Fan the Flame: Towards Plenary Assembly One, October 2021
Reflection for Pentecost Sunday
23 May 2021
“As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” – John 20:19-23
Plenary Document Reflection
A CHURCH THAT GOES FORTH
91. A signal feature of the pontificate of Pope Francis is his consistent call for an outward-looking and pastorally engaged Church, a “Church that goes forth”.[i]
We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, in our parish or diocesan institutions, when so many people are waiting for the gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome because they come, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! [ii]
92. This centrifugal dynamic of the Church is not at odds with the centripetal dynamic of communion. All the baptised, with their particular gifts and energies for the Gospel mission, are “drawn to the centre which is Christ and then channelled into an evangelising impulse”.[iii]
95. The Church ‘goes forth’ in society by building those relationships with people of goodwill that are called for and motivated by the Lord Jesus and his Spirit present in our midst. The Second Vatican Council described the Church’s missional method thus: “The Church has the duty in every age of examining the signs of the times and interpreting them in the light of the Gospel”.[iv] This is a work of faith in the presence of the Lord and the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the world. “God’s people work to discern the true signs of God’s presence and purpose in the events, needs and desires which it shares with the rest of today’s humanity,” affirming those aspirations that move towards God’s kingdom, and challenging those attitudes and behaviours that may be inimical to it.[v]
96. To be effective in this task, all members of the Church must contribute their particular charisms and roles: lay Catholics as individuals or communities, the bishops and clergy in their leadership roles, theologians and other specialists in their fields of enquiry.[vi]
Making use of the synodal and collegial processes at the local and international levels, the entire body of the Church is challenged to be attentive to the signs of humanity’s quest for life, meaning, freedom and responsibility, and to recognise in these events the paschal sign of Jesus’ death and rising to new life (Matt 16.4).
159. Catholic Education at all levels plays a key role in enabling an encounter of worldviews and perspectives in the shared quest for truth, wisdom and the common good.[vii] At the same time, Catholic schools, colleges and universities witness to the faith encounter at the heart of the Catholic tradition, and propose to all people the intellectual, ethical and aesthetic commitments that arise from the Gospel and the tradition of the Church. Catholic higher education institutions can contribute to public discussion and policy development relating to issues of importance to the mission of the Church and to the integral development of people and society.[viii]
God Has Chosen Me by Bernadette Farrell.
- How can the Church be faithful to its evangelising mission in contemporary Australian culture, especially where teachings conflict with cultural values and practices?
- How can we proclaim the Gospel as taught by the Catholic Church in today’s Australian society?
We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, in our parish or diocesan institutions, when so many people are waiting for the gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome …, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people!
– (Pope Francis, World Youth Day Homily, Cathedral of San Sebastian, Rio de Janeiro, July 27, 2013)
With thanks to the Plenary Council.
[i] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 20-24.
[ii] Francis, “Homily in Cathedral of San Sebastian, Rio de Janeiro”, 27 July 2013.
[iii] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 130.
[iv] Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 4.
[v] Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 11.
[vi] Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 44.
[vii] Congregation for Catholic Education, Educating to Intercultural Dialogue in Catholic Schools: Living in Harmony for a Civilization of Love (2013).
[viii] Francis, Veritatis Gaudium, Apostolic Constitution (2018).