N.Z. Archbishop’s Christmas Message

Primates’ Christmas Message: Archbishop Philip Richardson

Posted on: December 22, 2016 12:25 PM

Photo Credit: Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki

A Christmas message on behalf of the three Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Archbishop Philip Richardson.

Love is the most powerful force in the world.

Christmas shouts this great truth out: It’s hard to stifle Good News like that!

When Christians pause to celebrate the birth of Jesus, they celebrate the love of God breaking into our world in a new and unique way – and the power of that love to transform our world.

It’s extraordinary, isn’t it? That God’s love is revealed in this utterly vulnerable babe? Whose parents then had to bundle up so they could flee a murderous tyrant, and live as refugees in a foreign land?

It’s a love story. And billions of people around the world today and down the ages have been captured by this love story, and by the reality of God that lies within it.

The birth of the Christ-child tells us that the love of God is available for all people. In every place, at any time.

It tells us that every person is beloved of God. Sacred – and worthy of our love and respect.

In the face of so much negativity over these past months – months where the rhetoric of hatred and ridicule and fear mongering has nearly swamped us – we might recall the words Martin Luther King spoke just before he was assassinated:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

As we are bombarded by images of famine, drought, persecution and war, as millions are forced to flee their homelands, we see the vulnerability of the refugee Christ-child perhaps more plainly than we ever have seen before.

The birth of this baby in a stable, made available through the generosity of strangers, calls us to choose a different way:

  • To choose to say that everyone is our neighbour.
  • To choose to reach out across differences and seek dialogue, build relationships, and drive out mistrust and fear.
  • To choose to say that there is no place for hatred, ridicule or bullying.
  • To choose to uphold the dignity and value of every human life.

Scripture tells us that where there is selfless, sacrificial “other-centred” love – God is present.

When we choose the way of love, we say “yes” to the way of the Christ-child and we say “yes” to life – life in all its fullness.

Love is the most powerful force in the world.

May the joy, peace, and hope of the baby born in Nazareth be yours this Christmas.

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I gathered this text of our ACANZP Pakeha Archbishop Philip Richardson’s Christmas Message to the Church from the international Anglican Communion web-site this morning.

The Incarnation of Christ as a tiny infant reminds us of the vulnerability – as well as the power – of our Creator: God-in-Trinity. Clothed in humility, the Infant Jesus speaks to us of a God Who Is With Us – Emmanuel – in all our joys and sorrows. “Never was God so great as when He became so small”

Having ministered in the days running up to Christmas to the infirm and dying of the parish, I have, once again, become all too well aware of the message of God, Who, in making the decision to share our common human nature; has opted to accompany us from the cradle to the grave and into the life eternal, where we are called to share God’s glory.

The Advent message I was empowered to give to one of our faithful parishioners, who died yesterday after a long illness; was that God, having promised that He would be with us until the end of time, does not forsake us at the time of death, but accompanies us through the valley of the shadow of death, where we will fear no evil, for God is eternally with us – Emmanuel. With our Baptism and Holy Common-Union with one another in Christ, we are recipients of the eternal love of God which never ends. Alleluia!

“Where Charity and Love are: There is God”.

Father, Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Bishop of Southwark’s Call to Service as Mission

Bishop Christopher’s Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod

Presidential Address by The Bishop of Southwark,
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun

‘President Donald J Trump.’   No comment.  Except to say, thank God for Hereditary Monarchy.

We should not make the mistake of thinking our own times uniquely troubled. When we read in the Gospel tomorrow of nation rising against nation, we also remember that this phrase has resonated in every generation.    We are not, thank God, living in 1939, nor even in 1936.  Nevertheless, in this week of all weeks, there is something to make us say, as Hamlet says, “the time is out of joint.”

First we should pause and acknowledge that at the personal level this has been a time of loss.  We mourn The Revd Dr Andrew Wakefield, taken from us so suddenly, whose funeral will be conducted by Bishop Richard on Tuesday.   And we began this morning by holding the people of Croydon in our prayers, praying particularly for those killed, injured or bereaved in the tram crash on Wednesday, giving thanks for the emergency services.

