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In an interview published today in Trouw, Cardinal Eijk says that he doesn’t think bishops should appear on television very much. Although he doesn’t shy away from personal contacts with people, he prefers that these contacts remain private and do not run via the media. The chief reason for this, the cardinal says, is that restraint is needed on the part of the bishops in the wake of the many reports of sexual abuse by clergy in past decades.
While I think the cardinal is right that this crisis does merit restraint, and while I also think that the bishops are not media personalities or spokesmen for the Church per se, I don’t believe that it is now a good time to stay completely out of the public eye, or even the Catholic eye for that matter.
It is good that the bishops do not go on the defensive in the abuse crisis. They accept the responsibilities they have inherited from their predecessors, and do their best to act accordingly. Mistakes are still made in that process, certainly, as it is a learning process, but I do not have the impression that the bishops of the Netherlands are simply looking out for their own best interests.
But a media blackout can also have adverse effects. The bishops take responsibility, which is a good thing, but they also remain shepherds of the faithful in this country. And some of those faithful, priests and laity alike, appear on television and in other media to explain or defend the Church on whatever topic has caught the public eye. Cardinal Eijk is fully behind that. About one of these ‘media Catholics’, Father Antoine Bodar, he says: “I think that many people do know what Bodar’s role is. He speaks about the contents, and not about policy. That is the bishops’ responsibility.”
Very true, but policy is not the only thing that bishops concern themselves with. The reason behind the policy, the content of the faith, is also very much their responsibility. By being more visible in the media and the public eye, I think that the bishops can much more effectively perform their role of shepherds and teachers, not least in support of those Catholic faithful who go out to explain and defend the faith and the Church they are part of and love.
It’s a balance between reflecting the responsibility they assume for the abuse crisis, and continuing to do their other duties as bishops. A precarious balancing act at times, to be sure. But I want to know my bishop behind me, and I want him to explain, teach and shepherd, both for me and those I encounter.
The Church in the Netherlands needs an openness towards the world, and the media is an important part of that. It is, after all, the channel through which most people relate to the wider world.
So, bishops, do continue to interact with your faithful in the parishes as you do, but do not forget the work done by those Catholics in the media, or the many people who try to understand the world through that same media. Communication is more than just being on tv a lot, more than saying a lot of words, but we do need it. We need you to help us.
The Holy See today released Pope Benedict’s Message for the 47th World Communications Day, which deals with the topic of social networks, This is in itself a natural progression from the topics of previous messages, which the Holy Father all devoted to what he called the “digital continent”, the Internet, which is an area to be evangelised, just like any physical part of the world.
As ever, the Communications Day Message is eagerly expected by many Catholics who are active in social media, and I am no exception. The message is not long (only some 1,600 words), so my Dutch translation is already up on the Translations page.
Pope Benedict sees the social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook as “a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.” This potent mixture can lead to true communication, friendship, communion, but that requires authenticity, because we don’t just share ideas and information, “but ultimately our very selves”.
This shows us that the pope takes social networks very seriously. It’s not just something on the side, to be used when we need it for work or entertainment: “The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.”
The Holy Father calls us to be authentic Christians on the social networks, to be who we are. “It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum.” This indicates how we should express ourselves online:
“At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. “Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful” (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).”
A final important point in the message is that social networks can also help those faithful who are, for some reason or other, rather isolated: “social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith.”
November 24, 2012 in From Rome, World Church | Tags: archbishop baselios cleemis thottunkal, archbishop james harvey, archbishop jesús rubén salazar gómez, archbishop john olorunfemi onaiyekan, archbishop luis tagle, boko haram, college of cardinals, colombia, consistory, india, islam, lebanon, maronite church, nigeria, paolo gabriele, papal basilica of st. paul-outside-the-walls, papal visit, patriarch bechara raï, philippines, pope benedict xvi, prefecture of the papal household, pro-life, social media, synod of bishops, syro-malankar church, vatileaks | 1 comment
While fog hides the view from my window, a red dawn rises over Rome as Pope Benedict XVI gets ready to create six new members of the College of Cardinals. Who are these princes of the Churches again, in the smallest crop since the 1977 consistory which, among others, saw one Joseph Ratzinger made a cardinal?
Archbishop James Michael Harvey was, until yesterday, the Prefect of the Papal Household. As was announced earlier, he was moved yesterday to become Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls. In many eyes, this is a classic promotion out of the limelight for Cardinal-designate Harvey’s role in the Vatileaks case. Under his watch, papal documents were stolen and published, with the archbishop defending the convicted papal butler Paolo Gabriele before his actions became clear. While he was never even implicated, it is said that Archbishop Harvey submitted his resignation to the pope after Gabriele’s arrest. While prefects of the Household are usually eventually made cardinals, this happens when they were past retirement age. Cardinal-designate Harvey is 63.
As archpriest of a papal basilica, he has certain custodial and liturgical functions (which are worthy in their own right), but very few, if any, well-defined duties in the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Harvey will be a Cardinal-Deacon.
Patriarch Béchara Pierre Raï is the head of the Maronite Catholic Church of the Middle East, especially Lebanon. His three predecessor were also cardinals, so his creation is not a surprise. And perhaps the pope’s recent visit to Lebanon also played a role in cementing his nomination. Patriarch Raï is 72 and will be made a Cardinal-Bishop by virtue of his position at the head of a Catholic Church in union with Rome. He will not be given a title church, as he is outside the hierarchy of the Latin Church, but not outside the world Church.
Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal also heads a separate Church in union with Rome, the Syro-Malankar Church of India. He will be the youngest cardinal of all, and will be the first archbishop of Trivandrum to be made a cardinal. During the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation his bearded presence was already much noticed. Cardinal Thottunkal will be a Cardinal-Priest.
Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan is the much-respected archbishop of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Most recently, he unequivocally spoke against the terrorist actions of Boko Haram in the north of Nigeria, while at the same time seeking relations with Muslims in Nigeria. He is also strongly against a proposed division of the country into a Christian south and a Muslim north. Nigeria’s old capital, Lagos, is also headed by a cardinal, but the value of the western country in the Church is surely reflected by this appointment if a second one, who will be a Cardinal-Priest.
Archbishop Jesús Rubén Salazar Gómez is the archbishop of Bogotá, capital of Colombia, a nation which, considering its Catholic population, was long overdue for the appointment of a second cardinal. Clearly pro-life, Cardinal-designate Salazar Gómez will also be a Cardinal-Priest.
Archbishop Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, is the rising star of the Church in Asia. Heading the major Archdiocese of Manila in the Philippines, Cardinal-designate Tagle will be the second-youngest cardinal of the bunch. He has his critics, but in general he is enormously popular, not least because of his use of social media. Affectionately referred to as “Archbishop Chito”, Cardinal-designate Tagle is a very welcome addition to the Asian part of the College. He, too, will be a Cardinal-Priest.
With the elevation of this international group, the first since 1924 to include no Europeans, the group of cardinals who are eligible to vote in a conclave reaches 120.
As for today’s ceremony, which will be conducted according to the exact same norms as this year’s previous one, it can be viewed via the Vatican Player, while the booklet for the celebration may be found here. Things are set to get rolling at 11am local time, which is 10am GMT.
November 17, 2012 in From Rome, World Church | Tags: adoration, baptism, catechesis, confession, confirmation, evangelisation, first letter to the corinthians, god, gospel of john, gospel of luke, gospel of matthew, holy spirit, jesus christ, mission, pope benedict xvi, relativism, saint paul, secularism, social media, translation, world communications day, world youth day | Leave a comment
In his letter for the 2013 World Youth Day, which was published yesterday, Pope Benedict urged all young people to be missionaries, wherever they find themselves. This as an answer to Jesus’ call to “Go, and make disciples of all nations!” (Matt. 28:19) which is the theme for this 28th World Youth Day.
These nations are not only to be understood geographically:
“Some people are far away geographically, but others are far away because their way of life has no place for God. Some people have not yet personally received the Gospel, while others have been given it, but live as if God did not exist. Let us open our hearts to everyone. Let us enter into conversation in simplicity and respect. If this conversation is held in true friendship, it will bear fruit. The “nations” that we are invited to reach out to are not only other countries in the world. They are also the different areas of our lives, such as our families, communities, places of study and work, groups of friends and places where we spend our free time. The joyful proclamation of the Gospel is meant for all the areas of our lives, without exception.”
The letter is a clear call against the silence of so many faithful, especially young people who no longer have the words to speak about the faith. It is most definitely a counter-cultural move, and perhaps for many in the west even a step too far just yet.
