Canada’s Roman Catholic bishops have come under fire from a majority of the members of the country’s religious communities, comprising brothers, nuns and priests in religious orders, for what they call the bishops’ blind obedience to directives issued by the Vatican. A letter to the bishops from the Canadian Religious Conference, which represents 213 Catholic religious communities across the country, asks the church to consider offering full communion to “all marginalized persons, divorced and remarried Catholics, and to homosexuals.”
It also calls on the church to consider the “ordination of married men, women and elders in First Nations communities.” (The elders would serve remote areas that lack priests.)
The conference represents 22,000 nuns, brothers and priests in religious orders. The letter claims to represent the views of 60 per cent of them, who responded to a survey by the conference. In general, the orders are autonomous and not subject to the discipline of a local bishop.
The letter to the bishops is unique, observers say, because it is national in scope. “Individual groups within the Church have issued such letters before, but this is from a national body,” said Vatican expert John Allen, who writes for the National Catholic Reporter in the United States. “It suggests there are important divisions within the Church in Canada.”
ALAN HUSTAK, The Gazette
Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2006