Pope Francis to Pax Romana: Be agents of social change

In a personally signed letter to the Pax Romana movements on 22 July 2022, Pope Francis called on Catholic students and professionals to work for the spread of the Gospel, its values of justice, peace and solidarity, and to be agents of social change.

Pax Romana, which comprises two movements – the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) and the International Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA) – has just concluded its centenary year commemorating its foundation in 1921.

In his letter, Pope Francis thanked Pax Romana leaders for maintaining a “spirituality of action” and for fulfilling “your mission of addressing the spiritual and material needs of young people in tertiary educational institutions throughout the world.”

“I am likewise appreciative of the contribution you have made within the Church,” the pope continued, “and for the notable fruits that have been borne in nurturing leaders and supporting the faithful in promoting Catholic social leaching in the Americas, Africa and Asia.”

“Your vital apostolate encourages young people to take the lead in striving for a more just social order within their countries,” the pope noted, even though “not all of you live in environments that easily facilitate the pursuit of your dreams or that help you to grow in faith.”

“Support one another in the life of faith and the pursuit of virtue. In a world of widespread inequality, may you be mindful too of your fellow students and peers in so many parts of our world whose dreams are threatened by war, injustice, and political, economic and ecological crises. Keep them in your prayers and support them by works of practical solidarity,” the pope added.

Recalling the theme for World Youth Day 2023 – “Mary arose and went with haste” – he urged leaders “to ‘arise’ like Mary, and work for the change you want to experience within your communities

“Demonstrate and spread the (Pax Romana) values of ‘Respect and Integrity, Trust and Solidarity, Diversity and “Inclusivity, Transparency and Accountability” so that “your service to the liberating message or the Gospel will be effective and will bear lasting fruit,” Pope Francis concluded.

“Pope Francis is clearly very familiar with the work of Pax Romana,” commented Australian Cardijn Institute secretary, Stefan Gigacz. “The Uruguayan intellectual and Pax Romana member, Alberto Methol Ferré, was a major influence on Francis’ thinking as were many Argentinian chaplains of the JUC, the local member movement of the IMCS, including Lucio Gera.”

The Australian Cardijn Institute (www.australiancardijninstitute.org) is a corresponding member of Pax Romana ICMICA (www.icmica-miic.org ).

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE POPE’S LETTER

To the Members of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS-MIEC) Pax Romana and the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMCA-MIIC) Pax Romana

I send prayerful good wishes to the students and professionals celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the International Movement of Catholic Students – Pax Romana. Your Movement received official recognition by the Holy See in 1921, and I am pleased that you have maintained your spirituality of action and fulfilled your mission of addressing the spiritual and material needs of young people in tertiary educational institutions throughout the world. I am likewise appreciative of the contribution you have made within the Church over this period, and for the notable fruits that have been borne in nurturing leaders and supporting the faithful in promoting Catholic social leaching in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Your vital apostolate encourages young people to take the lead in striving for a more just social order within their countries.

Over the past Century, Pox Romana has enabled many university students and young professionals to grow in their faith and to work for the spread or the Gospel and its values of justice, peace and solidarity. I encourage you to continue to be agents of social change, steadfast in your efforts to help build a more inclusive, harmonious and sustainable world. Be ever ready to give the best of yourselves in meeting the challenges that lie ahead, attentive to the signs of the times and committed to the service of the poor, the vulnerable and the underprivileged.

Dear young friends, at this stage of your lives, you have much energy and a plethora of opportunities and choices before you. Yet, while you have many wishes and interests that you want to explore, not all of you live in environments that easily facilitate the pursuit of your dreams or that help you to grow in faith. Support one another in the life of faith and the pursuit of virtue. In a world of widespread inequality, may you be mindful too of your fellow students and peers in so many parts of our world whose dreams are threatened by war, injustice, and political, economic and ecological crises. Keep them in your prayers and support them by works of practical solidarity.

As you know, young Catholics are preparing to meet in Lisbon in August 2023 for World Youth Day, with the motto, “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39), I look forward to seeing many of you there! I urge you to “arise” like Mary, and work for the change you want to experience within your communities. Demonstrate and spread the values of “Respect and Integrity, Trust and Solidarity, Diversity and Inclusivity, Transparency and Accountability” that your Strategic Plan highlights. In this way, your service to the liberating message or the Gospel will be effective and will bear lasting fruit.

With these sentiments, I send my blessing to all the members of lMCS and ICMICA, I ask you, please, to pray for me, and for peace in our world, that young people everywhere may enjoy a future filled with hope and joy.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 22 July 2022

SOURCE

Pope Francis, Letter to Pax Romana

PHOTO

Zebra48bo / Wikipedia / CCA BY SA 4.0

Plenary misses Francis’ wider vision

Some 278 Catholic bishops, clergy, religious personnel and lay people will meet as members of an unprecedented Plenary Council during 4-9 July to finalise the resolutions of their first assembly last year. However the May working document ‘Framework for Motions’, despite much worthy content, especially on Indigenous affairs, relies on a narrow notion of mission overly focused on inner-church issues at the expense of the wider social engagement that Francis emphasises, writes Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR in Eureka Street.

(It is) puzzling how the Framework for Motions overlooks the specifically secular mission of lay women and men in their daily work, occupations, communities and families. Merely a single paragraph calls for deepening the ‘lay apostolate in the world based on attentiveness to the “signs of the times”, scriptural reflection, prayerful communal discernment and a commitment to engagement with the broader Australian community through listening and dialogue’ (#80). But it does not explain why this secular involvement is so crucially significant, especially for Pope Francis.

‘Francis has explicitly recast this see-judge-act method into the process of synodality and discernment, calling the whole Church to learn this way of listening carefully to others, especially the excluded or marginalised.’

Let me explain. The paragraph refers to the famous see-judge-act process developed by a Belgian priest, Canon Joseph Cardijn, nearly a century ago for use by young working women and men in factories and workplaces. Cardijn formed groups to discuss their life and work issues (‘see’), to reflect together using a Gospel passage for spiritual guidance (‘judge’) and then to take action to change situations (‘act’).

It was a circular process of empowerment for people to take charge of their lives and challenge unjust practices. It became known as the Young Christian Workers Movement and spread internationally, even to Australia, especially in Melbourne and Adelaide. Based on people’s personal experiences, it linked faith cogently with their real life issues, giving them strength and courage to make often difficult decisions but acting always on their own responsibility. This method often empowered people for the rest of their lives and careers.

Francis has explicitly recast this see-judge-act method into the process of synodality and discernment, calling the whole Church to learn this way of listening carefully to others, especially the excluded or marginalised.

Francis urges a ‘cultural revolution’ in the church, to undertake ‘the slow work of changing structures, through participation in public dialogue, where decisions are made that affect the lives of the most vulnerable.’ He said that the social apostolate is to empower people ‘“to promote processes [italics added] and to encourage hope”, to help communities grow, to be aware of their rights, to apply their talents, and create their own futures’. He dreams of a ‘Church that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses herself in today’s problems and needs, bandaging wounds and healing broken hearts with the balm of God.’

His notion of mission is thus not confined to inner-church matters. At the opening of the 2021-1923 Synod on Synodality on 9 October 2021, he said that the Vatican Council understood mission as including ‘apostolic commitment to the world of today’, but warned that this was opposed to ‘proselytism’. In an address to Catechists on 27 September 2013, he insisted: ‘What attracts is our witness… Words come…. But witness comes first: people should see the Gospel, read the Gospel, in our lives.’

FULL ARTICLE

Bruce Duncan, Plenary Council fails to embrace Pope Francis’s wider social vision (Eureka Street)

See-judge-act bishop now a cardinal

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego as one of 21 new cardinals. Bishop McElroy, who visited Australia in June 2017, has made a name for himself for a pastoral approach very close to that of Pope Francis.

In February 2017 address to the US Regional Meeting of Popular Movements he offered a powerful endorsement of Cardijn’s see-judge-act method.

“For the past century, from the worker movements of Catholic action in France, Belgium and Italy to Pope John XXXIII’s call to re-structure the economies of the world in ‘Mater et Magistra,’ to the piercing missionary message of the Latin American Church,” Cardinal-elect McElroy said, “the words ‘see,’ ‘judge’ and ‘act’ have provided a powerful pathway for those who seek to renew the temporal order, in the light of the Gospel and justice.”