And then in the national and international sphere, the tectonic plates are shifting.   It is too early to say what exactly is happening.  But a common theme seems to be the failure of trust in the political class; the predominating tone is one of impatient anger.

More and more, in these days, our own lives intersect with the news, and not usually in a way that makes for peace of mind.

Last month, encouraged by the Year of Mercy inaugurated by Pope Francis in Advent, I went with Archbishop Peter Smith of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Southwark and our respective delegations, to visit prisoners, officers and chaplains at HMP Wandsworth.  In numerous conversations the message we received again and again was about staff shortages and the cumulative impact of savage cuts in recent years.   There is a negative spiral: too few staff to supervise activities leading to discontent and more demands on staff time.  Against this background the value of the Chaplaincy Service at Wandsworth, led by Canon Tim Bryan, is incalculable.   Scarcely had we got back from our visit when we read of public warnings that order in prisons would break down; and hot on the heels of these warnings came the violence and escapes at Pentonville.

We live in troubled times.   We live in troubling times.

What can the Church offer in response?

I want to give a very short answer.  It is an answer each of us needs to make real, and that will not be easy.  But the central theme can be stated in a word.  Service.  To be more precise, Godly service.   Simply put, God came among us in the form of a servant, so we must do likewise.   Service is a matter of living outward, of finding other people’s hopes and fears as compelling as our own, of laying down the burden of our own self-interest to pursue the interests of someone else.

Service can become a reality in many different ways.  Service is love in action and these two, love and service, are intertwined. And if we truly serve others, rather than seeking to gain advantage in return, we come to know them better, more as God knows them.  We grow stronger in love and the knowledge of God’s loving purposes for us.  Indeed, the more we love, the more we are moved to serve.   And as we cultivate this virtuous circle we become the antidote to the ugly mood of this last year, which has seen the strengthening of fear and of the mistaken idea that more for someone else means less for me.  We are able to counter this in our daily lives by practising hospitality and generosity, by living and working out for ourselves the truth that it is in giving that we receive.  And the way into this is an attitude of service.

For our parish churches service is of the first importance too.  One abiding impression from visiting Wandsworth Prison was how much our parish communities of faith have to offer. The men I met spoke of the need for someone to talk to on release to help them make sense of the world and their place in it without judging or fearing them.  They spoke of the longing for connection.  They spoke of the need to give something back, to find roles in which they can be trusted and win trust.  Both before and after release virtuous circles of connection and interaction are vitally needed.  Above all, this has to happen not as part of some planned system, but personally, one by one, at the most local level.

This is just the sort of thing a parish church can do so well: love realised in practical service, in a particular place, by particular people.  I only mention prisoners as one example: Matthew 25 gives the bigger picture of Christian service, in which all may find a way to join in.

St Mary Magdalene Peckham is a concrete example of how this can work out over the long term.   I recently dedicated a new altar in this church which I consecrated 5 years ago. Under the leadership of their Vicar, Dr Olu Adams, the PCC raised 90% of the £2 million funding for the new church themselves – an extraordinary achievement – with the remaining £200,000 as a loan from the Diocese, a debt which the parish have been steadily repaying; but now the outstanding balance  of around £100,000 has been remitted in order to liberate resources for mission and ministry.   Renewed energy can be focussed on sharing the Good news, especially in work with children, young people and families, using the new church and community centre to help all in the community to grow in love and the knowledge of Christ.

St Mary Magdalene Peckham is a church, like many in the Diocese, in an area of significant deprivation undergoing rapid change.  It is important that we pay as much care to these communities as to new emerging communities and developments such as Battersea Nine Elms where we have been successful in obtaining significant funding from the Church Commissioners which will enable us to look creatively at mission delivery and fresh expressions of Church.  

Acts of corporate yet personal service are not solely the province of parish churches.  What a rich gift is given to prisons and to hospitals, schools and other institutions, by our chaplaincies and their teams of willing lay and ordained members, many of whom are volunteers.  It is inspiring to meet at Wandsworth members of the volunteer chaplaincy team in their distinctive blue tee shirts drawn from among the prisoners, offering acts of service and finding that the reward is in the giving.  In the same way it was encouraging, nearly three weeks ago, to host, with Bishop Pete Broadbent of Willesden, a pan-London meeting of Anglican hospital chaplains.  All that chaplaincies do in fostering peace and hope in institutions which are more and more under pressure from funding cuts is a rich tale of service that is too seldom told, but one in which we can take due pride in this Diocese.

