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Synod message: ‘Above all, we must convert ourselves to Christ’

By on Friday, 26 October 2012

Bishops and cardinals are assembled at the synod's opening Mass (Photo: CNS)

Bishops and cardinals are assembled at the synod's opening Mass (Photo: CNS)

Despite the growth of secularism, increased hostility toward Christianity and sinful behaviour by some Church ministers, members of the Synod of Bishops said they are optimistic about the future because of Christ’s promise of salvation.

Addressing a message to Catholics around the world, synod members said they were certain God “will not fail to look on our poverty in order to show the strength of his arm in our days and to sustain us in the path of the new evangelisation”.

Even if the world often resembles a “desert” for Christians, “we must journey, taking with us what is essential: the company of Jesus, the truth of his word, the Eucharistic bread which nourishes us”, the fellowship of community and the work of charity, the message said.

Pope Benedict XVI and the synod members – more than 260 cardinals, bishops and priests – along with priests, religious and lay men and women serving as synod observers and experts, began meeting at the Vatican earlier this month to discuss ways to strengthen Catholics’ faith and to encourage lapsed Catholics to come back to church.

The synod members approved their “message to the people of God” today. They were to vote on proposals to make to Pope Benedict, who will write an apostolic exhortation on the new evangelisation, and are to concelebrate the synod’s closing Mass on Sunday.

While the message described forces hostile to the Christian faith, the synod members also said: “With humility we must recognise that the poverty and weakness of Jesus’s disciples, especially of his ministers, weigh on the credibility of the mission.”

At the same time, they said, they also were “convinced that the Lord’s spirit is capable of renewing his Church and rendering her garment resplendent if we let him mould us.”

“It is our duty, therefore, to conquer fear through faith, humiliation through hope, indifference through love,” the message said.

At a press conference about the message, Philippine Cardinal-designate Luis Tagle of Manila was asked how the bishops could take the line of optimism when Catholics in some parts of the world were leaving the Church because of the clerical abuse scandal.

The cardinal-designate said that “no one pretended there was no problem. There was no such blindness in the synod hall,” but the bishops “are believers” and the Catholic faith teaches that with real conversion, God will help the Church and its ministers respond to “those really painful and scandalising moments in the Church”.

The message included special words of thanks and encouragement for Catholics in different regions of the world. It said synod members were grateful for the generous charity and missionary work of North American Catholics, but it also said Catholics in the United States and Canada “need to recognise the many expressions” of their culture “which are today far from the Gospel”.

Addressing Catholics’ involvement in political life, the synod message insisted “politics requires a commitment of selfless and sincere care for the common good by fully respecting the dignity of the human person from conception to its natural end, honouring the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman”, and working to end “injustice, inequality, discrimination, violence, racism, hunger and war”.

Looking at specific areas of Church and social life, the bishops first highlighted the role of the family, “where women play a very special role” in teaching the faith.

The bishops promised greater efforts to strengthen and accompany Catholic families, particularly through marriage preparation and post-wedding programmes.

While they condemned efforts to move away from a traditional definition of marriage, they expressed particular concern for divorced, separated or unmarried couples.

“To all of them we want to say that God’s love does not abandon anyone; that the Church loves them, too; that the Church is a house that welcomes all; that they remain members of the Church even if they cannot receive sacramental absolution and the Eucharist,” it said.

In the message, the bishops offered thanks for the work of priests, religious and deacons whose ministry is crucial for the Church. And they recognised the many men and women who witness to Christ in the world, including other Christians “with whom unity, unfortunately, is not yet full”, but who share baptism in Christ.

Synod members said they were “concerned, yes, but not pessimistic” about the situation of young Catholics around the world because while they often are under “the most aggressive attacks” of secular culture, they have “deep aspirations for authenticity, truth, freedom, generosity, to which we are convinced that the adequate response is Christ”.

While many synod members spoke during the meeting about the importance of using social media and other new forms of communication to spread the Christian message, it earned only a brief mention in the 11-page message.

The new media, they said, are places where “consciences are often formed, where people spend their time and live their lives. It is a new opportunity for touching the human heart.”

The bishops focused on two “expressions of the life of faith” that they believed would be particularly helpful in strengthening the Church’s outreach: a greater emphasis on helping people learn the art of contemplation – the “prayerful silence” that “can prevent the word of salvation from being lost” amid the world’s noise – and a greater commitment to acts of charity and works of justice because “it is Christ’s face that shines in the face of the poor”.