He continued:

As the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace described this pathway, it lies in “seeing clearly the situation, judging with principles that foster the integral development of people and acting in a way which implements these principles in the light of everyone’s unique situation.”

There is no greater charter for this gathering taking place here in Modesto in these days than the simple but rich architecture of these three words: “see,” “judge” and “act.” Yet these words — which carry with them such a powerful history of social transformation around the world in service to the dignity of the human person — must be renewed and re-examined at every age and seen against the background of those social, economic and political forces in each historical moment.

In the United States we stand at a pivotal moment as a people and a nation, in which bitter divisions cleave our country and pollute our national dialogue.

In our reflections in these days, here, we must identify the ways in which our very ability to see, judge and act on behalf of justice is being endangered by cultural currents which leave us isolated, embittered and angry. We must make the issues of jobs, housing, immigration, economic disparities and the environment, foundations for common efforts rather than of division. We must see prophetic words and prophetic actions which produce unity and cohesion and we must do so in the spirit of hope which is realistic. For as Pope Francis stated to the meeting in Bolivia: “You are sowers of change,” and sowers never lose hope.

San Diego Diocese has a long history it the jocist movements. For many years, it hosted a Cardijn Centre founded by YCW and YCS chaplain, Fr Leo Davis. It was also the home diocese for Fr Victor Salandini, who became known as the “tortilla priest” for his work with Latino farm workers.

READ MORE

Bishop W. Robert McElroy (Wikipedia)

Bishop McElroy: Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process (America Magazine)

Transcript of speech by San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy to community organizers (San Diego Tribune)

Pope Francis names Bishop McElroy a Cardinal (San Diego Diocese)

Pope announces 21 new Cardinals from around the world (Vatican News)

Leo Davis (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Victor Salandini (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Pope Francis on education

Francis considers schools as being free of geographical boundaries and walls. He calls each school “a platform for drawing close to children and young people” (CV 221). Indeed, a school is not an end in itself; it is a platform, a support area that serves as a base for other operations. Schools are also “privileged places of personal development”.

The school is not enclosed within boundaries and schedules; it goes beyond them. Addressed to the surrounding reality and to the world, it offers an educational program for the whole of life.

Pope Francis recently reflected a broader vision of the school in his video message for the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Latin American Federation of Colleges of the Society of Jesus (FLACSI).

In it, he listed eight desires for schools of the Society of Jesus: 1) that Jesuit schools form hearts convinced of the mission for which they were created; 2) that they be welcoming schools, in which one can heal one’s own wounds and those of others; 3) that they be schools with doors that are really open, not only in words, where the poor can enter and where one can go out to meet the poor; 4) that they not retreat into a selfish elitism, but learn to live together with everyone, be places where fraternity is lived; 5) that they teach their pupils to discern, to read the signs of the times, to read their own lives as a gift to be grateful for and to share; 6) that they have a critical attitude toward the models of development, production and consumerism that are pushing inexorably towards inevitable harm; 7) that they have a conscience and foster conscious awareness ; 8) that they are schools of disciples and missionaries.

Francis considers education under a triple aspect. First and foremost, it is an act of love, because it generates life in its multidimensionality; it removes people from self-centeredness; it helps them to enter into confidence with their interiority, to put potential into action, to open themselves to transcendence, to help the discarded ones of the globalizing society. For the pope, “education is a dynamic reality; it is a movement that brings people to light.” “I am convinced,” Francis says in Laudato Si’, “that change is impossible without motivation and a process of education” (LS 15).

Education is also an act of hope, which helps to break the vicious circle of skepticism, disbelief, and restriction within conceptions and attitudes contrary to the dignity of the human being. Francis does not tire of exhorting us not to lose hope. He addresses this appeal to various categories of people, because “a globalization bereft of hope or vision can easily be conditioned by economic interests, which are often far removed from a correct understanding of the common good, and which readily give rise to social tensions, economic conflicts and abuses of power.”

Finally, education is a factor that humanises the world, because it helps people to transcend individualism, to appreciate differences, to discover fraternity, to be responsible for the environment. It is “the natural antidote to an individualistic culture that at times degenerates into a veritable cult of the self and the primacy of indifference.”

READ MORE

Luiz Fernando Klein, SJ, How Pope Francis Sees Education (La Civilta Cattolica)

Pope Francis: New roles for lay people

After nearly nine years of preparation, Pope Francis has promulgated the Apostolic Constitution “Praedicate Evangelium,” reforming the Roman Curia and its structures.

Fundamental among the general principles in the new Constitution is the provision that anyone – including lay people – can be appointed to roles of government in the Roman Curia by virtue of the vicarious power of the Successor of Peter.

The preamble to the Constitution explains this in the following terms:

“Every Christian, by virtue of Baptism, is a missionary disciple to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus. One cannot fail to take this into account in the updating of the Curia, whose reform, therefore, must provide for the involvement of laymen and women, even in roles of government and responsibility.”

Noting that the “pope, bishops and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelisers in the Church,” the Constitution goes on to explain that the role of lay people in governance was “essential” because of their familiarity with family life and “social reality.”

Consequently, “any member of the faithful can head a dicastery (Curia department) or organism” if the pope decides they are qualified and appoints them, it provides.

READ MORE

Pope Francis promulgates Apostolic Constitution on Roman Curia ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (Vatican News)

Pope rules baptised lay Catholics, including women, can lead Vatican departments (Reuters)

PHOTO

Pope Francis visits Palo Cathedral in one of his sorties in Leyte Province Saturday, January 17, 2015. / Malacañang Photo Bureau/ Picryl

Worker co-ops in the US

On 1 May 2019, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, Pope Francis issued an invitation to young people – particularly to “young economists and entrepreneurs” – to join him in Assisi in March the following year to brainstorm a new economy, writes Renée Darline Roden in The Tablet.

The “Economy of Francesco” meeting was, of course, cancelled due to the pandemic, but a few months later Francis issued another call to action, a book entitled Let Us Dream. Again, he issued an urgent invitation to all Catholics to consider their part in reshaping a world economy that is exacerbating ­suffering rather than encouraging human flourishing.

The Economy of Francesco organisers in the United States are trying to find ways to add a distinctly American flavour to the global solidarity economy. Witchger and fellow ­organiser Elias Crim started a newsletter, “Ownership Matters”, to highlight various incarnations of the solidarity economy. The American models draw on a variety of global initiatives: the Quebecois cooperative credit unions; the Economy of Communion, personified in the town of Loppiano, Italy, run by the Focolare lay ecclesial movement; and the corporation founded by late Fr José María Arizmendiarrieta Madariaga, Mondragón.

Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa is a nexus of 170 factories, universities and media in the Basque region of Spain, cooperatively owned by approximately 81,000 workers who make a salary within a pay scale where the highest-paid member makes at most six times the amount of the lowest-paid member, where directors of companies are democratically elected by the workers and where each worker is also an owner of the company.

Witchger told me that the United States’ closest answer to Arizmendiarrieta’s project is Molly Hemstreet’s Industrial Commons, in Morganton, North Carolina. Hem­street, sporting a gentle Carolina accent, is a native of Morganton, in the Blue Ridge Mountain section of the Appalachian Mountains. She co-founded its first cooperative factory, Opportunity Threads, in 2008. It expanded by working with its local county business development bureau to build a close-knit ­network of textile producers in the region.

The Arizmendi Bakeries in California take their name from Fr Arizmendiarrieta. The first Arizmendi bakery opened in Oakland in 1997 and expanded into a franchise of cooperative bakeries. Each new cooperative was funded by some of the profits set aside from an older cooperative.

There are 22 worker-owners at the San Francisco site where Jason Jordan works, and around 200 worker-owners among all six bakeries.

FULL STORY

The people versus Mammon: worker-owners cooperatives in the US (The Tablet)

PHOTO

Bjorn / Flickr / CC BY SA 2.0

Think about exploited workers

During his General Audience on Wednesday 12 January 2022, Pope Francis continued his Catechesis on Saint Joseph, recalling his role as Saint Joseph the Carpenter.

