Tag Archives: unity

What is a bishop for? The Synod

NEWS RELEASE – 30.01.2023  DEU – ESP – FRA – ITA (Original) – POR

The role of the bishop in the synodal process
Letter of Cardinals Grech and Hollerich to the Bishops of the World
Vatican City, 30 January 2023

On the eve of the celebration of the Continental Assemblies, it is with a letter addressed to all the eparchial bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches and diocesan bishops around the world that the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and the General Relator of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, address the topic of the bishop’s role in the ongoing synodal process.

Recalling the process-oriented nature of the Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis, the two cardinals recall the responsibility of Pastors, “the principle and foundation of unity of the holy People of God” (LG 23), with respect to the synodal process.

In fact, write the two cardinals, “there is no exercise of ecclesial synodality without the exercise of episcopal collegiality,” testifying to how these two ‘dimensions’ of the Church’s life are not in opposition, but that one cannot exist without the other.
To avoid any misunderstanding, the letter then strongly reiterates the primary theme – that of synodality – chosen by Pope Francis for the work of the synodal assembly of bishops next October. “There are in fact some who presume to already know what the conclusions of the Synodal Assembly will be. Others would like to impose an agenda on the Synod, with the intention of steering the discussion and determining its outcome. However, the theme that the Pope has assigned to the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is clear: ‘For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission’. This is therefore the sole theme that we are called to explore in each of the stages within the process. The expectations for Synod 2021-2024 are many and varied, but it is not the task of the Assembly to address all the issues being debated in the Church”.

On the eve of the continental Synod Assemblies, the letter then dwells on the primary goal of these assemblies: to grow in the synodal style of being Church. “The more we grow in a synodal style of Church, the more all of us as members of the People of God — faithful and Pastors — will learn to feel cum Ecclesia, in fidelity to the Word of God and Tradition. Besides, how could we address pointed questions, often divisive, without first answering the great question that has been challenging the Church since the Second Vatican Council: “Church, what do you say of yourself?”.

The full letter is attached and available in Italian (original) – English – French – German – Portuguese – Spanish.
 
 
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20 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, III.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 3 Difference

Luke 5:27-29 
Amos 5

Commentary

The identity of the Minnesota Working Group is immersed in the rich and haunting harmonies that tell the history of many peoples. “Our bodies can be in tune with the ancestral, while acknowledging all of the pain, joy, brilliance, fatigue, connection and more wrapped up in one. We centre ourselves in the stories of the place we call home. We are men, women, mothers, fathers, storytellers and healers.”

We can recognise the diversity within our communities if we take time to look. Even within our gatherings there is a beautiful tapestry of worship experience and spiritual expression, woven together from the indigenous population, from those who have immigrated, or those who are displaced and who now call this place home.

We are blessed and we are to bless others. We are loved and we are to love others. We are to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God, together. We. Not Me. Our kinship and God’s teachings guide us into community together as we learn and act as We. Not Me. So our gatherings, prayers, hymns, art and culture should reflect this, and be infused with the beauty of difference, all the while reaching toward the unity of God’s divine justice.

A tapestry is a beautiful work of art, but if you look at the back, you see the messy edges, and frayed ends, the knots and snags – how do we celebrate the beauty of the tapestry while acknowledging the work that is necessary to maintain the beauty, not as a façade, but as a result of recognising and celebrating difference?

Reflection

What is this noise? 
These meaningless festivals of falsehood, 
litanies of lip service and diatribes of doxologies, 
that seek to drown out the reality of poisonous polity, 
that hope to mask the clanging cymbals of fear and frailty. 
We do not seem to understand that disharmony is our downfall.

But in the midst of our din, 
God calls forth from each corner of this earth, 
songs of justice that roll down like waters 
– interwoven melody and haunting harmony 
deep enough to hold our dissonance 
and the unresolved tension of our journeys to this place.

Prayer

Gracious and loving God, 
expand our vision that it may be wide enough to recognise the beautiful complexity
 of the tapestry you chose to weave with each and every one of us. 
Gather our frayed edges, our loose ends 
and bind us together for your glory.

Questions

How often do we think and act as ‘We. Not me’?

How much of the necessary work are we doing to make a beautiful tapestry in our communities?

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19 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, II.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 2 That they may be one

Isaiah 1:12-18
John 17:13-26

Commentary

Jesus prays that we will be “completely one”, praying for an authentic and selfless unity, one with no half measures, reflected in the person of God, in the unity of the Trinity. Such unity is challenging, it requires self-reflection, humility, a release of power and control, and an openness to change. Is this the unity that you are praying for this week?

Isaiah reminds us of the hypocrisy that can still exist in our churches, claiming a love for others, but really only extending a full welcome to those who are like us. Many have experienced pain, rejection, abuse, and exclusion within the Church. A Christian expression of unity must include everyone and offer healing and justice. This is rarely done in isolation, but more often together.

Instead of offering empty worship Isaiah calls us to “learn to do good; seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Learning to do good also requires an openness to change. This is the perfect season for Christians to reflect not just on unity but on the role we can all play together in promoting racial justice in a world all too often unmoved by suffering.

And yet, there is joy in affirming that “Black Lives Matter” in the pursuit of justice for God’s oppressed, dominated, and exploited beloved. There is power in giving in to wisdom’s call for justice, and in doing it as a church together.

Reflection

Trample my courts no more, says the Lord, 
cease your offerings to me. 
I cannot endure your worship, 
it is too heavy to bear.
Put down your burden, 
release the load of others. 
Rescue, defend, and plead as one,
in my name, seek justice together.

