Category Archives: Cardinal John’s News

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 Newsletter 21 March 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

In my last newsletter two weeks ago, I wrote about the line that had deeply impressed me from a Hymn sung at a Mass I celebrated with the Sisters of Mercy. The line of the Hymn was “There is never a time for hope to die.” Little did I know that just a week later New Zealand would be facing one of its “darkest days.” The tragedy of 50 people being shot and killed while they were at prayer on a Friday afternoon could easily make us think that hope had died. We have heard so much in the last few days about how “New Zealand has changed forever.” I believe that is true, this has been a very difficult time for everyone and will continue to be for a long time to come.

Amid this disaster people all over the country have turned out in their thousands to pray at many differ-ent services, have taken flowers to Mosques and stood outside the Mosques in solidarity with Muslims. Politicians and Civic Leaders who do not often speak of love and compassion, kindness and care have done so eloquently and with passion.

We have witnessed deep goodness and compassion in so many people. I have never heard so many people talking about how a dreadful act of violence has brought out the good in so many other people. This is the time for anyone in New Zealand to stand up and say that we have had enough of violence and racism and bigotry and hatred, attitudes which are negative and destructive do nothing for our society.

Last year Pope Francis wrote that wonderful document on Holiness called “Gaudete et Exsultate,” he wrote powerfully about the call to holiness and used the Beatitudes from Matthews Gospel to help us reflect on what holiness is. He wrote:

Being poor of heart: that is holiness

Reacting with meekness and humility: that is holiness

Knowing how to mourn with others: that is holiness

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness: that is holiness

Seeing and acting with mercy: that is holiness

Keeping a heart free of all that tarnishes love: that is holiness

Sowing peace all around us: that is holiness

Thousands of people around Aotearoa New Zealand have mourned with others, have been showing us that they are hungering and thirsting for right behaviour and justice, have been showing mercy, keeping their hearts free of anything that might tarnish words and acts of love, and above all have been sowing peace all around. Most of those people would not dream of calling themselves “holy”. I believe they are.

I thank God and I thank the people of New Zealand who have shown such love and goodness, such at-titudes of welcoming all and accepting everyone in this land we are proud to call our home. This is big-ger than New Zealand; messages of love and support have been received from Civic and Religious Leaders from all over the world who are thinking of and praying for us. Thank you to everyone who has not “allowed hope to die.”

With abundant blessings,
Naku noa. Na + Hoane

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 6 March 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

Last Saturday I celebrated Mass for the Sisters of Mercy who were gathered in Wellington for a pre-Chapter meet-ing. After Communion the Sisters sang a hymn based on the well-known piece of Scripture from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-18, which has been turned into songs and hymns, known as “There is a Time for Every Season Under Heaven.” The refrain for this particular hymn went:

“But there’s never a time to stop believing, there’s never a time for hope to die, there’s never a time to stop loving, these three things go on.” I loved it when the Sisters sang these words and found myself reflecting on them, and especially on the words “there’s never a time for hope to die.” Two days before this Mass I had returned from Rome where I had attended three different meetings. The major meeting was with Pope Francis and the Presi-dents of Bishops’ Conferences, and Heads of Religious Orders from all over the world on “The Protection of Mi-nors in the Church.” That meeting was very hard, but I knew that I was held in prayer by so many people here in New Zealand, and I am deeply grateful for that. It could have been very easy to give in to despair, especially at the end of the meeting when the news came out about the sentencing of Cardinal George Pell. These have been, and are, hard times for the Church, but – “there’s never a time for hope to die.”

All around the world the Church has been subject to me-dia attention, it has not been good. However, I believe we must first of all acknowledge that first and foremost we are a community of disciples, of people who follow and learn from Jesus Christ. The community of disciples we all belong to makes up the Body of Christ. These are not just words, it is a fact, we are the Body of Christ, we are a Body made up of saints and sinners. Pope Francis has often spoken of the Church as a “field- hospital.” In do-ing so he reminds us that we cannot escape the messiness of life, and he challenges us to be realistic and not get caught up in some idealised future or romantic past.

In the midst of the difficulties the Church faces, the embarrassment we all suffer, we can do no more than look to the Suffering Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who invites us to put our faith in him, to trust in him. Now that we have begun the Season of Lent, this “season of grace” we turn to Jesus with full confidence. In this time which can seem to be nothing more than darkness, crisis and perhaps even despair, we are powerfully re-minded that Lent is the time to pay closer attention to the Word of God and to become more Christlike. This is not a time to be negative, or to give up on our faith. Lent is a positive time for each of us to grow personally, and for us as the Body of Christ to become stronger, knowing that “there’s never a time to stop believing, there’s never a time for hope to die, there’s never a time to stop lov-ing, these three things go on.”

