THE CONSULTATION ON MARRIED LIFE AND SEXUAL MORALITY.
In the first week of February 2014 the Bishops of England and Wales announced that the findings of last year's consultation would not be made public before the meeting of the Bishops' Synod in Rome in October. The reason for this was a request from a Vatican official. There is nothing to suggest that this idea came from Pope Francis. The German and Swiss bishops have ignored it`they have made a summary of their surveys and made them public. Which looks like common sense:if you organise a survey, you let people know what comes of it.
Even more seriously, withholding the results goes against the teaching of the Pope himself. Evangelii Gaudium makes much of the corporate nature of the Church, and the bishop's obligation to heed the laity, sometimes by leading, sometimes by sharing, sometimes by following. What the Church is about, he says, is not a process of top-down administration but a life of dependence on Christ and on each other. That is the context within which bishops, clergy and laity should play their part. He is not being revolutionary. The is the tradition of the Church based on the Bible and renewed in the second Vatican Council - and made explicit in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. (8.2.14)
ON THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL IN TODAY’S WORLD. (To copy a .pdf version go to the link at the bottom of this page)
1 Pp Francis begins with a summary of his theme: the world needs the Gospel and we, the Church, are called back to the Gospel in order to proclaim it.
2 – 8. It is personal matter, not in the sense of individual but internal. We too suffer from the destructive effects of being distant from the Good News, and so we too must allow ourselves to encounter Christ daily in order to pass the Gospel to others. The result is joy.
9 – 13 The key word is “newness.” He quotes St Irenaeus: “By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness.” One newness leads to another and that principle works with the proclamation of the Gospel.
14 – 18 Evangelisation covers ordinary pastoral ministry, work with the lapsed and with non-believers. It should be seen as attracting rather than proselytising and seen as permeating all the Church’s activity.
21 – 24. Evangelising keeps going, moving on, leaving God to reinforce the work. The Pope insists on the phrase, “the evangelising community.”
25 – 33. The work of evangelising is part of the conversion of those who practise it. The Pope comments on the need for reform in the various parts of the Church, including the papacy itself. Bishops are recommended to encourage participation and dialogue in keeping with canon law, which refers to diocesan pastoral councils.
34 – 39. The content of evangelising work has to be essentials of the faith. The work is hindered by focussing on secondary issues, although they may be part of the Church’s teaching. The Gospel invites us above all “to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.” Without that, the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards.
40 – 49. Evangelisation is flexible; one size does not fit all. Inclusion yes; exclusion no. At this point the Pope goes back to his recurring theme of the poor who he describes as having a prime right to the Gospel.
50 – 109 The obstacles and requirements. This is a précis from the index at the back of the Exhortation.
Economic. No to an economy of exclusion. No to the new idolatry of money. No to a financial system which rules rather than serves. No to the inequality which spawns violence. There are also cultural obstacles.
Temptations faced by pastoral workers. Yes to the challenge of a missionary spirituality. No to selfishness and spiritual sloth. No to a sterile pessimism. Yes to the new relationships brought by Christ. No to spiritual worldliness. No to warring among ourselves. Other ecclesial challenges: the clergy side-lining the laity, women and young people.
110 – 134. It is God who calls the whole church as the community of the faithful to proclaim Jesus as Lord. Equally, he calls the whole world, not an exclusive or elite group, to become his people. In the church we are simply instruments of that continuous divine grace.
The church is inherently multi-cultural. “Grace supposes culture, and God’s gift becomes flesh in the culture of those who receive it.” Because God’s gifts are greater than any human culture, multi-culturalism in the church is not a threat to unity.
Because evangelising is to some extent for everyone, we cannot settle for professionals on the one hand, and the rest being passive on the other. We all mature as we take on this call, and our imperfections do not disqualify us.
Once the faith takes root in a culture, popular piety which uses symbols rather than discursive reasoning becomes an expression of missionary activity; the Holy Spirit remains the principal agent.
Individuals can evangelise informally, even unconsciously, although this becomes explicitly religious with a prayer, for example.
