It may well have passed you by, but the bishops of England and Wales issued a second questionnaire related to the two back-to-back Synods on marriage and family life. St Laurence parish organised some awareness-raising and hosted a discussion group to collect useful feedback to pass to the bishops regarding their consultation document.
The responses from all dioceses were all returned to the Bishops’ Conference at Pentecost, and they have spent the intervening time pondering what we, the Body of Christ, had to say.
Before they head to the Synod in Rome (4th-25th October), the bishops have kindly published a summary of the responses they received. It makes for sobering reading, and one hopes that the bishops will take careful note of the voices raised in response to their questions.
Marriage and Family report 2015
We pray that the Holy Spirit will be active at the Synod and that God’s divine will be done in his church.
Part of the Jesuit tradition of reading the scripture is to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as you read, slowly and carefully, over a section of text. If a particular word or phrase jumps out at you, the discipline urges you to stay with it and examine the thoughts and feelings that arise in response.
With this in mind, I have recently re-discovered Green Day and, in particular, their very fine 2004 album, American Idiot. One phrase from the album jumps out at me and stays with me. In the first half of the album, “Are We The Waiting” contains the line “the Jesus of Suburbia is a lie”.
Whilst acknowledging that “Jesus of Suburbia” in the context of the album is something quite different, this line got me thinking and keeps me thinking. We live in a rich, Western, democratic country. We are a nation of polite people who don’t want to bother others and certainly don’t want to be bothered ourselves. We are a nation of suburbanites, and we often want our Jesus to be a Jesus of Suburbia, who will reward us for our neat lawns, well-painted fences and the purity of our teabags.
As Green Day point out, however, the Jesus of Suburbia is a lie.
Jesus came to kick bottom, turn over tables and cause such upset that the authorities fear a riot. We need to be the radical voice of love in our society, the dissident voice of solidarity with the migrant and the refugee; we need to be the warm hearth that others can come to when they need one; we need to be out there clothing the naked and feeding the hungry if we ever want the words of St James not to sting: “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” James 2:14-26
This is the wording of the joint statement signed and released by the French and British bishops – Anglican and Catholic who attended the solidarity event in Calais last weekend.
We leaders of churches alongside the English Channel have joined in solidarity with this Day of Action in Calais and repeat our calls for people to respond to the growing crisis by showing generosity to those who are exiled from their homeland. These vulnerable men, women and childrenshare in our common humanity and everyone can help them to live in dignity and contribute to civil society.
People of all faiths and none can assist by providing financial and material support, time and skills, shelter and accommodation. Above all, we can pray and gather information to support pleas for better treatment in our nations and across the European Union. We wish to counter the myths that lead to prejudice and fear and urge politicians to envisage new policies that go beyond merely closing frontiers and employing increased numbers of security staff.
We resolve to work together to encourage residents to create a climate of welcome for strangers and we trust that we will be joined in this by all who gather in places of worship along the frontiers of European nations.
There will be an Ablaze Mass at St Laurence Church, Milton Road, Cambridge at 6pm on Sunday 20th September. This is a Mass specifically aimed at young people, but it open to all. It’s got great music and great energy and is quite a change from the “normal” Sunday Mass.
The bishops of England and Wales are asking us to contact our MP (that will be Heidi Allen for most of us) to ask them to oppose the Assisted Dying Bill as it makes its way through Parliament.
See Catholic News’s website here.