Thursday, October 4, 2018

Synod on Youth III - Francis Speaks

Yesterday, Pope Francis inaugurated the Synod of Bishops on "Youth, Faith and Discernment of Vocations" by celebrating the Eucharist in St Peter's Square. Later in the synod hall, he presented his vision in a remarkable opening speech. My reflexion today limits itself to simply presenting of a few sentences from this speech centered on the idea of synodality.

- The Synod we are living is a moment of sharing. I wish, therefore, at the beginning of the Synod Assembly, to invite everyone to speak with courage and frankness (parrhesia), namely to integrate freedom, truth and charity. Only dialogue can help us grow.

- Humility in listening must correspond to courage in speaking. It is this listening that creates space for dialogue. 

- The Synod must be an exercise in dialogue, above all among those of you participating. The first fruit of this dialogue is that everyone is open to newness, to change their opinions thanks to what they have heard from others. 

- Let us feel free to welcome and understand others and therefore to change our convictions and positions: this is a sign of great human and spiritual maturity.

- The Synod is an ecclesial exercise in discernment. Discernment is not an advertising slogan, it is not an organizational technique, or a fad of this pontificate, but an interior attitude rooted in an act of faith. 

- Discernment is the method and at the same time the goal we set ourselves: it is based on the conviction that God is at work in world history, in life’s events, in the people I meet and who speak to me.

- Discernment needs space and time. This attention to interiority is the key to accomplishing the work of recognizing, interpreting and choosing.

- This Synod has the opportunity, the task and the duty to be a sign of a Church that really listens, that allows herself to be questioned by the experiences of those she meets, and who does not always have a ready-made answer.

- It is therefore necessary, on the one hand, to decisively overcome the scourge of clericalism. Clericalism arises from an elitist and exclusivist vision of vocation, that interprets the ministry received as a power to be exercised rather than as a free and generous service to be given. This leads us to believe that we belong to a group that has all the answers and no longer needs to listen or learn anything. 

- Clericalism is a perversion and is the root of many evils in the Church: we must humbly ask forgiveness for this and above all create the conditions so that it is not repeated.

- May the Synod awaken our hearts! The present moment, and this applies also to the Church, appears to be laden with struggles, problems, burdens. But our faith tells us that it is also the moment in which the Lord comes to meet us in order to love us and call us to the fullness of life.

- The Synod’s purpose: to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another, and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands, and inspire in young people – all young people, with no one excluded – a vision of the future filled with the joy of the Gospel.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Synod on youth II - The Importance of the Preparatory Phase

Yesterday, I wrote of the challenge of achieving truly effective synodality in the Church, synodality that would allow all members to listen to each other as they discern together the paths the Spirit is showing us. Of course, in this process of discernment, bishops and pope have a special role to play: that of ensuring that this discernment is always faithful to the Gospel and to the living Tradition that interprets and enriches it over the years. centuries.

In this perspective, Pope Francis has recently renewed the legislation surrounding the Synod of Bishops, as well as its bylaws (which were published this morning). He seeks renewal in continuity: he did not shake everything up but adjusted aspects of the process in order to free up a space of mutual listening and collective discernment that should typify any synodal process.

To do this, he strengthened the framework surrounding the preparatory consultation for the synod. In the past, this consultation was primarily aimed at the bishops of the world who were invited to give their opinion on the chosen theme. Above all, it was an "episcopal" approach. In theory, it was open to wider consultation but most often remained a matter for bishops.

From now on, the synod will be integrated in a longer process of reflection, of speaking and listening by all the people of God. We had our first experience of this approach during the special assembly of Synod on Marriage and the Family in 2014. This time, the method having been honed, the consultation was even more dynamic and richer.

  • An online questionnaire allowed thousands of young people to share their experiences and express their views on the Church.
  • In dioceses, bishops listened to young people. I myself attended a interesting session that allowed me to listen to students and young workers share their anxieties, their hopes and their thirst for God.
  • The bishops of Quebec organized a 48-hour mini-forum with young people representing the entire territory.
  • In Rome, an important pre-synodal gathering of young people from all over the world helped develop a document that largely inspired the working instrument of the present synod.

