05Dec 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” [33].

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.

6 Responses

  1. Sean O'Conaill

    “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 Catechesis 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 …”
    .
    Could we add to this dream our own that the Irish Bishops’ Conference would operate in an entirely different and more open way – conducting most of its business in public from now on? And changing its transmission-only website, if only to permit open questions related to its quarterly statements?
    .
    For example, a question in my head right now has to do with this forthcoming pastoral conference on ‘Share the Good News’ in September 2014. To whom will this conference be open, and will it allow open, critical discussion of ‘Share the Good News’ itself? That catechetical directory precedes the present papacy and seems to me to be seriously lacking in its treatment of key ideas such as ‘salvation’ and how this relates to ‘joy’. I greatly fear a heavily choreographed piosity contest, and a skating over the huge problem of depleted energies and low morale among many of those to whom the task of a new evangelisation will be entrusted.
    .
    There can be no new evangelisation in Ireland until we can all ‘get real’ with one another, and this very pro-forma statement from the ICBC suggests it is not yet ready for that. That whole website sends the usual joy-forbidding message: ‘We Irish bishops will always be wired for transmission only’.
    .
    Could the next ICBC statement maybe declare an intention to share ‘ a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything’?

  2. Shaun the Sheep

    How about the bishops have the theme LEARN THE GOOD NEWS so at least then we know what it is, then we can begin living it, and then, in living it, we’ll be able to share it. How about the theme of picking up the Catechism, Compendium, Youcat, and learning it, and have priests also preach using it to prepare sermons? I get the impression with the whole SHARE THE GOOD NEWS thing, that that book doesn’t get that we have a big catechesis problem: there hasn’t really been any for the last several decades.

  3. Sean O'Conaill

    #2 Shaun the Sheep
    .
    As boy in Dublin in the 1950s I had to ‘learn off’ the Catechism of the time, and knew it well for my confirmation, c. 1954. Yet I didn’t really ‘hear’ the ‘Good News’ till 1994 – in the midst of a truly deep life crisis that obliged me to pray with full seriousness. I received then – partly mediated by the love of those closest to me – a deep personal reassurance of a close loving presence affirming my infinite value. I understood only then the promise of Jesus that “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
    .
    So I strongly challenge the notion that conveying the ‘Good News’ can be reduced to ‘Catechism Class’ and rote learning of doctrine. The Catechism only becomes meaningful when we understand first of all that we are deeply and eternally loved – and that understanding can only be mediated by Christians for whom Christian love always precedes Christian knowledge. The latter is mere verbiage without the former. That’s why the Great Commandment is to ‘Love’, not to ‘Know’.
    .
    So the first priority of a ‘New Evangelisation’ must surely be to discover together how to become a community that loves people unconditionally, as God does. And especially how to convey that love to those experiencing deep crisis. That cannot happen through ‘Share the Good News’ if our teaching magisterium does not first discover how to love their people. That’s why the way led by Francis – to get out among the sheep and to let them freely speak back – is the only way forward.
    .
    And that’s why I will not be impressed by our own magisterium if their response to Evangelii Gaudium is to be confined to the organisation of a conference next September on ‘Share the Good News’. In that work too I sense the mistake that the Good News can be conveyed merely by accurate doctrinal verbalisation – in much the same way as we energise our cars by filling the tank with petrol. That’s not to say that catechesis is unnecessary but to say that it must be primarily loving and dialogical. Another mere ‘doctrinal petrol pump’ approach will be a pedagogical and evangelical disaster.

  4. Clare Hannigan

    According to the Bishops web site Share the Good News is the National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland. It is a ten year plan for Evangelisation, for Catechesis and for Religious Education in Ireland from the perspective of the Catholic Church.

  5. m.m.mccarron

    Could we replace Good News with a more telling phrase such as the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Just as we should use the English titles of Papal documents – a row of Latin titles in Catholic bookshops makes no appeal to the non-Latin educated people of today. No problem as a sub title.

  6. Eddie Finnegan

    m.m.mccarron@5
    ‘IOANNIS PP.XXIII CONSTITVTIO APOSTOLICA DE LATINITATIS STUDIO PROVEHENDO:
    IOANNES EPISCOPUS SERVVS SERVORUM DEI AD PERPETUAM REI MEMORIAM: “VETERUM SAPIENTIA”, Anno Domini MCMLXII’

    .
    Eheu et Alas! If a Solemn Apostolic Constitution promulgated by the soon to be sainted Good Pope John for the advancement of the study of the Wisdom of the Ancients through Latin (and Greek) a mere eight months before he opened the Vatican Council became almost immediately a very dead letter, sunk with just an occasional bubble to mark its disappearance, does a lowly 2013 Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Good News have a snowball’s chance of being read even a year from now, let alone in anno Domini MMLXIV ?
    .
    Meanwhile, I’m taking Sr McCarron’s words to heart, so I’m off down to the City of London with a tarbrush to obliterate all those mysterious signs such as ‘Paternoster Square/Row/Lane’ and replace them with something within the grasp of the unlettered and unlatined, like ‘Cheapside’ or ‘Ignoramus Lane’ (Damn that Latin, there’s no getting away from it.) And when I get back to Armagh I’ll chisel off that stupid Greek inscription over the Public Library. Who needs a pretentious ‘healing place of the soul’ when they could just call it “Dusty Ould Books”?
    But, as for that “row of Latin titles in Catholic bookshops”, shouldn’t we bring our iconoclasm to bear on that lying title over the front door: surely Pravda is more comprehensible than Veritas when it comes to propaganda? Or if we must keep the Latin, replace it with a good Clerical Off-Licence – In Vino Veritas.