Category Archives: Cardinal John’s News

Cardinal John’s Newsletter

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Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

Last Sunday’s Gospel could be summed up with these words “Everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted”. Last Sunday morning I was reading a reflection from the Magnificat magazine. The meditation of the day was “How to be humble” written by Dom Eugene Boylan, an Irish Cistercian. He began the reflection by saying “if one asks how am I to be humble, the immediate answer is by the grace of God, and that is indeed the truth. Only the grace of God can give us the insight into our own condition and realization of his exaltation that make for humility. But even though it be a grace, it is a grace with which we must co-operate. The first thing to do is to ask in prayer for the grace of humility and to ask sincerely. The second thing is to accept humiliations when they come our way. But let us never forget that there is an enormous difference between being humble and being humiliated.”

In these days when we continue to be shattered, disappointed and angry about the abuse crisis throughout the world, many people do feel humiliated. That is probably especially so for we priests who are seen as the Church’s public representatives.

There has been a lot written about humility. Pope Francis himself has spoken about it, saying that if this is a time of shame and humiliation, it could also actually be a privileged moment to grow closer to Christ, not just for those who have offended but for all the Church, so that everyone realizes, acknowledges, and lives by the fact that everything we do is by the grace of God.

I think Pope Francis is saying that this is giving us an opportunity to change the way the Church does things, and if this is so, then then let’s embrace it. We are getting the message that humility is the only way God will have a say and the only way the Church will change.
Pope Francis is constantly referring to being poor, as Christ was poor, being crucified, as Christ was. Remember the Pope knows well the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, which have shaped him. Ignatius himself was no stranger to humiliation and actually saw it as the most opportune moment for meeting the real Christ. One of the lessons we are learning is that up until now the Church’s culture in leadership was command and control, and that is what protected the Church and anyone who challenged it became a victim. Now is the time for humility.

That reflection last Sunday on “how to be humble” and the Gospel of the day was a great lesson for us. Pope Francis seems quite content to be humiliated because he sees it as the only way that the learning will sink in, and that we will discover that God is in control. How are we to be humble? The immediate answer is by the grace of God. Only the grace of God can give us the insight into our own human condition and help us to be grateful and humble for all that God does for us.

Naku noa
John

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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 22 August 2019

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Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41). That quote is one of the most quoted phrases of Pope Saint Paul VI, who went on to say- “It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelise the world, (also EN 41). That was published in 1975.
Some of the questions we ask today as we try to articulate a Gospel that is meaningful and relevant for modern New Zealand are “What can we do? How do we proclaim the Gospel today? How do we reach out to a secular and plural world?”

The answer of Pope St Paul VI was “be witnesses.”
The answer of Pope Francis today is “mercy.”

Pope Francis is reminding us today that the patience to listen and to serve is more important than preaching. He says: “Do you want to convince someone to be a Catholic? No! No! No! You are to meet him/her. They are your brother or sister! That is enough And you are to help him/her; everything else will be done by Jesus. The Holy Spirit does this.”

Sometimes it may be that we try too hard in the Church and ask too much of ourselves, trying to find an answer when silence, respect and compassion are all that is needed. I remember copying out some words of the then Archbishop Tagle of Manila at the Synod on New Evangelisation in 2010. He said: “For the Church to be a place where people meet God, it needs to learn three things from the example of Jesus; humility, respect for others, and silence…..The Church must discover the power of silence….Confronted with the sorrows, doubts and uncertainties of people, she cannot pretend to give easy solutions. In Jesus, silence becomes that way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer. It is the way to truth.”

• How do we live as witnesses today?
• Are we a people of mercy today?
• Do we have the courage to live in silence today?
• Are we following the example of Jesus: humility, respect for others, and silence?

Remember too: “Jesus wants evangelisers who proclaim the Good News not only with word, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.” (EG 259)

With every blessing
Naku noa
John

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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 8 August 2019

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Kia tau te rangimarie kia koutou

Two days ago we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration. For me it is one of the most powerful and wonderful incidents in the life of Jesus recorded in the Gospel. While at prayer Jesus heard the words “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Hearing those words his identity was confirmed as the Son of God and he was able to come down from the mountain and “resolutely take the road to Jerusalem” or “set his face to Jerusalem.” He chose to set out for Jerusalem even though on the mountain he had heard Moses and Elijah “speaking of his passing which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.”

