Category Archives: Cardinal John’s News

Valentines Day Mass Homily – Cardinal John Dew


25 years ago I saw this painting in a Church in Florence; I loved it and have thought about it many times over the years. Last October I had a few hours in Florence, I went back to have another look at this painting. It was painted by Pietro Annigoni in 1964. I found the Church and asked if there was a bookshop where I could buy a print of the painting, but no they didn’t have a bookshop, – while nobody was looking I whipped my phone out and took this photo.

When I saw it 25 years ago there were two things I loved

  • The big, strong , YOUNG St Joseph
  • -and – the little very blond Jesus intent on what he was doing at the carpenter’s bench.

You can’t see the look on Josephs face; there is pride, joy, patience, tenderness, a protective hand hovering just in case it is needed. It says something of family life, about the joy of family life; it captures what I see as a magical, mystical moment between father and son.

You parents have all experienced it, moments of joy and wonder and hearts bursting with wonder and pride in the things you observe, see and hear from you daughters and sons.

As husbands and wives experience that with each other. Recently I saw a wonderful You-tube clip of Michelle Obama, I then looked at some other clips of the Obamas, there were moments of great intimacy and tenderness, moments of deep joy and love -they were almost oblivious to the cameras and the audience of millions.

Those are the moments of joy that Pope Francis is talking about in this magnificent document AMORIS LAETITIA – on love and joy in the Family. He devotes a large part of this reflecting on tonight’s Reading which Paul calls his “Hymn to Love.”  We’ve heard that so many times, listened to it at so many weddings, so many times that the message can easily pass us by. I will come back to that because I first want to mention a phrase which comes much later in this letter.

Pope Francis says: “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed.” So relax if you as a couple and your family haven’t actually got is altogether. The Pope is so realistic; none of us have got it all together yet! This is a key message of Francis writing. Our everyday family life can be messy at times, we are not perfectly formed, life is bumpy and difficult.

But family life – even in the midst of that is beautiful. it is where we learn to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven, it’s where we learn to laugh and enjoy life…all of that takes time, it takes an effort and it takes prayer and reflection.

That short phrase “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed,”   reminds us that we are growing and maturing; the ability to love and to be people of joy and peace takes time.

Joy is one of the hallmarks of Christian life, of married life. When our lives are filled with joy others want to have what we have. Your joy in each other attracts others, when they see that marriage – despite it’s bumps and messiness brings you joy and peace – others will want what you have.

I think what Pope Francis is saying in that phrase is that we need do be light-hearted in what we do so that we avoid taking ourselves too seriously- that also stops any of us becoming selfish and proud.  And all of that comes from discovering the love St Paul wrote about.

All of us, myself included would do well to let ourselves be guided by the inspired words of the Paul.

Saint Paul tells us that love is, above all, “patient” and “kind”. As we each learn to love in our own situations the more our hearts are to be like the heart of Christ, a lovely challenge is to expand our hearts according to the measure of the heart of Christ.

“Patience” means being able to love without limits, to be faithful in particular situations and with practical gestures. It means loving what is great without neglecting what is small; loving the little things within the horizon of the great things, the messy bumpy things as well. Patience means to love through acts of kindness. “Kindness” of courses always meaning and clearly deciding to always will the good of the other.

Love “is not jealous or boastful, it is not puffed up with pride”. This is surely a miracle of love, since we humans – all of us, at every stage of our lives – are inclined to jealousy and pride, since our nature is wounded by sin.

Love “is not arrogant or rude, it does not insist on its own way”. That simply means that those who live in love are not  self-centered. There will never be joy in life if any of us are self- centered

Love “is not irritable, it is not resentful”. Obviously for any of us there are plenty of opportunities to be irritable, to feel anger. It is love and love only that frees us. Love frees us from the risk of reacting impulsively, of saying or doing the wrong thing; and from the danger of pent-up anger, or smouldering anger.

Love  “does not rejoice at the wrong, but rejoices in the right”.

Finally, “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.

Here, in four words, says Pope Francis is a spiritual and pastoral programme of life.

Bear, believe, hope , endure…….

That’s how we learn, that’s what brings us joy

That’s what helps us know “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed.” 

We are all here to help one another, you as husbands and wives have the great privilege and joy of doing that as married couples.


Cardinal John’s Newsletter – 9 February 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,
I was reminded a few days ago of a prayer I had discovered and used almost 30 years ago. I was delighted that it popped up in my life again. The prayer began with the words “Lord, my God, when your love spilled over into all creation you thought of me. I am from Love, of Love, for Love.” When I saw this prayer again and reflected on the words, “when your love spilled over into all creation” I also thought of the message of Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si – on the “Care of Our Common Home.” The letter of the Holy Father was not just about the en-vironment and the challenges we face in trying to protect and save creation. It was also very much about the fact that all that we have is a gift from God. “God’s love spilled over into all creation”. God wants us to enjoy and delight in the creative world around us. That prayer went on “let me hear O God, al-ways recognise, cherish and enjoy your goodness in all crea-tion”. It is God’s goodness in creation, and we are asked to take care of it and to leave it such a way that those who will come after us can also enjoy it. That is why we are also challenged to do small things daily to protect the beauty of our world and the bounty of creation. We are privileged to live in Aotearoa, New Zealand. We don’t have the problems that some countries face but we are chal-lenged to ensure that we love and cherish the created world around us and not just use it as a resource to do with as we please. Pope Francis’ encyclical is focused on the idea of con-necting care of the natural world with justice for the poorest and most vulnerable people. Therefore it is only by radically reshap-ing our relationship with God, with our neighbours and with the natural world that we can hope to tackle the threats that face our planet today. The Pope insists that science is the best tool to listen to the cry of the earth, that dialogue and education are two keys that help us to escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us. At the heart of the reflections of the Pope is this question. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us? To children who are growing up? He challenges us and suggests that we need profound changes to the political, econom-ic, cultural and social systems as well as our own individual life styles. We will make those changes only when we know that God’s love “spilled over into all creation and he thought of us”.
With blessings to you all + John