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The evangelists Matthew and Mark refer to Joseph as a “carpenter” or “joiner”. We heard earlier that the people of Nazareth, hearing Jesus speak, asked themselves: “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (13:55; cf. Mk 6:3). Jesus practised his father’s trade.

The Greek term tekton, used to specify Joseph’s work, has been translated in various ways. The Latin Fathers of the Church rendered it as “carpenter”. But let us bear in mind that in the Palestine of Jesus’ time, wood was used not only to make ploughs and various pieces of furniture, but also to build houses, which had wooden frames and terraced roofs made of beams connected with branches and earth.

Therefore, “carpenter” or “joiner” was a generic qualification, indicating both woodworkers and craftsmen engaged in activities related to construction. It was quite a hard job, having to work with heavy materials such as wood, stone, and iron. From an economic point of view, it did not ensure great earnings, as can be deduced from the fact that when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, they offered only a couple of turtledoves or pigeons (cf. Lk 2:24), as the Law prescribed for the poor (cf. Lv 12:8).

The young Jesus thus learned this trade from his father. Therefore, when he began to preach as an adult, his astonished neighbours asked: “But where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?” (Mt 13:54), and were scandalised by him (cf. v. 57), because he was the son of the carpenter, but he spoke like a doctor of the law, and they were scandalised by this.

This biographical fact about Joseph and Jesus makes me think of all the workers in the world, especially those who do gruelling work in mines and in some factories; those who are exploited through undocumented work; the victims of labour: we have seen a lot of this in Italy recently; children who are forced to work and those who rummage among the trash in search of something useful to trade….

Let me repeat what I said: the hidden workers, the workers who do hard labour in mines and in some factories: let’s think of them: about those who are exploited with undocumented work, those who are paid in contraband, on the sly, without a pension, without anything. And if you do not work, you have no security. And today there is a lot of undocumented work. Let us think of the victims of work, of work accidents, of the children who are forced to work: this is terrible! A child at the age of play should be playing. Instead, they are forced to work like adults! Let us think about those poor children who rummage in the dumps to look for something useful to trade. All these are our brothers and sisters, who earn their living this way: with jobs that do not give them dignity! Let us think about this. And this is happening today, in the world. This is happening today.

But I think too of those who are out of work. How many people go knocking on the doors of factories, of businesses [asking]: “Is there anything to do?” — “No, there isn’t, there isn’t. Lack of work! [I think] of those who feel wounded in their dignity because they cannot find this work. They return home: “Have you found something?” — “No, nothing… I went to Caritas and I brought bread”. What gives dignity is not bringing bread home. You can get it from Caritas — no, this does not give you dignity. What gives you dignity is earning bread — and if we do not give our people, our men and women, the ability to earn bread, there is a social injustice in that place, in that nation, in that continent. Leaders must give everyone the possibility of earning bread, because this ability to earn gives them dignity. Work is an anointing of dignity. And this is important.

Many young people, many fathers and mothers experience the ordeal of not having a job that allows them to live serenely. They live day to day. And how often the search for work becomes so desperate that it drives them to the point of losing all hope and the desire to live. In these times of pandemic, many people have lost their jobs — we know this — and some, crushed by an unbearable burden, reached the point of taking their own lives. I would like to remember each of them and their families today. Let us take a moment of silence, remembering these men, these women, who are desperate because they cannot find work.

Not enough consideration is given to the fact that work is an essential component of human life, and even a path of holiness. Work is not only a means of earning a living: it is also a place where we express ourselves, feel useful, and learn the great lesson of concreteness, which helps keep spiritual life from becoming spiritualism. Unfortunately, however, labour is often a hostage to social injustice and, rather than being a means of humanization, it becomes an existential periphery. I often ask myself: With what spirit do we do our daily work? How do we deal with fatigue? Do we see our activity as linked only to our own destiny or also to the destiny of others? In fact, work is a way of expressing our personality, which is relational by its nature. And, work is also a way to express our creativity: each one of us works in their own way, with their own style: the same work but with different styles.

It is good to think about the fact that Jesus himself worked and had learned this craft from Saint Joseph. Today, we should ask ourselves what we can do to recover the value of work; and what contribution we can make, as Church, [to ensure] that work can be redeemed from the logic of mere profit and can be experienced as a fundamental right and duty of the person, which expresses and increases his or her dignity.

Dear brothers and sisters, for all these [reasons], I would like to recite with you today the prayer that Saint Paul VI lifted up to Saint Joseph on 1 May 1969:

O Saint Joseph,
Patron of the Church!
you, who side by side with the Word made flesh,
worked each day to earn your bread,
drawing from Him the strength to live and to toil;
you who experienced the anxiety for the morrow,
the bitterness of poverty, the uncertainty of work:
you who today give the shining example,
humble in the eyes of men
but most exalted in the sight of God:
protect workers in their hard daily lives,
defending them from discouragement,
from negative revolt,
and from pleasure loving temptations;
and keep peace in the world,
that peace which alone can ensure the development of peoples
Amen.

Catechesis on Saint Joseph: 7. Saint Joseph the Carpenter

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The evangelists Matthew and Mark refer to Joseph as a “carpenter” or “joiner”. We heard earlier that the people of Nazareth, hearing Jesus speak, asked themselves: “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (13:55; cf. Mk 6:3). Jesus practised his father’s trade.

The Greek term tekton, used to specify Joseph’s work, has been translated in various ways. The Latin Fathers of the Church rendered it as “carpenter”. But let us bear in mind that in the Palestine of Jesus’ time, wood was used not only to make ploughs and various pieces of furniture, but also to build houses, which had wooden frames and terraced roofs made of beams connected with branches and earth.

Therefore, “carpenter” or “joiner” was a generic qualification, indicating both woodworkers and craftsmen engaged in activities related to construction. It was quite a hard job, having to work with heavy materials such as wood, stone, and iron. From an economic point of view, it did not ensure great earnings, as can be deduced from the fact that when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, they offered only a couple of turtledoves or pigeons (cf. Lk 2:24), as the Law prescribed for the poor (cf. Lv 12:8).

The young Jesus thus learned this trade from his father. Therefore, when he began to preach as an adult, his astonished neighbours asked: “But where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?” (Mt 13:54), and were scandalized by him (cf. v. 57), because he was the son of the carpenter, but he spoke like a doctor of the law, and they were scandalized by this.

This biographical fact about Joseph and Jesus makes me think of all the workers in the world, especially those who do gruelling work in mines and in some factories; those who are exploited through undocumented work; the victims of labour: we have seen a lot of this in Italy recently; children who are forced to work and those who rummage among the trash in search of something useful to trade….

Let me repeat what I said: the hidden workers, the workers who do hard labour in mines and in some factories: let’s think of them: about those who are exploited with undocumented work, those who are paid in contraband, on the sly, without a pension, without anything. And if you do not work, you have no security. And today there is a lot of undocumented work. Let us think of the victims of work, of work accidents, of the children who are forced to work: this is terrible! A child at the age of play should be playing. Instead, they are forced to work like adults! Let us think about those poor children who rummage in the dumps to look for something useful to trade. All these are our brothers and sisters, who earn their living this way: with jobs that do not give them dignity! Let us think about this. And this is happening today, in the world. This is happening today.

But I think too of those who are out of work. How many people go knocking on the doors of factories, of businesses [asking]: “Is there anything to do?” — “No, there isn’t, there isn’t. Lack of work! [I think] of those who feel wounded in their dignity because they cannot find this work. They return home: “Have you found something?” — “No, nothing… I went to Caritas and I brought bread”. What gives dignity is not bringing bread home. You can get it from Caritas — no, this does not give you dignity. What gives you dignity is earning bread — and if we do not give our people, our men and women, the ability to earn bread, there is a social injustice in that place, in that nation, in that continent. Leaders must give everyone the possibility of earning bread, because this ability to earn gives them dignity. Work is an anointing of dignity. And this is important.

Many young people, many fathers and mothers experience the ordeal of not having a job that allows them to live serenely. They live day to day. And how often the search for work becomes so desperate that it drives them to the point of losing all hope and the desire to live. In these times of pandemic, many people have lost their jobs — we know this — and some, crushed by an unbearable burden, reached the point of taking their own lives. I would like to remember each of them and their families today. Let us take a moment of silence, remembering these men, these women, who are desperate because they cannot find work.