Pope Benedict identifies several steps in the way to becoming missionaries. The first and most important is to become a disciple of Christ:
“A disciple is a person attentive to Jesus’ word (cf. Lk 10:39), someone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Teacher who has loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Each one of you, therefore, should let yourself be shaped by God’s word every day. This will make you friends of the Lord Jesus and enable you to lead other young people to friendship with him.”
A missionary then has to go out, into the world, but also out of himself, out of his own little world, habits and comforts. The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are essential in this. Missionaries then have to take what they have received, Christ’s love and mercy, out into the world, to the “nations”. Here, the Holy Father emphasises two specific areas: travel and migration and social communications, especially the internet.
“As I mentioned to you on another occasion: “I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. [...] It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this ‘digital continent’” (Message for the 43rd World Communications Day, 24 May 2009). Learn how to use these media wisely. Be aware of the hidden dangers they contain, especially the risk of addiction, of confusing the real world with the virtual, and of replacing direct and personal encounters and dialogue with internet contacts.”
One of the direct and challenging questions follow then. A young missionary has to make disciples, and that means an active engagement with their contemporaries.This can happen through words, but in the first place through our sharing of Christ’s love, which is our own love.
“The main way that we have to “make disciples” is through Baptism and catechesis. This means leading the people we are evangelizing to encounter the living Christ above all in his word and in the sacraments. In this way they can believe in him, they can come to know God and to live in his grace. I would like each of you to ask yourself: Have I ever had the courage to propose Baptism to young people who have not received it? Have I ever invited anyone to embark on a journey of discovery of the Christian faith? Dear friends, do not be afraid to suggest an encounter with Christ to people of your own age. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. The Spirit will show you the way to know and love Christ even more fully, and to be creative in spreading the Gospel.”
The questions that I have highlighted in bold are, in our modern secularised and relativist culture, the most difficult to ask. It is so counter-cultural and can be so easily and automatically perceived and an attempt at indoctrination or condemnation of a person’s current lifestyle. It is anything but that, of course, but there is an innate hostility towards any expression of faith in our culture, if that expression can’t be easily relegated to a mere opinion or a private matter. But if we take our faith seriously we can’t do nothing but share it. As the pope writes in an earlier paragraph:
“When we forget God, we lose hope and become unable to love others. That is why it is so necessary to testify to God’s presence so that others can experience it. The salvation of humanity depends on this, as well as the salvation of each of us. Anyone who understands this can only exclaim with Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16).”
To be able to do this, we must stand firm in the faith, and we need prayer and the sacraments for that. “We must first speak with God in order to be able to speak about God,” the Holy Father writes. The sacraments of Confirmation and Confession and Eucharistic Adoration (pictured) are also valuable means to be able to become firm enough in the faith to be able to proclaim the Gospel, to evangelise.
And we can’t do so alone, by our own standards or morals. We need the Church.
“Dear young people, if you are to remain firm in professing the Christian faith wherever you are sent, you need the Church. No one can bear witness to the Gospel alone. Jesus sent forth his disciples on mission together. He spoke to them in the plural when he said: “Make disciples”. Our witness is always given as members of the Christian community, and our mission is made fruitful by the communion lived in the Church. It is by our unity and love for one another that others will recognize us as Christ’s disciples (cf. Jn 13:35).”
Lastly, for those interested, read my Dutch translation of this letter here.
Art credit:  Harold Copping, “Jesus at the House of Martha and Mary” (1927).
November 12, 2012 in Catholic Church in the Netherlands | Tags: acts of the apostles, bishop everard de jong, bishop frans wiertz, confession, henk van hamersveld, holy spirit, jan-jaap van peperstraten, karl wallner, laity, mass, media, mission, new evangelisation, pentecost, prayer, priests, rolduc, seminary, social media, synod of bishops, translation, twitter, united states conference of catholic bishops | 1 comment
Gathered at Roermond’s Rolduc seminary for a two-day symposium on the new evangelisation, the seminarians of the Netherlands today heard lectures from Bishops Frans Wiertz and Everard de Jong, ordinary and auxiliary of the Diocese of Roermond respectively, and Professor Karl Wallner, rector of Austria’s Heiligenkreuz monastery.
