UK Bishop Offers Answers to Modern Problems

Reflects on Church's Mission and Catholics' Responsibilities

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LANCASTER, England, AUG. 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answers to the great questions facing modern times can be found in the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, affirms the bishop of Lancaster.



Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue released today another installment in the diocese's "Fit for Mission" project, this time dedicating the document to a study of the Church.

"As I have reflected on the great issues facing this generation in the life of the Church, I have become more and more convinced that the answers are to be found through a prayerful, faithful and creative engagement with the Deposit of Faith presented in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and its great summary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church," the bishop wrote in the preface. "The vision of 'Fit for Mission? Church' is the vision of the Second Vatican Council.

"However, the questions and challenges that the Council Fathers saw in embryo, we now face in full force, such as the challenge of secular humanism, the question of moral values in a scientific-technological culture, and the increasing tensions caused by reason sundered from faith."

The document, which Bishop O'Donoghue said he wrote for "all Catholics who love the Church and care deeply about the future of Catholicism in our country," offers reflection questions and suggestions for action after each section.

"I know that many of you share my sense of pressing responsibility to foster and promote an authentic Catholic identity, resisting the pressures to compromise, even abandon, the truths of our faith," the bishop reflected.

Vatican II

"Fit for Mission? Church" offers reflections ranging from analyses of key Vatican II constitutions to a look at the social situation in which Catholics live today.

One of the bishop's preliminary proposals is that the faithful might experience being "gathered by Christ," but do not make the corresponding step of accepting that they are also "sent by him."

"The majority of our energy and charisms as the people of God are focused on being gathered through the sacraments," Bishop O'Donoghue said. "Lay liturgical ministries are well developed in most parishes, though there are exceptions. There is a good deal of collaboration between most clergy and laity in service of the liturgy.

"Though we are strengthened and healed by the Lord through his word and sacraments, the majority of us are not responding to Our Lord’s call to go out on his mission of hope. In particular, mission in the parishes with families and young people are undeveloped or underdeveloped, with a few exceptions."

Basing himself on Vatican II and key elements of ecclesiology, the bishop then offers a vision of what the Church is supposed to be and how the daily lives of Catholics should be shaped by their faith.

Urgent problems

The last section, based on "Gaudium et Spes," offers concrete suggestions, ranging from social participation to authentic living of Catholic marriages.

"Part Two of 'Gaudium et Spes' goes on to identify five urgent problems that caused major anxiety in the 1960s," the bishop noted. "Forty years on, I believe the same five areas cause equal anxiety among most people: marriage and the family; culture; social-economic life; political life; war and peace.

"Just as the Council Fathers before me, I want to encourage you all to attempt to read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel, the Council and human experience."

Finally, Bishop O'Donoghue concluded by expressing his hope that Catholics can come to value the great gift that is the Church.

"There are some things in life which are so important that to dissent from them is to lose the whole meaning of life," he said. "I have written this document in the hope that through our far-reaching 'Fit for Mission?' review in the Diocese of Lancaster we may realize with joy the great gift with which we have been entrusted.

"When we all hold true to the beauty and truth of the Church established by Jesus, for the glory of the Father, in the living presence of the Holy Spirit, then the true glory of God’s Church will shine out for all to see.

"Our Church will be as intended, a creative and liberating force that takes us out into the world and which releases the world from the ‘pains of creation’ to realize its full potential."

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On the Net:

"Fit for Mission? Church": www.catholicchurch.org.uk/index.php/ccb/catholic_church/media_centre2/local_news/bishop_of_lancaster_releases_fit_for_mission_church