Collated responses to questions posed by the Gospel and Pope Francis, Lent week 1:
A summary of the replies to ‘Are we a missionary church?
To what extent are we able to respond to the challenge to “go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.”
Do you feel confident that the Gospel is relevant and has something to offer our society today?
A resounding and unanimous ‘YES’!
How we read the Gospel and how it is applied, affects how we transmit it to our society: it needs to be interpreted in the context of the 21st century, not made irrelevant by a fundamentalist reading
And we don’t need to be perfect!
We are optimistic about the future of the Church! This confidence comes from the richness and value of what the Church is based on,
This optimism does not ignore the upheaval and change we are living through.
but the leaders of the Church will need to listen to the ‘sensus fidelium’ and to change to allow a “healthy growth of discipleship”;
Examples of it not being
listened to included
A cause for pessimism, unsurprisingly, was looking at the falling numbers of people in the current generation.
But we can’t sit back and ‘blame’ the hierarchy: it’s our Church, and we are all part of the problem, and the solution
Most people admitted they were tempted to shy away from sharing your faith with others, especially with people whose minds are set against the Church / Christianity. Talking about faith in the family was mentioned a number of times, whether it is with an older generations who are ‘more set in their ways’
It’s hard to talk to some people!
Factors that prevent us from sharing our faith, confidently included,
- not knowing enough;
- people not being interested in religion,
- the level of cynicism about the Church
- when it’s hard to defend or explain some of the Church’s teaching
Talking about religion can also cause arguments.
Something which many people will probably identify with is, ‘I’m not made to be a preacher’.
If we’re lacking in confidence or knowledge, we are
tempted to avoid certain people:
people on the fringes of society who can be are scary or threatening; people who might ignore or ridicule us, or who vehemently disagree with our views; bigots, whether they be people who are ‘anti-religious’ or “dogmatic, self-appointed Catholic ‘thought-police’ opposed to Pope Francis.
We can we ensure our community is open to all at the service of all
by going out into the community, being more visible and serving the poor – in all their forms.
The Church needs to educate people more about the reasons for their teachings, and to apply them more sensitively, with understanding and compassion.
Avoiding cliques and ensuring that all people’s opinions are heard are important for our local church to work on.
Do any groups in our community appear to be exclusive?
Catholic fundamentalist attitudes evident in certain people and websites are certainly exclusive; people who show “more concern for doctrinal orthodoxy and rubrics” but with little concern for those at the margins of society or the church”
There are many, many, good things our Church, locally and nationally, are doing, but we need to ask
Do people who don’t have regular contact with church feel excluded?
Generally, it was felt that people may feel excluded where the church groups are made up of the same types, and seem self-satisfied.
Church teachings cropped up again as making people feel excluded, particularly where “they emphasise people’s failings”. though one person suggested, “their pain is based on experiences from the past
If we as a Church are going to make clear that God has no favourites, it will be “by us having no favourites!”: Our action in the community, reaching out to people, especially those at the fringes; by being vigilant against forming cliques, As a church, we need to “Keep an openness. Keep ongoing dialogue alive”.