Openings to Renewal

Openings to Renewal

Peter J Cullinane
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 153
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    Openings to Renewal
    Book Description:

    Renewal in the Church is not primarily about topics and issues, as some so tediously seem to think. Those who think the Church would be stronger if it changed some of its teachings dont seem to take seriously enough the experience of those churches that have already changed those same teachings. This book is written as a series of letters on renewal. But, these are not letters previously sent to individuals and now being brought together. They were written for this book. They have been called letters instead of chapters to allow for their different lengths and the different levels of scholarship required by each topic. It also allows for a more personal style of writing. The chosen topics are all relevant to renewal, and the comments are limited to how they open up opportunities for renewal, or illustrate the ongoing need for it within the Catholic Church. This is an international Church which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican II in 2012. It is a timely moment to reflect on the Church and its continual renewal in todays world.

    eISBN: 978-1-921817-38-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Cardinal TS Williams

    Renewal must be first and foremostthe work of the Holy Spirit.In his opening message to the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII said

    We are lacking in human resources and earthly power. Yet we lodge our trust in the power of God’s Spirit who was promised to the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ.

    In line with that reminder, every session of the Council and every meeting of its Commissions commenced with the prayer ‘Adsumus’ composed by St Isidore of Seville in 619:

    We are here before you, Holy Spirit . . .

    come to us, remain with...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    P J Cullinane
  5. Letter One In The Midst of Weakness—A Time of Grace
    (pp. 1-4)

    Much water has flowed down the Orontes since Luke wrote to you recording the Acts of the Apostles. Those were heady days. Didn’t we catch a glimpse of that excitement ourselves after the Second Vatican Council? Sometimes, though, I wonder whether Luke, Barnabas and Paul would recognise us…

    I know well the sacrifices that Catholics have made for the faith down to our own day. Now, with sad hearts many have seen their own children walk away from it, some of them in search of God elsewhere! What is that saying to us?

    Ancient wisdom has it that the Church...

  6. Letter Two ‘Making All Things New’
    (pp. 5-12)

    We met in Rome when I was a student priest. You had been a leader in Joseph (later Cardinal) Cardijn’s Young Christian Workers’ Movement, and if I remember rightly you were in Rome to meet with Monsignor Pietro Pavan who was working on what became Pope John XXIII’s EncyclicalPeace on Earth(Pacem in Terris, 1963) (PT).

    Pope John was aware of a cleavage between how people thought of religious faith and how they thought of the rest of life. Religious faith had come to be perceived as a kind of ‘add-on’ to the rest of life—something we can...

  7. Letter Three Seeing God
    (pp. 13-16)

    I was deeply impressed by the goodness, faith andjoie de vivreof your class of school leavers. Afterwards, you told me of your visit to the Cistercian monastery at Kopua and asked me whether there was anything like that ‘for girls’. I came away wondering how many young people are let down by us because we underestimate them! You had intuited that a full life involves God.

    When St Irenaeus said ‘the glory of God is the human being fully alive’, he added—in the same sentence—‘and what makes us fully alive is seeing God’. Being fully alive...

  8. Letter Four Communion
    (pp. 17-20)

    Your letter reminded me of TS Eliot’s lines:

    We shall not cease from exploration

    and the end of all our exploring

    will be to arrive where we started

    and know the place for the first time. (Little Gidding)

    In your explorations you discovered God’s presence outside the household of your ancestral faith. Then, in re-discovering your own faith you found it already contained all that you went looking for—especially in its mystical tradition. After all, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus give historical visibility and focus to what God’s Holy Spirit is doing throughout the world. Cf Decree...

  9. Letter Five For Mission and Through Mission
    (pp. 21-24)

    As you know, sharing in God’s work of ‘making all things new’ is how the Church transcends itself in carrying out its mission. In and through carrying out its mission,the Church itselfis made new.

    There was not first a Church to which was given a mission. First were missions—the ‘sending’ of the Son and the ‘sending’ of the Holy Spirit. Through them creation is being drawn into the communion which is God’s life.

    To ‘unite all things in Christ’ was the plan God had in mind ‘before the world was made’. This was the ‘mystery of God’s...

  10. Letter Six Inculturation
    (pp. 25-30)

    Dear Bishops at the Extraordinary Synod on Renewal,

    Your discussions on renewal have moved naturally into discussions on inculturation. The bigness of mind and heart that I spoke of in my earlier letter are required especially for the work of inculturation.

    Taking differences of time and culture into account is necessary for effective evangelisation:

    (The Church’s programme) does not change with the shifts of time and cultures . . . though it takes account of time and culturefor the sake of true dialogue and effective communication(John Paul II, Apostolic Letter at the Close of the Great Jubilee of...

  11. Letter Seven ‘Receiving’ the Council
    (pp. 31-36)

    Thank you for your letter. Because the New Zealand headquarters of the Society of St Pius X is located within your parish, it is not surprising that you often hear their claim that they are the stronger for not accepting the Second Vatican Council, and their scepticism about how the Council was supposed to renew the Church.

    The Second Vatican Council was beyond doubt a special moment in God’s providence for the Church when it needed to better equip itself for evangelising in a very different world. The world it was used to was changing fast. Subsequent over-interpretations of the...

  12. Letter Eight Pastoral
    (pp. 37-42)

    This will be your first experience of a General Synod of Bishops in Rome. You will learn much from the other bishops precisely because they reflect the faith as it is lived in their local churches. Your contribution to the universal Church will depend on you trusting your experience of the faith of the people you serve in your diocese and country.

    During discussions at the Second Vatican Council on the nature of the Church, the need was felt to look not only at the Church itself, but also at its relationship with the world around it. Looking inwards at...

  13. Letter Nine Collegiality
    (pp. 43-48)

    What the Council taught concerning the relationship between the Bishop of Rome and the other bishops of the Church was really a recovery of ancient Christian belief. And it had huge potential for renewal.

    The Council drew an analogy between the unity of St Peter with the other apostles, and the unity of Peter’s successors with the bishops of the universal Church. The pope has teaching authority and pastoral governance over the universal Church, and so do the bishops in union with him and under his leadership (cf Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, (Lumen Gentium, 1963 (LG) 22. It is...

  14. Letter Ten Re-imagining the Church
    (pp. 49-54)

    Before the Council we had inherited a perception and image of the Church that revolved aroundordained ministryandreligious life. Clearly, there is no intention here of down-playing the significance of either—quite the opposite. The point I make is this: through what social scientists call ‘group bias’, the Church came to be perceived primarily in relation to those whose profile in it was more prominent. They were thought of as ‘the Church’. It was not uncommon to hear training for the priesthood described as ‘joining the Church’.

    In this context, the call to holiness seemed to be mainly...

  15. Letter Eleven Religious Life and Priesthood
    (pp. 55-58)

    In my previous letter I highlighted the Council’s teaching on the call of all the baptised to holiness and on the responsibility of all the baptised for the mission of the Church. I am writing now to explain how this does not diminish the significance of priesthood and religious life.

    In fact, the opposite is true: unburdened by the assumptions and expectations of clericalism, the true significance of ordained priesthood is more easily identified, appreciated and affirmed. And when the universal call to holiness is recognised, it becomes clearer that professed Religious have a message for all of us.


  16. Letter Twelve Abuse—Of People and Power
    (pp. 59-64)

    Like many other faithful priests you have felt hurt by the way you are being tarred with the same brush as those who have done terrible harm by sexual offending, to say nothing of the harm also done by the Church’s inadequate responses, and mismanagement of it. Relentless media reporting seems to make us all guilty, at least by association. Might it help to remember that this same clamour of the media must seem like relief and vindication to those who have been unheard, disbelieved and ignored for so long? We might even ask ourselves whether they would have had...

  17. Letter Thirteen Initiation into the Church
    (pp. 65-70)

    The renewal of the Church requires renewal at the point of entry. Initiation into the Church has become too routine and conventional. It needs to reflect better the dramatic reality of what is happening. Initiation is, after all, about being ‘born again’ through a ‘baptism with the Holy Spirit’. It was for this that Christ came (Jn 1:33, 34). This pouring out of the Holy Spirit had been foretold by the prophets (for example Ezech 36:25–27; Jl 3:1–2;) and was to be fulfilled after Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:4–5; 2:33). New life would flow as from ‘fountains of...

  18. Letter Fourteen Liturgical Renewal
    (pp. 71-82)

    Could there be any greater privilege, and reason for humility, than the part Christ gives us in the celebration of the sacraments and liturgy. Here we experience some of our clearest glimpses of Christ in the midst of His people. (See The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963 (SC) 7.)

    For a deeper appreciation of the mysteries we celebrate, I refer you to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), The Introduction to the Lectionary, The Introduction to the Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and the Introductions to each of the sacraments. My focus...

  19. Letter Fifteen Homilies
    (pp. 83-88)

    Every priest knows that in ministering to others he is being ministered to. We quickly discover that it is the faith and hopes, struggles, sacrifices, goodness and love of the people that inspire our faith, our desire to serve, and our ability to persevere. The support that priests and people receive from each other is out of proportion to the merits of either; it has the Holy Spirit as its source.

