Irish bishops comment on papal initiatives
Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel)
Bishops warmly welcomed the publication on 26 November last of Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel) which is Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation following the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization which took place in 2012.
The Holy Father opens the document with the words, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day”.
Bishops said that Evangelii Gaudium is an inescapable call to every member of the Church. It presents us with the task of renewing our understanding of what it means to be followers of Christ and calls us to be witnesses to his message in the world today. That task will require serious reflection and effort in every part of the Church: bishops, priests, religious, parishes, schools, families, groups, associations and individuals. The Bishops’ Conference is planning for a major national pastoral conference in September 2014 on theme of Share the Good News, the National Directory for Catechises in Ireland.
Pope Francis describes how far-reaching the task is:
“I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation” (27).
“I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory” .
Bishops encouraged the faithful, priests and religious of Ireland to read, share with others at parish level and be open to the inspiration offered by Evangelii Gaudium which is available online via www.catholicbishops.ie, in Veritas bookshops and on the Vatican website www.vatican.va.
Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on pastoral challenges for the family
Bishops discussed the announcement by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, that in October 2014 an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on ‘Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelisation’ will be held in the Vatican.
Bishops encouraged the faithful to engage with the consultation which has been initiated by Pope Francis and to respond to the important questions raised on the theme of the family in the ‘Preparatory Document’ on the Vatican website. In recent weeks bishops have been consulting with clergy, Parish Pastoral Councils and other interested individuals and groups in their dioceses. Bishops noted that the questionnaire has a pastoral focus and is concerned about current and future pastoral practice. Bishops thanked those who have already returned their responses.
The preparatory document and accompanying questionnaire can be accessed via www.catholicbishops.ie or directly on www.vatican.va.