In the Public Square service is central to what we can offer as Church.   It was with a purpose of service that I convened the Faith and Community Assembly in the Cathedral at the beginning of October.  The key note speaker was the first Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, admitted into office in May at his request in our Cathedral Church, who so admirably aspires to be Mayor for all Londoners, a sign that the spirit of service is not confined solely to Christian witness.  The purpose of the Assembly was to stand together in solidarity as Londoners both in condemning prejudice and distrust as well as affirming tolerance, generosity and welcome which are so vital in our increasingly global metropolis. Let me conclude by reading you the text of the Declaration which I signed with the Mayor Sadiq Khan together with other faith and community leaders:

  • We pledge our determination as Londoners to ensure that this great city shall continue to be a place of welcome, generosity and equality, with respect for all
  • We condemn and oppose prejudice and distrust and will work unceasingly for tolerance and the common good
  • We abhor all examples of exclusion based on ethnic identity that mar relationships between neighbours of all ages, faiths and backgrounds
  • We stand in solidarity with those in London who are mistreated or held in contempt because of who they are or where they have come from
  • We affirm that our diversity is a source of strength and that we are committed to learning from one another
  • We commit to living out this Declaration in our own lives, in our teaching and preaching and in our community engagement

There is much to discuss in today’s Synod, and I commend it all to your careful attention.  But I want to put the notion of service at the centre and I look forward during Advent, as the Year of Mercy draws to a close, to ordaining Southwark’s first three Distinctive Deacons – a hospital lay chaplain, a deaconess and a Church Army Officer, who will embody in our midst the spirit of service which is the bedrock of ministry and discipleship, lay and ordained.  Indeed I pray for us all that today we may discuss and debate in a spirit of service; and that as we go out, God willing, we shall keep at the front of our minds, in our churches, in our homes, in our places of work and community engagement, this same purpose: service.  “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mt 20.28)

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This is an account of the inspirational pre-Diocesan Synod Address by the Bishop of Southwark Dr Christopher Chessun. This paragraph from the bishop’s Presidential address offers an antidote to all those in the Church are afraid of the influence of Muslims in the local community. Abrahamic Religions share a very important understanding of One God that is vital to our own basic belief in Unity in Diversity – as evidenced in the Trinity of Persons, which has revealed Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Person of God, our Redeemer.:

In the Public Square service is central to what we can offer as Church.   It was with a purpose of service that I convened the Faith and Community Assembly in the Cathedral at the beginning of October.  The key note speaker was the first Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, admitted into office in May at his request in our Cathedral Church, who so admirably aspires to be Mayor for all Londoners, a sign that the spirit of service is not confined solely to Christian witness.  The purpose of the Assembly was to stand together in solidarity as Londoners both in condemning prejudice and distrust as well as affirming tolerance, generosity and welcome which are so vital in our increasingly global metropolis.

Public Service is one of the most important attributes of our Faith Communities. Insofar as we are able to join one another in the service of our common humanity, we are carrying out the mandate of Jesus Christ, as well as the One True God of our common father, Abraham.

Unity in Diversity is being carried out in different ways in the Diocese of Southwark – most recently by the appointment of a non-white Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich – within that diocese. With the presence of many immigrants in the Church of England, the Church is best served by a range of different ethnicities amongst its clergy and people.

In furthering that mission of inclusion, here we have the latest news from the Diocese of the appointment of the new Bishop of Woolwich”

http://southwark.anglican.org/news/press-releases/2016/bishop-of-woolwich-appointed

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Couldn’t We Just “Dissolve the People”??

by Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool After the uprising of the 17th June the Secretary of the Writers Union had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee stating that the people had forfeited t…

Source: Couldn’t We Just “Dissolve the People”??

