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NEWS RELEASE – 29.11.2022/ FRA – ITA –
Doing Synod is doing evangelisation
Meeting with the Presidents and Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies of the Synod.Vatican City, 28-29 November 2022
The meeting of the Presidents and Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies gathered in Rome on 28-29 November to prepare together the Continental Assemblies, which are the culminating moment of the second stage of the Synod process 2021-2024, concludes this morning. The meeting took place at the offices of the General Secretariat of the Synod.
“I feel gratitude and wonder. I have heard the testimony of a living Church!” was what Cardinal Mario Grech expressed at the end of the meeting, “The sharing of these days shows that the journey is already well underway and that we have much to learn from each other. I have great hope for our task, which is and remains first and foremost evangelisation: the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. This is the synodal path. In this journey we must not be afraid of tensions, which can also be healthy. We must not exclude anyone and listen to everyone! Even those outside the Church’s formal enclosure, because sometimes the Church is present where we did not think we would find it’.
On the afternoon of Monday 28 November 2022, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the participants. After the initial greeting by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the Presidents or Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies presented the fruits of the process underway in their respective continents or regions, followed by a time of dialogue. The meeting, held in an atmosphere of great fraternity, lasted two hours.
Below is Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich’s address of greeting.
Your Holiness, thank you for taking the time to receive us and to give us your advice for the synodal process.
With the continental phase of the process we begin our missionary discernment. With this stage of the Synod we are, in fact, already experiencing a first universal dimension of the process. This stage says, in fact, that the different Churches must not be isolated in their journey and the circular dialogue of the continental assemblies will benefit the Churches of all continents.
Your Holiness, a synodality that wants to be Catholic needs the care and advice of Peter. We need you, because we need a healthy indifference that bears witness to freedom in the Spirit, but then because we also notice some temptations on this road.
And I would like to talk about a temptation we sometimes see in the media: it is the temptation of ‘politicisation’ in and of the Church, that is, living and thinking the Church with the logic of politics. Some have an agenda for the reform of the Church; they know very well what needs to be done and they want to use the synod for that purpose: this is instrumentalising the synod. This is politicising. On the opposite side are – to borrow your word – the ‘indietrists’ who do not understand that a true Catholic tradition evolves while remaining a tradition in its time. They too would like to put the brakes on the synod process. We, on the other hand – and we heard this morning in our work – we want to be able to enter into a true discernment, an apostolic, missionary discernment, so that the synodal Church can carry out its mission in the world. We want to walk together, with you and above all with the Holy Spirit and with Jesus, in order to mend our Church.
List of Participants
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Tag Archives: evangelisation
There has been many a battle within the Church, as well as in wider society, to persuade people to accept and treat those with learning difficulties as full and equal members. In the 1980’s and later we were still facing priests who refused to admit children to the sacraments ‘because, bless him, he doesn’t need it, he’s not reached the age of reason. He’ll never understand.’ (As if anyone fully understands the Eucharist at a rational level.)
A sister I once knew was catechist to a boy who had little spoken language; she prepared him for First Communion until the day before, when she brought along an unconsecrated wafer to enact the moment of receiving the Host. He held out his hands with such reverence; he made his First Communion there and then, she said.
That story came to mind when I read this passage from Archbishop Williams’s latest book. Regular readers will know that Agnellus’ Mirror is very fond of L’Arche. It’s good to find insights from someone else. I pray that we in L’Arche may always be consistent and life-sustaining.
It is essential for us to think about the ‘rationality’ of those we stigmatise, patronise, ignore and exclude whose mental capacity is not what we define as ‘normal’. The response of gratitude, affection, human sensitivity, ability to relate and cooperate that is visible, for example, in members of the L’Arche communities, where people with significant learning challenges live alongside those who do not have such challenges, should make us hesitate about defining the limits of ‘rationality’ without reference to such relational qualities. We may begin to see ‘reasoning’ as a richly analogical term, with an application to any form of consistent and life-sustaining adjustment to the environment, human and non-human.