Cardinal John’s Newsletter – 26 Jan 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends
Already a month into 2017 it’s easy to acknowledge how quickly the weeks fly by. I am very conscious that one of the major challenges for me, and part of the work of all of us this year, is the Archdiocesan Synod to take place in September. Although it will not just be September, the Synod Planning Committee has already been hard at work. Hopefully you are already praying and imploring the Spirit of God to inspire and guide us. I have asked that every parish pray the Synod Prayer at every Sunday Mass between now and September 24th, please do so. Naturally all the other work of our parishes, schools, colleges and organizations has to continue this year, because pastoral, spiritual, sacramental, and educational needs must be attended to. However we also need to plan for the future, discern directions for the future and see how we will respond to them as the Church of Wellington.
I will be inviting ALL people of the Archdiocese to engage in the Synod preparation process, to pray, reflect, discuss and prepare for the future. This will require all of us who are in positions of leadership to be ready to encourage, support and give confidence to all people as we invite them to participate. We do this because we want the best for the Church of Wellington, we do this because we know we cannot stand still, we do this because we know what the Gospel offers us, we do this because we know who Jesus is, we do this because like Peter we too say “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6: 68).
All readers of this newsletter, please pray for the success of the Synod, please support it in every way and do all you can to encourage others to engage in the Synod process.
With all good wishes and blessings for 2017, and with my prayers in gratitude for all that you do.
+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 15 December 2016

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,
I am not a singer, but I do love music and when it comes to Christmas time the Christmas Carol I love the most is “O Holy Night.” It is not one that we sing very often as congregations, it seems to be more likely that someone with a wonderfully gifted voice sings it as a solo. This carol was composed by a French poet, Placide Cappeau, in 1847 and was known as “Cantique de Noel,” when translated into English as “O Holy Night.”
As I have thought about this carol I have realized that it is really the chorus that I like the most, the way it is sung and the words them-selves.

“Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine.”

As we come close to the end of another year, and as I look back and think of the incredible contributions you have all made to our schools and colleges, our parishes and organizations I wish to thank you all. This has been a year of great grace, with amazing efforts made to mark the Year of Mercy, and to give thanks for God’s merciful acceptance of each one of us, and sharing God’s mercy with others. During the year we received Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). This is a powerful letter about family life, family life which is so important and necessary for our Church and our society.

That’s where “O Holy Night” comes in. I was saying in my Confirmation homily this year that I wanted every family in the diocese to be a family that prays to-gether. I guess in some ways it is easy to think about “falling on our knees on the night when Christ was born” and seeing that it is indeed a holy night. Are we able to make every night a “holy night?’ Are we able to “fall on our knees” every day and night of the year?
As I give thanks to you all for your wonderfully generous ways of prayer and support for parishes, schools, organizations in the diocese my prayer and blessing for everyone is that we will all be deeply and richly blessed by the presence of Christ among us this Christmas and every day. Try to find time over Christmas to “fall on your knees” and experience the wonder and mystery of God among us, try to see every moment as a divine moment, and you will know the goodness and mercy of God.
With my thanks to everyone and with every blessing.
+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal Dew to bring message from Pope Francis to quake-affected Kaikoura

Cardinal Dew to bring message from Pope Francis to quake-affected Kaikoura

[Editor’s Note: Kaikoura is part of the Cardinal’s archdiocese of Wellington which extends from Nelson, Marlborough, Blenheim through the Wellington region and north to Otaki and Wairarapa.]

Cardinal Dew was in Rome when news broke of the first earthquake. Pope Francis and local Italians, having recently experienced large earthquakes, expressed deep concern for the people of New Zealand.

“Pope Francis spoke to me at the closing Mass for the Year of Mercy, despite speaking to many people, he came to me and said very sincerely that he was praying for New Zealand following the earthquake and expressed his concern for the welfare of people affected,”

“Kaikoura is part of my diocese and while overseas I kept up to date with news and updates about the situation. I was very concerned, and wanted to visit with people when I returned and there was access,”

“I will visit the priests based there and the local Catholic parish and Catholic primary school and Takahanga Marae which has been providing accommodation, meals and support in the days following the first earthquake. This weekend, I want to be with them personally and let them know that we are with them in their time of uncertainty and anxiety,”

[Please note Cardinal Dew will be available for media interviews while in Kaikoura, details below]

“While there is much physical repairing to do, people are also feeling unsafe, uncertain and worried for their livelihoods and their homes,”

“I plan to speak with them and hear how they’ve been affected, their fears and concerns and see what we can do to support them practically too,”

“I will be going with staff from Catholic Social Services, our Turanga Māori Adviser, and our national social justice & humanitarian agency Caritas I also plan to do a Mass in Māori – te Miha Māori and have some prayer time with them, to help bring some comfort in this difficult time.

Cardinal John will be visiting from Saturday afternoon until Monday lunchtime and is available for media interviews during this time. To arrange media interviews please contact Julianne Hickey, Caritas Director, who will be travelling with the Cardinal, on 021 909 656