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Sec.Gen. of the A. C. on U.S. Influence in GAFCON

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon interviewed by CoI Gazette

Ian Ellis, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, recently interviewed Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General at the Anglican Communion Office. The full interview lasts 45 minutes, and the recordings can be found here.

There is a report in the Church Times today: Idowu-Fearon: US conservatives manipulating African Anglicans.

THE importance that African church leaders attach to the ques­tion of same-sex relationships is the result of interference by conserva­tives in the United States, the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has said.

In an interview with The Church of Ireland Gazette, published last week, Dr Idowu-Fearon said that Anglican leaders in Africa seemed “to be so much taken in” by the issue, not be­cause of concerns about the impact on relations with Mus­lims, but as a result of “very strong min­ority conservatives” in the US.

“The very strong minority conservatives, not in the UK but in America, they have found a footing amongst some of the leaders in Africa,” he said. “They are the ones that sort of pumped this thing into the leaders, and the leaders decided to make it an African thing. It is not an African thing. There are homo­sexuals everywhere — even in my diocese.”

He denied that African leaders were anxious about relation­ships with Muslims: “It’s not true. It has not stopped church growth in my part of Nigeria. . . Nobody talks about it.”

Another report of the interview has been published here: Are the Leaders of Africa’s Anglican Churches “Despotic”?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento (‘T.A.’) on Friday, 16 December 2016

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The Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, a former Archbishop in the Anglican Province of Nigeria, in his recent interview with the Editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, has admitted that GAFCON is a breakaway part of the worldwide Communion, that he hopes may yet be reconciled with the rest of the Communion Provinces.

Archbishop Josiah is concerned at the fact that the African Primates of the GAFCON group have been influenced by ‘very strong minority conservatives from the U.S.A’, who have brought pressure to bear on the African Provinces on matters of gender and sexuality, in a way that has led to the formation of a conservative bloc in the Churches of the Global South. These conservatives have also been influenced by the fundamentalist outlook of the former archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, who still serves as an official on the GAFCON Council.

The idea that all Africans are ‘anxious’ about their relationship with Muslims is, according to the Secretary-General, a myth; quoting his own Nigerian Province as still growing – despite the presence of Muslims in the area. Also, Africa has to cope with the ‘despotic’ behaviour of some if its Anglican Primates. Archbishop Josiah himself was deposed from his role as an Archbishop in Nigeria by the current Primate of the Province, who did not approve of Josiah’s unwillingness to link up with GAFCON.

It is surely salutary, that an African Archbishop – General Secretary of the Anglican Communion – should be able to offer criticism of some Provinces of the African Church. however, he can do this on the basis of his own treatment by the Primate of All Nigeria.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – God With Us!

God-with-us

‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’ (Matthew 1:23)

To speak of God being with us might be good news, or bad news, depending on what we believe God’s character is like.

When Nazi troops marched into Paris in 1940, their regulation belt buckle bore the legend ‘Gott mit Uns’, God with us, and I wonder how the French felt about what that God was visiting on them? The badge of the English Defence League bears a cross, below which the Latin inscriptions translates: ‘In this sign you will conquer‘ invoking the militant power of an Anglo-Saxon warrior God.

Even people who do not espouse a political or military cause find themselves readily imagining a vengeful God. When someone encounters personal tragedy or misfortune, I find them looking for what they might have done wrong, for which this devastation is punishment, a retribution for a past sin. Or they may simply see their pain as a sign that God has brutally inflicted a tragedy or, at the very least, been asleep on the job allowing catastrophe to befall them.

The ‘Son of God’ in the world of the Christmas stories is a title for Caesar, presiding over the brutal imperial army occupying Jesus’s homeland. The Roman God-with-us means domination by brute force — a fearful God-with-us.

The stories of Christmas were written to challenge and subvert this dark idea of God’s character. Matthew’s God-with-us is hunted by a king, one who has to leave his country. Luke’s God-with-us is visited by the poorest in the neighbourhood. This is not a brutal God, this is a God alongside people who are powerless, people who have been done to, people who feel forgotten. This is the character of the God of the Christian Gospels.

Andrew Spurr is Vicar of Evesham with Norton and Lenchwick in the diocese of Worcester.

