English book release

Support for Pope Francis from Luxembourg

Erny Gillen
Erny Gillen
Photo: Lex Kleren

(CS) Following Pope Francis's critique of the Catholic church's curia at the end of last year, support for reform has come from Luxembourg, with a new book in English outlining how its “diseases” could be cured.

The Pontiff used the traditional Christmas greeting to critique the body of the church's highest-ranking officials, listing 15 diseases which he said were plaguing the hierarchy. Pope Francis argued that the church at times had lost its humanity, was prone to gossip and suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer's” as well as “existential schizophrenia.”

“I have to say that I was not surprised,” said Erny Gillen, author of “How a pope might treat curial diseases”, an open letter of support for Pope Francis. “The pope at his election had said quite clearly that the curia was ill and something needed to be done. But that he described these 15 points in particular was quite strong.”

Gillen is the former vicar general of the Luxembourg Catholic church, as well as vice-president of Caritas Internationalis.

The pope “set out to make changes,” Gillen said, adding. “He feels the resistance strongly. This book is aimed at helping him and to say – when you don't have the support from the inside maybe you need help from outside.”

Two points that resonated in particular with Gillen were the remarks by the pope on the schizophrenia of the curia with its double role of governing body and pastoral service, as well as a certain ponderousness of the curia, leading it to act more from the head and less from the heart.

'Soul-searching is not enough'

The German edition of the book
The German edition of the book
Photo: Chris Karaba

Gillen, however, goes one step further than the pope. Rather than calling on individual members of the church to examine their patterns of behaviour, in his book he explores the organisational issues behind these problems. “Soul-searching is not enough,” Gillen said, explaining that something about the “corporate culture” had to change.

While the Catholic church may not appear to be open to reform from an outsider's perspective, Gillen said that these structural reforms are not about questions of faith. “What I am saying is not revolutionary,” he explained. Simple remedies, such as a letting in a breath of fresh air, breaking apart old structures, being open to new ideas and taking a proactive approach would help the church fulfil its mission.

“Jesus wanted people to have spiritual access to God, but the church is sometimes more of a screen rather than being transparent,” Gillen said, adding that the church in some ways could be considered as standing in the way of its own mission.

However, while the book is directly addressed to Pope Francis, Gillen also sees a more universal relevance of the topic. “It's about institutional illnesses,” he said. “The Luxembourg state, the EU, the UN, even a company such as the Luxemburger Wort have their curial diseases.

“People looking critically upon the Catholic church should confront their own curial diseases and ask whether they are not affected, too.”

“How a pope might treat curial diseases” is available as an e-book from Amazon, Google, iBooks, weltbild.de, buecher.de, hugendubel.de and epubli.de and can also be ordered as a print-on-demand edition via epubli.de and Amazon.