed from: http://www.churchauthority.org/sponsors1.asp
The blueprint for reform of authority presented in the JUBILEE DECLARATION can be summarised as follows: The Pope's authority should be reduced to within its limits. Bishops Conferences should enjoy more autonomy. The Central Synod of Bishops should play a more prominent role in affairs of the universal Church. Lay people should have real decision making power in pastoral councils. And also: the appointment of bishops and cardinals should not be monopolised by the papal curia in Rome.
The Declaration ends with this appeal: "The exercise of authority in the Catholic Church should emulate the standards of openness, accountability and democracy achieved in modern society. Leadership should be seen to be honest and credible; inspired by humility and service; breathing concern for people rather than preoccupation with rules and discipline; radiating a Christ who makes us free; and listening to Christ's Spirit who speaks and acts through each and every person."
The text of the 520-word JUBILEE DECLARATION, with the names of the academic sponsors, can be found on the opening page: http://www.churchauthority.org/index.asp. Visitors to the site can attach their own signature. Contact details are provided.
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