  • pearlhorborbaby

    To start with, the church could pratice what they preach account many RCs have lost faith in their church from the act of the church of silence ot the truth to protect the image. Just look at Ireland.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    I’m sorry but I don’t follow your banter. Could you speak a little slower Squiffy? (Monty Python)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Nice colour scheme in the photo above. The last time I saw that, it was after 10 pints of bitter following a rugby match (we won).

  • awkwardcustomer

     
    The Synod message talks about developing ‘a greater emphasis on helping people learn the art of contemplation – the “prayerful silence” that “can prevent the word of salvation from being lost” amid the world’s noise’.

    They could start by addressing the non-stop noise that is so typical of your average NO Sunday Mass. How about turning off the microphones and putting a stop to the relentless, amplified voices that disturb the mind and the soul? In the days when I used to attend the NO, I witnessed the effect this could have. The sound system broke down and, no longer disturbed by the din coming from the Sanctuary, everyone started praying or quietly reading their missalettes. It was amazing how the whole atmosphere changed almost immediately. How sad that the NO Mass offers no refuge whatsoever from ‘the world’s noise’.

  • andHarry

     Yes. It’s all about protecting the image of the Church. The laity where the images of Christ are to be found, if at all, have been regarded condescendingly in the past. A former priest, whose name escapes me, said that a joke circulating in his time in the clergy advised treating them like mushrooms – ‘keep them in the dark, and throw s… on them’. Now, when the laity are the lifeline for a desperate hierarchy, congregations are shrinking.

  • Freemasonic Daleks

    Ecumenate! Ecumenate!

  • Enid Ecumaniac

    “Synod” sounds such a male word, doesn’t it? Did the Synod say anything about wymmin? 

    We at the St. Martin Institute of Advanced Ecumenical Heresy demand a democratic, hypocratic, hypnotic, bottom up, top-down, horizontal, vertical, exclusive and inclusive approach to wymmin’s affairs in the process of the New Evangelisation which should take into account both wymmin’s right to choose and not to choose in the context of We Are Church within the new paradigm of Church “being”; and all this naturally amplified by the joy of connecting and being connected through New Age and the dating pages of the Guardian. 

    I shall now fall over backwards while frothing at the mouth. 

    Yours,

    + Bishop Deirdre Barking
    Motto: “I am because you aren’t”

  • nytor

    Indeed, it’s very “interruptive” – and I spend so much time dreading the Sign of the Peace that I have trouble focusing before that.

  • JabbaPapa

    I shall now fall over backwards while frothing at the mouth.

    I hope you have a handy piece of carpet, to clean up the dribble.

    Though you may need to roll over the floor a little …

  • awkwardcustomer

    I had to give it up in the end. To be honest, I find the New Mass disturbing in more ways than one, apart from the sensory assault that is. What a relief it is to have found, at last, a regular Traditional Mass, a low Mass, without interruptions and, dare I say it, without vocal responses from the laity.

    The Traditional Low Mass, for me at least, is the most profound experience available on the planet.

  • Dlflanagan

    A beautiful photograph of the Church fathers but alas no Church mothers. 
    I attended the beautiful Papal Mass at Westminster Cathedral two years ago. And that phalanx of the  princes of the church left me with the distinct impression that there was a missing dimension – where were the mother superiors, abbesses ? [And I didn't mention women priests, an altogether different issue].
    I have become less impressed by the band of brothers who by tradition seem to have ignored Matt 23:3. To a large degree [some noble exceptions] we get vanity and not humility. 
    A recent example of Matt 23:3 was Cardinal Dolan and the two presidential candidates; something of the gospel seemed missing.
    ‘Above all, we must convert ourselves to Christ’ is a beautiful message; convert to his humility, his gentleness, his love; his concern for the weak and the vulnerable.
    ‘The path of new evangelisation will require the likes of reformers like St Dominic, St Francis of Assisi
    and Teresa of Avila and less talk and more humility.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Jabba, I’ve just spent the last half hour trying to reply to your reply on the +Williamson thread.  But Disqus won’t let me.  Never mind. Enid Ecumaniac has said what I was going to say.

  • awkwardcustomer

    They’ve all become feminists

  • awkwardcustomer

    They’ve all become feminists.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Add Torqemada to the list for internal work.

  • Tout

    Beautiful, I suppose, Too bad, I have no idea of what you are saying.

