Reports yesterday from the Czech Republic describe a letter by Czech theologian and Charles University Professor Tomas Halik in support of Pope Francis and his positions on marriage. Those reports stated that the letter has been signed by “several dozens of personalities” and supported by “hundreds” of others
Here’s the text of the letter, from their website:
Dear highly esteemed Pope Francis,
Your pastoral initiatives and their theological justification are currently under vehement attack by a group in the church. With this open letter, we wish to express our gratitude for your courageous and theologically sound papal leadership.
In a short time, you have succeeded in reshaping the pastoral culture of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with its origin in Jesus. Wounded people and wounded nature go straight to your heart. You see the church as a field hospital on the margins of life. Your concern is every single person loved by God. When encountering others, compassion and not the law shall have the last word. God and God’s mercy characterize the pastoral culture that you expect from the church. You dream of a “church as mother and shepherdess.” We share your dream.
We ask that you would not veer from the path you have taken, and we assure you of our full support and constant prayer.
The letter was released just yesterday – October 17th. Today, website lists 199 formal signatories (including at least six bishops that I can see, from )the original “hundreds” of supporters has become several thousand (4366 at 13:45, BST), and is increasing rapidly – up by 80 in just the last 35 minutes. It’s also notable that the initial formal signatories are overwhelmingly from the Czech Republic and the adjacent Germany. Past experience (eg, from the German “theologians’ revolt) suggests that as news of this initiative spreads, many more prominent theologians, pastors and bishops from Western Europe, the Americas and elsewhere will add their signatures.
When news first broke of the “filial correction”, it soon became clear that not only were the numbers of signatories limited, but their status was low. That is certainly not the case with the counter initiative. Even in these early stages. signatories include bishops from Austria, Hungary, Brazil and South Africa as well as the Czech Republic, and professional theologians from several universities, including Marie-Jo Thiel, president of the European association for Catholic theology and Professor Thomas O’Loughlin, President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain.