18May Communion must be cultivated in the Church — Blessed John Paul II

“Communion must be cultivated and extended day by day and at every level in the structures of each Church’s life. There, relations between Bishops, priests and deacons, between Pastors and the entire People of God, between clergy and Religious, between associations and ecclesial movements must all be clearly characterized by communion.

“To this end, the structures of participation envisaged by Canon Law, such as the Council of Priests and the Pastoral Council, must be ever more highly valued. These of course are not governed by the rules of parliamentary democracy, because they are consultative rather than deliberative; yet this does not mean that they are less meaningful and relevant.

“The theology and spirituality of communion encourage a fruitful dialogue between Pastors and faithful: on the one hand uniting them a priori in all that is essential, and on the other leading them to pondered agreement in matters open to discussion.

“To this end, we need to make our own the ancient pastoral wisdom which, without prejudice to their authority, encouraged Pastors to listen more widely to the entire People of God. Significant is Saint Benedict’s reminder to the Abbot of a monastery, inviting him to consult even the youngest members of the community: ‘By the Lord’s inspiration, it is often a younger person who knows what is best’. And Saint Paulinus of Nola urges: ‘Let us listen to what all the faithful say, because in every one of them the Spirit of God breathes’.”

Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Dawn of a New Millennium), January 2001

5 Responses

  1. Mary Wood

    What an interesting text! Judging by its subsequent “reception” and implementation, not a few folk appear to think it must have been passed in “a senior moment.”

  2. Mary O Vallely

    Yes, isn’t it just an interesting text! So pastors were encouraged to listen more widely to “the entire people of God.”
    “Let us listen to what the faithful say because in every one of them the spirit of God breathes.” Did JP11 practise what he preached??? How do the “people of God” make their views known to their pastors or even get to sit in the same room as them to be heard? There may be a few examples of elected parish councils but I’m not aware of them. Does the Pope listen to his cardinals? Do bishops listen to their priests? Doesn’t sound as if they do from where I’m living. These words of JP11’s are heartening and worthy if only they were followed through.
    Practise what you preach is a motto we could all follow.

  3. Sean O'Conaill

    Here is what the same Pope John Paul II told the Irish bishops at their Ad Limina visit in 1999:

    “There is likewise a need for new forms of prayer and apostolate, new structures and programmes that help to build a greater sense of belonging to the ecclesial community, a new flourishing of associations and movements capable of showing the perennial youth of the Church and of being a genuine leaven in society.”

    Did the Vatican visitators look for these ‘structures of belonging’ a decade later? Did they what? By then the whole idea had sunk like a stone, and the agenda was different: find reasons to blame the abuse catastrophe on ‘dissent’ – to provide a rationale for greater central control. The centre has no interest in whether we feel we belong – the visitation proved that as well.

    “Put not your trust in princes” : Psalm 146. This obviously applies to princes of the church also. To do so is obviously to do what Jesus warned against: to build a house upon sand. The church’s governing system is a total shambles. It puts no check upon its leaders. Not one of its serving bishops can say so without sharing the fate of Bishop Geoffrey Robinson: ostracisation by all the rest.

    Ireland too has fallen into the chasm between papal words and papal deeds, and this will continue to happen so long as we look to the summit for integrity.

  4. Soline Humbert

    “….in matters open to discussion”: Perhaps the crux of the matter is that so many issues are considered not open to discussion, but are decided upon without prior dialogue and consultation, especially with those most affected/experienced.

  5. Joe O'Leary

    A few months after John Paul II spoke the inspiring words cited by Soline there was a vibrant assembly of British Catholics in Liverpool. They spoke up against Humanae Vitae, and that may be the reason why no such assembly was ever held again.