There are special gifts (“charisms”) which are God-given; the test is whether they fit into the church for the good of all. Given that, diversity is not an obstacle, and should not be suppressed by one-size-fits-all approach.
There is also a way of proclaiming the Gospel which involves faith, reason and the sciences. This is the work of theologians who should remember that theology is more than a purely academic exercise. Catholic schools and universities strengthen the evangelising work of the church.
135 – 144. The homily is to be taken seriously. The key aspect of it is not what the preacher says but what God does – He is in a dialogue with the people which leads to Holy Communion. When the preacher gets in the way because for one reason or another what he says is not leading to the Gospel of Christ, the dialogue is broken. A positive factor is the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God’s people, hence the dialogue.
145 – 160. Preparation for preaching.
161 – 175. Evangelising should lead to growth in faith, by which Christ lives in us. As we learn to practice our faith, we internalise it. This section is quite dense. The Pope uses two Greek words: Kerugma: the proclamation, and Mystagogy: experience of the faith. Using the Bible is an important part of our lives for this.
176 – 258. To evangelise is to make the kingdom of God present in our world. The exhortation now goes into the moral implications of the Gospel. All are loved by God, and so commitment to society in effective charity and compassion follows. This, especially the section on the poor, is one of the most striking parts of the Exhortation.
(184: “Neither the Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the interpretation of social realities or the proposal of solutions to contemporary problems..”)
(185) The two great issues: the inclusion of the poor in society; peace and social dialogue.
(189) “Solidarity [with the poor] is a spontaneous reaction by those who recognise that the social function of property and the universal destination of goods are realities which come before private property. The private ownership of goods is justified by the need to protect and increase them, so that they can better serve the common good …”
(198) The option for the poor is primarily a theological category rather than a cultural, sociological, political or philosophical one. (199) Attentiveness.
(202 – 208) The economy and the distribution of income.
(209 – 216) New forms of poverty and vulnerability; woman and children.
217 – 237 The common good and peace in society.
238 – 258 Social dialogue as a contribution to peace
242 – 243. Dialogue between faith, reason and science
244 – 246. Ecumenical dialogue. Relations with Judaism.
250 – 254 Interreligious dialogue.
255 – 258 Social dialogue in a context of religious freedom
259 – 268. The new evangelism is based on prayer and action. One without the other gets nowhere. Christ is at the centre of our prayer.
269 – 274. Involvement with each other: “our lives become wonderfully complicated.”
275 – 283 We are driven by the Holy Spirit, Who makes the risen Christ present among us.
283 – 288 Mary, mother of evangelisation: Our Lord’s gift to the church.
This is a fairly rough summary of the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (November 2013)
The link for this is https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FamilySynod2014. (9.11.13)
Parishes have been sent guidelines on funerals. Some of these two documents are useful. Two points that do not apply in this parish are that tributes to the deceased should come at the beginning of the Mass (local custom is that they come at the end); more seriously, tributes should be written out and submitted to the priest for approval - this goes against common sense and common decency. The texts are difficult to read as they need Adobe, but links to them are at the end of this page. The parish document is called preparingafuneral.rtf, the other documents come from the diocese. Parishioners are unlikely to be asked to prepare their own funerals!
Once again the borough Dean has proposed that this be discussed, but the reply was that it was discussed last year and so there is no point. (31.10.13)
(Responses so far are in italics - feel free to email further comments. It would be useful to know if you are a parishioner or not)
(a) Women - of course. (b) Being a Catholic in a secular society.
Annulment of marriage
We could do with more information about this.
Who can lead the new parish?
(a) Healing ministry and prayer for healing in the parish. (b) General faith sharing and prayer support groups
(a) Sharing how to live one's Catholic faith in the world today. E.g. starting from a Bible passage and sharing what it means to us and how we live it. Encouraging each other in our faith. (b) Going through books of the Bible. (c) Evangelisation and how we can bring those around us to the faith.
The Church's take on mental health and bereavement.
How we share Holy Communion?
And there was one very useful request, although not for a discussion group - Please start Mass on time.