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Sunday, December 4, 2016
The Synod of Bishops
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¬†The 10th Synod of Bishops is currently meeting in Rome (30 September - 27 October). Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP, Bishop of Nottingham, are the representatives from England and Wales at the international meeting, which is on 'The bishop: servant of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the hope of the world'. Summaries of their interventions last week follow. (For more information visit: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/press/sinodo/sinodo_index_en.htm). Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor (5 October) The bishop as animator of pastoral spirituality (Instrumentum Laboris, 52). The bishop has a three-fold ministry of teaching, sanctifying and shepherding the people of his diocese. I am increasingly aware that it is necessary not only to keep the faith, but also to deepen it among priests and people. The consumerist culture attenuates faith, making commitment to both teaching and practice more difficult. One way to counter this consumerist culture is for the bishop to initiate a plan aiming at the spiritual and pastoral renewal of his people. I propose that the Synod consider such a programme, which would have four essential elements: 1. Prayer and liturgy, particularly the Eucharist, and also renewed study of scripture. 2. Community, especially small communities Ů groups of people meeting to pray, reflect on the Word of God and relate it to their daily lives. These can transform a parish. 3. Formation: effective catechesis in what we believe (the Creed), what we celebrate (sacraments), and how we should live (commandments, beatitudes). 4. Work for justice and peace, to be a voice for the voiceless and to care for people in need. In bringing such a plan about, the bishop is crucial. He alone can call and animate such a venture and so the formation of Bishops at both international and local level is an integral element. The role of the diocesan bishop is to create the climate where hearts and minds are open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Let us not be discouraged - the Lord Jesus Christ is with us. Bishop McMahon (4 October) The bishop's role as minister of hope (Instrumentum Laboris, 123-24). The Dominican tradition offers a system of good government that respects individuals, acknowledges gifts and gives room for expression, allowing the Spirit to speak through individual and community. The Church's faithful have a right to be governed in hope and freedom. Contrary to hope, there is presumption - God saves regardless of Church and individual - and fatalism - 'nothing I do will make any difference'. Hope opposes these by empowering the aimless and providing a future. There are three aspects to the bishop in his diocese governing with hope: 1. Debate must be allowed to take place in the spirit of communion. Rather than feeling threatened by contrary opinion, we, like St Thomas Aquinas, should learn from our opponents' arguments. In our seeking, the God of truth reveals himself. 2. The laity are filled with hope when they are formed in faith and enabled to become valuable members of church and society. 3. Governance with hope builds a confident Church that offers hope to the world. By sharing faith, our suffering world comes to know and love Christ better, becoming a more hopeful place. source: CMO
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