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Challenging the Vatican: Progressive Catholics say reform must begin with church governance

To progressive Canadian Catholics, reform of their church ultimately means ordination of women, married priests and freedom of birth control.

None of these will be on the table when their next pope is chosen next month.

In a church that has become so deeply conservative, hope of revisiting such fundamental aspects of Catholic dogma and practice is impossible.

Reformers’ objectives are instead more subtle and less publicly controversial. More realistic, they say — if still deeply challenging to today’s church.

They want a pope who is a listener, as well as a leader. They want a church that is more collegial — less a monarchy, more a democracy.

“Any of these questions — expanding roles for women, ordaining married men — for these things to change, the style of the church’s governance has to change,” says Catherine Clifford, professor and vice-dean in the faculty of theology at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.

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