  • Tout

    I was able to attend some Tridentine(Latin)Masses. Everybody knelt to receive H.Host. A family had 4 very young kids. Everyone of them had a ‘prayer book’. Some samples of the new Mass: man receives H,Host in hand, he puts H.Host in his mouth, turns around, waves his hand to someone in the front rows. A woman has both hands in the pockets of her ‘shorts’. Only in front of the priest, the hand come out of the pocket, puts the H.Host in her mouth, both hands back in the pockets ! How many have an understanding that they receive GOD in their hand ? Please, receive on tongue, I never received in hands, tho 2 priests tried to force my folded hands open. Most important must be to stop abortion. But what we can do: receive always on tongue. God wants to come in you, not in your hand. When we can’t kneel on a communion-rail, I give only 25 cents.on Sundays. Do you trust your bishop ?.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    All good questions and observations. 

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     “ABOVE ALL WE MUST CONVERT OURSELVES TO CHRIST”.

    VERY VERY TRUE.

    IN HIS PHYSICAL DAYS THE LORD JESUS CONFRONTED THOSE WHO DID NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM, BECAUSE THEY DID NOT ACCEPT THE BAPTISM OF JOHN, THE LORD’S FORERUNNER.

    WE SHOULD STOP BY OUR OWN REPENTANCE IN FRON’T OF THE LORD JESUS  OUR  ALIGNMENT WITH His enemies: the pharisees and the scribes. ONLY THEM CHRIST THE LORD WILL COME INTO OUR LIFE IN A LIFE-LIKE MANNER.

  • Ghengis

    Priests should once again instruct their flocks on Christian virtues and make sermons that inspire people to grow their character . We need to end the collective delusion that the purpose of the church is social justice. Christianity is to make people of better character hence Christ like; it is not supposed to be an extension of Marxist philosophy. Enough of the wishy washy social justice mantra; Christ’s face does not shine in the face of the poor; it shines in the face of those that are Christ like.

  • nytor

    There aren’t many prioresses or abbesses left these days. Female religious houses are in a dire state in this country.

  • Guest

    You won after 10 pints?

  • aearon43

    Yes, there have been many bad bishops. Jesus did not promise us perfect bishops, but a living Church. 

  • aearon43

    Yes!, this is much more important than the intracities of Church politics, “liberals” vs. “conservatives” and so forth. It is ultimately a lot of nonsense. Christ must be the goal, not our political agenda (left or right).

  • aearon43

    It must indeed be life-like, and not merely some intellectual position that we hold and promolgate on internet message boards.

  • awkwardcustomer

    I’m sorry to say that I trust hardly any of them, and far less my bishop.  If I want an answer to a question, I go to a Traditional priest or to pre-Vatican II literature, since the waffling of today’s priests and theologians hardly ever seems to mean anything.  I am also very fortunate to have found, at long last, a regular Traditional Low Mass where the laity participate by praying.  This is, for me, the most profound experience available on the planet.

    I’ve tried receiving on the tongue at the New Mass, but without Communion rails it’s difficult to kneel without falling over.  And we have to put up with the tutt-tutting from the priest.  The thing is, large numbers of Catholics hardly believe in the True Presence, because they’re not being taught to believe it.  How can bishops and priests really believe that Christ is truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar when they behave in such a cavalier fashion?  And if they hardly believe it, then the laity can’t really be blamed.  The New Evangelisation will achieve nothing, because you can’t give away what you haven’t got.

    The fish rots from the head down.

  • awkwardcustomer

    I’m sorry to say that I trust hardly any of them, and far less my bishop.  If I want an answer to a question, I go to a Traditional priest or to pre-Vatican II literature, since the waffling of today’s priests and theologians hardly ever seems to mean anything.  I am also very fortunate to have found, at long last, a regular Traditional Low Mass where the laity participate by praying.  This is, for me, the most profound experience available on the planet.

     I’ve tried receiving on the tongue at the New Mass, but without Communion rails it’s difficult to kneel without falling over.  And we have to put up with the tutt-tutting from the priest.  The thing is, large numbers of Catholics hardly believe in the True Presence, because they’re not being taught to believe it.  How can bishops and priests really believe that Christ is truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar when they behave in such a cavalier fashion?  And if they hardly believe it, then the laity
    can’t really be blamed.  The New Evangelisation will achieve nothing, because you can’t give away what you haven’t got.

     The fish rots from the head down.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Exactly.  You don’t get to be Christ-like simply by not having enough money.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Exactly.  Becoming Christ-like involves more than not having enough money.