Although the full texts are (not yet) available online, the live report supplied via Twitter by two seminarians offered a good general idea of what was said. Bishop de Jong, the day’s final speaker, offered a summary of his experiences at the Synod of Bishops, including his own intervention, in which he emphasised the importance of prayer to the Holy Spirit and the angels.
Bishop Wiertz, the first speaker (pictured), suggested we may find a road map for the new evangelisation in the Acts of the Apostles. He emphasised the important role of the laity; they should be given the chance to develop initiatives, without the immediate involvement of the clergy. What we see today, he said, is that when a priest becomes indisposed or unavailable, the initiative also dies. The bishop also advocated trust in the Holy Spirit: if an initiative does not come from the Spirit, it will vanish regardless. An example of a strong lay movement in the Church is Korea, Bishop Wiertz said. Without priests and bishops, for centuries the lay faithful kept the faith alive.There must be a new balance between the people’s Church and the new initiatives.
Professor Wallner, speaking in between both bishops, said that we should not focus on the problems of the faith. The experience of faith is what matters: quantity will come from quality. And prayer must have a prime place in this. We must share what we receive, Professor Wallner said. Faith is mission, and this is contained in the final words of the Mass: ite missa est. The priest, too, is mission personified, so his duty is not his private concern. Like Bishop Wiertz, Professor Wallner also linked the new evangelisation to the Acts of the Apostles. We need places where we can experience the Holy Spirit like the Apostles did at the first Pentecost. Other points touched upon where the fact that we need a holy audacity as there is no place for false modesty in Christian life; the lack of emphasis on the most powerful sacrament of Confession; the new media which need to be used much more (it is a disgrace that there are still dioceses without a website!) and in an honest and true manner - show the world who you are. Regarding the role of the laity, Professor Wallner also reminded his audience that there should not be any form of competition between the laity and the priest. Both have their tasks, after all.
A good start for the symposium’s first day, it would seem. The new evangelisation is introduced as an important topic for the future priests in our country. I hope to be able to present a translation of at least Bishop Wiertz’s words soon, because the topic deserves a broader audience.
Concerning that, it is a shame that such events are not more widely covered by Catholic media or better present by the Church province or other organisers. Considering, for example, that the autumn assembly of the American bishops, taking place now, is streamed live, there is certainly much progress to be made. In that light, the live Twitter coverage by Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten and Henk van Hamersveld was all the more welcome.
October 16, 2012 in From Rome, World Church | Tags: angelo cardinal scola, archbishop robert zollitsch, archbishop stanislaw gadecki, archbishop william slattery, bishop emmanuel badejo, bishop franz-josef bode, catechesis, ecumenism, education, film, francesco cardinal coccopalmerio, interview, islam, john cardinal njue, john cardinal tong hon, lluís cardinal martínez sistach, mass, media, new evangelisation, orthodox church, pope benedict xvi, seminary, social media, synod of bishops | Leave a comment
With the Sunday off, the Synod skipped to day eight on Monday, with Cardinal John Tong Hon (at left pictured with the Holy Father) taking up the day’s presiding duties. and 251 Synod fathers in attendance. 26 fathers offered five-minute interventions during the morning session.
Lluís Cardinal Martínez Sistach, the archbishop of Barcelona, gave a few points to focus on in the new evangelisation, one of which was “[t]o improve Sunday Mass so that it will be a benchmark for the New Evangelization”. As source and summit of Christian life, the Mass can not be emphasised enough. If we don’t improve our celebration and participation in it to the utmost, any other undertaking, including the new evangelisation, has little chance of succeeding. Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, also noted this in his intervention.
Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio (pictured at right), president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, asked the following question: “[I]n carrying out the task of the new evangelization, would it be possible to consider some form of co-operation between the Catholic Church and the other Churches and ecclesial Communities?” adding, “I believe that an affirmative answer must be given to this question.”
The cardinal added that the division between Churches and church communities is “not entirely innocent in terms of the de-christianization of the Old Continent”. He emphasised that ecumenism or at least increased cooperation with the Orthodox Churches of the east is “particularly pressing” as both the Catholic and Orthodox Church now face similar challenges. “It would [...] seem very evident that a great ecumenical advantage would derive from such cooperation, and it would greatly consolidate the front of the forces fighting against secularization. It would also present an extraordinary sign to Islam,” he concluded.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, of Poznan in Poland, outlined a pressing issue regarding the youth in the heavily secularised world we live in.
