In the United States, on this first weekend in Advent, Catholics are confronted with a changed Eucharistic liturgy. It has been imposed on them by a church leadership day-dreaming about the 1950s. One cannot call this changed liturgy a translation. It is Latinized English gobbledygook masquerading a reactionary and regressive ecclesiology.
Across the North Atlantic, in little Belgium, Catholics on this first weekend in Advent, have issued a pointed, earnest, and urgent Church Reform Manifesto. We have had enough fumbling around in the church, the Belgians are saying.
Last week, four Belgian priests launched the Manifesto. Today five thousand publicly active Belgians have joined the movement. Close to five hundred are now joining each day.
An English translation of the Manifesto appears below.
Happy Advent: There is Hope
Believers Speak Out
Parishes without a priest, Eucharist at inappropriate hours, worship without communion: that really should not be! What is delaying the needed Church reform? We, Flemish believers, ask our bishops to the break impasse in which we are locked. We do this in solidarity with fellow believers in Austria, Ireland, and many other countries, with all who insist reform on vital for Church reform.
We simply do not understand why the leadership in our local communities (e.g. parishes) is not entrusted to men or women, married or unmarried, professionals or volunteers, who already have the necessary training. We need dedicated pastors!
We do not understand why these our fellow believers cannot preside at Sunday liturgical celebrations. In every active community we need liturgical ministers!
We do not understand why, in communities where no priest is available, a Word service cannot also include a Communion service.
We do not understand why skilled laypeople and well-formed religious educators cannot preach. We need the Word of God!
We do not understand why those believers who, with very good will, have remarried after a divorce must be denied Communion. They should be welcomed as worthy believers. Fortunately there are some places where this is happening.
We also demand that, as quickly as possible, both married men and women be admitted to the priesthood. We, people of faith, desperately need them now!