Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Basel Switzerland votes on Equality in the Church


Comment: This great initiative  is one that many will be watching.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Catholics in Basel may vote on the abolition of celibacy and women's ordination

Le Croix (With APIC; English translation by Rebel Girl)

On Tuesday, November 27th, the synod of the Roman Catholic Church in Basel, Switzerland, recognized the validity of the "Initiative for Equality in the Church" which requires notably the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women. "We take the concerns of the initiative seriously, Christian Griss, the chairman of the synod, declared Thursday to the Basler Zeitung daily.

In the neighboring canton of Basel Land, a similar initiative has been launched and will be submitted to the synod when it meets in Liestal on Monday, December 3rd. But the executive of the Synod has already asked that it be considered valid.

Nearly 3000 signatures, including those of several theologians, were collected to support this "Initiative for Equality in the Church" launched jointly in the two half-cantons of Basel. If passed by the synod of Basel Land, it may be submitted to a popular vote before the summer of 2013, and if accepted, the cantonal ecclesiastical authorities would be required to commit to the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women.

The scope of this initiative is however limited to church civil law structures and will not effect the ecclesial level. However, its supporters hope to have a effective means of pressure against diocesan and Roman authorities.

In Switzerland, the Catholic Church is organized in a two-tier system: in addition to the canonical structures specific to the Catholic Church (dioceses, parishes), there is effectively a system of ecclesiastical corporations benefiting from a public law statute both at the cantonal and communal levels. These corporations, which are democratically elected, notably distribute the church taxes they receive, but do not have the right to modify the conditions of admission to Catholic ministries, which remains the responsibility of the Magisterium.

Text of the Initiative for Equality in the Church (short version)

In recent years and decades in governments and corporations, the demands for gender equality have been implemented more and more. Similar development in the Roman Catholic Church is moving forward slowly or is even blocked. The exclusion of women from the priesthood solely because of their sex is contrary to the fundamental right of gender equality as well as the Gospel of Jesus, which calls for a community of equals. Discrimination against women in the Roman Catholic Church is unacceptable to us, and we need to set an example.

The backlog of reforms and other yet unresolved issues makes our Church not credible. Therefore, many people find it more difficult to identify with her and to remain a member.

Because quite a bit has been done within the church in recent years, but with little effect, we, the women and men of the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Stadt and the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Land, are resorting to the democratic means of an ecclesial constitutional initiative.

This initiative will require the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Stadt and the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Land (ie, the synods and councils of the churches), to work towards the Roman Catholic Church allowing equal admission to the priesthood, regardless of marital status and gender.

This means:
- the abolition of compulsory celibacy and
- the admission of women to the priesthood

We hope that other cantonal churches will follow the path of an ecclesiastical constitutional initiative.

The proponents of the Initiative profess to be acting out of love for the Church, and say tehir actions are in keeping with canon 212(2) which states that "the Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires." (CIC). Stay tuned...

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