“Our youth today find themselves in an unsustainable condition. On the one hand, they are thrown long before the appropriate mental age into a world rich in information, knowledge, sensations, and opportunities for encounters, but on the other hand, they are left alone by adults on the path of their formation.”
This is a recognisable fact for anyone working with young people, for example in education. The archbishop draws a possible solution from his own experience (and this is the strength of the Synod; the gathering of experiences from all over the world to benefit the Church):
“This situation requires an adequate response. Adults – in particular those who have drifted away from the Church – must reassume their responsibility.
In our diocese we have sought to help them in this, proposing a catechism for adults carried out by other adults. Inasmuch as the younger generations usually compare their faith with that of adults, baptized parents may again – for the love of their children – become their first and indispensable catechists.
Adult catechists, as witnesses of faith and bearers of the content of faith, are often better than priests at preparing other adults for their educative role.”
Cardinal John Njue (pictured at left), archbishop of Nairobi in Kenya, pointed at that it is not enough to have faith or even the intention to be faithful.
“Today, for a good number of people, God is not denied, but is unknown. Is it not necessary to examine, from this unique perspective, the present crisis in which society finds itself? It is time to throw open wide the doors of our Churches and to return to announcing the resurrection of Christ, whose witnesses we are. As the holy bishop Ignatius wrote, “It is not enough to be called Christians; we must be Christians by our witness.” If someone today wants to recognize Christians, he must be able to do so not on the basis of their intentions, but on the basis of their commitment in the faith. We have the duty to shape the whole of society with Christ’s teachings and spirit.”
Archbishop William Slattery, of Pretoria in South Africa, asked about the proper formation of seminarians, but also devoted a few words to how the Church makes use of the media, stating, ”I like the policy of the English Church prior to the papal visit when they carefully selected and trained bright young people to defend and explain their faith. An attractive young lady doctor is much more effective in media propounding on medical issues than an elderly unmarried bishop.”
In the afternoon session there were 16 more interventions, among them those by Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück.
About the new media, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, of Oyo in Nigeria, said the following:
“I would like this Synod to strongly reaffirm the role and responsibility of Catholic media professionals and practitioners in the New Evangelization and the need to pay particular attention to their spiritual development. Millions of youth all over the world are sharing the same stories, experiences and challenges, irrespective of their location, thanks to the new social, personal and digital media. The Church must humbly seek their confidence and trust knowing that youth prefer a co-communicator relationship to the old teacher-learner, speaker-listener model. When they feel like allies with the Church they can with the right format and language bring their Christian faith and values to the new social forums.”
At the end of the afternoon session, the Synod fathers were shown a film about the faith in Europe. Titled ‘Bells of Europe’, it features interviews with several important players in the field of faith, including Pope Benedict XVI. His contribution may be read here.
Photo credit:  L’Osservatore Romano,  nava m K0
October 12, 2012 in From Rome, World Church | Tags: angelo cardinal bagnasco, archbishop bernard longley, archbishop bruno forte, archbishop carlos aguiar retes, archbishop claude dagens, archbishop diarmuid martin, archbishop joseph kurtz, archbishop philip tartaglia, archbishop ricardo blazquez perez, archbishop rino fisichella, archbishop rowan williams, archbishop yves patenôtre, bishop ägidius zsifkovics, bishop dominique rey, bishop julio terán dutari, bishop kieran o'reilly, bishop ladislav nemets, bishop louis pelâtre, bishop santiago jaime silva retamales, blogging, contemplation, ecumenism, father renato salvatore, fernando cardinal filoni, george cardinal pell, internet, jean-louis cardinal tauran, language, leonardo cardinal sandri, oswald cardinal gracias, pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, prayer, saint paul, second letter to the corinthians, social media, synod of bishops, theology, trinity, turkey, wilfrid cardinal napier | 1 comment
Trying to stay up to speed with the news is a task and a half, especially if it needs to be done in any free time available. Hence the relative silence yesterday and the double coverage of the Synod of Bishops today.
On to Day 3 then, which coincided with Wednesday. In the morning the Synod fathers split of in the several working groups, which are divided by language group. First on their agenda was the election of moderators and relators, or presiding prelates and communication officers, a list which was presented at the start of the afternoon session. The list of groups, with their moderators and relators is as follows:
Anglicus A: Moderator: Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa. Relator: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, United States.