  • Peter

    “IN HIS PHYSICAL DAYS…”

    Our Lord is still physical, in his resurrected body in heaven.

  • JabbaPapa

    … or less.

  • JabbaPapa

    The Real Presence is not a product of your knees.

  • Hermit

      The Catholic Church! Two thousands young!!

      Willy-nilly it is the Holy Spirit that is giving her life. Despite on the outside there are many things to criticize (we are human beings!), the Catholic Church remains the Mystical Body of Christ and shall remain so up to the end of time, or rather up to eternity.

      We strengthen the Church if we live in God’s grace. And the greater the grace in us, the stronger the Church will be.

      Are we living always in grace according to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church?

  • TieHard

    “cannot receive sacramental absolution”
    I was surprised at this as the Church’s position on this has passed me by…….Having known many priests who have recieved absolution for their sins I wonder about athenticity and integrity  .. but my position is founded on my understanding of Jesus in the Gospels and who I have come to know in the confessional
    I do not think Jesus turned anyone away from absolution….The Bishops need to look at this urgently as  it seems to me to be a grave mistake … I am not diluting Jesus’ words about marriage,…..when Jesus spoke to the Samartin woman he made clear both the importance of marriage and his total acceptance of her as one who had sinned. Who casts the stone ?

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     SACRAMENTAL VS. PHYSICAL.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     
    “It must indeed be life-like, and not merely some intellectual position that we hold and promolgate on internet message boards.”

    PLAYING WITH WORDS ARE DIFFERENT.

    “It must indeed be life-like,…

    IF SO,  THE WORLD BEING CHRISTIAN FOR OVER TWO THOUSAND YEARS AND SO MANY SERVING THE LORD AS BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS EVER SINCE …. THE FRUITS???

    “BY THEIR FRUITS” …BY THE FRUITS WE PRODUCE, BY THE FRUITS WE CHRISTIANS PRODUCE …LET THE WORLD KNOW, LET THE LORD KNOW..; LOOK AT EUROPE ….IS IT THE KIND OF FRUITS THE LORD EXPECTS AND SO MANY COUNTRIES GOING THE PAGAN AND ANTI WAY LIKE EUROPE…!

    THE “CHRIST” BEING SERVED COULD BE ANOTHER ONE.

    YES, PLAYING WITH WORDS ARE DIFFERENT TO KEEP THE PEOPLE OCCUPIED.

  • Sweetjae

    The priest can not give absolution if the penitent doesn’t want to repent and amend a grievious sin.

  • JabbaPapa

    Nice to see you talking sense, rather than raging against this one or that one …

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     WHEN THE RUST FALLS AWAY WHAT IS OF WORTH WILL STAND OUT. THE RUST GOING ITS WAY IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    ““It is our duty, therefore, to conquer fear through faith, humiliation
    through hope, indifference through love,” the message said.”

    “”“It is our duty, therefore, to conquer fear through faith,”

    FEAR IS CONQUERED NOT THROUGH FAITH BUT THROUGH FAITH AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD WHO HAS REVEALED HIMSELF TO US IN AND THROUGH JESUS THE LORD.

    AN EXCESS OF WORDS OR PLAYING WITH FORDS COULD ONLY FOGIFY THE TRUTH OF GOD.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    “At the same time, they said, they also were “convinced that the Lord’s spirit is capable of renewing his Church ”

    AIMING AT MERE RENEWAL IS ONLY A CHEAP BARGAIN. EVANGELISATION IS THE URGENT NEED. IT REQUIRES APOSTLES AND PROMOTION OF APOSTLESHIP.

    LET US ALL PROMOTE APOSTLESHIP AS THE LORD HIMSELF DID IT. APART FROM HIS CORE GROUP OF TWELVES, WHOMEVER HE FOUND FIT FOR HIS KINGDOM, HE PROMOTED AS APOSTLES: THE SEVENTY TWO  HE SEND OUT TWO BY TO TO PROCLAIM THE WORD. THIS IS APOSTLESHIP.

    ST.PAUL (SAUL WHO BECAME PAUL) THE LORD PROMOTED TO APOSTLESHIP; EVEN WHEN NOT BEING ONE OF THE TWELVES, HE SHINES AS THE SUPER-MOST APOSTLE.