Prayer

God of Unity, 
forgive us when we are self-serving
and help us to grow in unity and understanding
as we extend your love and justice to all.

Questions

Where can you speak out together with other Christians against racial injustice?

Where do you need God’s help in recognising, understanding and overcoming your own prejudice?

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18 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Made in the image of God

Genesis 1:26-28

Revelation 7:9-12

Commentary

In the first book of the Bible, we are told that we are made in the image of God, not just individually but corporately. All of humanity, people of all ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions, together represent the image of the Creator. This means that to deny that image in any one race, indeed in any one person, is to reject God’s presence in the whole of humanity.

As society becomes more indifferent to the needs of others, we, as the children of God, must learn to take up the cause of our oppressed brothers and sisters by speaking truth to power and if necessary, plead their case so that they may live in peace with justice. In doing this we will always do the right thing, will always be recognising God’s image in all of us.

Our commitment to eradicate and to be healed of the sin of racism requires us to be prepared and willing to be in relationship with our Christian sisters and brothers. That will be a sign of unity for the whole world.

Reflection

We give them names: 
refugees, asylum seekers, 
migrants, 
economic migrants, 
some more welcome than others. 
But you know their human names because they are your kin, 
stamped with your image, 
divinely human.

Prayer

You made us, God, in your own image, 
and then became one of us, 
proud of those you have made.
Make us proud of being part of that worldwide family, 
and eager to discover and celebrate your image 
in every person, every culture, every nation 
that we are privileged to encounter.

Questions

How does your church welcome those new to your community?

How can we see the image of God in people we find difficult to love?

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7 July: Know that I am God; Feast of the Translation of Saint Thomas of Canterbury.

Chapel of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, St David’s Cathedral.

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10.

The text on the reading desk in Saint Thomas’s chapel invites us to compose ourselves, to be calm as we come before God. This is a quiet corner of Saint David’s Cathedral in Wales, but the saint it celebrates did not live a quiet life. Perhaps he had plenty of time to be still in God’s presence while he was in exile from England after disputes with the King, who wanted more control over the Church.

Archbishop Thomas, however, could not agree to this. God did not depend on earthly kings for his greatness: he was not and is not a tame god, working for a narrow national interest.

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.

In the stillness of his heart, Thomas accepted this and refused to be King Henry’s puppet. His martyrdom in his own Cathedral of Canterbury was the consequence of exalting God over his earthly lord.

This is the feast of the Translation of Saint Thomas – the day in 1220 when his bones were ‘translated’ to the new shrine in Canterbury Cathedral, and a better day for pilgrims to travel than late December, when he died.

Let us pray for the Church under persecution in so many parts of the world. And pray, too, for the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, gathered for their Conference, and for unity among all Christians, as Jesus prayed. AMEN.

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3 June: Pope Francis sends greetings on Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee.

File photo showing Pope Francis greeting Queen Elisabeth and her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh in the Vatican

A thoughtful greeting from Pope Francis to Queen Elizabeth.

Yesterday saw the start of a weekend of celebrations across the United Kingdom on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne.

Marking this milestone, Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the Queen offering his prayers and good wishes. In it, he says: “On this joyful occasion of your Majesty’s birthday, and as you celebrate this Platinum Jubilee year, I send cordial greetings and good wishes, together with the renewed assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will bestow upon you, the members of the Royal Family and all the people of the nation blessings of unity, prosperity and peace.”

In recognition of the monarch’s commitment to the care of God’s creation, Pope Francis is donating a Cedar of Lebanon to the Queen’s Green Canopy project.  He expressed the hope that this tree, “which in the Bible symbolises the flourishing of fortitude, justice and prosperity, would be a pledge of abundant divine blessings” upon her realm.

The project invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”. As well as inviting the planting of new trees, The Queen’s Green Canopy will dedicate a network of 70 Ancient Woodlands across the United Kingdom and identify 70 Ancient Trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service. 

Vatican News.

We invite readers to pray for the Queen and the people of her realm, and especially for unity, prosperity and peace. Let us pray, too, for the people of Lebanon to recover these same gifts.

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19 April: No man is base

The Welsh Poet, Henry Vaughan, (d.1695) called himself a Silurist, claiming descent from a pre-Roman tribe that ruled his part of Wales. Yet he maintains that 'A noble offspring surely then without distinction are all men.' We are all of us Easter Children, children of God, each one of us nobly born. No room for racism, as Archbishop Wilson was saying yesterday; we must be children of hope, of one beginning, one birth, one resurrection.

All sorts of men, that live on Earth, 
Have one beginning and one birth. 
For all things there is one Father, 
Who lays out all, and all doth gather. 
He the warm sun with rays adorns, 
And fills with brightness the moon's horns. 
The azur'd heav'ns with stars He burnish'd, 
And the round world with creatures furnish'd. 
But men—made to inherit all— 
His own sons He was pleas'd to call, 
And that they might be so indeed, 
He gave them souls of divine seed. 
A noble offspring surely then 
Without distinction are all men. 
O, why so vainly do some boast 
Their birth and blood and a great host 
Of ancestors, whose coats and crests 
Are some rav'nous birds or beasts! 
If extraction they look for, 
And God, the great Progenitor, 
No man, though of the meanest state, 
Is base, or can degenerate, 
Unless, to vice and lewdness bent, 
He leaves and taints his true descent.

from Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist: Boethius, De Consolatione, Englished.

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