Not enough consideration is given to the fact that work is an essential component of human life, and even a path of holiness. Work is not only a means of earning a living: it is also a place where we express ourselves, feel useful, and learn the great lesson of concreteness, which helps keep spiritual life from becoming spiritualism. Unfortunately, however, labour is often a hostage to social injustice and, rather than being a means of humanization, it becomes an existential periphery. I often ask myself: With what spirit do we do our daily work? How do we deal with fatigue? Do we see our activity as linked only to our own destiny or also to the destiny of others? In fact, work is a way of expressing our personality, which is relational by its nature. And, work is also a way to express our creativity: each one of us works in their own way, with their own style: the same work but with different styles.

It is good to think about the fact that Jesus himself worked and had learned this craft from Saint Joseph. Today, we should ask ourselves what we can do to recover the value of work; and what contribution we can make, as Church, [to ensure] that work can be redeemed from the logic of mere profit and can be experienced as a fundamental right and duty of the person, which expresses and increases his or her dignity.

Dear brothers and sisters, for all these [reasons], I would like to recite with you today the prayer that Saint Paul VI lifted up to Saint Joseph on 1 May 1969:

O Saint Joseph,
Patron of the Church!
you, who side by side with the Word made flesh,
worked each day to earn your bread,
drawing from Him the strength to live and to toil;
you who experienced the anxiety for the morrow,
the bitterness of poverty, the uncertainty of work:
you who today give the shining example,
humble in the eyes of men
but most exalted in the sight of God:
protect workers in their hard daily lives,
defending them from discouragement,
from negative revolt,
and from pleasure loving temptations;
and keep peace in the world,
that peace which alone can ensure the development of peoples
Amen.


SOURCE

Pope Francis, St Joseph the Carpenter (Vatican.va)

PHOTO

ILO Asia-Pacific, Migrant workers working on a Thai boat, Samut Sakhon, Thailand

Pope Francis reflects on review of life and see-judge-act

Pope Francis met with leaders of the French Specialised Catholic Action movements on 13 January 2022, delivering an important speech in which he reaffirmed the value of the Cardijn see-judge-act and review of life methodology.

Here is his speech:

I greet you all with affection and I thank Archbishop Fonlupt for his kind words. It is a joy for me to receive you on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome. Through you, I would also like to greet all the members of the Catholic Action teams in France, and I ask you to assure them of my prayers and my closeness.

It is an old habit for your movements to come and meet the Pope. As early as 1929, my predecessor Pius XI received representatives of Catholic Action and hailed “the renewal and continuation of what was in the first days of Christianity, for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, (… ) in the cooperation of the laity with the Apostles” in the movement (Audience of June 12, 1929). You have rightly chosen the theme: “Apostles today” for your pilgrimage. I would like to reflect with you on our call to effectively become apostles today, on the basis of the insight given to you by one of the great figures of Catholic Action, Father Cardijn, namely the “review of life”.

When the disciples walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (cf. Lk: 2418-35), they began by remembering the events they had experienced; then they discerned the presence of God in those events; finally, they acted by setting out again to announce the Resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem. See, judge, act: you know these three words well! Let’s take them together.

See. This first stage is essential. It consists in stopping to look at the events that make up our life, which constitute our history as well as our family, cultural and Christian roots. The pedagogy of Catholic Action always begins with a moment of memory, in the strongest sense of the term: an anamnesis, that is to say the fact of understanding with hindsight the meaning of what one is and what was experienced, and to perceive how God was present at every moment.

The fineness and delicacy of the action of the Lord in our lives sometimes prevents us from understanding it at the time, and it takes this distance to grasp its coherence. In the encyclical Fratelli tutti, which your teams have studied, I begin with an inventory of the sometimes worrying situation in our world. It may seem a bit pessimistic, but it is necessary to move forward: “One never progresses without memory, one does not evolve without a complete and luminous memory” (Fratelli tutti, n. 249).

The second step is to judge or, one might say, to discern. This is the moment when we allow ourselves to be questioned and challenged. The key to this stage is recourse to Holy Scripture. It is a matter of allowing our lives to be challenged by the Word of God which, as the Epistle to the Hebrews says, is “living, energetic and sharper than a two-edged sword (…); it judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart” (4:12).

In Fratelli tutti, I chose the parable of the Good Samaritan to question our relationship to the world, to others, and in particular to the poorest. In the encounter between, on the one hand, the events of the world and of our life, and on the other hand, the Word of God, we can discern the Lord’s calls to us.

Through their history, our Catholic Action movements have developed genuine synodal practices, especially in team life which forms the basis of your experience. Our Church has also embarked entirely on a synodal journey, and I am counting on your contribution. Let us remember precisely that synodality is not a simple discussion. It is not an “adjective”. One should never turn the substantiality of life into an adjective.

Synodality is not even the search for majority consensus, that is what a parliament does, as is done in politics. It is not a plan, a program to put in place. No, it is a style to adopt in which the first protagonist is the Holy Spirit who expresses himself first and foremost in the Word of God, read, meditated on and shared together.

Let’s take the concrete image of the cross: it has a vertical arm and a horizontal arm. The horizontal arm is our life, our history, our humanity. The vertical arm is the Lord who comes to visit us through his Word and his Spirit, to give meaning to what we live. To be fixed on the cross of Jesus, as Saint Paul says (cf. Gal 2, 19), is to really accept to put my life under his gaze, to accept this encounter between my poor humanity and his transforming divinity. Please always leave an important place for the Word of God in the life of your teams. Also give a place to prayer, to interiority, to adoration.

We come to our third step: act. The Gospel teaches us that the action, which is in the very name of your movement, should always come from God’s initiative. Saint Mark reports that after the resurrection “the Lord worked with [the Apostles] and confirmed the Word by the signs which accompanied it” (16, 20). Thus, “action belongs to the Lord: it is he who has exclusive rights to it, walking “incognito” in the history we inhabit” (Speech of April 30, 2021 to the members of Italian Catholic Action).

Our role therefore consists in supporting and encouraging the action of God in hearts, by adapting to the reality which is constantly evolving. The people – and I am thinking more particularly of young people – whom your movements reach are not the same as a few years ago. Today, especially in Europe, those who frequent Christian movements are more sceptical of institutions, they seek less binding and more ephemeral relationships.

They are more sensitive to affectivity, and therefore more vulnerable, more fragile than their elders, less rooted in faith, but just as much in search of meaning, truth, and no less generous. It is your mission, as Catholic Action, to join them as they are, to enable them to grow in the love of Christ and neighbour, and to lead them to more concrete commitment so that they become the protagonists of their own lives and the life of the Church, so that the world will be able to change.

Thank you, dear friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generous service, which the Church needs more than ever, at this time when I so much hope that everyone will find or rediscover the joy of knowing the friendship of Christ and of announcing the Gospel. Asking you to include me in your prayers, I entrust you, those in charge, as well as all the members of your teams, to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, and I give you the Blessing.

READ MORE

Pope Francis: Be effective Apostles rooted in the Word of God (Vatican News)

Pope Francis, Speech to leaders of Catholic Action movements in France (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Evangelisation according to Pope Francis

During his recent trip to Greece, Pope Francis met with priests, religious, seminarians and catechists in the Cathedral of St Dionysius in Athens.

Recalling the example of St Paul preaching to philosophers in the Areopagus, Pope Francis noted that an attitude of acceptance is essential to evangelisation.

Such an attitude “does not try to occupy the space and life of others, but to sow the good news in the soil of their lives; it learns to recognize and appreciate the seeds that God already planted in their hearts before we came on the scene.

“Let us remember that God always precedes us, God always sows before we do. Evangelising is not about filling an empty container; it is ultimately about bringing to light what God has already begun to accomplish,” the pope said.

“He did not tell (the Athenians): ‘You have it all wrong,’ or ‘Now I will teach you the truth.’ Instead, he began by accepting their religious spirit. … He draws from the rich patrimony of the Athenians. The Apostle dignified his hearers and welcomed their religiosity.

“Even though the streets of Athens were full of idols, which had made him ‘deeply distressed,’ Paul acknowledged the desire for God hidden in the hearts of those people, and wanted gently to share with them the amazing gift of faith.”