Thus, the month-long meeting that will be inaugurated tomorrow in Rome will not begin from scratch. An impressive work of consultation and reflection has preceded it.

Likewise, in the Archdiocese of Gatineau, the Diocesan Pastoral Council wanted a broad consultation to enable us to accurately paint the portrait of our parish and community reality, to express our hopes and fears and to surface the questions that we need to study. We will also publish an online questionnaire (starting October 11th) so that everyone can express their point of view. Focus groups will be organized to listen to the voices of those who might not otherwise be heard. Meetings will be held in all parishes in October and November to gather the convictions and questions of all the faithful.

The Synod of bishops in Rome ... our own diocesan synodal process in Gatineau ... these are signs that the Church want to listen to the Spirit who through the communities and in the hearts of all the baptized.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Synod on Youth I - The Challenge of Synodality

This Wednesday, Pope Francis will preside at the opening mass of the fifteenth synodal assembly of bishops since the founding of the synod more than fifty years ago. The theme of this meeting is "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment". It will last three and a half weeks until Sunday, October 28th.

During this time, I will try to share with you regularly my reflections on this major event in the life of the Church. I will do so thinking of the diocesan synodal process that I recently announced and which will be inaugurated on Thursday, October 11 on the occasion of the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, patron of our Archdiocese of Gatineau.

Although the theme of the synod of bishops and that of our diocesan synodal process differ significantly, the approach that the bishops will follow may inspire ours. In this regard, I draw your attention to the effort made by Pope Francis to make the Synod of Bishops more ... synodal.

This may seem paradoxical: is not the synod of bishops, by its very nature, synodal? Is it not the perfect example of what is meant by the expression “a synodal Church”?

In fact, many bishops who have participated in the synods of recent decades have complained about the method and spirit that seemed to prevail there. Some felt that everything was settled in advance, that they did not have the right to raise certain issues or to propose certain solutions. The preparatory consultations were rather superficial and limited; the working papers abounded in generalizations and commonplaces.

Francis started changing this situation with the two synodal assemblies on marriage of 2014 and 2015. The first assembly, labelled as extraordinary, gathered a smaller group than usual: a hundred bishops from across the world (presidents of episcopal conferences) plus the cardinals of the curia. This first assembly "prepared" the second by clarifying issues and suggesting ways to move forward. It itself was preceded by a vast consultation of the people of God, explicitly desired by the pope. At the first session of this special assembly, he invited the participants to speak openly, with courage and conviction ... and to listen with humility and attention. In other words, he sought to free up the participants’ interventions.

During the second synodal assembly on marriage, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of this institution. (I had the grace of attending both Synodal Assemblies as President of the CCCB and then as a delegate of the Canadian Episcopate.) On this occasion, Pope Francis shared his vision of the synod.

Here are some key phrases from this speech:

  • A synodal Church is a Church which listens, which realizes that listening “is more than simply hearing”. It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. The faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome: all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:17), in order to know what he “says to the Churches” (Rev 2:7).
  • For Blessed Paul VI, the Synod of Bishops was meant to reproduce the image of the Ecumenical Council and reflect its spirit and method. Pope Paul foresaw that the organization of the Synod could “be improved upon with the passing of time”. Twenty years later, Saint John Paul II echoed that thought when he stated that “this instrument might be further improved. Perhaps collegial pastoral responsibility could be more fully expressed in the Synod”. We must continue along this path.
  • It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.
  • The sensus fidei prevents a rigid separation between an Ecclesia docens and an Ecclesia discens, since the flock likewise has an instinctive ability to discern the new ways that the Lord is revealing to the Church.

