All posts by Cardinal John Dew

About Cardinal John Dew

Archbishop of Wellington: His Eminence Cardinal John Atcherley Dew DD

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 16 May 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,
A few weeks ago at a parish meeting I reminded all gathered that Pope Saint John Paul II had told us that “First of all, I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness.” (Novo Millennio Ineunte 30) A few years later Pope Benedict wrote of the centrality of the Word of God and said “let the Bible inspire all pastoral work” (Verbum Domini 73). They are two excellent reasons for us to remember that ALL our parish and school meetings should begin with a substantial time of prayer.

I then asked someone to read out the following story as part of the prayer to begin the evening.

I heard once a story about a young African called Kahua. Kahua lived in the hills above a vast savannah in East Africa. One day he came down to the savannah and turned up at the Catholic compound where he met the priest. Kahua asked for a job for six months and as the priest urgently needed someone he was given a job. It turned out that Ka-hua was honest and industrious, imaginative and reliable and above all he got on with everyone so the priest came to rely on him. The priest was shocked when just short of the six months Kahua came to him to tell him that the time was almost up and he would be leaving in a week. “No Kahua, you can’t go. I need you. I know l have been cranky and difficult at times and l probably haven’t paid you enough but l promise to be better and make it up to you.” Kahua explained that it really wasn’t about money. He reminded the priest that his original request had been for a job for six months. When pushed he also explained that he lived in the hills and that one day when he was thinking about his life he had looked out on the savannah below where he saw the Christian compound and the Muslim mosque. He knew they were among the great world religions and thought they might have the answers he was searching for. So he told the priest, “/ thought / would go and work for you and the imam for six months each and then l would know which religion was best for me. Now it is time to go to work for the imam.” “My God, Kahua, why didn’t you tell me?” muttered the priest. But the fact is most people don’t tell us. They watch us. It is our witness not our homilies that is important.

Our parishes are about building loving supportive communities, reaching out to one another and creating places and spaces where everyone feels accepted and welcomed, where they know they belong. Last Friday in Blenheim at the Vigil for Fr John Pearce and at the Mass in the Marlborough Convention Centre on Saturday the constant message was one of thanks for the way John had “connected” so many people and so many diverse communities in the vast Marlborough area. It was his witness and his reaching out to others that was deeply appreciated.

Are we creating close and warn relationships in our parish and school communities, in our families? Does each person know that they are held in a network of solidarity and belonging? Do we enable others to find contentment and friendliness in our communities?

What would Kahua say if he was looking at us?

Naku noa
Na + Hoane

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

In these Easter Days we are hearing in the daily Gospels so many stories about the first disciples and how they rushed off to tell others that Jesus was alive and that he had appeared to them. They were excited and energised, in fact so excited and energised that all they could do was talk about Jesus, about what he had said to them and what he had done. They knew that they were being sent out by him to tell others the good news of the Gospel.

Just a month ago Pope Francis published the Apostolic Exhortation CHRISTUS VIVIT – Christ is Alive! This is a letter written to Young People, and to “The Entire People of God.” It is written to each one of us. In that document Pope Francis writes:

“Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us everywhere. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away and most indifferent. The Lord seeks all; he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love” He invites us to be fearless missionaries wherever we are and in whatever company we find ourselves: in our neighbourhoods, in school or sports or social life, in volunteer service or in the workplace. Wherever we are, we always have an opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel. That is how the Lord goes out to meet everyone. He loves you, dear young people, for you are the means by which he can spread his light and hope. He is counting on your courage, your boldness and your enthusiasm.” (Christus Vivit 177)

For us as disciples of Jesus we are reminded that we are all sent. The Synod for the Archdiocese of 2017 had the theme “Go, You are Sent.” The above paragraph is for all of us, it is worth reflecting on and asking ourselves how we are responding to the mission Jesus gives us. Do we respond at all to being sent? Do we respond and go with generosity and energy? Or, do we just think that our parishes and organizations are about what we can get out of them. Please reflect on the paragraph above and please remember that always the purpose of being with Jesus is to go forth from Jesus in his power and with his grace.

The Holy Father has reminded us that Jesus is counting on our courage, our boldness and our enthusiasm …. let’s go forth with Easter courage, Easter bold-ness and Easter enthusiasm.