“The pope finished with a phrase he often uses. Speaking of St. Paul, he said: ‘He did not impose; he proposed.’

As Michael Sean Winters notes in the National Catholic Reporter, “this is the pedagogy of accompaniment.”

“It can scarcely be labeled ‘heretical’ or ‘confusing,’ as some conservatives are wont to do. It is rooted in the example of St Paul. And, as we know from all the biographies of the pope, and from watching him these past years, it is a pedagogy that has allowed him to engage the culture in arresting and profound ways.”

READ MORE

Michael Sean Winters, Pope Francis evangelizes very differently than US conservatives (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis, Meeting with bishops, priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, catechists (Vatican)

Pope Francis and Vatican II vision of Yarra Theological Union


In this article reproduced from the Yarra Theological Union Alumni Digest, Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR, who is retiring as a lecturer at YTU but not from academic life, reflects imaginatively on his “conversations” with Pope Francis.

For some years I have been acting as the literary agent in Australia for Pope Francis, and in a recent phone call I was chatting with him about how so many women and men around YTU were inspired by his writings, and trying to revision the mission of the Gospel today. He was delighted to hear this, and wanted to know more about YTU. I said YTU readily understood his notion of ‘mission’ as attending to the cry of the poor and of the earth, and involved everyone, especially in their civil vocations and roles. As he has said, the church does not exist for itself, but to serve in the tasks of social as well as personal transformation as the metaphor of Reign of God beckons us.

Francesco (he prefers to use first names) asked me how our Plenary Council was going, and if people understood how necessary was synodality, ‘walking together’ as he termed it, to increase transparency, co-responsibility and participation as much as possible. He warmed to his topic, saying that the Catholic Church needed a good ‘shake up’ lest it look like a ‘museum’ or a quaint relic from the past.

He said that we must learn to listen more attentively to the Holy Spirit urging us to extend further our concern to the excluded and the outcasts, as did Jesus. Sadly, Francesco added, not everyone understood what he was talking about, and some were strongly opposed, even among some bishops and cardinals.

I assured him that his writings and words struck a deep resonance in the hearts and minds of YTU people and our sister colleges in the University of Divinity. Many of the teaching staff at YTU and Catholic Theological College were students or worked in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, and were inspired by the astonishing renewal in Scripture studies, moral theology, church history, canon law, philosophy and church social teaching.

Many people felt that Francesco’s initiatives reignited the enthusiasm we once felt with Pope John XXIII and Vatican II.

That was very heartening, said Francesco, since unless more people had a better grasp of Scripture, how and why the Church kept changing over history, and how teachings developed in response to the needs of the time, they would find it hard to understand how important synodality is for renewal in the Church. He explained that he was inviting everyone to learn to critique their life situations, to reflect prayerfully (to ‘discern’) what God’s Holy Spirit might be urging, and then to decide how to change things for the better.

He said this was a process followed in the Latin American Church over the last fifty years. It was linked with the ‘see-judge-act’ method developed by Canon Joseph Cardijn a century ago so that young workers could be strengthened by reflecting on the Gospel to support one another in their
struggle for human rights and social justice. It was a method of personal and social empowerment. Francesco added that he structured many of his own documents explicitly on the see-judge-act method.

I told him that Australia had also experienced Cardijn’s Young Christian Workers Movement which was very strong in Melbourne and beyond from the 1940s. Many of the women and men in the YCW became leaders in church and civil organisations.

Francesco said he had heard that one of the YTU students at the University of Divinity, Stefan Gigacz, had written a remarkable thesis on the life and impact of Cardijn, and asked if he could have a copy. I replied it was awaiting publication, but was available online at
http://theleaven.com.au/ .

Francesco was very happy that YTU and CTC were part of the University of Divinity. He said he too tried to cooperate as fully as possible with other churches and faith traditions, building personal friendships with leaders, respecting differences, listening to one another, and trying to see through the eyes of others. We all have things to learn from others.

Francesco was also delighted to hear that for many years YTU and other colleges have offered units on indigenous issues. He was especially pleased that the University has now established a special Indigenous Studies Centre. He knew from his own experience in Latin America and the Amazon Synod that Indigenous peoples still suffered greatly from colonisation and its consequences. He considered it vital that they take their proper place at the table, with their cultural treasures and stories, and sharing their insights into the ecology of their lands. He hoped all Australians would embrace the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Francesco asked what our University colleges were doing to promote awareness about other great social issues confronting us. He wanted to know if his social encyclical on the climate crisis, Laudato Si’, was being taken seriously in parishes, schools and everywhere. He had prepared the document in consultation with leaders of other Churches, particularly the Greek Orthodox and Anglicans, as the crisis called for decidedly ecumenical and inter-faith responses. He recently instituted a seven-year process of practical action to avert global warming, and asked if YTU and CTC, and perhaps the University of Divinity, were adopting this Laudato Si’ Action Platform, as many other universities were doing.

He considered the threat of ‘catastrophic’ climate change absolutely critical, and was very worried that the Glasgow Summit might fail. Francesco was surprised that Australia, with all its expertise and resources, was such a laggard in addressing climate issues.

Underlying the threat of ecological disaster, Francesco said, was the astonishing and growing inequality among peoples, where some individuals had wealth estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars, while millions of others were desperately struggling to survive. When writing Laudato Si’, he had worked closely with leading experts designing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and strongly supported international efforts to reduce hunger and poverty. In many documents, Francesco said he had indicted the extreme free-market ideology, often called ‘neoliberalism’, that was distorting economies everywhere and driving increasing inequality.

Francesco foresaw a promising future for the colleges within the University of Divinity, advancing ecumenical collaboration in helping tackle, under the inspiration of the Scriptures, the unprecedented threats to human wellbeing and life on our planet. He asked if we would pray for him.

Retiring Faculty
Bruce Duncan CSsR
YTU 1986 – 2021

With a background in economics and politics from the University of Sydney, Bruce began teaching in history and social justice studies at Yarra Theological Union in 1986 and over 35 years taught units on Catholic social thought and movements in Australia and overseas, on Liberation Theology, Marxism and Christianity, and war and peace studies.

He was also a member of the Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace from 1994 to 2007, and worked part-time with Catholic Social Services Victoria from 1998 to 2007.

He helped found Social Policy Connections as an ecumenical social justice organisation in early 2005, with board members from Anglican, Catholic, Salvation Army and Uniting Church backgrounds. Bruce became director and Mr Peter Whiting president. Its office moved happily into the renovated Study Centre at YTU in 2008. SPC published a monthly online newsletter with six or seven articles a month on current affairs and organised regular public forums and events. Over 16 years, SPC published more than a thousand articles before it closed in 2021.

With encouragement from the Melbourne College of Divinity, SPC established the Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy in 2008, with Bruce as the initial Director and former deputy prime minister, Mr Brian Howe its patron. It commissioned research on a range of major issues resulting in book publications. The new University of Divinity reconstituted the Yarra Institute as the Centre for Research on Religion and Social Policy (RASP) in 2016, funding a part-time director to coordinate its work.

Bruce supervised two significant doctorates: one by Dr Race Mathews, with Dr Austin Cooper co-supervisor (2008-13), published by Monash Publishing as Of Labour and Liberty: Distributism in Victoria 1891–1966: and the other by Dr Stefan Gigacz, The Leaven in the Council: Joseph Cardijn and the Jocist Network at Vatican II, published online at http://theleaven.com.au/.

Bruce has been appointed an Honorary Research Fellow within the University of Divinity and intends to continue to write on the interplay between religious views and current social and economic issues.

SOURCE

Yarra Theological Union Alumni Digest (Volume 6, Issue 2: 25 November 2021)

Fair wages needed to fight child labour: Pope

Extreme poverty, the lack of employment that can support a family and desperation are the major drivers of exploitative child labour, Pope Francis told an international conference on the theme “Eradicating Child Labour, Building a Better Future.”

“If we want to stamp out the scourge of child labour, we must work together to eradicate poverty (and) to correct the distortions in the current economic system, which concentrates wealth in the hands of a few,” he said.

“We must encourage nations and the stakeholders of the world of business to create opportunities for decent employment with fair wages that let families meet their needs without their children being forced to work,” he said Nov. 19 during a meeting with people taking part in an international conference on

“We must combine our efforts to promote quality education that is free for everyone in every country, as well as a health care system that is equally accessible to everyone,” he added.

