Catholic Free Press

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  • Feb
  • 22

Chief evangelist

Posted By February 22, 2013 | 9:05 am | Lead Story #3
Bishop McManus meets with Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to the Vatican in January.
 Photo by Servizio Fotographico de L'Osservatore Romano
Bishop McManus meets with Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to the Vatican in January. Photo by Servizio Fotographico de L'Osservatore Romano

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – One task facing the College of Cardinals already has been completed: A job description for the Catholic Church’s chief evangelizer already is written.
He must be humble, but firmly grounded in church teaching; joyful and enthusiastic; willing to listen to and dialogue with others; and courageous in defending human rights, including the right to freedom of religion.
Before the cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel to begin voting for a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, they will hold meetings in the Vatican synod hall to discuss the current needs of the church.
Many of them sat in the same room for three weeks in October discussing the same thing, so they won’t be starting from scratch.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and 52 of the 117 cardinals who are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote for a new pope participated in the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.
While emphases may change when the cardinals meet after Feb. 28, it is unlikely they will try to reinvent the wheel and almost impossible that they will come up with a new topic for discussion.
The synod discussions covered the most crucial issues facing the church around the world: proclaiming the Gospel; catechesis; the meaning and role of the family; parish life; the role of new movements; liturgy and the sacraments; the clerical sexual abuse crisis; relations with other Christians; dialogue with other religions; challenges to religious freedom; the message of the Second Vatican Council; the challenges and opportunities raised by science and technology; and dialogue with nonbelievers.
The topics were seen as key elements in living the Catholic faith today.
And while no one gave a speech dedicated specifically to the administrative working of the Vatican bureaucracy and consternation caused by the “VatiLeaks” scandal that led to the arrest and conviction of Pope Benedict’s butler, synod members did discuss the values that must inspire the way the church works in the world.
The new pope will have to be the Catholic Church’s chief evangelist and, discussing the qualities an evangelist must have, synod members focused on humility, prayerfulness and a willingness to listen.
Of course, they added other qualities as well, including a thorough knowledge of Scripture and theology and an ability to communicate, whether through languages or the new media –qualities that also are on most people’s check list for a new pope.
Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, Philippines, told the synod that evangelizers must imitate the humility of Jesus –who was willing to become human, to suffer and to die for humanity –and the love of Jesus, particularly for “those neglected and despised by the world.”
Being humble also means recognizing when the church does not have all the answers, and therefore being willing to remain silent, he said, adding that “a church at home with silence will make the voiceless believe they are not alone.”
Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, told the synod that the greatest obstacle a priest or theologian faces in becoming an effective evangelizer “is without a doubt pride, along with its natural ally, selfishness. The obsession with becoming great, original (and) important reduces more than a few to being ‘pastors who shepherd themselves and not their flocks,’” as St. Augustine once said.
Synod members also called for church leaders who radiate joy and enthusiasm and who are not afraid to use new media and new structures “to move from a pastoral strategy of maintenance to a pastoral position that is truly missionary.”
As Australian Cardinal George Pell told reporters during the synod, church meetings can be well-planned and faith-filled, “but we need fire, energy –that’s what the new evangelization is all about.”
“We’re in the midst of an enormous struggle between good and evil, faith and fear on a supernatural as well as a natural level,” he said. “We could do with a bit more bite.”
Before the conclave, the cardinals obviously will discuss the serious problems and challenges facing the church today. But if they follow the synod’s prescription, they will look for a leader who chooses optimism over gloom.
The synod’s final message said, “We are not intimidated by the circumstances of the times in which we live. Our world is full of contradictions and challenges, but it remains God’s creation. The world is wounded by evil, but God loves it still. It is his field in which the sowing of the Word can be renewed so that it would bear fruit once more.”
They added, “There is no room for pessimism in the minds and hearts of those who know that their Lord has conquered death and that his Spirit works with might in history.”