Naku noa. Na + Hoane

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 18 April 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

The liturgies of this Holy Week invite us to engage with the words, actions and experiences that were part of Jesus’s journey to live the life his Father called him to live. As we live Holy Week, hopefully we can see how each step and feeling that Jesus experienced applies to our lives as well. His reality reflects our reality. That is the mystery and truth of the incarnation and Holy Week. In a strange way this Jesus week is a metaphor for our own lives.

Palm Sunday saw Jesus welcomed as a King with shouts of confidence and acclamation. Most of us know what it is to be celebrated and affirmed by others, to have others put their faith in us and to be recognised as someone special. We also know how quickly that can change. Realisation dawns that they didn’t really understand – that the rela-tionship wasn’t mutual or life giving.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mirror the ordinary times of our lives. We journey along enjoying, and maybe enduring, the ordinary and the mundane wondering what we are here for and experiencing a restlessness about life and our future. Maybe we like Jesus start to look around us wondering if our friends are committed to the same values and dreams.

Holy Thursday is our big wake up call. Jesus shows us how he wants each of us to be. He shows us what service and sacrifice is all about. He gives us a mandate to love and to serve and to give ourselves without counting the cost. Yet even the one closest to him don’t get it. Peter is confused and protests. Jesus looks at each of us and says that is how I want you to live YOUR life. Do as I do. Let your life mirror my life.

Then the horror of Good Friday. He is judged and con-demned because he is a good man. Feelings of chaos, des-pair, betrayal, fear, anxiety, well up in Jesus and us. Is the pain, challenge and change too much? Will we face it and live through it? Or run away and ignore the one we | followed. So, what do we do? The Challenge of Good Friday is to kiss and embrace our cross. And like him in our pain and suffering reach out in love, forgiveness and compassion. In total trust we throw ourselves willingly and fearfully into the hands our God.
Saturday is the time of emptiness and aloneness- when we are faced with nothingness. The end of a relationship, a betrayal, a hopeless situation, despair and darkness, and what seems like nothing. The day when we witness the death of our dream and fall into our personal deepest fear and dark tomb. A sad and scary nothingness. Sit there and life will teach us.
Then the fire of hope is lit in the church and in ourselves. We renew our Baptismal vows as adults – recommit to that which was done for us as children. We say we will live like Jesus did, walk his way, speak his truth. Make Jesus the meaning of our lives. Make him the reason for all the seasons and weeks in our lives.

We are now an Easter people of hope who are confident and graced to shine the light of the Real and Risen Christ in our inner and outer worlds.

Happy Easter, peace be with you

Naku noa.
Na + Hoane

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 4 April 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

When I was doing formation work at our National Seminary many years ago, I used to often say to the students that when ordained, they would be privileged to be called “Father.” But I also used to say that they had to earn the privilege of being called “Father” because of the way they were living their lives – serving the people of God in such a way that they were bringing life and hope to the People of God.

Last weekend I read an article written by a priest from France, Jean-Pierre Roche, entitled “Stop calling me Father.” Like him, I now wonder why we priests are called “Father.” In August last year Pope Francis wrote a Letter to the People of God, to all of us. The Holy Father appealed to all of God’s people to take action against “clericalism” which he sees as the source of abuse perpetrated by priest and bishops. In his article Jean-Pierre Roche says that we may be able to make some small changes to overcome clericalism by not expecting to be called “Father.” He wrote about three reasons why we should not be called “Father.”

The first reason is to be found in the Gospel. We are all disciples of Jesus who said “You are not to be called ‘Master’ – you have but one Master, and you are all brothers and sisters. And do not call anyone on earth ‘Father,” for you have but one Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:8-9) These words are, of course, difficult to interpret and understand, but the meaning is clear. Jean-Pierre Roche says that to be called “Father” is to usurp the place of God. It becomes even more serious if a priest begins to play God – and sometimes that is what “clericalism” is.

Secondly, calling us “Father” makes our people act in such a way that people are put into a relationship of parent and child. It is not possible to have equal relationships between adults who are brothers and sisters if we call one of them “Father.” We all share the dignity of the daughters and sons of God. If we want the Church to be a family where we care for and look after one another we need to reflect on these words from the Second Vatican Council: “Even though some, by the will of Christ, are made doctors and pastors for the good of others, in terms of the dignity and activities of all the faithful in the edification of the Body of Christ, there is true equality among all.” Lumen Gentium 32

Finally, he says that the practice of calling us “Father” can be unhealthy because it becomes an expression of dependence which is based on a false and unreal idea of obedience. Being called “Father” may seem important to some priests, but is it really that important? What is more important is that we live and act in such a way that we treat one another as the daughters and sons of God.