On the 1st July I read about the saint of the day, Saint Junipero Serra, a Franciscan friar who traveled from Spain to the Pacific Coast of America to take the Gospel to the Native Americans. Saint Junipero’s motto was “Siempre Adelante,” which means “always go forward.” For me that motto has the same meaning as Jesus “resolutely taking the road to Jerusalem.”

Just a few days ago Pope Francis sent a message in a short video clip to the Indonesian Missionary Congress with a very simple but deeply profound message. He said: “We are not people who go backwards. No! We are people who go forward, always. Baptised and sent: the Christian goes forward and this is what ‘sent’ means. It is the Holy Spirit that impels me to go forward.”

“Go, you are sent”, are familiar words to us as they were the words which conveyed the message of the Archdiocesan Synod two years ago.

As we look for new ways to engage, as we realise more and more that we all “are a mission” and that we have work to do which calls for all of us to be fully involved, I can think of no better words than that motto of Saint Junipero Serra “Siempre Adlante.” His words were inspired, I believe, by the example of Jesus who set his face towards Jerusalem.
As the Holy Father says, “So, take courage, go forward, always forward. You are baptised and sent.”

Naku noa
+ John

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Cardinal John’s Newsletter 25 July 2019

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Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

I was very privileged last week to have three days in Australia where I had been invited to speak on the “Leadership of Pope Francis,” first in the Diocese of Parramatta and then in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. As always, I learnt so much in preparing these talks. I have to read and reflect on what the Pope is saying and then try to apply it to my own life. Having returned home from Australia on Thursday evening, I then went to a lecture on Friday evening by Dr Chris Bellitto hosted by The Catholic Institute(TCI) “Where is Pope Francis Taking the Catholic Church, and Will He Get There?” It was a fascinating and wonderful lecture, and again I learnt so much.

The Pope is clearly trying to reform the Roman Curia – it was called for by many Cardinals at the Conclave that elected him. Dr Bellitto told us that Pope Francis is saying that this reform begins with each one of us, with a conversion of heart, deep reflection every day about whether we as individuals are really living the Gospel.

Pope Francis is admired by many, but he also has many critics and deserves our total support, our total prayerful support. He is also quite demanding. He asks us to be adult in our faith. He refuses to take responsibility for everything in the Church. He continues to argue for a radical decentralisation to local bishops and to Bishops Conferences. He believes in the sense of the faithful and that we listen to the Holy Spirt by listening to one another; that means all of us listening carefully and prayerfully to one another.

I love the part in Evangelii Gaudium where Pope Francis writes “all the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients.” (EG 120).

Francis is very clear that we are in this TOGETHER, in the Church we can never think of “the professionals” and those who are just recipients. We are all the baptised, we all have our gifts to offer, we are all called to prayerfully discern what we can do together to help bring about the Kingdom of God.

With thanks and every blessing.
Naku noa
+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 9 July 2019

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Kia tau te Rangimarie kia koutou

This is a difficult time in our history to be asking people to think about vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Church throughout the world and continue to do so. It is hard to talk to young men about the possibility of priesthood when they hear so much about how so many have been abused and betrayed by those they should have been able to trust.

However, the call to priesthood must be talked about. It is still a rewarding and very satisfying life. It is a life of service and brings with it the incredible privilege of walking alongside others in all aspects of their lives. It gives those of us who are priests the chance to try to be the presence of Christ to others ….. and that is a privilege and a blessing that I cannot put into words. Even in the midst of a Church in disarray and disappointment the call to priesthood is obviously still there.

Vocations Awareness Week will be observed from 4th – 11th August throughout New Zealand. Will that week be any different for us from any other week of the year? Will our parishes, schools and colleges do something special to encourage teenagers and young adults to think about the possibility of priesthood and religious life? Will parents mention it as a possibility to their sons and daughters. Do the priests who read this newsletter regularly ask young men if they have thought about priesthood as a possibility?

A few months ago we formed an Archdiocesan Vocations Committee who are now working with Father David Dowling. This group of generous people, consisting of three women and two priests, is looking at ways to raise the profile of priestly vocations in the Archdiocese. In particular they will explore the promotion of vocations among young people, and assist in accompanying those who are considering priesthood.

Please pray in support of the work of the Archdiocesan Vocations Committee, and please reflect on how you could invite suitable young men to consider priesthood.

With thanks and every blessing.
Naku noa
+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.