Salt and Light Together! That’s who we are. In preparation for our Pentecost Synod and during that wonderful weekend, we prayed that we might ‘refresh and enrich’ the world God loves and ‘shine in faithful witness to joy and hope’. Salt and Light Together.
Now is the time to let the prayer bear fruit.
This document carries the voices of all who participated in the process that brought us to the synod, and of those who discussed and reflected on the issues that formed the synod agenda.
I am delighted to present it to the archdiocese. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit for our encouragement and growth. Please use it in your planning as you meet the pastoral challenges and opportunities of the next few years.
Remember, we are not promoting anything new. It is the one, unchanging gospel we proclaim, as Pope John Paul II stressed in his millennium letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte:
It is not a matter of inventing a new programme. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the gospel and in the living tradition, it is the same as ever. [NMI 29]
The Pope pointed out that, while this programme – centred as it is in Jesus Christ does not change with shifts of times and cultures … it must nevertheless be translated into pastoral initiatives adapted to the circumstances of each community. [NMI] That is exactly what our synod has empowered us to do.
We are to use this document to determine the best way to live and proclaim the gospel in these early years of the third millennium. Please reflect on the specific needs of our society and those of your own parish or community, together with the cultural milieu in which you live. Our aim is to give hope to those who struggle with life and to enrich every moment with the living presence of Jesus.
We are, and always will be, a eucharistic and sacramental people of God. Ministering with fewer priests will not lessen that reality. Neither will it weaken the significance of lay leadership. While calling for increased lay responsibility, the synod was clear that the way ahead was through collaborative ministry – people and priests working in close partnership.
There are important differences between the priesthood of all the baptised and the ordained ministry. Both are needed and we have been growing in our understanding of how they can work together. As you implement this planning document I ask that you also deepen your appreciation of what underpins these ‘differences’ in priesthood in our Catholic theology. Such awareness will make our collaboration even more effective and we will be truly seen as one people.
The synod made it clear that all should be aware of the social teachings of the church, with every parish reaching out to the disadvantaged. There can be no stepping back from this. In your planning keep in mind the words of Pope Benedict in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est:
‘The church cannot neglect the service of charity anymore than she can neglect the sacraments and the word.’ [Deus Caritas Est 22]. ‘The church’s deepest nature is expressed in her threefold responsibility: proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments and exercising the ministry of charity. These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable.’ [Deus Caritas Est 25].
Being there for those in difficulty, for refugees and migrants, the poor and the lonely, for the victims and perpetrators of violence and abuse, is a non-negotiable requirement if we are to be faithful to our vocation to be at the service of the world.
In my opening address to the synod I affirmed our nation’s commitment to a bicultural partnership with the tangata whenua, while at the same time living in a multicultural setting. I asked that the six synod topics be reflected on in the light of this priority and was delighted when so many of the future statements and propositions did just that. Please continue to plan in this way.
During his visit to Aotearoa-New Zealand in 1986, Pope John Paul reminded us that people coming to this country from Europe did not come to a desert. They came to a land which had already nurtured a rich and ancient heritage. He called us to respect and foster that heritage. He also told us that we have a unique opportunity to show how Māori and other cultures can work together to build a society which is just and peaceful.
Twenty years on our direction is even clearer.
Like the early church, we are journeying together as a people committed to serve so the love of God might be made visible in our lives. As the synod paper, “Acts In Action” put it, we are to be seen as a community characterised by holiness, helping, healing and hospitality.
Thank you for your most generous response to my invitation to ‘come with me’ into somewhat uncharted territory. We have crossed the threshold and found the Lord already there ahead of us, beckoning us on. We can journey with confidence.
With every good wish and blessing.
Yours sincerely in the Lord
+ John A Dew