Can significant structural reform in the Catholic church happen?

William M Shea – Patheos

Most would argue that it cannot on the grounds that the ministerial structure is determined by divine intention (see Lumen gentium, #18-29). The hierarchical structure and the distinction between clergy and laity are in effect dogmas. You cannot be a Catholic when you deny a dogma. Those who oppose the ordination of women to the priesthood (John Paul II) and even to the diaconate would argue so. Some would even include required celibacy in the divine aura though the Greeks, Catholic and Orthodox, seem to have missed that point. To be realistic about the political possibilities, structural reform is unlikely ever to happen.
Can the Catholic Church undergo a significant reformation? I doubt it. It had the opportunity to do so in the sixteenth century and refused. However, I don’t at all doubt that the church will change in response to the current mess… and perhaps for the better (at least for a while, at least here and there). My impossible dream is that the College of Cardinals will sooner or later elect to the papacy a monarch who doesn’t believe in monarchy, and who wants genuine and lasting reform. Perhaps Pope Francis is that man, at least in good part. The bishops need to have their feet held to the fire with charity and persistence by the laity, by religious orders, and by women religious until they summon up the courage to abandon papolatry and their own self-referential office. They are desperately stuck in a tar pit of their own making, apparently loving it, and they need to be pulled out of it by their sisters and brothers who love them and the church enough to put their backs to the wheel of history, to reverse the wheel.

Neither the bishops nor the pope, I fear, are capable of transforming a Church they themselves have made. The church must reform The Church. The Church doesn’t have a strong enough motive for self-reform but the laity and the lower clergy do. The hierarchical Church has run into a dead-end. On the rest of us the responsibility falls.
Historical-theological supposition: In the face of their immorality I am driven to the conclusion that the papacy and the episcopacy are a natural, not a supernatural, development of leadership, and have nothing whatsoever to do with Christ’s institution or the positive will of God – at least no more or less than the development of the Mormon apostles and president or the board of trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention.
That it is divine will that the churches be governed I do not doubt. That they be governed by a sacred hierarchy I do doubt.
I reach this conclusion on the basis of a moral judgment of the bishops and the Vatican’s behavior over the past thirty years (and doubtless more) of betrayal of children and parents. No one could possibly be God’s will for the church who behaves like this. You might as well argue that kings rule by divine right and will no matter what they do. The divine aura that the hierarchy exudes must be the result of human hubris, self-promotion and slight of hand, not of divine providence. Papal and episcopal pretensions are exposed as the action and inaction of a corrupt class and by the never ending list of their victims. “By their fruits shall you know them,” said the Lord. (Mt. 7:16-20) Jesus had something else to say about this situation: “You know how among the gentiles those who seem to exercise authority lord it over them; their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be that way with you.” (Mark 10:41f) Well, dear Lord, it is that way with us now and my case is proven.

I am tempted to work under a simple and, for me, new rule: never believe what anyone says about their own importance and power, especially so when they drag God and Christ into it. Such men cannot possibly have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. No decent pagan would have acted and not acted as they have and claim divine sponsorship. When they define themselves as the Successors to the Twelve they are wailing for the perpetuation of their own office and their own spiritual superiority. But they have surrendered the latter and should lose the former. Jesus named their predecessors “whitened sepulchers” and the description fits them. Remember: Judas was an apostle and a bishop according to their own interpretation of the Johannine account of the Last Supper as the first ordination and consecration. Judas’ spirit lives on, and none of this is new. It has been going on for ages in various forms exposed by the particular shape of papal power in each age. Nevertheless, let’s begin the struggle to clean up the mess by refusing our trust except where they prove themselves worthy of it. There is no authority where authority is not recognized.
Let us not abandon the church but let us abandon its corrupt leadership. Remember: they have and will abandon our children to the perverts rather than create a ripple on the Tiber.[1]