Let me explain this last sentence. The sensus fidei is the intuitive flair of believers for what, in life and in history, corresponds to the Gospel or, on the contrary, contradicts it. It is a collective flair shared by women and men who follow Jesus and open themselves to his Spirit. Bishops and priests cannot monopolize this flair or pretend to dictate it: their role is to discern it, to recognize how the Spirit speaks to the Church today through its members.

Pope Francis affirms that this sense of faith, shared by all the faithful, prevents us from seeing the Church as being composed of two groups: a first (the clergy) in charge of teaching (the Ecclesia docens) and a second (the laity) whose role is to listen and obey (Ecclesia discens). On the contrary, the clergy must listen to the Spirit who speaks to the Church in the life of the laity. This conviction brings about a radical change in how to discern the voice of the Spirit in the Church. This change, desired and encouraged by Francis and many bishops, causes great resistance in others: hence the interest of following this new synod, whatever its theme.

In my next comment, I will examine how Pope Francis framed these principles in the new legislation for the synods of bishops published recently under the title of Episcopalis communio. I will show how this new legislation already informs this fifteenth assembly of bishops. And I will indicate how his principles also inspire the synodal process that we are undertaking in our own archdiocese of Gatineau.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

My Easter Message for 2018

Intolerance. This, according to experts, was the main theme covered in Quebec media during 2017. 

“It has had an effect on all the news,” according to Jean-François Dumas, president of Influence Communication. In an interview, he commented that “in 2016, fear was the key theme in the media; in 2017, intolerance was the recurring theme in Quebec news.”

Intolerance. It fuels wars, gives rise to persecutions, holds onto grudges. It divides families, communities and peoples. It assaults, hurts and kills.

Jesus died on the cross, a victim of intolerance. Leaders of that time could not tolerate the interest he garnered, the message he proclaimed, or his actions which spoke so powerfully. They could have entered into dialogue with him. They could have tried to understand him. It was easier to just get rid of him.

And yet, Jesus did not close the door on anyone. He engaged with people in authority like Nicodemus and with regular folk like the Samaritan woman. He visited the rich like Zacchaeus and Simon and shared table fellowship with the poor like Lazarus, Mary and Martha. As they nailed him to the cross, he prayed that his executioners would be forgiven.

“Love your enemies,” he said, and “do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6, 27–31)

Jesus did not only call for tolerance, but for love. He not only welcomed the other, he set out to encounter the other. How different the world would be if we put his teaching into practice, if we followed his example.

In a world marked by intolerance and by fear of the other, the resurrection of Jesus shines like a beacon which shows us a path of openness and trust. The God of Jesus Christ does not differentiate between us, he welcomes us all as his beloved children. Let us then live as brothers and sisters. 

May 2018 be a year characterized not only by tolerance, but by a spirit of welcoming, deep respect and fruitful dialogue.

A blessed Easter to all.

+ Paul-André Durocher

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

FutureChurch - Further Considerations

In mid-September, I accepted an award from an American Catholic group called FutureChurch. They wanted to recognize me for having brought up the issue of women’s roles in the Church during the Synod on the family last year, particularly their access to the permanent diaconate. I didn’t know much about this group and readily accepted readily, without imagining my decision could cause controversy.

Well, it did. The day I was to receive the award, a blogger wrote to tell me this group was heretical. He referred to a few interventions by members of the group who seemed to take issue with some teachings of the Church. At the heart of the accusation was the group’s public support for the ordination of women to the priesthood, a position that Pope John Paul II had rejected in quite powerful terms in his letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, published in 1994.

I did not have time to verify these accusations and decided to accept the award. As I told the blogger, I felt it was important to practise dialogue in our Church and to build bridges. As it turns out, I made the right decision. An exchange of emails with the executive director of FutureChurch in the following days helped me understand the source of the misunderstanding.

Here is what she wrote me.