Anglicus B: Moderator: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland. Relator: Archbishop Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Anglicus C: Moderator: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India. Relator: Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Anglicus D: Moderator: Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia. Relator: Bishop Kieran O’Reilly, Bishop of Killaloe, Ireland.
Gallicus A: Moderator: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Relator: Bishop Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, France.
Gallicus B: Moderator: Archbishop Yves Patenôtre, Archbishop of Sens, France. Relator: Archbishop Claude Dagens, Archbishop of Angoulême, France.
Germanicus: Moderator: Bishop Ägidius Zsifkovics, Bishop of Eisenstadt, Austria. Relator: Bishop Ladislav Nemet, Bishop of Zrenjanin, Serbia.
Hispanicus A: Moderator: Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop of Tlalnepantla, Mexico. Relator: Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, Archbishop of Valladolid, Spain.
Hispanicus B: Moderator: Bishop Julio Terán Dutari, Bishop of Ibarra, Ecuador. Relator: Bishop Santiago Silva Retamales, Auxiliary Bishop of Valparaíso, Chile.
Italicus A: Moderator: Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Relator: Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.
Italicus B: Moderator: Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, Italy. Relator: Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy.
Italicus C: Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. Relator: Father Renato Salvatore, Superior General of the Clerks Regular of the Ministers of the Sick (Camillians).
In the afternoon, the Synod continued with the interventions of 16 fathers. The first speaker, Cardinal Tauran (pictured at right), said some interesting things about interreligious dialogue, which is, of course, his area of expertise. In that dialogue, he said,
“there is no room for syncretism or relativism! Faced with adepts from other religions with a strong religious identity, it is necessary to present motivated and doctrinally equipped Christians. This makes the new evangelization a priority to form coherent Christians, capable of demonstrating their faith, with simple words and without fear.”
About the situation in Turkey, Bishop Louis Pelâtre, the Vicar Apostolic of Istanbul, had some important words to say about the use of the Internet by the Church, words which are equally valuable for other parts of the world. The bishops said:
“The young generation learns about the faith through the internet. Having practically no access to public radios or televisions, we can however use these private networks used more by the evangelical Protestants than by the Catholics. From this the need for well-prepared and qualified workers for the harvest that awaits us. This specific apostolate cannot be satisfied by good will and improvisation alone.”
The most noted contribution, at least in social media, to this day’s session came from the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, pictured at left during his intervention. His theological address focussed on contemplation, and how that needs to be a first step before we present our faithful face to the world:
“To be contemplative as Christ is contemplative is to be open to all the fullness that the Father wishes to pour into our hearts. With our minds made still and ready to receive, with our self-generated fantasies about God and ourselves reduced to silence, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow. And the face we need to show to our world is the face of a humanity in endless growth towards love, a humanity so delighted and engaged by the glory of what we look towards that we are prepared to embark on a journey without end to find our way more deeply into it, into the heart of the trinitarian life. St Paul speaks (in II Cor 3.18) of how ‘with our unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord’, we are transfigured with a greater and greater radiance. That is the face we seek to show to our fellow-human beings.”
And this, Dr. Williams said, is the goal of that contemplative attitude:
“[I]t is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.”
In that contemplation, we allow ourselves to be transformed by God, to be more and more conformed to His Trinitarian identity. This means that we can’t be bound any longer by our own selfish desires.
“To learn to look to God without regard to my own instant satisfaction, to learn to scrutinise and to relativise the cravings and fantasies that arise in me – this is to allow God to be God, and thus to allow the prayer of Christ, God’s own relation to God, to come alive in me. Invoking the Holy Spirit is a matter of asking the third person of the Trinity to enter my spirit and bring the clarity I need to see where I am in slavery to cravings and fantasies and to give me patience and stillness as God’s light and love penetrate my inner life. Only as this begins to happen will I be delivered from treating the gifts of God as yet another set of things I may acquire to make me happy, or to dominate other people.”
There is more, and I coud just post the entire text here. But that will just make this blog post far too longer, so check the day’s Bulletin for the texts, both of Dr. Williams’ address and the summaries of the other interventions.
