Cardinal Vithayathil calls for “decentralization” of the Pope’s authority

"We should not have to run to Rome for everything"
( [email protected] ) Nov 25, 2003 11:12 AM EST

Kochi, India., Nov. 25 - In a statement that may set off a heated debate in the Catholic church, Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil has called for the decentralisation of the Pope’s authority, saying that the church here is forced to depend on the Roman curia for too many matters.

In an interview published in the English edition of the church-run Sathyadeepam, launched here on Saturday on the occasion of the Cardinal’s sacerdotal golden jubilee, Vithayathil says: "We should not have to run to Rome for everything."

The decentralisation of authority may, however, require the modification of the Canon Law of the Latin Church on the model of the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, he adds.

The Cardinal further calls for vesting the local bishops’ conferences with more power. "The local bishops’ conferences have hardly any authority now. They should become powerful bodies," Cardinal Vithayathil says. He also stresses on the importance of greater collegiality and consultation among bishops and priests on church matters. "I think one of the greatest weaknesses of the church today is the way authority is exercised without the participation of those concerned, in the spirit that the participatory Church Vatican Synod II had envisaged," he states.

Vithayathil, who is among the select group of Cardinals who elect the Pope, says the sex scandals that rocked the church in the US has brought to focus the importance of celibacy in seminary functions.