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Thanks to ‘Thinking Anglicans’ for Fr.Andrew Spurr’s insistence on the ‘God of Love’.

In a time when militant Christians (like the Leader of ‘Destiny Church’ in New Zealand) are keen to attribute to God a fierce and catastrophic response to human sin – in the shape of ‘natural disasters’ like earthquakes, tsunamis and endemic disease – here we have a priest of the Church of England preaching the Gospel, the Good News of God’s love for the world. In fact, “God loved the world SO MUCH”, that He sent his Only-Begotten Son into the world – so that all might come to see God’s mercy and forgiveness for all who look to Christ for salvation.    

The idea of an Avenging God is one which has been for too long pushed by those who want God to be ‘on their side’ – like the army of the Third Reich, who really believed their extermination of the Jewish race and homosexuals to be God’s direct intention and purpose behind their atrocities against such people in their own and other countries of the world.    

With hindsight, most people today believe that this sort of misunderstanding of God’s purpose for humanity is life-denying and totally contrary to the message of the Gospel – which proclaims the equality of all God’s children – whether Greek or Jew; male or female; rich or poor; straight or gay; black or white – in Christ there is no ‘superior’ race, gender or class.

Jesus overturned the human understanding of preferential status and entitlement, proclaiming God’s love for all people who are ready to treat others as they would be treated; to recognise their common human responsibility for their earthly home and for the welfare of one another without prejudice or preference – except that of being prepared to succour the weak, the vulnerable and the lowly, sometimes at cost to themselves.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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The ‘Madness’ of Mercy – Pope Francis

The ‘Madness’ of Mercy

What’s at the Center of Francis’s Papacy?

When Hannah Arendt reviewed Pope John XXIII’s journals just over fifty years ago, she shared a question posed to her by a Roman chambermaid not long after he had died. “Madam,” the woman said, “this pope was a real Christian. How could that be? And how could it happen that a true Christian would sit on St. Peter’s chair?” Arendt took the comments to underscore the tension between the radical simplicity of Jesus’ call to “follow me” and the demands of the institutional church. After all, as the future pope scribbled in his notebook when he was only eighteen years old, taking that call seriously put one at risk of being “treated as a madman.”

Pope Francis, who declared John XXIII a saint and whose own pontificate draws frequent comparisons with that earlier pope, surely understands the truth of that observation. Francis has been described in similarly unfavorable terms by his critics; some have even compared him to a real madman, president-elect Donald Trump. And even a few of his admirers, especially in the mainstream press, sometimes seem disturbed by his words and deeds, surprised by a pope who seems not only to believe but to act as though the meek really will inherit the earth. Depending on the newspaper or magazine one reads, Francis is either too reckless or too conservative, a possible heretic or a false hope. His off-the-cuff pronouncements reliably stir controversy; his openness to reform generates theological sparring and debate. Meanwhile, the usual swirl of Vatican gossip and intrigue continues apace.

In the midst of all this, one could be forgiven for not remembering that Francis himself has told us what is at the center of his papacy, the thread that holds it all together: mercy. He took as his episcopal motto miserando atque eligendo—“by having mercy and choosing.” His apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, urges us never to stop seeking God’s forgiveness, never to despair of being beyond the reach of God’s mercy. And last year, Francis called an extraordinary jubilee—the Year of Mercy—which has just come to a close. The message could not be less subtle. It is worth stopping to reflect on what Francis has described as “the very foundation of the church’s life,” now, while the Year of Mercy remains fresh in our minds and Christmas is upon us.

We shouldn’t be surprised that such an emphasis on mercy has been misunderstood, willfully or otherwise, and left more than one of the church’s factions dissatisfied. Against a stringent conservatism, dwelling on mercy appears as a kind of antinomianism: a breakdown of rules and order in favor of freewheeling forgiveness, a weakening of morals and a soft-peddling of ethical demands. Against the more thinned-out versions of religious liberalism, it can seem too “existential,” too focused on the darker currents of our lives—the “wounds” we suffer from, which need to be healed. And while mercy should be joined to hope, it is neither naïvely optimistic nor ideologically progressive. It is costly love in the midst of pain and grief, not false cheer.

