Bishops Want Next Pope to Reform Church Governance

Bishops in the U.K. are being surprisingly open and forthright in their calls for reform in church governance.

The Bishop of Menevia, Tom Burns, said that following Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, it was time to reform the Vatican’s “monarchical style and turgid bureaucracy” and introduce greater consultation and a “root-and-branch review of the method of appointing bishops.”

He told The Tablet: “Conservatism has had its day. It doesn’t work. Despite all Benedict’s efforts, the Church is losing its place in society … It’s time to reopen the doors and windows for a new blowing of the Spirit, a freedom of speech to search for ways ahead that will address key issues…”

Read the full story at The Tablet, with comments by Bishop Burns and others, here.


  1. “Despite all Benedict’s efforts, the Church is losing its place in society.. ”
    I pray it’s not too late!
    Ironically, in “” this issue was discussed and frighteningly the Church has lost it’s place in an increasingly secularized nation, sad.( what-uncle-sam-could-learn-from-the-catholic-church).
    Some of what was written:
    ” it might have surprised some to see The New York Times’ Ross Douthat proclaim an end to “the Catholic moment” in his Sunday column. Douthat argued that the Catholic influence has waned due to scandals, and that overall, Christian thought on what makes a properly ordered society has been largely abandoned by both parties”
    and this:
    “…The Week colleague Matt Lewis largely agrees, but not about the cause. The culture war is now over, Matt says, and conservatives, along with the Catholic Church, have lost it as the politics of the U.S. grew much more secular. “Is it any surprise that conservatism itself would eventually evolve to mirror a society that is rapidly becoming more secular and less traditional?”
    and finally:
    “… to Douthat and Lewis on the “Catholic center” and just society. We have no voices in the current political arena, Catholic or otherwise..”
    Whenever the Catholic Church is mentioned in any blog on Yahoo for example just look at the comment section if there is any doubt. An opening of windows is needed to allow the Spirit in to change the venue. It’s time for the Church to make visible changes in order to again be relevant in society by first stopping the hemorrhaging of members (there’s power in numbers) once again being respected and having a powerful voice in the court of public opinion.

  2. Well we already have a group (Nuns) that is providing the kind of leadership needed by the church and American society

    Pew reports satisfaction is much higher for them than for the American Bishops and the Pope

    Satisfaction (which includes very satisfied) for nuns (83%) and priests (82%) was essentially the same, but there was less satisfaction for the bishop (74%), the pope (74%) and American bishops (70%) who are not different from each other.

    “Very satisfied” was essentially the same for nuns (50%) and priests (49%). However the bishop (36%) and pope (36%) came in lower, and American Bishops (24%) the lowest of everyone!

    Dissatisfaction for nuns (10%) and parish priests (13%) was essentially the same but marginally more for the bishop (18%) and definitely more for the pope (22%) and American bishops (25%).

    Satisfaction for nuns is particularly great among low attendance people

    As we might expect for those with low attendance, their satisfaction with parish priests is lower (77%) and their satisfaction with their bishop (69%) the pope (68%) and American bishops even lower (63%). However a huge 90% of low attendance people are satisfied with nuns!!!

    My hypothesis is that the high rate of satisfaction with nuns among low attendance people would be found among many non-Catholics and former Catholics who admire much in Catholicism but just don’t like the present male leadership.

    Move over guys and let the women lead!

  3. If the reporting in the Italian media is accurate regarding the larger Vatican context surrounding B16’s resignation (and it seems to have some credence) nothing is more needed than “a freedom of speech to search for ways ahead that will address key issues…” as this bishop calls for. Should the situation within the Vatican be so tragic nothing is more prescient than the electing cardinals finding a “freedom of speech” with one another and then cementing said freedom with a suitable candidate for the next Petrine ministry. A reforming Pope from way outside is surely needed.

    Hopefully the brutality of facts will push the electors to do something new. And one of the first changes must be the notion that a bureaucracy of some 200 employees can micro-manage a global church of a billion successfully – as if such a situation is ever really needed or successful. Then maybe the reformed Roman liturgy will have a chance to receive new life and give new life. Embers, as Martini called it – or dry bones, as scripture would have it. Dry bone days require words of life. I hope they speak.

  4. I’d like to see this bishop sit at a table with Cardinal Francis George who pronounced liberal Catholicism to be “an exhausted project…parasitical on a substance that no longer exists” (1998).
    There is some irony in a UK bishop criticizing “monarchy” in our Church from a nation with an established Church under a true monarch that has implemented almost everything progressive RC’s promote only to see the denomination brought to the point where one parish may not recognize the sacraments confected by a female cleric at another parish, where significant numbers of their adherents, including woman religious, have come over to communion with the Holy See precisely to avoid these same trends, and within a land where secularization has continued unimpeded by the established Church’s liberlization.

    1. @Daniel McKernan – comment #4:
      I have to say I was never impressed with the intellectual acumen of Cardinal George. Bishop Burns can take a number. I’d like to sit down with Cardinal George and visit about the “exhausted project” of the ideological modernism of neo/pseudo-orthodox Catholicism. When it comes to orthopraxis, probably more praised by the Lord, the Catholic Right has come up woefully short since the Chicago archbishop’s tired words.

    2. @Daniel McKernan – comment #4:
      Don’t quite see the irony. We have a constitutional monarchy in Britain not an absolute one Vatican style. Just because the Bishop is against a monarchical form of governance in the Church doesn’t mean he wants the whole ‘progressive’ thing. As far as i’m concerned monarchy is one thing for a state but quite another for the Church

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