Naku noa. Na + Hoane

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 21 February 2019

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

Cordiali saluti a tutti voi da Roma

By the time you receive this newsletter from Rome we will be heading into the second day of the meeting with Pope Francis of the Presidents of Bishops Conferences from all over the world. This meeting has been called by the Holy Father to discuss the issue of sexual abuse of minors. The Pope has described this meeting as “coming together in solidarity, humility and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable.”

Your prayers for this meeting will be very much appreciated.

Last week I attended the Plenary Meeting of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The theme of this meeting was about the formation of all the baptized in order for everyone to be able to actively participate in the Church’s Liturgy. It is because we are baptized into Church and become one with him that we ALL share in His priesthood. Ordained priests have a particular role to play in Liturgy as they act in the name of Christ the High Priest, but ALL the baptised are called to give glory and praise to God. On one of the mornings last week we met with Pope Francis. Despite the many challenges he faces, he was relaxed, laughing and joking, and at the same time asking for our prayers. When I spoke with him I assured him of the prayerful support of the Catholic people of New Zealand, so please pray for him. Please pray especially for this meeting taking place now as the sexual abuse crisis weighs heavily on his heart, and he is genuinely trying to find a way to address this very difficult issue.

The first three days of this week I have also been at the meeting of the International Commission for English in the Liturgy. This has also been a fruitful and helpful meeting to attend. ICEL, as it is known, also has some major challenges in ensuring that we have the correct translations for our Liturgy and that they are words which speak to the minds and hearts of us all. Please also pray for the ongoing work of ICEL which serves the English-speaking Church so well.

Form Rome, I ask for your prayerful support and assure you that I am also remembering you all in prayer.

With every blessing

Naku noa. Na + Hoane

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 7 February 2019

Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

Greetings and all good wishes for 2019. It is hard to belive that the month of January has gone already. So many people have been saying “What happened to January?” The month went by so fast and if it is an indication of what the year is going to be like I think it is probably going to be a very busy year.

You will see in the notice part of this newsletter that I will be away in Rome for most of February. I ask for your prayers for this time and especially for the third of the meetings I am attending. In October this year the New Zealand Bishops will make our Ad Limina visit to Rome. This is the visit usually made every five years to meet with the Holy Father, to celebrate Masses and pray at the Tombs of St Peter and St Paul, and to visit various Roman dicasteries (departments). It is actually eight years since we made our last Ad Limina visit.

This year also brings the challenges of preparing for the Royal Commision into abuse in State and Church Institutions. We do not know yet exactly what is required, but we do know that there is much to prepare. It is also a year in which we are making very big efforts to educate those in any form of ministry that our mission is to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all.

A major effort will go into raising funds for the seismic strengthening and maintenance work to be done on our Cathedral. As well as those major events there are the usual round of many many meetings, celebrations in parishes, Confirmations etc.

It is not just me that has a full year ahead. For everyone life is very full and very busy. The temptation for me is to get caught up in all these things and allow prayer to become a bit perfunctory, something to fit in amidst all the other demands. I know that this is not good enough and that it actually does not help me very much.

I need to pray, we all need to pray. For me that means being disciplined and making the time. If I don’t do that the days just become full of tasks to be done, they can easily become chores and even meaningless. Just a few weeks ago Pope Francis said “Prayer always transforms reality, even if things around us do not change, we do.” I know that this is true. Time set aside enables me to respond to the invitation of Jesus “Remain in my love.” It brings me the gift of peace and the strength to carry on with purpose, hopefully knowing that this all is done with God’s grace. I have recently been reading a wonderful book in which Brother David Steindl Rast is interviewed. He said in one part of the interview; “Rightly understood, praying means facing the Mystery, facing life again and aagin. If we do that, life will show us what to do…life will inevitably challenge us to change. Openness for this change is what matters in prayer. Faith is trust in life, lived new again and again, new in each moment because life is changing every moment.”

I love that idea of prayer being “Facing the Mystery.” This year, whatever it brings for any of us, will you join me in prayer every day, will you join me knowing that in prayer we support each other as we “Face the Mystery?”

Naku noa. Na
+ Hoane

The full newsletter can be viewed here.