The Vatican COVID-19 Commission of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development supported the conference, which was organised in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The U.N. General Assembly declared 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour; eliminating exploitative child labour also is one of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

“Progress toward the elimination of child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years with a reversal of the downward trend and numbers reaching 160 million children suffering worldwide of this situation,” which has worsened during the pandemic, the dicastery said on its website, using estimates provided by UNICEF and the International Labor Organisation.

The problem of child labour has nothing to do with age-appropriate chores and work that helps the family or their community and is carried out in their free time, the pope said.

Child labour is exploiting a child within a system of production in today’s globalised economy for the earnings and profits of others, he said.

“It is the denial of a child’s rights to health, education, sound development, including the possibility to play and dream,” he said. “This is tragic. A child who cannot dream, who can’t play, who cannot grow. It is robbing children of their future and, therefore, humanity itself. It is a violation of human dignity.”

The way people relate to children, including how much they respect their human dignity and fundamental rights, “expresses what kind of adults we are and want to be, and what kind of society we want to build,” the pope said.

“It is shocking and disturbing that in today’s economies, whose productive activities rely on technological innovations … the employment of children in work activities persists in every part of the world,” he said.

“Extreme poverty, lack of work and the resulting desperation in families are the factors that expose children most to labour exploitation,” he said.

READ MORE

Pope: To fight child labour, eliminate poverty, give adults fair wages (Southern Cross South Africa)

“Eradicating Child Labour, Building a Better Future” (Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Vatican)

PHOTO

Pxfuel

Mission, ministries and co-responsibility

Thanks to NZ Catholic and Bishop Peter Cullinane, emeritus bishop of Palmerston North, Aotearoa-New Zealand for permission to reproduce this important article.

The front line of the Church’s work is the Christian people whose lives are leaven in the dough of all the ordinary circumstances of ordinary life. The purpose of ministries within the Church is to provide nurture and formation for that mission. It is the mission that matters.

Part I Ministries

For some years, we have all been aware of a growing gap between the number of parishes and the number of priests available to serve in them. This reality serves as a wake-up call, but it is not the basis for greater lay involvement. That involvement has its roots in Baptism and the very nature of the Church. Through Baptism, we are all united to the priestly and prophetic mission of Christ. This is the basis for our shared responsibility for what the Church is and what it does:

“Co-responsibility requires a change in mentality, particularly with regard to the role of the laity in the Church, who should be considered not as ‘collaborators’ with the clergy, but as persons truly ‘co-responsible’ for the being and the activity of the Church . . . ” (Pope Benedict XVI, 10 August 2012).

This is more than just a matter of management, or meeting an emergency. It, too, is rooted in Baptism and the nature of the Church. So why does this require a “change in mentality” if it already belongs to the nature of the Church? History gives the answer. During the first four centuries of the Church, lay people had roles in the liturgy, preached, had a say in the election of bishops and nomination of priests; contributed to the framing of Church laws and customs, prepared matters for, and participated in, Church councils, administered Church properties, etc.

Then, after the conversion of the emperor Constantine and the mass conversions that followed, responsibility shifted one-sidedly into the hands of the clergy. And following the barbarian invasions, responsibility for public order also fell to them. Over following centuries, society came to see priesthood as a profession, with social privilege. During earlier centuries, it had been a point of honour for ministers of the Church to live and look like everyone else.

Perception changed also within the Church. This is perhaps symbolised by the altar being pushed back to the apse of the church, where liturgy became mainly a clerical affair, with diminishing involvement of the laity. Scholarship and better understanding of the early Church would eventually return the liturgy to the whole body of the faithful, and restore roles of pastoral care and administration to lay women and men.

Most see our own day as a time of privileged opportunity for renewal. It is challenging because it involves the need for more personal responsibility, and moving away from the forms of tutelage and guardianship that shaped Church practices right up till the time of Pope Pius XII. Others feel safer clinging to that recent past, often misunderstanding the meaning of “Tradition”.

Part II Mission

In Christ, God became immersed in human life; showed us how to live it, destined us to its fullness, and sent the Holy Spirit to draw us into what Christ did for us. That is God’s purpose, and the Church can have no other – “Humanity is the route the Church must take” (Pope John Paul II).

How we do this comes down to how we “do” love. There is a loving that does not go deep enough to transform society. It works at the level of what seems fair and reasonable and deserving. This is what governments are properly concerned with. Society must do better, and the Church’s mission is to be the leaven in society. It deals with a deeper kind of loving – love that is not limited to what seems fair and reasonable and deserved.

As Church, we are uniquely placed to do this because, in the person, life, death and Resurrection of Jesus, we see love that is unconditional, undeserved, and unstinting. When we love as we have been loved, our love becomes a circuit breaker – precisely because it is not calculating and limited to what seems fair and reasonable and deserved. Running through family life, civic life, industrial, commercial and political life, this kind of love “changes everything”. It brings about a way of living – of being human – that is true to what God made us for.

But, note, it starts with seeing God’s love for us – contemplative seeing! Christians have the least excuse for not recognising the intrinsic link between contemplation and working for social justice because, in celebrating Eucharist, they move from contemplating God’s extraordinary love for us to receiving and becoming the body broken for others and the blood (life) poured out for others.

This is how faith makes a decisive difference to all of human life, while fully respecting the rightful autonomy of everything that is properly secular. In the midst of life, God is drawing us towards the fulfilment of our own deepest yearnings, and wonderfully more, involving God’s purpose for the whole of creation.

On that understanding of “the route the Church must take”, we come to know what ministries are needed to nurture us for that mission, and what kind of formation is needed for those ministries.

Part III Formation

To be involved in the processes of making our lives more truly human is a wonderful mission. So what kind of formation is needed for ministries that serve that mission?

Writing about the formation needed for priests, Pope John Paul II said it needs to be “human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral”, and went on to say that continuing formation was a matter of a priest’s faithfulness to his ministry, of love for the people, and in the proper sense a matter of justice, given the people’s rights (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 70).

Commenting on some of the characteristics of human formation, the Congregation for the Clergy explicitly singled out the specific contribution of women, “not only for the seminarians’ personal life, but also with a view to their future pastoral activity” (Ratio Fundamentalis, 95). The congregation’s reference was to Pope John Paul’s emphasis on “what it means to speak of the ‘genius of women’, not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God’s plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church; (Letter to Women, 1995, 10).

In our country, women have been carrying out significant roles at both Holy Cross Seminary and Good Shepherd College for some years. What still needs to be developed, however, are ways of allowing parishioners generally to play a bigger part, both in seminarians’ formation and in the discernment of their vocation. Those who will live with the results of formation, for better or for worse, should have a say in that formation and the selection of candidates.

Programmes for the formation of lay women and men for parish ministries already exist, and I leave it to others to comment on them. My concern here is with a very specific feature needed in Church leadership – both lay and ordained. It is needed all the more because general education in our country has been gradually reduced to learning mainly practical skills. Skills, both human/relational and technological, properly belong within education, but not more so than the deeper aspects of what it means to be human. Even when we know how to do the things necessary for successful living, we still need to know what ultimately gives meaning to it all.

Knowing that one’s life has a purpose can make the difference between surviving, or not surviving, life’s toughest times. The will to live needs a reason to live. The need I am pointing to is the need for leaders who are “in the service of meaning” (Ratcliffe). This is what it means, in practice, to be ministers of God’s Word. Knowing how much we mean to God is the most important thing we can know about ourselves, and is truly life-giving.

Within a culture that has become superficial, reductionist and utilitarian, one of the ways we are in the service of meaning is by knowing how to identify flaws within that culture, especially where important aspects of daily life are devalued by becoming disconnected from what gives them their meaning, or at least their full meaning. Formation will be incomplete unless it is formation “in the service of meaning”.

Part IV     Where to start? 

 I referred to the increasing gap between the number of our parishes and the number of priests. Simply combining parishes, whether for the sake of having a parish priest in every parish, or out of due concern for future financial resourcing, does not resolve the problem because ultimately everything depends on pastoral effectiveness and enlivening.  

