Gospel is joyful path, not burdensome rules, Canadian archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The church needs to find better ways to show how the Gospel message is a way of life meant to bring great joy to couples and families, and is not a burdensome set of rules aimed at exclusion, one member of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family said.

“Church teaching has to be rediscovered not as a set of rules, but as a true good news, a good news that frees people,” said Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“God’s plan for marriage is not a structure in which people have to bind themselves in order to somehow gain God’s love. God’s plan for marriage is a gift of God’s love for us,” he told Catholic News Service Oct. 8, on the sidelines of the synod meeting at the Vatican Oct. 5-19.

More…

Jim

I’m always saddened when people think the Church is “cold and rigid”. I would think that at least the beauty of the Church would dispel that thought. vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Peter_Altar/index.html

Agreed. I would not characterize the Church as cold or rigid; I think it’s an incredibly beautiful thing - especially in contrast with the values of the world today. I am seeing this reaction in a lot in people though, even up to Archbishops I guess. I had a lot of these same issues when I was outside of the Church; when I came into it, it was because my view had profoundly changed. So I am somewhat surprised by the discontent. But I could just be out of the loop. :rolleyes: I do tend to keep to myself.

The question is, how do we draw people into the Church? LBH, you probably (I know I did) did a lot of research and/or searching before you were brought inside the Church.

Most people just don’t seem to care one way or the other, so how do we get them to care? By exposing them to the beauty of the Faith, especially via our personal charity or the art the Church produced.

Even people in the Church sometimes don’t care that the Church believes xyz.

IMO that is the biggest problem. The rules aspect the archbishop brings up is certainly something that contributes to that for a lot of people.

We do not draw people to faith, God does.

Remember, there is a difference between faith and religion, even though they are very much connected.

Faith, is a gift from God. It is the revelation of himself to the individual, however that may happen.

Religion, is the person’s response to faith that they received. Religion is suppose to serve the individual in growing closer to Christ. It’s not suppose to be a mere institution that they can h have an ego-identity attachment to, in order to make them feel and alliance with like minds.

So, how does God draw people to himself through faith ?

It can be through the Sacraments of the Church, the Bible, or more often than not, through people of faith. But faith in people must be as the Archbishop stated, as a joyful path.

This can only come from us if we have a relationship with Jesus Christ where we have experienced his transforming love and that love shows through as joy and happiness.

Jim

I actually agree with every word of this. Only one tiny addition:

This can only come from us if we have a relationship with Jesus Christ where we have experienced his transforming love and that love shows through as joy, happiness and freedom. By accepting Jesus Christ we are reborn into a life of the spirit and freed from the fleshly bond of our will. In humility, we submit our will to the will of God. This is the source of our joy, happiness, and true freedom.

I think the problem is that society’s thinking is all wrong on this stuff. On the one hand, society tells us that rules are bad and restricting and that is *just awful, *consequently people see the “restrictions” the Church teaches as being bad.

At the same time, society does *not *teach us the true nature of man. Instead we get a lot of foolish philosophy: materialism, determinsim, etc. By cutting out our spiritual aspect, society leaves only the physical (this diminishing our humanity greatly), and we become utilitarian when it comes to “rules.”

We do not see what the Church teaches as harm to people because we do not consider our souls, which are harmed by sin. So we can see that hitting someone over the head is bad, because we see the physical harm, but we do not see fornication as harmful, because the harm is in the soul, which society does not consider.

If we can show people our souls, if we can show them that the rules are directions to keep us on the good path towards our ever-loving Father in Heaven rather than arbitrary restrictions on our individual autonomy, then I think we will have cleared a huge hurdle.

I hope everyone will read the entire article.

What he means is that the rules are not burdensome. Instead, the rules reflect the love and mercy of God. He is disputing those who say that the rules are burdensome.

What he is saying is that calling the Church’s rules" burdensome set of rules aimed at exclusion" is a false characterization of the Gospel.

Here is just the text of his quotes, with a few words added for the sake of grammar. I think that after reading them, you’ll come away with a much different perspective of what he actually said.

“Church teaching has to be rediscovered not as a set of rules, but as a true good news, a good news that frees people. God’s plan for marriage is not a structure in which people have to bind themselves in order to somehow gain God’s love. God’s plan for marriage is a gift of God’s love for us,”

Archbishop Durocher said that “tension between teaching and pastoral care disappears” when people recognize that living the teaching brings healing.

“The teaching itself is a form of pastoral care,” he said.

The archbishop told reporters … that breaking truth and mercy into two opposing camps “is unjust.”

Bishops not in favor of admitting divorced and civilly married Catholics to the Eucharist are exercising mercy “because mercy is bringing people to the truth.” [that’s how it was written in the article with no quotation marks before the word Bishops]

And, likewise, to say that those who are looking for ways to make Communion more accessible “are not concerned with justice or with truth — that also would be unjust to use that language,” he said.

[in other words, those who want to throw away the rules are the ones who are not concerned with justice or truth]

“We have a lot of work to do to find out ways of expressing (God’s plan): Why is faithfulness a gift? Why is fruitfulness in marriage a gift? Why is fidelity to one’s partner a gift? Why is reconciliation a gift?” and then how can these teachings “become a way of life for people?” he said.

People are “hungry and thirsty for meaning,” he said, so how can the church better show the world and Catholics the way?

[in other words, he is not asking “how can we change the rules?” but how can we do a better job of teaching the rules and supporting married couples to to be faithful to each other and to God. Sounds like very solid Catholic teaching here]

The question of access to Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics also has to be seen through the lens of accompanying people more effectively in order to bring them closer to what God offers, he said.

He said when people realize their irregular situation means they cannot receive Communion, they see that “as an exclusion” from the church and church life.

Experiencing this situation as exclusion “is certainly not what Jesus wants for people who are struggling,” he said.

[in other words, this is not the tired old “Jesus doesn’t exclude anyone” mantra. He’s saying that Christ does not want anyone to misunderstand that being ineligible for Communion is not a form of exclusion, it’s a way that the Church accompanies people to bring them closer to God.]

Fr David, exactly! :thumbsup:

The whole point of the Synod, which many people are missing is not to loosen doctrine, far from it.

The purpose of the Synod is to find a path for people to come home to Christ.

Our prayers for the Holy Spirit to inspire the Bishops in creating this path, is our job so to speak.

Jim

Insofar as we are in Christ we draw people to him. :thumbsup:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.