Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity

Article excerpt

The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity. By John R. Quinn. Ut Unum Sint: Studies on Papal Primacy. New York: Crossroad, 1999. 189 pp. $19.95 (cloth).

The importance of this book for the future of the Church of Christ can hardly be overstated. Quinn, formerly the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, fears that inertia and timidity could dissipate the revolutionary opportunity created by John Paul II. In his 1995 encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint, the Pope invited collaboration in the necessary task of reforming the papacy. Together with the Pope, Quinn understands that this reform is absolutely necessary to any realistic hope for Christian unity. Without courage, intelligence and passion, the present kairos may pass. Then the Church's mission will remain hobbled by our sad and unnecessary divisions. Thus, Quinn has accepted the Pope's invitation and crafted this important contribution to the task of reform.

He lays careful foundations for his reform proposals in the first third of the book, explaining in detail why and how reform is needed constantly in the Church. Here he calls Vatican II and John Paul II himself as supporting witnesses. He underlines the indispensability of loyal and loving criticism in the Church as a condition of genuine reform.

His discussion of particular proposals for reform is not exhaustive nor does he claim it to be. Instead, he focuses upon three facets of Church life which Vatican II sought to highlight and reinvigorate in the Roman Catholic Church: collegiality, subsidiarity, and legitimate diversity. To make these effectively real in the life of the Church-and not just lofty ideals indefinitely postponed-Quinn offers specific suggestions for change in such matters as the appointment and transferring of bishops, the conduct of the Synods of Bishops which meet regularly in Rome, the roles and authority of national and regional conferences of bishops, and, most importantly in his view, the reform of the Roman Curia. …

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