    Yet this relationship, on which so much else hangs, is sometimes under strain from inadequate preaching. Does anything cause more concern for parents of adolescents, more frustration and even...

  20. Letter Sixteen Christian Unity—Having a Heart for it
    (pp. 89-94)

    You were raised Catholic and Anglican respectively and in the early years of your marriage you worshiped in both your churches each Sunday. This could not have been easy for you especially when the children were young, and more so because of your cerebral palsy, Bill. Your commitment to God and to each other suggests that perhaps it is to couples in inter-church marriages that we need to turn to give the work for Christian unity a needed boost. The need for unity would be felt more keenly by people like you.

    The ‘ecumenical movement’ started among other Christians. Within...

  21. Letter Seventeen Christian Unity—Making Spaces for it
    (pp. 95-102)

    I write in the spirit of the collegial co-responsibility your predecessor, Cardinal E Cassidy, clearly had in mind when he told the Synod of Bishops in 1991:

    We in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity have been given the task of working for the unity of Christians; but the task is one that the Second Vatican Council entrusted to all the bishops and local churches (CIC755).

    We look to you in this Synod to speak to us and illumine us on this aspect of evangelisation . . . Not enough has been done as yet in general in...

  22. Letter Eighteen Marriage and Family Life
    (pp. 103-106)

    Good marriages (not just Christian marriages) have a special role to play in keeping alive the vision of life and love asgifts.

    Secularism has its own logic: if there is no personal God to whom we are accountable for how we live our lives, then our lives are ours to dispose of as we will. But then the logic turns sour. Human life becomes useable, disposable and marketable. It becomes property. From that perspective, it really is hard to see what is wrong with bringing embryos into existence, using them as raw material for other ends, and discarding them.¹...

  23. Letter Nineteen The Pastoral Care of Separated/Remarried Spouses
    (pp. 107-116)

    It is part of our calling to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow’ (Rom 12:15). There is plenty of scope for both in our work with families and especially with those who have experienced broken marriages.

    By now, unfortunately, many of those who have suffered broken marriages, and especially if they have entered new relationships, have made up their minds that there is nothing the Church can do for them; they feel excluded, and see no point in being involved with the Church. Even if they are wrong in this, that is their perception....

  24. Letter Twenty Male & Female God Made Them
    (pp. 117-124)

    You have shared with me the deep hurt you feel over ways women have been treated in society and in the Church, and told me of your affection for your fifteenth century namesake, Joan of Arc, who suffered at the hands of Church and state, and who is now recognised as a martyr and saint.

    You also asked how I see the road ahead to full recognition of women’s rights. I shall limit myself to reflecting on the distinctive contribution Judeo Christian revelation can make to that journey, and why it may well be decisive for reaching the goal.


  25. Letter Twenty-One Renewal and the Sacrament of Reconciliation
    (pp. 125-132)

    Much more important things could be said about reconciliation in general, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation in particular, than I intend to say here. This reflection is limited to just the issue of general confession and absolution.

    Jesus gave his Church authority to forgive sin, and to determine how best to do this. No sacrament has undergone more change down the centuries than the sacrament of Penance. And, of course, what has changed, can change again.

    Whatever sacramental practices and laws the Church puts in place, they must ultimately be measured against needs of the Church’s mission, which is always...

  26. Letter Twenty-Two ‘More Catholic than the Pope’
    (pp. 133-134)

    You do well to speak up for the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, and more of the lay faithful should do so—provided they do so accurately. Just as it can be misleading and harmful to reduce the Church’s teachings to less than they mean, so too it can be misleading and harmful to inflate the Church’s teachings to more than they mean—especially in matters of conscience.

    When a national newspaper likens the Catholic Church to a Flat Earth Society because the Church questions the merits of condoms in preventing the spread of AIDS, it is in part because...

  27. Letter Twenty-Three Where the Spirit Moves
    (pp. 135-140)

    Throughout salvation history, it is the Spirit of God that gives life and form where otherwise there is only void, chaos, desert and dry bones; (cf Gen 1:12; Deut 32:10,11; Is 43:19; Ezech 37:1–14). This Source of life is also the source of new life—as at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and at the beginning of the Church’s mission, and ever since. So, in looking for openings to renewal we need to look for signs of where the Spirit is already giving new life.

    These are not difficult to see, or to interpret. Each year, tens of thousands...

  28. Epilogue
    (pp. 141-142)
  29. Appendix I Post-conciliar and semi-official clarifications
    (pp. 143-144)
  30. Appendix II See Letter 20, Footnote 1
    (pp. 145-148)
  31. Index of Biblical References
    (pp. 149-150)
  32. Index of Names and Subjects
    (pp. 151-154)