Making a choice to tell the people we serve not to call us Father (or for me “Your Eminence” or “Cardinal”) might seem a very small thing to do, but it may be the beginning of the reform in the Church which we have been asked to do by Pope Francis.
Our priesthood is our response to living out our Baptism. It is our common Baptism that gives us the dignity of the daughters and sons of God.

Naku noa.

Na + Hoane

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Homily – 3rd Sunday of Lent

3rd Sunday of Lent:

Today’s Gospel seems very harsh…Jesus gives a warning ‘unless you repent, you will all perish’ He was not giving a threat …he was speaking of God’s love and patience.

Part of today’s Gospel is chillingly like what happened in Christchurch…it’s almost the story of a terrorist  attack that we have heard so much about in these last day.  The Roman official, Pontius Pilate, had sent troops into the Temple in Jerusalem to brutally wipe out a small group of Galilean pilgrims who had gone down to Jerusalem, ‘mingling their blood with their sacrifices’, it has some dreadful similiarities to the Mosque attacks.

He used another and spoke of the tragedy where eighteen people had been crushed to death when a tower in the city’s old wall had suddenly collapsed on top of them.

Hearing of these calamities, Jesus asked: “why did these dreadful things occur?” Was it because the people who lost their lives were terrible sinners, worse than other people?

There was a view among Jews, which is not unknown among believers even today, that disasters are a punishment from God for sinful behaviour. That is not so.

When Jesus commented on the sudden massacre in the temple and the accidental crushing to death of people by the collapsing tower, he was making it clear that this was not because of their sins……. that was not the point. He was saying was that the victims of the atrocity in the Temple and the disaster of the tower’s collapse meant they had all died suddenly and without having the opportunity to repent and make their peace with God. I am not saying that about the people in the Mosques.

To help his listeners Jesus told a parable  … The owner of a garden had a fig tree, but year after year he never found any fruit. In frustration and exasperation the owner told the gardener to cut the tree down: it wasn’t bearing fruit, it was taking up good space. But the gardener asked his boss to give the tree one more year …… ‘If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’. In other words, the gardener said, “give it one more chance.”

It’s the same with God, God never gets tired of giving us another chance. This is about God’s patience with us.

God’s patience with us is God’s decision to show us respect, and allow us ‘space and time’ to develop and grow. There is no limit to God’s patience with each of us. There is no limit to God’s patience, but there is to the space and time we have to keep turning back and focussing on God. There are endless opportunities for us to profit from God’s patience;

When this Gospel was written it was to help and encourage believers who might have sinned seriously to turn back to the Lord and be reconciled with the community in preparation for Easter; that’s the purpose in Jesus’s saying ‘repent or perish’.

So, today we review our Lenten programme, and think about how we have been able to keep up with whatever prayer, penance or good works we decided on for Lent. If we have slipped, for whatever reason, there is nothing to prevent us from starting now, starting again.

The prayer for today is highly appropriate too: ‘Father, you have taught us to overcome our sins by prayer, fasting and works of mercy. When we are discouraged by our weakness, give us confidence in your love.’  Any of us can be disappointed with our weaknesses, we have to learn to be patient with ourselves too.

Maybe at this stage of Lent – halfway through- we might have to admit that this Lent is not all we had hoped for.  On Ash Wednesday, we intended to make some changes in our lives, now we might be disappointed in ourselves.

Jesus “gets” us, understands our hearts and knows that our instinct is to give up when the tree bears no fruit.  Today we learn not to give up  the hope that we can be better.

A good question to ask God is, “What is it you want to give me this Lent?”    Such a question could lead to heart to heart conversation with God …..

What is it you desire to free in my heart so I can love better?
How can I be more loving to my family? 
Where can I be a peacemaker with my children, with others?
How do you want to soften my heart from being harsh with others to being more loving – in the way you have loved me?
How can I be less judgmental and see others as you see them?
What would it cost me to slow down my life so I can listen to you more deeply?

When I fast, it can focus my attention more clearly on Jesus and how he wants to heal my heart.

Lent is what Pope Francis calls, “a journey of preparation, preparation to know God the gift of God’s patience and mercy.