FutureChurch works for Vatican II reforms within the Church.  Our mission, vision and all our initiatives focus on the needs of parish based Catholics.  In 1990, when Catholics from across the Cleveland diocese gathered under the leadership of Fr. Louis Trivison and Sr. Chris Schenk, FutureChurch educated about the priest shortage and, because we believe the Eucharist is central to Catholic life, advocated for new discussions of married priests and women as priests.  But we ended our advocacy for women’s ordination to the priesthood when Pope John Paul II issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis because we wanted to continue to work within the Church.  That is a critical distinction that we continue to uphold and it shapes our work with Catholics and with those in the hierarchy.  Thus, we do not advocate for the ordination of women as priests and have not done so for more than 20 years… 

We have chosen to educate and advocate for the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate, an effort that began in earnest during the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist where we delivered over 30,000 signatures to the CDF asking them to open the discussion again after the 2002 ITC [International Theological Commission] report. 

We believe the female diaconate is important because we recognize that integrating women into our governance and ministerial structures will help us carry out the work of the Gospel more effectively.  For instance, in terms of violence against women (…) we believe that when women are deacons, Catholics will hear much more preaching about ending violence of all sorts against women (…) When women are more fully integrated into the leadership and decision making structures of the Church, our teaching and policies will more effectively address these issues of violence against women and a whole host of other challenges we face. 

I uphold the work of FutureChurch as a service to the wider Church.  Our supporters are faithful Catholics – still active and involved in their parishes.  Many have told us that being a part of FutureChurch has helped them to stay loyal to the Church because it gave them a voice to speak about their pain as Catholics.  We ask questions and work for change because we love the Church.

Now, one can agree or disagree with FutureChurch as to the advisability or even possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate. However, the International Theological Commission’s 2002 study clearly affirmed that this was an open question within the Catholic Church. So we cannot call a group heretical or in dissent for supporting this option.

And we cannot call a group heretical or in dissent for having held a position which, at the time, was not against Church doctrine. The fact that the group renounced that position once the Pope had spoken authoritatively indicates, to the contrary, that this group regards faithfulness to the Church as a sine qua non of its identity and work.

I hope this clarification his helpful to all concerned.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Homily for the Ogdensburg diocesan day for vocations at the Lake Placid Olympic Centre Arena.

The great American educator Parker J. Palmer writes, "Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about, quite apart from what I would like it to be about […] Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am." I like the way Dr. Palmer relates the question of vocation to the question of identity. The answer to the question “What shall I do?” must be grounded in the answer to a more important question “Who am I?"

I’ve recently been rereading a fascinating novel, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In it, we see the protagonist, Stephen Daedelus, growing from childhood into adolescence into young adulthood. His journey is similar to that of all young men and women who grapple seriously with the question of their identity in life and their role in the world. Stephen has a hard time of it, zigzagging between moral depravity and religious excess. He finally settles on the ideal of the artist, of the writer who, standing aloof from the world, comments on it with his skill in shaping language. However, if we follow Stephen’s adventures in Joyce’s next novel, Ulysses, we will see that he actually falls far short of his ideal. And Joyce implies that this is because of Stephen’s inability to truly enter into relationship with others. In a famous scene, Stephen is asked, “Don’t you love your mother?”, to which he replies, “I don’t know what your words mean.” Joyce seems to imply that Stephen’s inability to love impedes him from finding his true identity. Indeed, Joyce hints that our true identity is to be found in the relationships that make up the warp and woof of our lives.

When Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by his cousin John, Saint Luke tells us the Spirit came upon him in the form of a dove and a voice from heaven was heard proclaiming, “You are my Son whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” This was a revelatory moment for Jesus and for those who accompanied him. His deep identity was revealed in these words. Who is Jesus? He is the beloved Son of God. His identity lies is grounded in his relationship to the Father in the Spirit.

Why did Jesus then go directly into the desert for a forty day fast? Perhaps it was to meditate on this revelatory experience and to understand all its implications. Luke tells us that Satan tested Jesus’ faith in this revelation. Two of the three temptations start with the words, “If you are the Son of God…”, as if the devil were trying to foster doubt in Jesus’ mind and heart. But Jesus did not falter, did not hesitate, and rose to the occasion. He remained faithful to his relationship with the Father and his deep identify as the beloved Son.