 An alternative to combining parishes is available where Church law allows for the pastoral care of parishes to be entrusted to lay people, with a priest appointed to provide general supervision (canon 517/2), usually from another parish. We already experience the insufficiency of suitable priests, which is what justifies recourse to this canon. Of course, where this happens, priests are still required for sacramental ministry. It is possible that some priests might even prefer that kind of role, leaving management of the parish to a team of qualified lay women and men. Lay leadership of parishes requires proper formation – of parish and leaders – and proper remuneration.  

 Yet another starting point for renewal can be found in the experience of small base communities pioneered by the Church in some countries in South America and Asia. Of course, we cannot simply transfer other local churches’ experience to our situation. But we, too, can establish smaller communities within parishes, where leadership can be shared by teams and on a voluntary basis.  

 Such gatherings would be lay-led, and need no official authorisation. They can happen already, and develop in home-spun ways. 

 The Christian Base Communities in South American countries grew out of lay people coming together to pray and reflect on the Scriptures and on their life situations, using the Catholic Action principle: “see, judge, act”.  Their aim was a more just society and more truly human life for everyone – “the route the Church must take”. If this were happening in our own country, we could ask the kind of questions they asked: what are the causes of poverty in our country, and what can we do about those causes? Indeed, this is an appropriate level at which to analyse whatever flaws in our culture leave us less able to deal with the epic issues of our time – those that degrade human life, human dignity, human rights, and the planet itself. 

 Addressing those issues – through the lenses of divine revelation – is itself a way of participating in the mission of the Church. It is a good place to start because it is already do-able; it can be inclusive of those who feel unable to participate in other aspects of the Church’s life; it does not need clerical leadership or control, but makes room for ordained priesthood to present itself as a supporting ministry; it can model shared leadership, and lead to whatever forms of ministry might need to come next.   

 It is also a way of being Church that is “synodal”, (being “on the road together”).  The larger gatherings that we call “synods” presuppose the experience of walking and working together before we are ready for the decisions we gather to make at synods. It also gives scope and opportunity for the participation of many who will not be at the synods. 

Part V    What More?  

 Pope Francis has rightly said: “The Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures all need to be channelled for what best serves the Church’s mission of evangelising the world”; (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 27).  

To act on that would make big differences. Yet, even these changes are “small change” compared with where the Church has already been, and can yet go. Bigger changes rightly need wider consultation. And synodality is pointless if it isn’t about the road ahead and exploring what might yet be. 

Ministry that is authorised to speak and act in Christ’s name has its origin in Christ’s historical intentions. But its structure and concrete forms were determined by the Church during the apostolic period and after, continuing until late in the second century. What the Church gave shape to after the apostolic period, it can give different shape to now. Being faithful to the Tradition involves more than just receiving what the early Church did; it involves doing what the early Church did: it shaped its ministries to meet the needs of its mission.  

So long as the fullness of ordained responsibility remains intact – as in the college of bishops with and under the bishop of Rome – lesser participations in ordained ministry can be redistributed. The “powers” presently distributed within the three ministries of bishop, presbyter and deacon would live on, but enshrined within a wider variety of ordained ministries. This would open up significant new pastoral opportunities, and incorporate a wider range of charisms into ordained ministry. 

Whatever about that, 50 years ago, the International Theological Commission said  “It is urgent to create much more diversified structures of the Church’s pastoral action as regards both its ministries and its members, if the Church is to be faithful to its missionary and apostolic vocation.”  (The Priestly Ministry, pp 99,100). 

SOURCE AND PHOTO

Bishop Peter Cullinane, Mission, Ministries and co-responsibility (NZ Catholic)

Bishop Peter Cullinane, Mission, ministries and co-responsibility (part two) (NZ Catholic)

End monopolistic systems: Pope Francis

In a powerful speech to the Fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements, Pope Francis has insisted that while personal change is necessary, “it is also indispensable to adjust our socio-economic models so that they have a human face, because many models have lost it.”

Pope Francis continues:

And thinking about these situations, I make a pest of myself with my questions. And I go on asking. And I ask everyone in the name of God.

I ask all the great pharmaceutical laboratories to release the patents. Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being, to have access to the vaccines. There are countries where only three or four per cent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated.

In the name of God, I ask financial groups and international credit institutions to allow poor countries to assure “the basic needs of their people” and to cancel those debts that so often are contracted against the interests of those same peoples.

In the name of God, I ask the great extractive industries — mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agribusiness — to stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, to stop polluting rivers and seas, to stop poisoning food and people.

In the name of God, I ask the great food corporations to stop imposing monopolistic systems of production and distribution that inflate prices and end up withholding bread from the hungry.

In the name of God, I ask arms manufacturers and dealers to completely stop their activity, because it foments violence and war, it contributes to those awful geopolitical games which cost millions of lives displaced and millions dead.

In the name of God, I ask the technology giants to stop exploiting human weakness, people’s vulnerability, for the sake of profits without caring about the spread of hate speech, grooming, fake news, conspiracy theories, and political manipulation.

In the name of God, I ask the telecommunications giants to ease access to educational material and connectivity for teachers via the internet so that poor children can be educated even under quarantine.

In the name of God, I ask the media to stop the logic of post-truth, disinformation, defamation, slander and the unhealthy attraction to dirt and scandal, and to contribute to human fraternity and empathy with those who are most deeply damaged.

In the name of God, I call on powerful countries to stop aggression, blockades and unilateral sanctions against any country anywhere on earth. No to neo-colonialism. Conflicts must be resolved in multilateral fora such as the United Nations. We have already seen how unilateral interventions, invasions and occupations end up; even if they are justified by noble motives and fine words.

This system, with its relentless logic of profit, is escaping all human control. It is time to slow the locomotive down, an out-of-control locomotive hurtling towards the abyss. There is still time,” the pope said.

WATCH THE VIDEO

IV World Meeting of Popular Movements (Vatican News/YouTube)

READ THE FULL SPEECH

Video message to the Fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements (Vatican.va)

Greg Crafter now a papal knight

Greg Crafter

Congratulations for former Adelaide YCW leader and national extension worker, Greg Crafter, for his appointment by Pope Francis as a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

Greg later practised law in Adelaide before entering the South Australian Parliament as the Labor member for the seat of Norwood. He also served for seven years as the Minister for Education in that state.

Greg continued his involvement in his local parish and the Adelaide Archdiocese, including chair of the Clergy Care Council, chair of the Diocesan Finance Council and as a member of the Order of Malta.

At a national level, he served as chair of the National Catholic Education Commission for seven years during a period of complex political engagement with the Federal Government, which led to long-term funding benefits for Catholic schools across Australia.

He was a director of the Little Company of Mary, which runs Calvary Health Care across Australia, for nine years, and has been involved in fundraising for the Mary Potter Hospice and Mary MacKillop Museum in Adelaide.

In 2015 he was appointed by the Bishops Conference to the Truth, Justice and Healing Council which was established by the Australian bishops to liaise with the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

In the wider community, he has held a number of positions on key government boards including the South Australian Housing Trust, was president of the Geneva-based International Baccalaureate Organisation and a member of the Council of the University of Adelaide which awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contribution to education.

Greg also played a key role in the fundraising campaign to host the International YCW World Council held in Adelaide in November – December 1991.

In 2011, he co-authored a paper with current ACI president, Brian Lawrence, proposing the establishment of a Cardijn Institute in Australia, a proposal that has now come to fruition with the Australian Cardijn Institute.

READ MORE

Pope honours South Australians (CathNews)

PHOTO

Southern Cross

Fratelli Tutti webinar: What future for humanity?

The Australian Cardijn Institute and Social Policy Connections will host a Zoom webinar to discuss Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Fratelli tutti (Brothers and Sisters All) on Thursday 22 October 2020, 7.30 to 8.30pm, Australian Eastern Summer Time.

Fr Bruce Duncan will give an appraisal of the new encyclical, with Danusia Kaska responding and considering what it means for us in Australia.

Fr Bruce has taught about the history of Catholic social thought and movements at Yarra Theological Union in Melbourne for many years, and is Director of the ecumenical social advocacy network Social Policy Connections.

Since 2005, SPC has published nearly 1000 articles in its free monthly newsletters, and has arranged many public events and forums. SPC also welcomes new members who wish to contribute or take part in its activities. See the SPC website here.