[1] The bishops did not turn the Jesus movement of the first three centuries into a church monarchy. Taking Ireneaus of Lyons as a prime example, they in fact saved the churches from dissolution in the second and third centuries by preserving a version of the apostolic tradition of teaching about Jesus opposed to Gnostic and other esoteric traditions of teaching. Their success kicked off the idea that they in fact were the “successors of the Apostles,” a bit of a stretch for a disparate crowd of administrators who gradually crowded out the other prominent (charismatic?) ministries in the second and third century churches. See the Didache for a picture of a Christian community at the turn of the first century when the Jesus movement was still a movement and not the Catholic, much less the “Roman” Catholic Church, and Clement’s First Letter to the Corinthians for the still deflated episcopal/presbyteral roles. Apostolic Succession as a doctrine is as “meaningful” in our age as the medieval claims that the bread of the Eucharist bleeds. And it is of a piece with papal jurisdiction and infallibility, and makes no more sense than either of them.


The Roman Catholic institution is NOT the church/community Jesus Christ founded.

In fact that institution is an organisation has has abandoned Christ and built itself up as an international Golden Calf for blind men and women to worship it and its hierarchy and clergy.

Jesus’s church is the good men and women of the world who believe in the God revealed by Jesus and who do daily good in that God’s name.

In the past 33 years since being out of that institution I have experienced the freedom of a son of God.

I have simply followed my conscience guided by the Spirit of Jesus.

No more man made rules. No more despotic bishops and clergy to deal with. No more dogmas and canon law.

Just WWJD – What Would JesusDo?

Forget the corrupt and revolting men.

Simply follow the God man of Galilee.

23 replies on “”

Stop repeating yourself!
Evviva, evviva, evviva etc.
You don’t seem to realise how repetitiously boring and mindblowingly vacuous your incessant utterances have become.


There’s something about Ciaran Dallat that I find attractive……..he’s a rugged, chunky looking guy – definitely appealing. I can see how he has the women after him.


Crossgar Cath at 1:30pm

Oh! Cath. I’m so sorry my salutation to Our Lady has made you cross, too bad, I won’t be changing it for the likes of you. Why don’t you jump back into the cesspit you’ll be more comfortable where you really belong.
Evviva Maria!


Thank you Bella. I’ve just won my bet. I bet a friend you’d reply along those lines, and true to form, you’ve come up trumps! (With all due respect to POTUS: another one given to inane utterances!)


Bp Pat, since I opened my eyes and see clearly what religion was really about and then developed my own spiritual path I have both improved my conscious with God and gained great peace of mind……at no financial cost.


Great. That’s what happens when you cast off the chains of religion and embrace the Joy’s of spirituality.


Cross Cath at 7:04pm

I’m so glad I didn’t disappoint you Cath. don’t be spending your winnings on the Gargle its not good for you. I was surprised you had a friend, also I think you’re nearer POTUS than me, you sound so like him
Evviva Maria!


I’m pleased for you Kenneth, in finding your spirituality outside formalised religious practices.
In my own case, I too have found peace of mind, not suddenly rejecting religion and deist beliefs in any “Eureka” revelation, but slowly and steadily finding my way through emotional, psychological, and intellectual labyrinths.
Abandoning cradle catholicism is demanding, but much assisted by understanding the restraining inhibitions of the psychological and social imperatives . And on a rational level, to accept the farrago of beliefs proposed as the historical foundation and justification of the RC church, or indeed any other religious system requires intellectual gymnastics suspending and relegating reason to a ‘blind faith ‘ aspirational mentality akin to following the herd.
A personal religious belief providing a framework for ethical behaviour is innocuous per se, and commendable. The problem with religion is when it’s self selected and perpetuated “overseers” , clerics of whatever hue, use it largely for their own purposes in a mistaken belief both of their interpretation and prerogative to do so.


5:33 Mmm
Deism – which you say you have abandoned is not Christianity. The former holds that having made the universe, God abandoned it. The latter, on the other hand, holds that God is a father to all his children.
The good news is your next step is simple: pray.