In the next scene of Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus back in Nazareth, where he had grown up. He is invited to read and explain the Scriptures in his synagogue, and he does say by proclaiming the same text from Isaiah that we have just heard proclaimed in this arena. It seems that Jesus is using this text to explain the meaning of his experience in the Jordan to his friends and family. Perhaps he had meditated on this text during his days in the desert. It starts, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.” Clearly, this refers to his baptism when the Spirit came down upon him and the Lord’s voice proclaimed his identity as God’s own Son. But Jesus continues with Isaiah’s text, “The Lord has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, and to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.”

Did you notice the shift here? Jesus reflects with his friends and families on his own baptism not by emphasizing his identity but by drawing attention to his mission. He is sent by God to do something in the world, to change something in the hearts of the men and women of Israel. Let us not imagine that this mission is disconnected from his identity. On the contrary, it rises out of his identity, it is rooted in his identity, and it can only be accomplished by keeping his identity at the heart of everything he will say and do.

I think this is why our Church both baptizes and confirms those who want to be followers of Jesus. In baptism, our deepest identity is given to us. We become sons and daughters of God the Father, we become brothers and sisters of Jesus, and the Spirit dwells within us to help us live up to our identity day after day. I’m not sure we are conscious of the marvelousness of our baptism. In the second reading today, Paul describes God as “the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see.” And yet, in baptism, this overwhelming, distant God bends down to us, embraces us and calls us his children. Our whole lives resemble Jesus’ sojourn in the desert, as we are constantly challenged to believe in our identity and to grow in it. The world keeps on mocking us, “Are you truly a son of God, a daughter of God?” We are continually tempted to hide our identity and to take up the masks that the world would have us adopt. Here is the first, ongoing challenge in developing a true culture of vocation: to remain faithful to the identity that was given to us in our baptism, and to help our brothers and sisters grow in that faithfulness.

But we have not only been baptized, we have been confirmed. With Jesus, we have been anointed – not by the voice of God speaking from heaven, but by the oil of chrism – and we have been filled anew by the Spirit in order to be sent into the world just as Jesus was. Christ’s mission becomes our own mission as the sacrament of confirmation indelibly inscribes it within our hearts and our souls. If baptism gathers us as disciples of Christ, confirmation scatters us into the world as his missionaries. This is the second challenge in developing a true culture of vocation: to continually identify and respond to the concrete mission God is entrusting to us every day.

There are so many needs in the world, so much pain and suffering, such loneliness and alienation, so many false roads that ultimately lead to sorrow and death, both spiritual and physical. Our identity as children of God compels us to respond to these needs by following Jesus in living out his mission. But do we? In the Gospel story of Lazarus and the rich man, we hear the tragic tale of one who had an abundance of gifts to share but was blind to the needs of those who sat on his very doorstep. I can’t help but think of the rich countries of our world that hesitate to open their doors to the victims of terrorism and war even today. However, this man also represents each one of us, for we have all been blessed with a variety of gifts and we all suffer from one type of blindness or another. Jesus’ parable presents us with a household where there is no culture of vocation. And the warning is clear: those who do not take up the challenge of Christ’s mission cannot lay claim to Christ’s identity as children of God. You cannot deny your confirmation and claim the grace of baptism at the same time. Or, as Jesus said in another context: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” 

The question then becomes, “Well, what is MY specific vocation, how is God calling ME to follow Christ in his mission to the world?” The Presbyterian author and theologian Frederick Buechner writes, “Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” I understand this to mean that God is calling me to respond to the needs I most clearly recognize with the gifts within me that most call out to be developed. I can only figure this out with God’s help.