Mercy for Francis is never simply a matter for individuals, a kind of privatized consolation or a form of cheap grace. He wants nothing less than to build a “culture of mercy.” This can be seen vividly in the way Francis has asked us to understand Laudato si’: not as an encyclical that merely endorsed the scientific consensus on climate change, but as a call to conversion in how we relate to the resources we all share. “The object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces,” the pope reminds us. That includes our stewardship of creation, leading Francis to suggest “a complement” to the traditional sets of seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy. “May the works of mercy also include care for our common home,” he said in September, going on to demand that we “break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” that afflicts our political and economic life and make mercy itself “felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.”

As the church struggles with its own divisions, and as the United States and the world enter dark political times, Francis’s message of mercy should be a light to our path. He has staked his papacy on that message, offering it as the only answer to our deepest questions and longings. In a world that “leaves so many men and women behind as it races on, breathlessly and aimlessly,” he recently said, “we need the oxygen of this gratuitous and life-giving love. We thirst for mercy and no technology can quench that thirst. We seek a love that endures beyond momentary pleasures, a safe harbor where we can end our restless wanderings, an infinite embrace that forgives and reconciles.”

The jubilee may be over now, but the need for mercy never ends. Neither does God’s offer of it. That should be at the heart of our attempts to understand this pope—and the source of our hope in the difficult days that may lie ahead.

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‘COMMONWEAL’, the U.S. Roman Catholic publication, deserves to be read for its open discussion of contemporary theological views with the Church in the world of today. The following link gives links to articles about The Church and Same-Sex Relationships which is well worth reading: https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/catholicism-same-sex-marriage

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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R.C. Synod for Wellington Archdiocese

Wellington Archdiocese to have a Synod next year

synod

Cardinal John Dew has announced that the fifth Synod for the Archdiocese of Wellington is to take place in 2017.

A diocesan synod helps to establish the ‘communion and mission’ of a diocesan community.

In the decree of convocation Dew said he was mindful of Pope Francis’ desire that we advance along the path of what he calls “a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are”.

The letter continues, “Pope Francis explains what he means by pastoral and missionary conversion when he writes ‘Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says, ‘We have always done it this way’”

“It means being bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation in our Diocesan community with its various parish and ecclesial, religious and social communities.”

“Pope Francis is re-shaping our priorities and attitudes, and we need to respond at the grassroots level to his vision,” Dew said.

“The last two archdiocesan synods focused on liturgy, youth and young adults, family, welcoming communities, adult education, social justice.

“These are all essential parts of the life of the Church but are mostly internal matters with focus on ourselves rather than on our mission.

“The parish amalgamation process has required us to have a strong internal focus over the last few years. There is more work to be done within parishes to further the amalgamation at a practical level, and to deepen communion in our parishes.

“But that communion must extend further, because Pope Francis is challenging us strongly to ‘go out’.

“In both his words and actions, Pope Francis consistently challenges us to rethink our approach and priorities.

“He returns to certain themes again and again: the peripheries of society; our own peripheries; refugees and migrants; care for creation; ecumenism; interfaith relations; accompanying the young.

Cardinal Dew concludes by saying that now is the time for the Archdiocese to reflect on how we can be a Church that is at the service of the world around us.

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Thanks to CATHNEWS N.Z. for this article.

This is obviously not just ‘business as usual’ for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Wellington. The convocation of a Wellington Arch-diocesan Synod in 2017 , by Cardinal John Dew, is a welcome sign of his willingness to follow in the way of his Chief Bishop, Pope Francis, in continuing the spirit of renewal in the local Roman Catholic Church.

Acknowledging the need for internal adjustments being made to accommodate the local amalgamation of parishes, Cardinal Dew also acknowledges the need to move on pastorally in order to bring the Good News of God’s love to the local neighbourhood and to the world outside of the Church.

Reflecting on recent moves made by Pope Francis to extend the concept of God’s mercy at work in the world beyond the borders of the Church – and into the real lives of ‘outsiders – one can only applaud this collaborative movement towards the recruitment of ‘all hands on deck’ in the convocation of a meeting that will harness the resources of the Church for Mission to the world around us.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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