Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Address to the Diocesan Forum 2019, Parramatta
“Envisioning the Church in Western Sydney for the New Millennium”
13 July 2019
PART 5: A HUMBLE, HEALING AND MERCIFUL CHURCH
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Church was understood to be on its way to becoming a perfect society in and for the world. It was a defensive, fortress Church. Other Christian Churches were considered aberrations from this road map, not to speak of other religious movements.
However, Gaudium et Spes – the guiding document of the Council – presented a new paradigm: the Church is not an enclosure which protects its members against the sinful world. It is a fellow pilgrim with the men and women of our age.
It is a Church incarnate in the world.
Therefore, it is time not of fearful retreat, disengagement and self-referential pomp, but of accompaniment and engagement.
Francis declares, “The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity”.
That is his vision of the ideal Church. Not a perfect society, nor the enclosure for the privileged but a refuge for the poor, an oasis for the weary and a hospital for the wounded.
Being merciful is at the heart of Catholic identity.
It is not simply a matter of acting with mercy and compassion to those in need with our position of power and privilege intact. Rather, it is a radical discipleship of vulnerability and powerlessness in the footsteps of the humble Servant of God.
It is an existential stance in favour of the weak and the vulnerable in the face of the prevalent business model of success and power. It is about building up people and relationships rather than profit and size. It has to do with the Kingdom mentality rather than the empire mentality.
Part 6 will be published tomorrow.
To read Part 4 of Bishop Vincent’s address, click here.