Liberal Catholics urge pope for reforms as consultations start

Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:59pm EDT
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - Liberal Catholics have asked to meet Pope Francis to add their views to talks next week on changes in the Church, hoping the conciliatory tone he has brought to the papacy will allow more open decision making.

More than 100 groups of reform-minded Roman Catholics sent the appeal in an open letter to the pope and the eight cardinals he has chosen to help him govern the worldwide Church and reform its troubled bureaucracy, the Curia.

Francis holds his first talks with the advisory board of cardinals next week. It is not yet clear how their talks in Rome on October 1-3 will be organized or whether their policy suggestions will be made public.

"Our fondest hope is that Pope Francis will accept a delegation of our leaders at the Vatican," said Rene Reid of the Catholic Church Reform group, one of the letter's signatories.

"He has been reaching out to atheists, gays and others. He wants dialogue. We want that too," she said in a statement.

The groups come from around the globe, mostly the English-speaking world but also Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Spain and India.

The letter lists reforms that Francis - elected pope in March with a clear mandate for change - might consider and others he has already ruled out. In a wide-ranging interview last week, he showed he wanted to change many Church procedures but not traditional doctrines.

The letter urges Francis, who has said the Church needs more decentralized decision-making, to give local clergy and lay people a say in electing their own bishops, rather than reserving that privilege to Rome alone.   Continued...

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi