“Hello Rome” – and a “Reply” from the Pope

Hello Rome, we’re not just prayin’,
tho’ we spoil your pious rest.
Hello Rome, like, we’re just sayin’,
our Church has become a mess.

That’s the first stanza of the “longest protest song in the world” from the Catholic Youth of Upper Austria. My rough translation attempts to capture the colloquial flavor of the original:

Hallo Rom, wir wollen etwas wagen,
auch wenn’s eure heil’ge Ruhe stört.
Hallo Rom, wir wollen nur mal sagen,
in unsrer Kirche läuft etwas verkehrt.

Under the slogan Not Just Yes and Amen, the “Katholische Jugend Oberösterreich” hope to shake up the Church’s leadership. The goal is not to complain and condemn, but to offer constructive criticism and show readiness to collaborate. It started on Pentecost. At the website, anyone can add another stanza, and so the protest song gets longer and longer complete with YouTube videos of budding singing stars. Stanzas added so far criticize narrow ideas (“initiative” and “archconservative”  rhyme also in German), call for more democracy and greater involvement of women in the Church, and ask that the Mass be more “cool.” One stanzas asks Rome to “save our priests from burnout” (in German: “der Burnout”) because “we laypeople are ready to help.”

Here’s another stanza someone submitted – this time with a more literal translation.

Hallo Rom, ist es dir egal
wenn überhaupt kein Mensch dich schätzt und braucht?
Sei du doch Wurzel, Stamm und Baum,
gib uns halt, dann wirst du in Liebe getaucht.

Hello Rome, doesn’t it matter to you,
when no one at all values you or has any use for you?
Just be a root, trunk and tree,
give us support and you’ll be showered with love.

*        *        *

That comes from the religious news department of Austrian Public Radio. By coincidence, also in today’s news there is a report on the Pope’s comments at today’s general audience. Benedict XVI called for a positive view of the Church’s hierarchy and said it is a widespread misconception today that the division of Church into faithful, priests, and bishops is subordination. People wrongly associate authority with 20th century dicatorships which exercised power arbitrarily and demanded blind obedience. Here is a report on his talk in English.



  1. This is quite a stunning news report from Upper Austria, and I applaud the initiative of these young people. But the pope’s statement isn’t a “response” to it, unless I’ve missed something…

    As for the pope’s statement, it is more theological fog, which, in its abstraction, will fail to help. To say it’s not I who am deciding, and say in effect “I have no power” when you are in command and are in fact making decisions that affect the course of a huge institution and many people’s lives, is a huge evasion of responsibility. The people have misunderstood hierarchy? I don’t think so.

  2. The World Values Study is about authority.

    In agrarian society authority resides in traditional values (e.g. in Scripture, in Liturgy) interpreted in minor ways by a variety of people (bishops, kings, saints, etc.)

    In industrial society traditional values are replaced by rational, bureaucratic belief systems interpreted by disciplines and their professionals. Still very authoritarian, just a different kind. Few acknowledged that the Catholic Church became very early and has continued to develop into a very industrial age organization with traditional values at the center. We went from the agrarian diversity of the Roman Rite to the industrial rite of Trent decided from the center and enforced by books. The Company of Jesus became in many ways the model of the international corporationl We began going in that direction with Cluny and dependent priorities. Catholicism became so industrialized that industrialized structures are called hierarchical.

    Vatican II is the Spirit’s gift for the postindustrial age as much as Trent and its aftermath was a gift for the industrial age.

    Benedict is articulating traditional values while ignoring the industrial age values, styles and practices of Church management. It is not an agrarian problem of local priests and bishops who occasionally sin and need to be repentant. The postindustrial world whose ultimate authority is its experience and that of others (e.g. the victims) is not buying.

    1. The limitation of that analysis being that few if any societies are neatly only of one type. Maybe Singapore is a mono-type.

      1. The World Values Study is strong evidence that nations are the key context of evangelization. Catholics and Protestants in the USA don’t differ by much. Nations also have a culture which is another great predictor of values.

        So as a Christian, shaping American Christianity and therefore forming Christians is far more important than denomination adherence. Specifically I am interested in promoting voluntary Christian leadership among highly educated persons particularly at retirement. In the postindustrial world I can get to them directly. It would be foolish to spend time with denominations. I am interested in people who pray daily, and value the bible because both are majority views in America and therefore common values. I leave open whether they attend Church since it is a minority option. Culturally and religiously America is shaped by the values of having a personal relationship with God (spiritually) and working with others in voluntary organizations. National values are very important.

        As for diversity within nations. Yes, there is but it is systematic and predicted by age cohort, and economic conditions during adolescence and early adulthood. Each new cohort in the USA has been more postindustrial

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.