Usually, when you see this headline, what follows is a story about a person or group who is unhappy with the church and wants it to change–now! So, it might surprise you to learn that these are the words of Pope Benedict XVI. Needless to say,I was interested in reading more and was really pleased to see that what he is talking about is a deeper understanding of the co-responsibilityof clergy and laity for parish life and for the work of evangelization.
Pope Benedict points out that many of the baptized “do not feel part of the church community and live on its margins, only coming to parishes…to recieve religious services.” He beleives this is so for two reasons. Firstly, he calls for renewed efforts in formation and a clearer understadning of what it means to be the People on God in the Body of Christ. Secondly, he speaks directly to the clergy and reminds them that “the laity can no longer be viewed as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy but truly recognized as ‘co-responsible,’ committed laity.” You can hear in this an echo of St. Paul who spoke of co-wokers in the vineyard.
Become actively co-responsible
Pope Benedict XVI is presenting a terrific challenge for clergy and laity to take full responsibility for the evangelizing mission of our parishes. This is a timely challenge because this is the time of year that our parishes are looking for people to share their gifts with the body of Christ. Parishes need catechists, bible study leaders, ushers, lectors, and volunteers for all the services the parish offers to parishioners and to the community. One of the easiest ways to make your parish feel like a community is to get involved in a ministry or group.
Pope Benedict’s vision for our parishes is that we strive to restore life to small groups within the parish. He dreams that our parishes be centers where “it is possible to experience faith, to put charity into practice and to organize hope.” He ends his talk by saying that the “future of Christianity and the Church of Rome also depends on the commitment and witness of each one of us.”
The word “Apostle” means one who is sent. Clearly, Jesus sent the Apostles forth with the great commission that they make disciples of all the nations. Most of our Bishops who have succeeded the apostles have a specific territory (or diocese) for which they are responsible. But the Pope is Apostle and bishop to all the world, pretty big territory…hugh? In recent decades both Pope John Paul II and Benedict the XVI have truly manifested that they are sent. They have gone forth to the ends of the earth, they have been sent by God to make disciples of all nations.
I thought of this recently when I was listening to a Johnny Cash song: “I’ve Been Everywhere” and it occurred to me to reduce my thoughts to a video. Enjoy this video and the song too!
It also occurs to me to link you to this video refelcting on the life of the Pope. It is long but you might wish to play it if you have the time. It is quite good.
I’ve read a lot of commentary on the Pope’s latest encyclical Cartitas in Vertitate. Much of the commentary admits that this is a “hard” Encyclical. It is hard for two reasons. First, its style is dense, very theological, very nuanced, quite technical in places. It requires something of an expansive background and history of the social teachings of the Church. It is also hard for many because it runs against the grains of the political views of many. To be sure, there are things hard to swallow for both the politically conservative as well as the politically liberal. When we confront the often intractable social problems and issues of our day politics is very much in the mix. How best to solve them, big government solutions, marketplace and private sector initiatives? There is strident social and political disagreement among reasonable people.
All this makes Veritate in Caritate a “hard” encyclical. Fr. Robert Barron has a video commentary on the letter below. As always he is a master and taking complicated teaching and distilling from it lots of good “take away” stuff. This video is longer than his average, it is close to 9 minutes. If you don’t have time to see it all I direct you especially to the last three minutes wherein he deals with the “hard” aspects of this encyclical. What about the “World Government” notions in the letter and why does this letter seem so oddly “non-Ratzinger” in its style?
I have updated my video on Pictures of the Pope. As you know he is a very photogenic man and this little video I put together has some of the more humorous pictures I have seen of Him. Enjoy a 1 minute diversion:
The Pope’s New Encyclical is entitled Caritas in Veritate. Simply translated, Cartias in Veritate means “Love (or Charity) in Truth”. But what the title really sets forth is a teaching that Love and Truth need each other for there to be balance.
Consider charity or love without reference to the truth. Too easily it becomes soft and affirms what should not be affirmed. Charity without truth can easily enable bad behavior. By this it can, though with good intentions, further enslave people in self-destructive behaviors. Charity without truth can lead others into error and sin by failing to correct. Charity without truth can rob others of their dignity through a kind of “soft bigotry” of low expectations. This kind of charity is patronizing and presumes that the poor and needy cannot be expected to attain higher goals, so it simply moves the goal posts. Charity without truth can rob others of the discipline they need to discover self-mastery. Without the truth Charity, or love, is soft and can become downright poisonous. Charity (or love) needs reference to the truth to be true charity, true love.
But Consider truth without charity. Without Charity, or love, the truth too easily becomes a club to swing at others, merely an argument to be won. Without Charity the truth can seem harsh and demanding, something to be avoided and feared. Without Charity the truth can seem unattainable. Without Charity, people usually lack the self-esteem necessary to even consider they could live the truth. When I was a child I needed my parents reassurance that I was able to do what was right and true. Without that love and encouragement the truth could seem crushing and impossible.
So there it is, a title, but more than a title, a teaching.
Familiar???? By the way Washingtonians, this title should seem familiar to you. The Late Archbishop of this Archdiocese James Cardinal Hickey had this for his motto: Veritatem in Caritate (Truth in Charity).