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THE REFORM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE CONTEXT OF A WORLD CHURCH Gilles Routhier* In 1955, at the time of the Congress of Directors of the Eucharistic Crusade, the Belgian canonist Jean Beyer presented his vision of the activity and functioning of the Church. Predicting that the world was entering a new era characterized by globalization (as we say today), a world in the process of being unified, a world becoming more and more universalized , an international society, he thought that in this context, the Church must re-think its mode of action and of government. It is imperative, in these modern times to underline this mission of the papacy in the contemporary world. More than ever Christians must be one, more than ever they must take a position on all problems of life, more than ever there must be unanimity in action : only one man can direct, only one man can teach, only one man can command: Peter and his successors.And we must not be astonished to see that little by little, that which bishops once were in their dioceses, today it will be the Pope who will undertake this mission, because it will not be good for the Church and for the world that in all dioceses there be different and sometimes contradictory positions. If the Church wants to remain one in a world that is becoming unified, the papacy must speak, it must speak often and it must direct all. And thus the reason why this twentieth century is a new dawn in the Church, the dawn of a new era, of a pontifical era, as it is equally the dawn of a new universal world, of an international society; and, like states that disappear , bishoprics lose their sovereignty, thus leaving to Peter and his successors the general direction of the entire Catholic movement, of all Catholic Action, of the entire apostolate.1 The Jurist 71 (2011) 401–421 401 * Faculté de Théologie et de Sciences Religieuses,Université Laval, Québec 1 Jean Beyer, «Le Souverain Pontife, centre vital et unité de l’Église», Ut regnet, Vivre avec l’Église. Textes des conférences données au Congrès des dirigeantes de la Croisade eucharistique en août 1955 à Nivelles, special issue, 24 (1955) 38. The text was revisited and criticized by Oliver Rousseau in Irenikon and by Msgr. Charrue in«L’évêque dans l’Église», Documentation catholique 1251 (1957) 635. This text was back in circulation at the time of Vatican II. 402 the jurist According to Beyer, to a world that is in the process of being unified and internationalized must correspond the “one” Church, placed under the authority of only one commander, the pope. To a new age of the world must correspond a new era of the Church, a pontifical era. Four years later, also predicting that the Church was entering a new stage in its terrestrial pilgrimage, John XXIII, the first pope of the contemporary period to have lived in non-Catholic and non-Christian milieux , conscious of the challenge that the appearance of new worlds and ‘socialization’ represented, would also invite the Catholic Church to renew itself in order better and more appropriately to proclaim the gospel in this ‘new world.’ Also preoccupied with ‘unity,’ he was to invite the bishops of the entire world to enter into this process of conversion and aggiornamento. This aggiornamento proposed to the Catholic Church by John XXIII had two principal objectives that are equally apparent in his teachings and in the conciliar texts: first, the necessity of reviewing all that constitutes an obstacle to Christian unity2 in the life of the Catholic Church; and secondly, the necessity of the Church’s being converted so that its witness would burst forth more, so that the Kingdom of God would grow without obstacles.3 The foundation for the reform of the Church in capite et membris, but also of its life, that is, its practices and its institutional forms,4 is found in 2 This intention was already present since 1959 when John XXIII elaborated the motives that led him to convoke a council and enumerated the objectives given to the council...


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