Month: October 2015

Death and Funerals

As we move into the ‘month for the dead’, November, Seamus Ahearne speaks of his experience of funerals in parish life. “The Church still can provide a scaffolding to carry the event of death which is beyond our words and our understanding.”
“The Rituals of the Church still help to carry the mystery of death. This remains true even though most people now have little contact with Church or little grasp of the language of Church. It is an enormous demand to stretch our creative ability to ensure that every family feels totally welcomed. The response we make, has to explore the depths of our humanity.”

The need to grow in Wisdom and Mercy

Tim Hazelwood outlines his thinking, and that of the Pastoral Council of Killeagh-Inch parish, for inviting Tony Flannery to speak in their parish and the subsequent reasons for the withdrawal of the invitation.

The initial fall out from Bishop Billy Crean’s intervention has been covered previously at “What did the bishop achieve?”

What did Pope Francis achieve with the Synod?

Massimo Faggioli reports on the outcome of the synod in

“Yet the final document, which received the quorum of the two thirds for all its paragraphs, is more cautious than the text of 2014.
It is also silent on some important issues, namely the attitude of the Church towards gay people (except a weak passage on families with gay members).”
“But in this sense the final relatio of 2015 is a document that gives us a picture of the Church – more accurately, of its bishops – that is closer to reality,”
“The Synod also showed that much of the Catholic debate today is the expression of a debate between American bishops. The fact that they disagreed in public … is in itself surprising. It is the symptom of the extremism and sectarianism of some … but also the sign of Francis’ breakthrough in the American Catholic hierarchy.”
“The Synod’s final document is important, but it says less about the future direction of the Church than Francis’ great speeches of October 17 (a new ecclesiological framework for a synodal Church) and October 24 (against the ideologues in the Church). This is why the Synod of 2015 will disappoint some liberals, but it is clearly a victory for Francis.”

The Bells of the Angelus Call us to ……..

In his Western People column Brendan Hoban comments on the recent changes RTE have introduced to the broadcasting of the Angelus on television.
“The truth is that the Angelus, as we’ve had it on RTE television since 1962, needed to be updated and that it makes great sense, in a very different Ireland, to present it as a time of reflection for everyone.”
“I’d be much more exercised by the more pervasive negative attitude to religion and in particular Catholicism in the wider media.”

Conclusion of the Synod of Bishops; address of Pope Francis

Time will judge the impact of the synod. The Pope’s closing comments stand for themselves but perhaps many will read as much into what he left unsaid as what he said.
“Surely it was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family, but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.”

“It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.”

“The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness. This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae – they are necessary – or from the importance of laws and divine commandments, but rather to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of his Mercy “

“The Church’s first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord (cf. Jn 12:44-50).”

One Man, One vote; One woman, No Vote: Where stands the Synod’s Credibility?

Nicole Sotelo has a very interesting article in NCR.

Can we not learn from history?
No matter how many statements are made about the dignity of women, the status of Mary vis a vis apostles and saints, the use of feminine pronouns when referring to church, the fact that women are totally excluded from decision making roles poses huge questions and problems about the credibility of statements coming from the synod and church authorities.
At the synod women were allowed observe and make some statements but had no role is decision making or voting. Can and should the world take seriously any statement resulting from such a process in the 21st century?

Third commentary of the German language bishops’ group

Mark de Vries in his blog ‘In Caelo et in Terra’ comments on and provides a translation of the third commentary of the German language bishops’ group at the Synod.

Perhaps we can all learn from the German speaking bishops when they ask for forgiveness;
“Here, a confession was important to us: wrongly understood efforts to uphold the Church’s teachings time and again led to hard and merciless attitudes, which hurt people, especially single mothers and children born out of wedlock, people living together before or in place of marriage, homosexually oriented people and divorced and remarried people. As bishops of our Church we ask these people for forgiveness.”

The Equality of Women, and the question of Ordination.

Tony Flannery thinks we should accept Pope Francis’ invitation to discuss openly and honestly issues in the church.
Francis said recently’ The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society.I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly.’
Tony feels it is time there was an open dialogue about the issue of ordination for women.

What is Doctrine?

Christopher Lamb writing in The Tablet blog reports that Cardinal Mark gave a basic theology lesson to some at the synod.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx said “doctrine and theology are not the same” adding that “many people talk about doctrine but they have no idea what it is.”
“Doctrine, he explained, is the tradition of the Church which is “not a closed shop, it is a living tradition” while doctrine needs to be lived rather than read in a book.”

No white smoke at synod

Jesuit Thomas Reese writes a fairly gloomy report in NCR on the possible outcome of the synod.

“The bishops are currently trapped in the old theology they learned in the seminary. They are afraid of new ideas and are not consulting with theological experts who could show them other options. As a result, it is unlikely that new pastoral approaches will be coming forth from this synod.”
“Never in my lifetime have I heard of bishops and cardinals being so disrespectful of a pope, challenging his organization of this synod, even a few referring to him as a Protestant and threatening a fractured church if he goes against their wishes.”

Céad Míle Fáilte Romhat. Really?

Gerard Moloney writing in his own blog places a challenge before us; are we as welcoming as we should be in church?
“If any word summed up the attitude and ministry of the historical Jesus, it was compassion. All were welcome round his table. He used a ministry of inclusion to encourage people to be their best selves.”

“Yet it’s clear too that not every Catholic feels welcome in the church, and that not all Catholics are welcoming, or accommodating, of each other.”

German bishops pledge promotion of women

Jonathan Luxmoore reports in The Tablet on an initiative by the German bishops to promote women to positions of leadership.
Our Irish football team may have beaten Germany recently but the German bishops seem to be in a commanding lead over ours when it comes to recognising the realities of life in the 21st century and acting on them; this latest development following on from their refusal to accept a poor translation of liturgical texts from Vatican officials and the comments coming from the German speaking group at the synod.

Doctrine does Develop

Joshua J. McElwee, NCR Vatican correspondent, reports on the German language group report from the Synod.
The group, which includes Cardinals Walter Kasper and Gerhard Muller, says in their report “The mercy of God reveals to us in this way the reason and the entire purpose of the work of salvation. The justice of God is His mercy, with which He justifies us.”
Joshua J. McElwee says that as a consequence of this understanding of salvation, the German speaking group write, “there cannot be one universal principle that accounts for all particular situations.”

Bridging the Gap

John O Connnell offers his thoughts on an article written years ago by Kevin McNamara (while Kevin McNamara was still a professor in Maynooth).
John suggests that it might help bridge the gap between the people who favour change and those who are against any kind of significant change.
To look at the interests and reasons behind the formulation of rules and laws can be far more productive than a narrow focus on blind obedience.

A church quartered?

Brendan Hoban in his weekly column in the Western People writes of a fragmented church in Ireland.
“The plain, simple and difficult truth is that the Catholic Church is very divided.”
“Pope Francis is trying to keep all sides going. And that’s what he has to do because, whatever camp we might place ourselves in, we’re all Catholics – albeit with different attitudes and perspectives “

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