    MARY…THE QUEEN OF APOSTLES…

    MARY MAGDALENE, “APOSTLE TO THE APOSTLES” IN THE WORDS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

    THE YOUNG MAN WHOM JESUS CALLED TO FOLLOW HIM SAID TO HIM, “LET ME FIRST GO AND BURY MY FATHER, THEN I WILL COME AND FOLLOW YOU”. TO HIM JESUS THE LORD SAID, “NO. LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR OWN DEAD, AS FOR YOU COME AND PROCLAIM THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” THIS IS APOSTLESHIP : PROCLAIMING THE KINGDOM AND PROCLAIMING THE LORD JESUS’ WORD.

    LET ALL THE BISHOPS WHO CLAIM  descent from the apostles BECOME APOSTLES IN PRACTICE AND NOT IN MERE WORDS, DOGMAS AND RITUALS, AND ALL THE PAGAN RELIGIONS AND ANTI RELIGIONS WILL DISAPPEAR FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

    APOSTLESHIP IS THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD JESUS THE LORD BROUGHT TO US. FORGET NOW ABOUT MISSIONARIES AND THE REST.

    RELATIVISING CHRIST THE LORD IS EQUEL TO  DOING AWAY WITH HIM LIKE THE HIGH PRIEST, AND THE REST OF THE COMBINE:PHARISEES AND THE SCRIBES AND OTHERS OF THE OPPOSING GROUP. THESE KILLED JESUS ONLY ONCE; THOSE WHO REPLACED THEM AS LEADERS LATER IN TIME-SCALE KILLED HIM OVER AND OVER AGAIN DOWN TO OUR OWN TIMES.

    LET US US ALL THINK ABOUT  AND PRAY  FOR APOSTLESHIP AND PROMOTE THE SAME MOST ACTIVELY. IT IS THE DEATH-BELL OF PAGANISM AND ANTI-RELIGIONS.

    Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    “At a press conference about the message, Philippine Cardinal-designate
    Luis Tagle of Manila was asked how the bishops could take the line of
    optimism when Catholics in some parts of the world were leaving the
    Church because of the clerical abuse scandal.”

    IF THE PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THE CHURCH, IT IS DUE TO MANY OTHER CAUSES.

    AS FOR CLERICAL ABUSE, OUR POPE HAS TAKEN STRICT MEASURES; OTHERS, ESPECIALLY THE BISHOPS NEED TO CO-OPERATE ACTIVELY AND WITH ALL HONEST AND URGENCY.

    WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE …who are called laity? (DO THESE NOT WANT TO BE PEOPLE OF GOD!); WHY DO THEY STAND AND STARE LIKE UNCONCERNED BYSTANDERS?

    WHY DON’T THEY BRING UP   GENUINE CASES WITH PROOFS IN WRITING AGAINST THOSE DO SUCH THING AND THE LIKE?

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    “……but it also said Catholics in the United States and Canada “need to
    recognise the many expressions” of their culture “which are today far
    from the Gospel”. ”

    SEND OUT TO THESE AREAS APOSTLES FROM EVANGELISING CHRURCHES LIKE THE SYRIAN CHRISTIANS OF KERALA, INDIA AND OTHERS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vinny-Raineri/1685766211 Vinny Raineri

    It could mean the “poor in spirit”, although probably not.

  • Joe Q

     The Council of Trent infallibly said in the VII session in canon IV, “If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema (excommunicated).” http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct07.html

  • Jon Brownridge

     Why “infallibly”? As long as we cling to that concept we can never correct the mistakes of the past.

  • Parasum

     “ABOVE ALL WE MUST CONVERT OURSELVES TO CHRIST”.

    ## That is gold-standard Pelagianism. Nice to see the NuBishops finding another heresy to hug & propagate.

  • Parasum

     “Physical” is a bad choice of word – as is to be expected with these incompetents.

    The Body of the Risen Lord is corporeal, & glorified, but not (apparently) material; or not in any way familiar to earth. The bishops are obviously too ill-educated or too sloppy in their theology to have heard of the word “corporeal”, othewise they would use it.

    “Corporeal” & “physical” are not synonyms. When people say “physical” they often mean “corporeal” or “material”.

  • Parasum

     “Above all, we must convert ourselves to Christ’ is a beautiful message”

    ## But heretical to the core. The Apostles were under the impression that conversion was the work of  God. It is not beautiful, but a deadly half-truth. Like so many of the devil’s lies.

  • WG Grace

    We at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club will write to you Mr Brownridge to explain the basics of the Catholic Faith, to which you are obviously oblivious.