He will talk about the significance of Fratelli tutti since the coronavirus has severely damaged economies everywhere, and why it is now even more urgent to build a better future. What is so different in the new encyclical to what the Pope said in Laudato Si’ in 2015?

Danusia Kaska works for Xavier Social Justice Network Coordinator at Xavier College, Melbourne, and is a member of the SPC board.

For FREE ticket registration, please email Stefan Gigacz at: aci@australiancardijninstitute.org

You will receive a LINK to join the webinar.

The session will be recorded and questions can be submitted in advance or during the webinar.

Consider ‘universal basic wage’: Pope

Pope Francis

In a 12 April 2020 letter to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Pope Francis has called for consideration of a “universal basic wage” as a means to respond to the economic disruption caused by Covid-19.

“Dear Friends,” Pope Francis writes, “I often recall our previous meetings: two at the Vatican and one in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and I must tell you that this ‘souvenir’ warms my heart.

“I think of all the beautiful projects that emerged from those conversations and took shape and have become reality.

“In these days of great anxiety and hardship, many have used war-like metaphors to refer to the pandemic we are experiencing. If the struggle against COVID-19 is a war, then you are truly an invisible army, fighting in the most dangerous trenches; an army whose only weapons are solidarity, hope, and community spirit, all revitalizing at a time when no one can save themselves alone.

“As I told you in our meetings, to me you are social poets because, from the forgotten peripheries where you live, you create admirable solutions for the most pressing problems afflicting the marginalized.

“I know that you nearly never receive the recognition that you deserve, because you are truly invisible to the system. Market solutions do not reach the peripheries, and State protection is hardly visible there.

“Nor do you have the resources to substitute for its functioning. You are looked upon with suspicion when through community organization you try to move beyond philanthropy or when, instead of resigning and hoping to catch some crumbs that fall from the table of economic power, you claim your rights.

“You often feel rage and powerlessness at the sight of persistent inequalities and when any excuse at all is sufficient for maintaining those privileges. Nevertheless, you do not resign yourselves to complaining: you roll up your sleeves and keep working.

“I think of all the people, especially women, who multiply loaves of bread in soup kitchens: two onions and a package of rice make up a delicious stew for hundreds of children. I think of the sick, I think of the elderly. They never appear in the news, nor do small farmers and their families who work hard to produce healthy food without destroying nature, without hoarding, without exploiting people’s needs.

“I want you to know that our Heavenly Father watches over you, values you, appreciates you, and supports you in your commitment.

“My hope is that governments understand that technocratic paradigms (whether state-centred or market-driven) are not enough to address this crisis or the other great problems affecting humankind. Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share.

“I know that you have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. You do not enjoy the superficial pleasures that anesthetize so many consciences, yet you always suffer from the harm they produce. The ills that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard.

“Many of you live from day to day, without any type of legal guarantee to protect you. Street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time … and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable.

“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.

Moreover, I urge you to reflect on “life after the pandemic,” for while this storm shall pass, its grave consequences are already being felt. You are not helpless. You have the culture, the method, and most of all, the wisdom that are kneaded with the leaven of feeling the suffering of others as your own. I want all of us to think about the project of integral human development that we long for and that is based on the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access to those three Ts that you defend: Trabajo (work), Techo (housing), and Tierra (land and food) .

“I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre.

“Our civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself.

You are the indispensable builders of this change that can no longer be put off. Moreover, when you testify that to change is possible, your voice is authoritative. You have known crises and hardships … that you manage to transform — with modesty, dignity, commitment, hard work and solidarity — into a promise of life for your families and your communities,” Pope Francis concluded.

ACI has been considering the possibility of researching some of these issues, particularly evident in poorer countries and in the gig economy within all countries, in conjunction with the Vatican-based Future of Work: Labour After Laudato Si’ project (see website at https://futureofwork-labourafterlaudatosi.net/

Cardijn shaped Pope Francis’ destiny

Cardijn with young workers

“Fans of Vatican-themed intrigue undoubtedly would say that the Belgian cardinal with the greatest direct influence on Pope Francis has to be Godfried Danneels of Brussels, a member of the so-called “St. Gallen Group” of left-leaning Princes of the Church who, reportedly, tried to block the election of Benedict XVI in 2005, and remnants of which later allegedly helped propel Francis to the papacy,” writes John L. Allen Jr.

“More sober observers, however, probably would insist that the real answer actually is Belgian Cardinal Joseph Leo Cardijn, the famed pioneer of the “See-Judge-Act” method in applying Catholic social teaching, the 51st anniversary of whose death falls today.

The bond between Francis and Cardijn runs, in part, through St. Alberto Hurtado, a revered Chilean Jesuit deeply familiar to the future pope, since then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio spent a year in 1960 living in the same house of studies outside Santiago where Hurtado lived and worked for much of his career.”

READ THE ARTICLE


Recalling the Belgian cardinal who truly shaped Francis’s destiny (Crux)
Un cardenal que marcó el destino de Francisco (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

110,000 respond to Vatican youth survey

More than 110,000 young people from around the world have responded to an online survey posted by the Vatican secretariat for the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment in 2018.

“In the roughly three months it has been online, more than 110,000 young people have responded to the questionnaire,” says Synod secretary-general Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. “It’s a significant number considering the absolute novelty of the initiative, and one that is bound to increase in the coming months.”

The response rate, he said, “demonstrates the great desire of young people to have their say.”

Meanwhile, twenty people under the age of 35, along with 70 theologians, priests and academics are meeting from September 11-15 as part of the preparatory process for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on “young people, faith and vocational discernment,” Catholic News Service reports.

Several young people participating in the seminar urged the Vatican and the bishops themselves to be opening to listening to youths talk and ask questions about love, sex and sexuality.

Therese Hargot, who leads sex education programs at Catholic schools in Paris, told the gathering September 13, “it’s surprising we are looking at politics, economics, etc., but not at sexuality and affectivity, which are very important topics for young people.”

Ashleigh Green, an Australian delegate to the seminar, said that going around Australia in preparation for the synod she found that “a lot of young people feel like they cannot talk about issues that matter to them” in most church settings.

However, Cardinal Baldisseri told the seminar that Pope Francis wants the synod in October 2018 to not just be about young people, but with young people, assuring they have a voice.

FULL STORY

Don’t be embarrassed to talk about sex, youths tell Vatican officials (Catholic News Service)

Synod website

Stubborn man does not “see” climate change: Pope

Returning to Rome following his trip to Colombia, Pope Francis warned that political leaders need to see climate change and its effects in making their decisions.

While we are flying, we are pass near Hurricane Irma which, after causing dozens of deaths in the Caribbean, is now heading towards Florida where there are millions of displaced people. Scientists think that ocean warming makes hurricanes more intense.

“Is there a moral responsibility of those political leaders who refuse to cooperate with other nations by denying that this climate change is man-made?” a journalist asked Pope Francis as his plane passed near Hurricane Irma, which caused dozens of deaths and massive devastation in the Caribbean over the weekend.

“Those who deny this must ask the scientists: they speak very clearly, they are precise,” Pope Francis answered. “The other day the news came out of a Russian ship that went from Norway to Japan and crossed the North Pole without finding ice. From a university, they have said that we only have three years ‘to step back,’, if not, the consequences will be terrible.

“I don’t know if the three years are true or not, but if we don’t step back, we will fall!

“We can see climate change in its effects, and we all have a moral responsibility when we make decisions.

“I think that is a very serious matter. We all have our moral responsibility and politicians have their own. Let them ask the scientists and then decide. History will judge on their decisions,” the pope warned.

Asked why governments are delaying this realization,Pope Francis recalled a biblical phrase.

“A phrase from the Old Testament comes to my mind: man is a stupid man, a stubborn man who does not see, the only animal that falls twice in the same hole. The arrogance and conceit… and then there is the “Mighty Dollar”. Many decisions depend on money.

“Today in Cartagena I started by visiting a poor area of the city. On the other hand, there is the tourist side, luxury, and a kind of luxury without moral measures. But do those who are there not notice this? Do socio-political analysts not realize this?

“When you don’t want to see you don’t see, you look only look at one side,” Pope Francis concluded.

FULL STORY

The Pope on climate change, humankind “is a stupid and stubborn man, that does not see” (Vatican Insider)