Friday, 21 October 2011

Ad limina messages

Pope Benedict and Cardinal Pell at the opening of Domus Australia
Source: The Australian

The Australian bishops ad limina visit has, I think, pretty much wound up now, and there are assorted reports around of interest.  In particular, the Pope's comments to our bishops touched on most of the key issues that need to be tackled in Australia.

The Pope's remarks to the bishops

The full text of the Pope's remarks to our bishops can be found on the Vatican website, and cover the need for sound catechesis and a commitment to the conversion of Australia; the need for liturgical reform; and the need for greater transparency, concrete action and fidelity to the faith in order to correct past mistakes. 

The Pope opened with some rather pointed remarks about the need to actually stay in communion with Rome, rather than having bishops inventing their own denomination a la Bishop Morris:

"This pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul provides you with an important occasion to strengthen the bonds of communion in the one Church of Christ. This moment is therefore a privileged opportunity to reaffirm our unity and the fraternal affection which must always characterize relations in the College of Bishops, with and under the Successor of Peter."

The Pope then goes into a bit of positive spin, pointing to the increase in vocations (well, in some dioceses at least!) in the last few years, and the boost given by WYD and the canonisation of St Mary McKillop.  He uses the example of St Mary to point to the need for more emphasis on sound catechesis and mission:

"All the members of the Church need to be formed in their faith, from a sound catechesis for children, and religious education imparted in your Catholic schools, to much-needed catechetical programmes for adults. Clergy and religious must also be assisted and encouraged by an ongoing formation of their own, with a deepened spiritual life in the rapidly secularizing world around them. It is urgent to ensure that all those entrusted to your care understand, embrace and propose their Catholic faith intelligently and willingly to others."

VIS news particularly highlighted the Pope's comments on the need for liturgical reform, using the new translation of the Mass as an opportunity to ensure that Mass is "a moment of greater grace and beauty, worthy of the Lord and spiritually enriching for everyone."  The CNS report on the subject includes some entertaining (and extremely pertinent) remarks on the translation and some of the sillier opposition to it from Cardinal Pell.

On problems such as abuse and the failure of too many of our bishops to actually teach the faith and ensure their priests live it, the Pope pointed to the need :

"to repair the errors of the past with honesty and openness, in order to build, with humility and resolve, a better future for all concerned. I therefore encourage you to continue to be pastors of souls who, along with your clergy, are always prepared to go one step further in love and truth for the sake of the consciences of the flock entrusted to you [a message on AB Hepworth and others?], seeking to preserve them in holiness, to teach them humbly and to lead them irreproachably in the ways of the Catholic faith".

Other highlights of the visit appear to be:
  • the official opening of Domus Australia, pictured above.  You can watch the opening on xt3, and/or read the Pope's speech on the vatican website;
  • a coming statement on the Bishop Morris affair - Archbishop Wilson declined to comment in advance, but Cardinal Pell noted the inappropriateness of Bishop Morris' continued public teaching in Toowoomba, and Archbishop Coleridge of Canberra talked up the discussions with Vatican officials, which from the sound of it were largely a (clearly needed) lesson in the meaning of communion with Rome; and
  • the announcement by Archbishop Wilson of Adelaide (President of the Bishops' Conference) of a forthcoming 'Year of Grace' to start next Pentecost (a good idea, though now looking a little unco-ordinated with the year of faith starting next October!).
All up, some pretty important messages in all this....

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