Support for double care

 

Recently, a cardinal known for his opposition to changes in the structure of the Church surprised friend and foe with a plea to put the sacrificial nature of Jesus Christ as an example above all else. This is a suggestion very different from the Church's own efforts to place power, authoriy and self-preservation above all else. It opens a window to look at double care, the earliest form of Christianity and its subsquent development. In view of the the present crisis of the Church, the time seems ripe for the Church to return to the roots of Christianity.

 

Joining the ranks of the Christians was initially very attractive. According to the Greek historian Plutarch, the first Christians among the Romans were known for their care of each other and of the poor. Paul writes that these Christians did indeed gather on Sundays to share a sumptuous meal with everyone present. They took the time to hear from each other who needed support and how they could help the poor. This double care brought people from very different backgrounds together.

 

Unfortunately, this custom only lasted for a short time. Wherever too many people wanted to come together in one place, things went wrong . There were abuses but also no time to listen to everyone's experiences. The full meal was replaced by handing out pieces of bread. On another day of the week, food was offered to those who needed it. Individuals took care of the needy. These caring Christians often later joined together in monastic orders. In many countries this meritorious work has been partially taken over by institutions with paid staff.  Well-to-do citizens continued to meet on Sundays and listen to old stories an exhortations. Theorists supplemented the exortations with a contempory philosophy. They formed a church with laws  and strict  theological principles. The Church did . however, soon offer moral support to anyone who wanted to defend its power and priciples with fire and sword. Many monarchs made eagerly use of this opportunity. 

Fortunately, the slaughter of dissidents is no longer defended by the Church. But the Church still punishes, in a subtle way, theologians within its own ranks who stick to their own opinion. Through the internet many citizins have learned of these punishments and of the chuich's other ills such as excessive luxery, corruption, misagony, clericalism, the covering up of sex scandals, the lack of independent judges, the rejection of rationalism and of scientific progress. This is how the Church has now entered a fatal crisis. 

 

Yet some critical Catholics think that something in the Church can still be saved. The principle of care for one another and for the poor is still seen as the way Jesus Christ wanted his people to go. The question arises whether and how the Church can recover the spirit of that sparkling beginning. In April 2021, the idea of caring for one another and especially for the poor was presented to independent Catholic activists. All responded enthusiastically. But some noted that no bishop would be willing   to apply this form of community in his diocese. On reflection, this is a misplaced remark. It is not to propose that form of community in his diocese. On refection, this is a misplaced remark.  It is not compatible with Pope Francis' upside-down pyramid. The initiative to align a small community with double care should be taken by lay people themselves, without asking permission from a bishop. Later on, a bishop or priest who wants to cooperate, can volunteer to act as an old-fashened episcopalian,a supervisor and an inspirer.  Lay people start founding Christian small double care communities on their own.

 

Excellent opportunities to promote the idea are presentations at synods organised by lay people. There it can be made clear that such communities can move beyond the ills of the past. Without discussion, there will be room in Christian double care small communities for

             -Listening to each person's personal story

  - Concern for one another

  - Special care for the poorandother needy

  - Equal rights for women

  - Equal rights for LGBT people

  - Equal rights for (re)married people

  - Marriage optional for ministers

  - Participation of every attendee in decision-making

  - Accountability and transparency 

  - Referring crimes to civil authorities 

  - Entrusting decisions in family matters to married couples

  - Support for an independent judicial process

  - Synods of represetatives from all ranks

  - Meals with people of different persuasion

   -Commitment to saving nature

  - Election of caring leaders by the community

  - Beak-up once a community is too large

 

A synod organised by lay people can also decide to find like-minded people through a survey. In this way it would become clear in which places a sufficient number of potential participants live. There a  first meeting could be called to find out what form participants would like to give to their community. A theologian from Mumbai has already stressed that three elements are indispensable to work out the shape of such a community:

             - a listening attitude    

  - involvement and   

  - full co-responsibility of all;   

 

This means that

 -      Each participant shold be able to be heard seperately,

 -      There are ideally  six to 12 people involved

 -      who gather regularly but not necessarily every week,

 -     that  are not necessarily tied to the traditional liturgy

 -      who are not subordinate to a parish

 -    but can choose a bishop or pastor as their supervisor    

 

 Proposal of Christian Double Care

As an (un)patized idealist like to see the R.C. Church to become the worldwide focal point formcommunitiesopen for all whom care for communities open for all who care for another and especially for the poor.

Name

Town and country

Organization or community

 

 

First subscribers               respons@tomastafel.nl 

Peter-Mbuchi Methu, Nairobi Kenia,  Interfaith Africa

Paul Huang, Incheon City, Korea,Woori Theology Institute (WTI) in Seoul/

Ed Schreurs, Best Nederland, Visie van Gelovigen