BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
PRIESTS of the four Atlantic provinces want the Catholic Church in Canada "to become more Canadian than Roman," and in a report to the Canadian bishops they call for "dynamic changes to bring it up to date."
Their demands are contained in a report drawn up at a three-day session in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by 26 delegates of priests' senates in 10 of the I 1 dioceses in the region. A three-man committee will bring the report to the bishops' assembly to be held in Ottawa, from April 14 to 18.
The priests think "the whole function of the Church hierarchy should be re-examined and that greater freedom for priests and greater involvement of lay persons are essential.
Married men, the report states. should be ordained to the priesthood, Church law on celibacy of priests should be dropped and methods should be introduced whereby parishioners can "express approval or disapproval of their priests."
The report makes five points on the function of the hierarchy:
Canadian bishops, "together with laity and priests, should take a freer role in the governing and development of the Canadian Church."
The Apostolic Delegate in Canada should be a Canadian.
The process for selecting bishops should "be re-exam ined with the intention of making it more democratic."
The Canadian Church should "have its contact with the Universal Church through the Synod of Bishops, rather than through the Curia."
"The Pope should be elected by the Synod of Bishops. rather than by the cardinals."
The priests emphasised that "the role of the priest must change." and they recommended that the bishops could assist the change by "allocating priests more freedom to experiment."
POSTS FOR LAITY
On laymen, the priests said: "The efforts of the laity must become more meaningful and they should be given responsible positions in the Church both at the parish and diocesan levels." The priests were unanimous that "the laity's responsibility for Christian life in their parishes be exercised, for example, through parish councils and, ultimately, through the pastoral council for the diocese." Delegates to the meeting not only favoured ordination of married men to priesthood, but urged that "each bishop be empowered to reinstate priests who have married as Catholics in good standing."