“the boldest of Pope Francis’s homilies confronting Catholic Pharisaism come in his second consistory in Feb 2015, at the midpoint between the two synods on the family. The bishops were wrestling with the possibility of opening the sacraments to some divorced & remarried Catholics; although the media had framed the debate as a doctrinal battle, the Church’s teaching on marriage as faithful, indissoluble, & open to children had never been in question. At the heart of the matter was the issue of the use of God’s law, & the perennial temptation of religious people to harness doctrine & law to bolster their own identity, to justify themselves by condemning others, & in this way to become an obstacle to God’s desire to heal & save all. Francis explained the contrast between the two approaches using Jesus’s scandalous healing of the leper in the first chapter of Mark. In curing the outcast, he observed, Jesus was forced to stay out of the towns; in sharing the lepers’ sufferings & rejection. He entered their perspective. From the standpoint of the lepers it was clear how Jewish cleanliness laws, when used to protect & justify the healthy & the righteous, were underpinned by a logic of fear & exclusion. This was the logic that Jesus overturned. “for Jesus what mattered above all is reaching out to save those far off, healing the wounds of the sick, restoring everyone to God’s family, & this is scandalous to some people!” “there are two ways of thinking & of having faith. We can fear to lose the saved or we can want to save the lost. Even today it can happen that we stand at the crossroads of these two ways of thinking; the thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove the danger by casting out the diseased person” [migrants deported back to Calais] “& the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces & accepts by reinstating him & turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation & exclusion into proclamation.” Francis related the rejection of Jesus to contemporary attitudes within the Church that were harming the Church’s credibility & capacity to evangelise. This was daring eggshell territory for a pope. At a 2016 meeting with Polish Jesuits in Krakow, Francis urged those in priestly formation to teach the art & spirituality of discernment to help priests walk with people, concerned that “rigidity that is far from a discernment of situations has been introduced into priestly formation.” He meant the art of discretio, prudence in applying the law, that was at the heart of the Church’s great pastoral traditions. Discernment is the opposite to legalism, because it starts with the concrete person & her needs & applies the law in ways that can assist her, rather than starting with the law & using it to divide humanity between those inside & those outside it. Asked by a Latin American friar where pastors should position themselves in contexts of huge social division, Francis was clear “with those who suffer most, but without having contempt for the wealthy. If there is any “class struggle” in the Gospel it is between the mercy preached by Jesus & the rigidity of the doctors of the law”. He told the friar to steer clear of power, money, & the political/religious factions of the day, & do what Jesus did; serve the people. This was the pastoral conversion of the heart of the call of Aparecida, where you chose to be to a large extent determined by what you saw. Only through real life contact with sin, poverty & suffering could the Church be purged of its Pharisaism. Ask the discernment question..what pleases God? Jesus led them out to lepers, paralytics sinners, whose healing required much more than norms or recipes. Francis challenged to Church to do the same; to be close & concrete, not distant & legalistic. People were hungry for God, hungry for dignity, yet they stayed away from the Church because of the attitudes of so many Catholics. “we can’t be Christians continually putting up a “do not enter” sign” he insisted. Now that the Church had produced a pope who recalling the people of God worldwide to go out to humanity as missionary disciples not lamenting or condemning, but asking God what He wanted them to do to heal to save & to love.” [“Wounded Shepherd “ Pope Francis & his struggle to convert the Catholic Church by Austen Ivereigh]
In his letter to all of us last weekend, Abbot Robert announced the name of your new Parish Priest, Fr Kentigern Hagan. I am pleased for him & for you that he is to become your Shepherd in three weeks’ time on the weekend of 11/12 Sept 2021. He comes to you with some “impediments”; he was born in Wales, not the broad acres, & in cricket, sadly he supports Glamorgan not Yorkshire, & in football Swansea not Leeds Utd!.. ..please pray for him, as he & I work & pray together to ensure a smooth handover.
I will be away on holiday with my sister & three friends/pilgrims from this coming Thursday 26 Aug until Wed evg 2 Sept as we travel to Iona. Fr Prior will arrange for a monk from the Monastery to cover our three weekend Masses at OL&SB & OL&HA. Weekday Mass on Thurs 26 Aug will be at 8am please; no weekday Mass on Tues 31 Aug, & our usual 930am Mass back on Thurs 3 Sept please.
My final Masses in the Parish will be; Sat Vigil 4 Sept 6pm; Sun 5 Sept OL&SB 10am & 4pm at OL&HA which will be the final Mass of closure of the Church there. We have invited back all those who have had family links with OL&HA for this special moment, so please leave it specifically for our parishioners from there that weekend. My last Mass for St Benedict’s RC PS will be on Wed 8 Sept in OL&SB, a full School Mass at 10.30am, which will be live-streamed across the primary & secondary schools of the St Margaret Clitherow Academy Trust as our Trust patronal feastday Mass.
Pope Francis issued a news release on Wednesday supporting a campaign on Covid-19 vaccinations. “in a brotherly spirit, I join in this message of hope for a brighter future. Thanks to God & to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19. They grant us the hope of ending the pandemic, but only if they are available to all & if we work together. Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love, & contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love. Love for oneself, love for one’s family & friends, love for all people. love is also social & political, there is social love & political love; it is universal, always overflowing with small gestures of personal charity capable of transforming & improving societies. Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the Common Good & caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable. I pray to God that everyone may contribute their own small grain of sand, their own small gesture of love; no matter how small, love is always great. Contribute with these small gestures for a better future. God bless you & thank you.” Pope Francis. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede