21st century papacy: gerontocracy or democracy?

5 April 2005

"The Pope is many things, but one of them is the last emperor." Slugger O'Toole picks up a piece from The Irish Times today. "The Roman Empire still haunts the church's structures of authority, with the Pope as Caesar and the Conclave as the Senate."

Fintan O'Toole asks, "Can [the Catholic Church] lay the ghost of the Roman imperium and become something other than a male gerontocracy?"

In our online debate about democracy and the Catholic Church, Bridget Mary Meehan offers a feminist, participative, egalitarian alternative to the closed Conclave at the Vatican.

"Women-Church Convergence announces an open conclave in cyberspace so that the entire community of faith may make their views known about important issues in the church’s life. Visit us at www.women-churchconvergence.org/conclave."

Dorothea McEwan adds:

"Women are the majority of the church’s supporters and funders. Women, we, do not want “greater roles” or “specific roles”; we want equal roles with everybody in the worldwide church."

Contribute your ideas and resources to the debate.

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To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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