From ‘Looking east in winter, contemporary thought and the Eastern Christian tradition’, Rowan WIlliams, London, Bloomsbury Continuum, 2021.
Another serious and humorous story. E.V. Lucas crossed the US from West to East soon after the Great War, staying in hotels or with friends. It was about 14 years since a destructive earthquake hit San Francisco, but California was still booming. There were, though, a few people who were rather more solitary, and here we meet one of them.
I heard many stories in America, where every one is a raconteur, but none was better than this, which my San Francisco host narrated, from his own experience, as the most perfect example of an honest answer ever given.
When a boy, he said, he was much in the company of an old trapper in the Californian mountains. During one of their expeditions together he noticed that a camp meeting was to be held, and out of curiosity he persuaded Reuben to attend it with him. Perched on a back seat, they were watching the scene when an elderly Evangelical sister placed herself beside the old hunter, laid her hand on his arm, and asked him if he loved Jesus. He pondered for some moments and then replied thus: “Waal, ma’am, I can’t go so far as to say that I love Him. I can’t go so far as that. But, by gosh, I’ll say this—I ain’t got nothin’ agin Him.”
From “Roving East and Roving West” by E. V. Lucas, 1921.
There are times when I feel the old trapper’s words are spot on: ‘Love him. I can’t go so far as that.’ That would be an honest but incomplete assessment based on conscience rather than aspiration. Think of Peter at the end of John’s Gospel: he was more than aware of his lack of love, but still said to Jesus, You know I love you.
Perhaps the trapper had pondered these things in his heart during his hours, days, and weeks of mountain solitude, but he was not ready with the right words when the sister touched his arm.
Pope Francis’s Prayer Intention for Evangelization: – The Church
Let us pray for the Church, that She may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel.
Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, when Jesus climbed a mountain with chosen Apostles, Peter, James and John. There he appeared to them shining like the sun, his clothes as white as light, and alongside him, Moses and Elijah from the Old Testament. They heard the voice from heaven saying this is my beloved Son, Listen to him. (Matthew 17)
Where did this experience get them on Good Friday? John stayed by the Cross, James slept through the Agony. Peter denied knowing Jesus, three times, while he was trying to get near enough to find out what was happening: a muddled, timid, self-protecting response.
Yet Peter was the Rock on which Jesus built his Church. A church that has felt rocky, rather than rock-like of late. We do need the grace of the Spirit, each and every one of us. And we so-called laity must pray for the grace to reform ourselves in the light of the Gospel of our transfigured, lifted-up and risen Lord.
A Ugandan ‘thank you’ to Pope Francis for creating the catechist ministry by Lazar Arasu from National Catholic Reporter, June 30. A taste of the article follows; the whole piece can be found at this link.
Moses Kiggwa is a dedicated catechist in Kamuli parish within Jinja Diocese, which is about 70 miles east of our capital of Kampala. Besides training as a primary teacher, he also trained himself as a catechist.
“I find joy in being a catechist more than anything else,” Moses told me recently. He eventually gave up his teaching career to be a full-time evangelizer. He noted with pride that he has helped to found several sub-parishes in the remote areas of his parish, along the Nile River.
Now in his late 50s, he is still committed to educating people to faith. Riding his bicycle for several years in his evangelization efforts has created serious health problems, but he is only happy that he has sustained the faith of several hundreds of people.
Surely there are lessons for the rest of the Church from the long-standing ministry of catechists in countries like Uganda?
Since the First Friday of January is New Year’s Day, we open this year’s reflections with Pope Francis’s Intention for Evangelization:
May the Lord give us the grace to live in full fellowship with our brothers and sisters of other religions, praying for one another, open to all.
We will continue to offer occasional reflections from people of different faiths or of no faith, but often a picture can say a thousand words. L’Arche in Syria and around the World includes Muslim and Christian, and people of different abilities and needs, coming together to bear living witness to human fraternity. God is patient, he takes his time to lead us home. Let’s pray for patience with each other that we may recognise the sister or brother in our neighbour. Not a bad New Year’s resolution; there’ll still be plenty to work on in 12 months’ time.
