On the Road Together – The power of words

Saint Peter's Square. Vatican CityBy Archbishop Coleridge

This afternoon we finally moved into the small groups, which was a bit messy but refreshing.  I say messy because the first challenge was to find the room where your group was to meet.  That may sound easy, but (with 4 English groups, 3 French, 3 Italian, 2 Spanish-Portuguese and 1 German) it wasn’t.  

Having found the room, the challenge was then to find enough space in the room to accommodate the 20+ people in the “small” group.  As well as the Synod bishops, there were experts, auditors and ecumenical reps.  It was definitely economy rather than business class.  Keep the elbows down. Continue reading

On the Road Together – Widen the Horizon

By Archbishop Coleridge

The video accompanying this post gives you a sense of the Synod Hall just before we began work this morning.  It’s time to meet and mingle – and you can see Pope Francis up the front shaking a few hands.  I was too busy videoing to head his way: later.  You can hear the PA at the end telling us all to take our seats in the Hall: stop the chatter and start praying before working.

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World Mental Health Day reminds us we are all members of the Body of Christ

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.16.44 am (2)People living with mental health challenges, are no less members of the Body of Christ than anyone else, Bishop Terry Brady said during Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘People with mental illness and their families can often feel isolated from their faith community and thus isolated from God. Isolation is often caused by social stigma: the idea that mental illness is a question of character or a punishment from God,’ Bishop Brady, Chair of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life and the Australian Catholic Disability Council said.

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Religion, Law and Social Stability

Fr Brian Lucas, General Secretary, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Fr Brian Lucas, General Secretary, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, delivering his address to delegates

Addressing delegates gathered at the twenty second annual International Law and Religion symposium in the United States, Fr Brian Lucas presented examples of interfaith opportunities that impact social stability.

Gathered at the International Center for Law and Religious Studies, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah from 4-6 October 2015, Fr Lucas, General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, discussed two examples relevant within an Australian and global context; Islam extremism and same sex marriage.

‘Challenges include the difficulty of identifying authorities to negotiate with in dialogue,’ Fr Lucas told delegates that included 90 leading scholars, jurists, and political and civil society leaders from 40 countries.  Continue reading

On the Road Together – A time to speak

Pope Francis chats with bishops during day two of Synod on the Family.

Pope Francis chats with bishops during day two of Synod on the Family.

By Archbishop Coleridge

The sun rises on Synod Day two.  In the afternoon yesterday we began the long haul of the 3-minute interventions, with Cardinal Vingt-Trois beginning with the very lengthy list of those who’d been called to speak.  The two Kiwis and I were among those called, so we all rushed to our bag to find our text, hoping we hadn’t left it back at the house.

The procession of speeches was rapid-fire compared with earlier Synods where they were longer.  Many of the speakers – including myself remarkably – were under the 3-minute limit.  I must have spoken faster than I planned.  But it’s hard to be substantial in such a short space: you can certainly say something, but it has to be very concise.  Bit like a Tweet. Continue reading

Australian Bishops to speak at Family Synod

Bishop Hurley at Paul Vi Hall, the #Synod2015 venue

Bishop Hurley at Paul Vi Hall, the #Synod2015 venue

Australia’s Archbishop Mark Coleridge and Bishop Eugene Hurley are preparing to speak at the Synod on the Family in Rome.

On Sunday 4th October, the Australian representatives lodged what’s called the petitio loquendi, which means a request to speak for three minutes at the Synod in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.

The XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops commenced on Sunday 4th October with an opening Mass in St Peter’s Basilica celebrated by Pope Francis who will lead the Synod over the next three weeks until it concludes on Sunday 25th October. Continue reading

Healing wounds and warming hearts – Mental Health Awareness Week

Prayer card for World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2015.

Prayer card for World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2015.

World Mental Health Day is observed annually on 10 October. This year, the Church has sought to celebrate this day as an opportunity to encourage a truly pastoral view that embraces our total community as the living Body of Christ.

To be authentic, this view must include every member of the community acknowledging their call, their gift and their presence.

Recently, people with mental illness were consulted on their experience in the church in Australia. One respondent said, ‘I have a mental illness, my illness is usually episodic. I am me all the time, and would like parishes to have some knowledge about mental illness in regard to stigma’.

Another stated, ‘For many people with a mental illness, it can be impossible to have full and active participation in parish life. They are so tired all the time (from a combination of medication and illness) that they just don’t have an opportunity to venture out much at all. We can’t afford to feel alone and not part of the church, even though it, at times it seems we are!’ Continue reading

On the Road Together – The Synod begins

Synod venue, Paul Vi Hall

Synod venue, Paul Vi Hall

By Archbishop Coleridge

We’ve just completed the first morning of the 3-week marathon.  There was lots of milling around before we actually started – greeting those you know, finding your place in the Synod Hall, sorting through the documentation, making sure you know how the technology works (microphone and voting device).

It turns out I’m sitting next to the Georges Pontier, Archbishop of Marseilles (on my right), and on my left Romulo Valles, Archbishop of Davao, Philippines, who’s an old mate of mine.  Just in front of us are what’s called the fraternal delegates, which means the representatives of the other Churches.  I was chatting to the Anglican rep, the Bishop of Truro, who is a rugby fan and was mortified by the Wallabies defeat of England.  I was of course suitably jubilant, and all he could do was remind me of the Ashes, which did tend to slow me down a bit. Continue reading

On the Road Together – The Pope’s homily


Archbishop Coleridge in his vestments for the Pope’s opening Mass of #Synod2015 with clergy from all over the world

By Archbishop Coleridge

Just in from the Opening Mass of the Synod which was a tremendous occasion – not quite the NRL Grand Final (which must have been really something) but up there nonetheless.

Pope Francis gave one of those quietly spoken but powerful homilies of his, drawing upon biblical readings which were uncannily suited to the opening of this Synod. He spoke tellingly about loneliness and the way in which God provides love, especially married love, as the true antidote to this disease of the human heart. That’s what people need to find in a Church whose doors are never closed because, if they were, the Church would betray herself. Continue reading

Pope Francis’ Homily at Opening Mass of Synod on the Family Translation by the Vatican

IMG_4355‘This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.’

At 10 am today, the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Pope Francis presided at the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the opening of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: ‘The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.’ Below is the Vatican-provided translation of the homily Pope Francis delivered during the Mass:

 “If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

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On the Road Together – Village Life Rome is a village: you're always bumping into someone you know

Accommodation during #Synod2015

Accommodation during #Synod2015

By Archbishop Coleridge

From our different temporary lodgings, Bishop Hurley and I arrived at Maria Bambina this morning at about 9am, and an hour later we set off to the Synod Hall to lodge what’s called the “petitio loquendi”, which means our request to speak (for three minutes!) at the Synod.

We’re only a stone’s throw away from the Synod Hall but it was quite an effort to get there. A huge crowd was waiting to get into the Audience Hall (just beneath the Synod Hall) to meet with Pope Francis at 11.30am. So we had to go via the cape: nothing is simple or straightforward in Rome. Continue reading

On The Road Together – Towards and beyond a wedding

St Peter's Basilica in Rome

St Peter’s Basilica in Rome

By Archbishop Coleridge

Rome is a city that juggles fixity and flux, changelessness and change, being and becoming.  It’s a place that holds together past and present, with an unusual capacity to adapt while keeping a core intact.

The historic monuments are everywhere, but the city is vibrant and contemporary.  That’s part of what it means to call Rome “eternal”.  What’s true of this city is true of the Church, especially as we look to #Synod2015.

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