Anon@ 9:38: We appear to have different understandings.
By rejecting deism I reject any belief in any supernatural or preternatural being or creator.
Your ‘good news’ is not simple: it’s simplistic.


Anonymous 6.49

You are very mistaken Dame Bella does not speak for the Church and to be honest if Bella was the laity would be leaving in droves.

If you see the hatred that Bella spout daily and constantly attacks Dame Magna then you see something is wrong in the mind of Bella as referring to Magna and the people of God is so sick to say the least.

Remember Bella stated that He / She is grateful to Pope emeritus Benedict who has created place for them.

Thankfully Pope Francis is just ignoring them and not willing to welcome them unless they accept the Church and it’s 1.2 Billion Catholics.

Think of the Love the Church spends think of Mother Teresa and here in Ireland the work that Brother Kevin and many others do as most True Catholic would NEVER write or speak like Dame Bella at least magna speaks about facts.

Yes sadly the Church is constantly under attack due to horrible clergy and unfaithful clergy to which Pope Francis has constantly apologised and so has most Bishops.

+ Pat do not block Dame Bella let him / her spout of everyday as it just shows what like pre Vatican two people are like.


Auld Gossip Alert at6:28pm

Br. Peter yer jacksie its the rave from the grave auld Mother Inferior using yet another false name to her litany. I’m surprised she’s put down her poison pen for a minute it will be a relief for all the Papal Nuncios,Archbishops and Bishops who have to put up with her inane epistles. She seems to have forgot that Dear Magna asked her if English was her first language and when she posted under Paul D asked if the D stood for Dunce how right she was. As for the laity leaving in droves, they already have you idiot have you not noticed that because they can’t stand the garbage that’s been imposed on them for years. Patsy please keep posting the auld gossips posts if only to show what Pot Vat. II people are like.
Evviva Maria!


I have asked the Clergy to pay you a visit after a discussion with them.

As you said before your Spiritual Confessor advised you to stay off social media.

However he did say he would try and visit if not he will have a word at Holy Mass on Sunday.

I work voluntary for the Archdiocese so no need to write we are in an email World

God Bless


Br Peter more like Sr. Teresa at 2:03pm

I have had a discussion with Josephine who will be in touch with you very soon. I don’t think she was too pleased with you. As for you doing voluntary work for The Archdiocese who are you kidding they had to get rid of you before because of your evil gossip they wouldn’t touch you with a barge pole. I know you don’t like writing after what happened to you the last time you licked a stamp look where you ended up.
God Bless!


Bishop Pat, thank you for not blocking Bellarmine from commenting. The public needs every opportunity it can to see the hatred which animates the devotees of the Catholic Church. The days are gone when fear would cause submission to the church’s will, but it is so important that the church’s reign of terror is not forgotten. It is also important that people who pride themselves on their holiness are seen for the frankly horrible people they are so that becomes more and more evident that the church is not holy in any sense.
I will understand if you didn’t want to publish this comment since I name Bellarmine.


At 6:49pm, you come across as pretty hate-filled and horrible yourself whoever you are. Always amazing how people who point out the faults of others, in so self-righteous and smug a fashion, are invariably as bad, if not worse, themselves.


+Pat: I agree with Anon@ 6:49. I used feel sorry for Bella in recognition of his obsessive compulsive symptoms combined with the sheer limitations of his negativism. Now I will just smile having taken on board Anon@ 6:49’s comment. We need idiots like Bella to demonstrate the true nature of those of his ilk.
Rock on Bella. Keep ‘er lit!


The Roman Catholic Church’s ‘reign of terror’: it went on, literally, for hundreds of years. Many suffered, appallingly, because of it; many were murdered because of it.
But it has met its nemesis, not so-called ‘modernism’, but justice driven by love of truth.
We are witnessing the death rattle of corporate evil in this vile institution.
(Good excuse for a party! 🎂🎉🍸🍺🍻🍷🍹)


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