Letter from Bishop McManus

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Like so many of you, I was stunned when I heard the news nearly two weeks ago that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI had decided to resign as Bishop of Rome and Successor to St. Peter, effective February 28, 2013.  However, upon further reflection, this dramatic news does not completely surprise me.
As recently as 2010 in an interview with a German journalist, the Holy Father said, “When a Pope arrives at a clear awareness that he no longer has the physical, mental or psychological capacity to carry out the task that has been entrusted to him, then he has the right, and in some cases, the duty to resign.”
During these past days, numerous commenaHoly Father’s decision to resign.  At this point, all such explanations have been little more than speculation.  What we can say with certainty is that the Holy Father’s decision reflects his profound love for and commitment to promoting the good of the Church.  Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church with extraordinary wisdom, unshakable faith and undaunted courage as a priest, theologian, cardinal and pope.
Although Pope Benedict followed the long and impressive pontificate of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict’s own papal legacy will be of significant import for the pastoral life of the Church.  The present pope has shown himself during these eight years of his Petrine ministry to be an exemplary teacher of the faith.  His encyclicals, homilies and his talks at the weekly papal audiences as well as those talks he delivered during his international pastoral visits have presented the beauty and depth of the Catholic theological and moral tradition that has enriched and inspired the faithful.  Most importantly, Pope Benedict has given the Church a method of understanding and implementing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council as one of continuity with the great tradition of the Church while making that tradition of faith and morals understandable to contemporary believers.  For this the entire Church owes Pope Benedict a debt of gratitude.
I exhort the Catholic community here in the Diocese of Worcester to pray for our Holy Father, the Pope.  On Thursday evening, February 28, 2013 at 7:00 p.m., I shall offer a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Petrine ministry of Pope Benedict XVI in the Cathedral of St. Paul.  I invite all of you to join me in this Eucharistic celebration.
With the serenity of faith, we believe that Christ is the head of his body, the Church and that under the sure guidance of the Holy Spirit, the College of Cardinals will elect a worthy successor to Pope Benedict XVI to govern the Church after the mind and heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd.  As the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI draws to a close, I would offer the following prayer and ask you to pray it for the well-being of the pope as the Church lives out under God’s Divine Providence this momentous period in her history.
“O God, true shepherd of all the faithful, look with kindness on your servant Pope Benedict XVI whom you set as head and shepherd of your Church.  We give you thanks for your grace at work in him as he has led us by word and example: in his teaching, in his prayer and in his great love.  Grant him your strength in frailty, comfort in sorrow, and serenity amid the trials of this world.  Guide your Church, built on the rock of Peter, with the power of your Spirit as we continue on the path that leads to you.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen”

With every prayerful best wish, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Robert J. McManus
Bishop of Worcester



Comparison between Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI

By Margaret M Russell
And William T. Clew

At the end, as at the beginning, of his papacy, comparisons between Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor and friend Pope John Paul II are being made.
Jesuit Father Thomas W. Worcester, professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, said that, unlike Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI would rather be in the library instead of on the world stage.
“It’s fair to say that being so close to John Paul II, it had to have some type of effect on him, some type of pastoral influence,” Bishop McManus said.
“I honestly think he was profoundly affected by the final years of Pope John Paul II,” which may have contributed to his decision to resign when he did, Bishop McManus said this week.
“Unlike John Paul II who really saw his suffering as his last great sermon, I think Benedict is more cerebral, more reserved. He did not want to end his pontificate in that kind of way,” Assumption College President Francesco Cesareo said.
Many noticed that the 85-year-old pope’s physical health was in decline.
Bishop McManus met briefly with the Holy Father in January when he was in Rome when a priest of the diocese, Msgr. Francis Kelly, was made a canon of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“I went up to him and briefly chatted back and forth and thanked him for the honor for Msgr. Kelly and the diocese. I was struck by how thin he had become since last time I had seen him,” Bishop McManus said.  His grasp was firm and he was animated and smiling, he said, “but I think about that at his age the responsibilities are overwhelming,”
With his resignation “I think he sends a message which acknowledges the gravitas of the papacy,” Cesareo said.
“He was intellectual theologian. Perhaps he feels the Church needs someone who can be more than that, someone who can reach out to world in a different way. Maybe a younger person, relatively speaking,” President Cesareo said.
Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered for resigning, but, Father Worcester thinks it is too soon to evaluate his legacy. He spent a long time in the Vatican; was a theologian during the Second Vatican Council and saw Vatican II in terms of continuity, not discontinuity, in the history of the Church, he noted.
Bishop McManus, on the other hand, sees some things for which the pope will be remembered.
“I think that he has taken extraordinary strides to preserve the unity of the Church.
“He has really given us a proper perspective and lens for understanding the Second Vatican Council as being in continuity with the tradition of the Church as opposed to looking at Vatican II as a great rupture,” Bishop McManus said.
He also recognized the pope as being an exemplary teacher who took every opportunity to catechize. He cited the way he used his general audience to systematically teach the faith. Also the recent homily the pope gave on Epiphany, when he ordained four new bishops, is “a homily we can take and return to” one that clearly states the role of a bishop, he said.
“My recollections of those days of deep mourning for Blessed Pope John Paul II and of the seven years which have passed are marked with a certain sadness at the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, a wise and gentle pastor and one of the finest teachers of the faith who has ever worn the shoes of the fisherman,” Msgr. James P. Moroney, a Worcester diocesan priest who is rector of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, wrote on his blog.
He was with the pope three months ago during an audience with the Vox Clara Committee, a group of senior prelates which Msgr. Moroney serves as executive director.
“I bragged to the Holy Father that Saint John’s was completely filled with wonderful and highly talented men, to which he replied ‘Filled? How wonderful! Please tell them that I will pray for each of them.’
“And I know those were not just words. I know he prayed for our seminarians, as he prayed for all the whole Church, most especially all those in need.”
It is to that place of prayer it appears Pope Benedict will return. And he and others are seeking prayers for him and the future pope.
Bishop McManus wrote, “I exhort the Catholic community here in the Diocese of Worcester and all people of good will to pray for our Holy Father, the Pope. With the serenity of faith, we believe that Christ is the head of his body, the Church and that under the sure guidance of the Holy Spirit, the College of Cardinals will elect a worthy successor to Pope Benedict XVI to govern the Church after the mind and heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd.”