It has happened int the past, that the Vicar of Christ has traveled to a place, was met with great enthusiasm, caused a bump, a wave in Catholic identity, and after a fairly short period of time everything went back into the numb comfort zone.
I get the sense that Bishops of England and Wales don’t want that to happen. The Pope’s message during that visit was pretty challenging. During the lead up to the visit, lots of people thought that the bishops conference was throwing roadblocks in front of the Pope’s visit. I must admit, at the time, I was leaning in that direction.
But, as someone has suggested elsewhere, it is possible that the bombs dropped by the Pope here and there have caused a tectonic shift. When quakes take place, things start to lean in other directions. You decide.
And so we look at this from the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald.
Bishops of England and Wales outline mission on papal visit anniversary
By Staff Reporter on Sunday, 18 September 2011
The Bishops of England and Wales have unveiled their future priorities in a message to Catholics on the first anniversary of the papal visit to Britain. [We have to keep in mind that the visit was a “state visit”.]
In the message, the bishops said that their priorities for “the next three to five years” related to three areas: “mission, teaching and witness”.
They said: “Integral to this work is recognising the importance of being confident, faithful and courageous in our mission, teaching and witness. [In order to give witness, we have to know who we are and what we believe.]
“Following the wonderful example Pope Benedict has given us, in our mission we must be gentle but also confident in manifesting the ‘beauty of holiness’, a beauty which can lead the heart of every person to an intimate knowledge of Christ. [Manifest the “beauty of holiness”. Sounds like the place to start is our liturgical worship.]
“In our teaching, we must be courteous but also faithful in proclaiming the ‘splendour of truth’ through ‘the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness’.
“In our witness, we must be humble and open-hearted but also courageous in testifying to ‘the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ’.” [And work on the Church’s preeminent form of communication: liturgical worship.]
The bishops continued: “In respect of our mission, our first priority area of work will be: ‘To proclaim the universal call to holiness in Christ – by promoting a culture of vocation within the corporate identity of the Catholic Church, marked by a confident Catholic faith’. [Couched sort of in newspeak, but does that sound a bit like the “Marshall Plan” I have ranted about? An ad intra and ad extra approach?]
“In relation to ‘teaching’, the second priority area of work will be: ‘To proclaim Christ and his Gospel as saving truth – by fostering and encouraging a culture of dialogue and solidarity’. [Not sure what that means. But where is liturgical worship?]
“And in terms of witness, our third priority area of work will be: ‘To proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God – by serving and witnessing to the whole community, especially by supporting marginalised and vulnerable people.’ ” [There for a moment, I thought the “coming of the Kingdom of God might have included the Four Last Things.]
The bishops then named seven “aims and objectives”.
“We have re-established Friday abstinence as a common act of witness and of solidarity with those who are in need or suffer and as an expression of our vocation to follow Christ who sacrificed his life for the good of all humanity,” they said. [Okay.. this Friday abstinence has been in force for less than a week. It needs to take root. But it is good to plan! Very good.]
“We are actively encouraging lay Catholics to witness publicly to their faith with renewed confidence and to communicate a culture of vocation to a wide audience. [The Church’s primary form of communication is liturgical worship.]
“We are creating a national vocations framework, offering discernment opportunities to all, not only to ecclesial vocations but also to marriage and other forms of lay witness. [And … priesthood.]
“We will continue to encourage the programme we have begun of ‘deepening social engagement’ to bring greater coherence, support and visibility to the Church’s evangelising witness through the development of ‘Caritas’ within England and Wales.
“We will foster opportunities to ‘build bridges of friendship to other religions, to heal past wrongs and to foster trust between individuals and communities’ by building on the unique and inspirational encounter between people of faith and representatives of other religions which took place during the Holy Father’s Visit.
“We will work with other Christians and people of other religions to identify the areas of greatest need, at home and abroad, so that we can come ‘together in concrete forms of collaboration, as we apply our religious insights to the task of promoting integral human development, working for peace, justice and the stewardship of creation’ and to work ‘together for the good of the community at large’.
“We will strengthen our communication of the work of the Church through the use of new technology and build partnerships with appropriate media outlets to build on the vision of the New Evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian Faith.” [We need to develop a stronger theology of communication. It isn’t enough to use the tools. However, a starting point has to be our liturgical worship, since our liturgical worship is the Church’s primary form of communication.]
The bishops concluded their message with an appeal to Catholics not to view the future “anxiously or fearfully, but with renewed hope and courage”.
They said: “In coming to the UK, the Holy Father ‘wanted first and foremost to support the Catholic community, encouraging it to work strenuously to defend the immutable moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and strengthened by the Gospel are at the root of a truly human, just and free society.’ [Keep in mind that it was a state visit.] He also wished ‘to speak to the hearts of all the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, excluding no one, of the true reality of man, of his deepest needs, of his ultimate destiny.’
“We believe that the ‘beauty of holiness’, the ‘splendour of truth’ and the ‘joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ’ can still speak powerfully to the hearts of the people of our country. This is the inspiration for our work ahead.
“On this Home Mission Sunday, the anniversary of the Holy Father’s visit to our country, we renew our faith in the power of God to lead us all through the difficult times faced by our nation and by our world. Confidently Catholic, we look forward then not anxiously or fearfully but with renewed hope and courage. We invoke God’s blessing on our country and on our world.”
We need a renewal of our liturgical worship for any of that to be effective. The new translation will help. Our liturgical worship is our primary form of communication.
We also need to develop a deeper theology of communication.
Read the full text of their message HERE.