What is God Asking of Us?Saturday 14th October 2023
This weekend we move into the first listening stage of our Diocesan Synod. ‘The Big Listen’ starts this weekend and continues into mid January 2024. As we embark on the next stage of our journey Bishop John has shared a pastoral letter to guide our thoughts .
‘The Big Listen’
Bishop John opens his letter with the questions:
“What is God asking of us, as the community of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Salford? How should we be living the Gospel values in our present times?”
He said: “ It is all too easy to think that the Church provides us with familiar routines and objectives. That sense of reliable consistency can be very appealing, when so many other things are changing. Some may see their religious faith as something which is private to themselves, giving them a direction and a self-discipline. But Pope Francis is insistent in declaring that we are “missionary disciples”. Our Faith is not something that we can celebrate in private. We need to be living our Faith in all our actions and decisions, as nothing less than “ambassadors for Christ”, as St Paul calls us. Nor do we live our Faith on our own – it is best lived and expressed in community, whether in school, family or parish. It is by working together that we can achieve more.
As we live in a fast-changing world, we must be prepared to question our priorities and our aspirations. There are global issues that are so distressing: the war in Ukraine, conflicts in other parts of the world, the plight of refugees and migrants, religious persecution, poverty, and the increasing impact of climate change. While we must look to the Universal Synod to prioritise global actions as the Catholic Church, we must recognise that we have a particular responsibility for our local Church, here in the Northwest of England and its own particular needs and opportunities.”
Bishop John then calls on everyone within our Diocese to participate. We are reminded that this is not about a debate to be won or lost but a chance to play our part by prayer, listening and discernment.
We are also looking to hear from those who may not be closely associated with their parishes. Bishop John explains: “It is also important in this process that we engage other Catholics who are not closely associated with their parishes or who might feel distanced from their faith. What would they like the Church to be for them? How might it have failed them in some way? ”
During ‘The Big Listen’ your parish may hold a facilitated listening event, our gather your responses in another way. There is also an opportunity to submit a individual response via the synod webpage.
Caring for Our Common Home
In the second theme of his Pastoral Letter, Bishop John asked us to face the challenges raised by Pope Francis in his recent exhortation, Laudate Deum.
He said: “In his recent exhortation, Laudate Deum, Pope Francis has rehearsed the challenges that we face and the global failure to meet those challenges through the various COP meetings. He is insistent that we all have our part to play in repairing the damage of climate change, but he also speaks strongly of the need of a global response to this global problem. He asks for a new form of “multilateral” action by governments working together. He believes that the growing awareness and actions from people can encourage and demand such a new form of global action.”
Bishop John then challenged all parishes and schools to ” make a priority of having environmental groups who can promote the good use of facilities and grounds, dispensing information about how we might adjust our lives in what Pope Francis calls an “ecological conversion”. ”
Bishop John concluded his letter by asking us to remember the words that Jesus said: “I am with you always….” He said that he would send the Holy Spirit to “remind you of all I have said to you and to lead you in all truth”. Through our Diocesan Synod, let us be determined to be listening to all that the Spirit is saying to us and responding so that we are truly caring for our brothers and sisters and our common home, as well as determining priorities for the future work of our Diocese.