Category Archives: Cardinal John’s News

Cardinal John’s Newsletter – 9 March 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends
Last Friday night and Saturday the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council met for the first of the four meetings we will have during this year. As usual we had a full agenda including reflecting again on LAUD-ATO SI, the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis on Care for Our Common Home. This Letter was published on Pentecost Sunday almost two years ago. We went back to it because we wanted to make sure that the urgent message of the Holy Father is not being forgotten, that the challenge to “care for” the world’s natural re-sources is still being heard and that we are responding to his chal-lenges. Part of our discussion was about what we might be able to do as individuals, and also what influence we might have over our schools, colleges, parishes and families in the Archdiocese to ensure that we “come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us.” (LS 244)

One of the interesting aspects of our discussion at the meeting was how a number of people said they had always known that there is an ecological crisis. They knew that we have a responsibility to care for the world which has been gifted to us, that parts of the world are in particular danger due to global warming, rising sea levels, de-forestation, lack of water and sanitation…BUT…they had never related these situations to their faith. That is the beauty and wonder of this Encyclical. Pope Francis makes it very clear that God is the Creator, the world and its resources are given to us to care for, not to plunder and abuse, we have a responsibility to make sure that there are enough natural resources for the coming genera-tions. Using the words of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Pope reminds us: “For human beings… destroy the biologi-cal diversity…by causing changes in its climate…; to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins.” (LS 8) Then he says the appropriate response to this is what St John Paul II had already called for ,“a global ecological conver-sion.” (LS 5)

Laudato Si is an urgent and important letter. Maybe this Penitential Season of Lent is the time for all of us (it is for me anyway) an op-portunity to examine how I use resources, how I care for “our Com-mon Home” and what I am doing about it practically.
How can you use this Lent to be more aware of the fragility of our planet and what you are doing to care for it?

Ngā mihi nui

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter – 23 February 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,
Lent is a time to pay closer attention to the Word of God. The Second Vatican Council over 50 years ago reminded us of this in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium 109): the focus of Lent is to be a “a period of closer attention to the Word of God and more ardent prayer.”

I have no doubt that we all want to listen attentively to the Word of God and allow it to shape our lives, and that we want to be more ardent in prayer. As we approach Lent many will still be thinking of what they can “give up” for Lent. Some will be thinking of what else they can do in terms of giving to the poor, helping someone who is disadvantaged materially or because they are unemployed for one reason or another, some will be thinking of giving to our Bishops’ Lenten Appeal. They are all wonderful things to do, but unless those actions are inspired by the Word of God they may just be things to do. There are many ways to observe Lent; however the question I think we all need to ask is “what is the best thing to help me grow closer to God?” Lent is a time when we are challenged to be more prayerful and reflective, hopefully more caring, considerate and loving. I am sure that will only happen when we hear the invitation to “pay closer attention to the Word of God.”

In this fast moving world we need time to stop and reflect. I know I certainly do. The Word of God helps us in our prayer and reflection, and then in the way we live our lives. It is challenging, it is demanding, but it is also inspirational and consoling. Maybe at times we find the Word of God too rich or too lavish for our tastes. Perhaps we do not allow ourselves the time to chew on and absorb the Scriptures. It may also be that we do not wait sufficiently on the Lord, or listen for the Lord to speak. So that his Word might flow through our minds with new insights and through our hearts with love, a strong love which in turn enables us to reach out to others.

Each day during Lent the Lord invites us through the Prophet Isaiah:
“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty;
Though you have no money, come!
Buy corn without money, and eat
and, at no cost, wine and milk” (Isaiah 55:1)

Will we accept the Lord’s invitation this Lent?
+ John

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.