October 5, 2012 in From Rome, World Church | Tags: archbishop andré-joseph léonard, archbishop gérald lacroix, archbishop robert zollitsch, bishop berislav grgic, bishop everard de jong, bishop franz-josef bode, bishop franz-peter tebartz-van elst, donald cardinal wuerl, indulgence, odilo cardinal scherer, pope benedict xvi, prayer, social media, synod of bishops, timothy cardinal dolan, wilfrid cardinal napier, year of faith | 1 comment
With the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod Bishops opening on Sunday, it is about time that the final details were released. And so they were today. The Holy See press office presents them on a dedicate page. Here, the Synodus Episcoporum Bulletin is perhaps the most interesting, as it will cover the daily progress of the Synod. The full list of participants, from the Holy Father down to the special guests, is also available.
From the Dutch bishops’ conference, Bishop Everard de Jong (left) is sent to participate. He is of course the auxiliary bishop of Roermond and with few responsibilities within the conference, he may the designated international representative of our Church province. Other participants from our corner of Europe are Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst of Limburg, Germany all, and Bishop Berislav Grgic of Tromsø, representing all of Scandinavia.
Most bishops’ conferences send one delegate, but there are a few which send more. These are Brazil (4), Canada (4), Mexico (4), the United States (4), India (4), France (4), Italy (4), Poland (4), Nigeria (3), Argentina (3), Colombia (3), Philippines (3), Germany (3), Spain (3), Southern Africa (2), Cameroon (2), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2), Kenya (2), Tanzania (2), Uganda (2), Bolivia (2), Chile (2), Ecuador (2), Peru (2), Venezuela (2), Indonesia (2), Vietnam (2), England & Wales (2), Ireland (2), Portugal (2) and Australia (2). A snapshot of the Catholic world powers, perhaps.
At the same time, the Apostolic Penitentiary released a decree granting a plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith. It outlines four ways in which such an indulgence can be obtained. These root the experience of the Year of faith in prayer, pilgrimage, confession of faith and unity with the local ordinary and the Holy Father.
Several participants in the Synod may be followed via social media. Examples are Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington and Relator of the Synod, Wilfrid Cardinal Napier, who leads the southern African delegation, Odilo Cardinal Scherer, who does the same for the Brazilians, Archbishop Gérald Lacroix, leader of the Canadian group, and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, heading the American delegation.
September 5, 2012 in World Church | Tags: bible, carlo cardinal martini, commonweal magazine, conversion, death, faith, jesus christ, new evangelisation, sacraments, social media, translation | 2 comments
From news reports and reactions on social media I get the impression that the passing of Carlo Cardinal Martini, last week, is a great loss to many, and to the Church as well. The late cardinal was considered a liberal on many issues, of course, and this inevitably colours the responses we read over the past week. At the heart lay the interview that Cardinal Martini gave on 8 August, and which was published after his death. There are a few English translations out there now, such as this one from Commonweal Magazine. From this translation, I created a Dutch translation.
And upon reading it, I don’t think it justifies how much has been made of it. Cardinal Martini doesn’t point out anything we don’t know are can disagree with. He is right in saying that many faithful lack a certain “oomph” in their faith – the generosity, faith, enthusiasm, courage to do new things, faithfulness he mentions in response to the second question of the interview. And surely conversion, the Word of God and the sacraments should have pride of place in all our lives and in the new evangelisation that must follow.
And whether or not the Church is 200 years behind the times, we must surely read this as intended hyperbole on the cardinal’s part, intended as a means of asking the hard questions: “Why is [the Church] not being stirred? Are we afraid? Afraid instead of courageous?”
The Church is ever new and must therefore always strive towards conversion and a return towards Christ, her bridegroom. We must always ask ourselves the hard questions, even when it comes to the truths of faith: the sacraments and the Word of God.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Paolo Bona
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB for short, presents 10 rules for social media evangelisation:
Translate church teaching.
Avoid Church speak.
Use images, as Jesus did.
Understand that social media is social
Social media sometimes calls for a suit of armor.
Use the delete button if comments cross the line of decency, but, hopefully, not often.
Spread Catholicism’s fun parts.
Remember rules are changing.
Remember web messages live forever.
Keep it short.
Good advice, including some, like numbers 1, 2 and especially 7, that are too often overlooked (not least by yours truly). Visit the USCCB blog for more about the ten rules.