A true story for All Saints’ Day.
Standing in a queue, I got talking to a Sister, and by the time we reached the canteen counter I had established that she belonged to the same Franciscan congregation as some other Sisters I had known, including Sister Anne. ‘But Anne is with Jesus’, she said.
I did not know she had died, but from when I worked with Anne, I’ve no doubt at all that she is with Jesus. Her Sister’s faith is not afraid to say so out loud, gently asserting the resurrection and the life, the communion of saints, yes, and the forgiveness of Anne’s sins, and of our own.
Sinner or not, Anne is a now Saint.
Amen to that.
It’s a temptation to take stray verses from the Bible and use them to justify almost any course of action. Try arguing with a doorstep evangelist who has his text to expound, and does not want to engage with verses a little further on! So I’ll offer you this verse from Job (17:9) and invite you to persevere in adversity as Job did, and to remember to wash your hands! And maybe enjoy a read in Job, Esther, or Ruth.
And the just man shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger. Job 17:9
The title of this post comes from the Book of Common Prayer, and like so much of that manual for English worship, goes back to the early days of the Church.
It was coming up to Christmas and I had a few items of shopping to bring home, including a stalk of Brussels sprouts. We’ll come to that after we’ve visited the local metro shop. I was behind ‘A’ in the queue, whom I’d known since teaching him twenty years ago. As ever, I asked ‘How’s Mother?’ knowing she was ill. ‘She passed away last month; I was going to come and tell you. I haven’t cried yet.’ But the tears were there, I saw them.
In front of him was ‘S’, a widowed neighbour; ‘You know you have two Daily Mails’, said the checkout man. ‘Yes, that’s right’, she answered. I knew that one was for her friend, whose son had recently been killed by a rogue driver, high on drugs.
In front of her was ‘F’, widowed herself this year, but bravely going about her business as a mother and grandmother. We always talk of her family and husband: ‘he was so easy to live with’, she remembered today, and like ‘A’s, her eyes were brimming.
I saw her friend ‘C’s son to wave to, neither of us realising that his mother was to suffer a massive and fatal heart attack an hour or two later.
Then round the corner to the farmers’ market for those sprouts. ‘L’ was there, asking after my family, whom he had taught History. Our conversation was ‘H’, my daughter’s dear friend, who ‘always lit up the classroom’ but she had left us eighteen months before in her mid twenties, with an aggressive cancer.
Time for the Church to speak to the bereaved, whoever they may be: Dying, and, behold, we live; (2 Corinthians 6:9.)
The Passion flower on this grave marker is a promise of resurrection see here.
I doubt I’ll find out how an icon of a second century Roman martyr saint came to be displayed in a redundant church in Shropshire, but that’s where we found this image of Saint Sabina. Who was she?
A wealthy woman by all accounts, who was converted by her Syrian slave girl, Serapia. That alone makes me wonder what sort of relationships existed between Roman citizens and their slaves. But it was not a Roman, but a Victorian woman, Mrs Alexander, who wrote All things bright and beautiful, including the lines, ‘The rich man in his castle,/ The poor man at his gate,/ God made them high and lowly / And ordered their estate.
But that’s not today’s reflection!
Sabina held Serapia dear enough to have her body rescued after she was martyred, and buried in the family tomb. Sabina herself was denounced and executed soon afterwards.
The ancient Basilica of Saint Sabina in Rome is built where her house had stood.
Serapia shows us how anyone can be a herald of the Gospel; Sabina invites us to humbly pay attention to everyone around us, to respect those who serve us. A bus driver, postman or woman, a supermarket worker or nurse; none of these is our slave but our sister or brother in Christ rendering us service. That much Sabina saw; an early step on the road to abolition. The two ideas of equality and slavery are irreconcilable, unless everyone is equally precious and everyone is also a willing slave towards their neighbours.
For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
Photo from St Batholomew, Richard’s Castle.