Dear Parishioners,

It is not often I am struck by an editorial – but in last weekend’s Australian the headline – ‘Word of Christ at the heart of the Church’s culture wars’ drew my attention. Wow, what does this mean? Let me share a couple of paragraphs which stirred me and evoked a reaction to the article.

“In welcoming divorce and remarried couples to Holy Communion, provided their individual consciences are clear, as Pope Francis has done, the 266th pontiff is bringing Christ’s mercy and compassion to his flock and their complex problems in a way none of his predecessors have managed.”

“ … the change being wrought by Francis is being embraced as liberating, long overdue and hopefully the first of other sweeping reforms…..”

I felt proud as an Australian Catholic to read this and for once in a long me to read something positive about our Church. Then in the same article I read: –

“The Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long, urged the church to put away discriminatory and judgemental language and create and nurture a welcoming space for all people, including those who have been alienated …. The Church of the past, he said, had been “an enclosure for the virtuous” instead of “an oasis for the weary and downtrodden”.

When you read this, how do you respond? Do you have any reaction at all? How do you go about bringing God’s mercy and compassion into your relationships, attitudes and opinions? To members of your family and friends, and maybe even directly in your personal life, do you get weighed down by your perceived attitude of Church and Church teachings? Is there something troubling you and you keep putting off speaking to someone about it?

I, along with the other pastoral staff of the Parish are often in conversation with parishioners who are burdened, often in a heavy way, about teachings of the Church. Once they obtain more information and the freedom gained in sharing it is a privilege to be part of their healing – for me this then is our Church/Parish being an oasis for the weary and downtrodden.

I would like to think and believe with my whole heart that it is not the words of Christ at the heart of culture wars – but rather – the words of Christ being the heart of our lives! Can I suggest you reread the paragraph above from Bishop Long and reflect on how they apply here in the Ipswich Catholic Community.

Today is Social Justice Sunday, a day for us to reflect on our attitudes towards others and I offer these words from Pope Francis who said recently: – “it’s important to examine our hearts and eradicate arrogance and hypocrisy. It is also important to find the way back to our hearts and to rediscover the value of intimacy and silence amid the frenetic pace of daily life because it is there that God meets us and speaks to us”.

If you would like to read Bishop Long’s lecture follow this link:

Have a good week, Stephen ofm