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"With Joy and Longing"--The Principle of Subsidiarity and Mary Ramerman's Ordination
The following column by Mary Lou Hartman, President of ARCC, was published in the November-December issue of ARCC Light.
At one point during the recent Bishops’ Synod in Rome, which ended on October 28, it was reported that a participating bishop paused in his speech and shouted at John Paul II,   “Look at me when I am speaking to you!”  The fact that he spoke these words is significant. The fact that he shouted them is even more significant.  He would not have spoken in such a manner unless he knew that he was giving voice to the thoughts of other bishops.

This Synod and its final report will probably go down in history as insignificant BUT for the hairline cracks which appeared in the form of recurring statements by bishops lamenting the lack of Vatican respect for the local authority for the world’s bishops.  Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, President of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, spoke on this subject early in the meeting followed by bishops from various nations.  The fact that so many bishops mentioned this absence of Subsidiarity is significant.  Subsidiarity as taught by the documents of Vatican II states that local authorities should rule on local matters.

ARCC has long campaigned for this basic governance principle of the church.  In effect, we have been shouting at the Vatican,  “Look at us when we are talking to you!”  The hairline crack has all the potential for  being widened as  a more intense campaign by the world’s bishops is mounted to insure that the next papacy pays more attention to the Principle of Subsidiarity. 

In our wildest dreams we wonder if the ordination to the priesthood of Mary Ramerman in Rochester, New York on November 17 might have taken place with her bishop, Matthew Clark, presiding had the Principle of Subsidiarity been properly developed and observed after Vatican II.   Bishop Clark could have  determined that the Spiritus Chisti Community in her diocese was legitimately calling Mary to serve as its ordained minister. Rome would then have respected his assessment of a need and of Mary’s call.  There would have been no need for the community to pursue this ordination outside the circle of the institutional church. 

Our hearts go out to Mary and to the whole Spiritus Christi Community with joy and longing--we are joyful that Mary is open to God’s call and that the community is willing to recognize it.  We long for a curia and a papacy characterized by faith and trust in the Spirit working through the local church.

Mary Louise Hartman

Other voices

Another Voice

Questions From a Ewe

Challenges Facing Catholicism
(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

Ingrid H. Shafer, Ph.D.
e-mail address: ihs@ionet.net
Posted  19 November  2001
Last updated 19 November 2001
Electronic version copyright © 2001 Ingrid H. Shafer
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