Tag Archives: ecclesiology

Bishop of Rome –appreciating its significance for the churches

Pope's chair, Basilica di San Giovanni in Late...

The chair of the Bishop of Rome, Basilica Saint John Lateran, Rome.

In the first moments of his introduction to the world, Pope Francis has spoken of his ministry as the bishop of Rome, and his exercise of said ministry. Nine times, in fact. I think many were surprised at the theological precision that Pope Francis expressed so quickly. How is this possible? Because Francis is clearly Christocentric, and the Petrine ministry located in service of the other and at the foot of the Cross.

We ought to recall that ministries in the Church have gradually taken on new significance over time as the issues of teaching, preaching and sanctifying and governing (leading) surfaced and challenged the unity of the faithful. We know historically that by the third century the parameters of the bishop of Rome began to develop because of the work of Saints Peter and Paul, and because of the importance of the imperial city of Rome, and by the fourth century the influence of the Roman bishop was well-situated; and by the fifth century “canonical” letters, i.e., decrees, were sent to the world’s bishops carrying with them certain authority. One can posit that from almost the beginning bishops from across the Christian world had appealed to the bishop of Rome for assistance in resolving with pastoral problems. 

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Benedict XVI’s final address: to the College of Cardinals: “I vow unconditional reverence and obedience to the future Pope”

Benedict XVI final day.jpg

I welcome you all with great joy and cordially greet each one of you. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who as always, has been able to convey the sentiments of the College, Cor ad cor loquitur. Thank you, Your Eminence, from my heart.

And referring to the disciples of Emmaus, I would like to say to you all that it has also been a joy for me to walk with you over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord. As I said yesterday, in front of thousands of people who filled St. Peter’s Square, your closeness, your advice, have been a great help to me in my ministry. In these 8 years we have experienced in faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the Churches’ journey along with times when clouds have darkened the sky. We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love which is the soul of our ministry. We have gifted hope that comes from Christ alone, and which alone can illuminate our path. Together we can thank the Lord who has helped us grow in communion, to pray to together, to help you to continue to grow in this deep unity so that the College of Cardinals is like an orchestra, where diversity, an expression of the universal Church, always contributes to a superior harmony of concord. I would like to leave you with a simple thought that is close to my heart, a thought on the Church, Her mystery, which is for all of us, we can say, the reason and the passion of our lives. I am helped by an expression of Romano Guardini‘s, written in the year in which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, his last with a personal dedication to me, so the words of this book are particularly dear to me .

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Benedict XVI’s final audience address: I do not abandon the cross

Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quar...

Pope Benedict’s penultimate day as the Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff we hear from him one last time in an official capacity with evermore courage, insight, humility and love. It is an astonishing piece.

Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this last General Audience of my pontificate.

Like the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart the paramount duty to thank God, who guides the Church and makes her grow: who sows His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His people. At this moment my spirit reaches out to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in these years of Petrine ministry I have been able to receive regarding the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity that circulates in the body of the Church – charity that makes the Church to live in love – and of the hope that opens for us the way towards the fullness of life, and directs us towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone and every thing in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).

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Can working for the Church be a good thing?

Ideas bounce around my head about working for the Church if one is not a member of the clergy or a religious order. Some of my friends would say, “Why bother?” There’s some truth in this attitude. There’s a lot of problems with working in the Church these days and not all of it regarding pay. Let’s just say, working for the Church can be a great place to use your talent for Someone greater and for eternal consequences. Experience tells me that church-working need not be a sad, hostile, dysfunctional place to spend one’s life. BTW, what I say is not only for the laity because the clergy have the same issues.

I wonder if working for the Church could be:
  • a great place to work at; a fun place to work, a welcoming, loving & fulfilling culture
  • a place where a good use of technology possible for the Gospel (tech is hot these days)
  • a place to network with Catholics (Christians and “seekers”) to propose a new lens of life
  • time available to see how your work affects lots of people
  • a place that will teach you something new
  • pay and perks that strive to be competitive
  • a place where the employees are happy
  • have opportunities for spiritual development.
There’s a lot that’s wrong with the way the Church works in the world today. Many dioceses, indeed, the Holy See and the Vatican, have effectively disaffected people because a lack of humanity, courage, love, compassion and faith. What comes to mind, is that working for the Church ought to be a place where the glory of God is man and woman fully alive working for something Greater: salvation.
If business is working on these matters, why not the Church? The proclamation of the Gospel and a sacramental life ought to take on best practices of the business world. I pray for the grace of knowing my own need for conversion, fraternity, vocation and mission. We all need a place to exercise a God-given diakonia and martyria (service and witness).
Saint John, beloved friend of the Lord, pray for us.

Martin Luther King, Jr and Saint Francis Xavier with the Church

Connecting people is a dangerous thing. It is even more perilous if you connect people from different centuries, places, ethnicities, religions and politics. I read this quote from Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968) that made me think of those like Saint Francis Xavier had some difficulty convincing the “powers that be” that their behaviors, policies and attitudes are incoherent with the Gospel and Christ’s Church. I am thinking of Bartholomew de las Casas, OP, Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, OFS, Saint Katharine Drexel, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint Thomas More, Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, Servant of God Dorothy Day, Obl SB, Father Alexander Men and countless others.

What leads me to make this connect the dots? In his 1963 book, From his Sermons In Strength To Love, King stated, 
The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state and never its tool. If the Church does not recapture it prophetic zeal it will become an irrelevant social club without morals or spiritual authority.
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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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