As a young man, I struggled mightily with this question as I sought to determine the direction my life should take. I remember speaking with a high school teacher who would one day become my spiritual director. I asked her, “How can I know that my choice corresponds to God’s will? I might delude myself. How can I be sure?” She answered, “God has given us a spiritual barometer called inner peace. Things might be flowing along smoothly in your life, you might be enjoying yourself and feeling that you are in the right place, but if you stop, ponder and listen to your heart and find that there is not deep peace within you, you are not doing God’s will. However, you might find life battering at you like a vicious storm, full of stresses and uncertainties. If in this situation, you enter within yourself and still find deep peace, then you will know you are doing God’s will.”

I recalled her wisdom a few years later when my career as an opera singer was starting to take shape. I was nearing the end of my Bachelor of Music and already was singing professionally, winning awards and signing contracts. I was popular and enjoying my life. I was even finding time to participate in parish life and occasionally pray. However, when I did stop to pray for a meaningful moment, I sensed something nibbling in the depths of my heart. Eventually, I recognized it for what it was: the realization that I did not possess that deep peace Sister Laurette had told me about. That’s when I decided to drop my music studies and entered seminary. I realized that, though I was passionate about music, it was not my greatest passion, and that the world’s greatest need was not another a baritone. This could not be my vocation.

It was far from clear to me that God was calling me to the priesthood, but I believed that seminary would be, for me, the place that would allow me to seek my true identity and the mission God was preparing me for. It was not quite as much fun as singing with an orchestra, and no one was paying me to preach, but it was the context in which my baptism and my confirmation were finally able to flourish.

It turns out that priesthood was indeed my vocation. However, it might not have been. That would not have been a failure. The failure would have been to have turned away from my identity and my mission, to have given in to the doubts and snares that Jesus had overcome in the desert. My prayer for all of you is that you will overcome all doubts and snares through Jesus and, with him, find your true identity and mission in this life. 

May all of us, as a Church, help each other live our baptism and confirmation, and so build a true culture of vocation, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Address to FutureChurch upon receiving the Fr. Trivison Award

I would like to thank you for the honour you have chosen to bestow upon me this evening. I understand that it is because of my initial intervention at last October’s general assembly of the Synod of Bishops. In that intervention, as you point out, I suggested that we study the possibility of ordaining women to the permanent diaconate in the Church. This is an issue that you have been promoting for some time, and to have a bishop speak about it in such a venue was an encouragement for you. I recognize in this award an expression of thanks for that encouragement. Of course, you have been further encouraged, as I was, by Pope Francis’s response to another group’s intervention on the same issue. I refer of course to the request by the International Union of Superiors General and voiced by their president, Sister Carmen Sammut, that the question be studied in the Church. Pope Francis agreed, and has now set up a commission to undertake that study. So your award should have gone to Sister Carmen or to Pope Francis himself. I guess you chose me because I’m just across the border. Be that as it may, I am honoured and I thank you for this.

I would like to make two points. The first is about the broader issues I raised in my intervention at the Synod. People have asked me why I decided to dedicate my three minutes to the question of women deacons when the Synod was about the family. In fact, my intervention was not dedicated to this issue. 
In the months preceeding the Synod, I changed my mind quite a few times before deciding which issue to address. I had whittled my choices down to three : the impact of social media on family life, the scourge of pornography on the web and its devastating consequences for healthy, holy sexuality, and the ongoing victimization of so many women within their marriages. The balanced was tipped to the latter when I read a report from the World Health Organization revealing that, still today, close to one third of all women will be subjected to violence at the hands of their spouse during their married life. This statistic is astounding and unacceptable. I felt I needed to bring this to the attention of my brother Bishops and invite them to address this pressing issue in our deliberations. This was the central topic of my intervention.

However, I felt that we could not really speak with credibility on this issue if we were not willing within our own Church structures to recognize and celebrate the inherent dignity of all women. So I suggested we seek ways to listen to the voices of women in our reflections on scripture, in our governance structures and, finally, by studying the possibility of ordaining women to the permanent diaconate. 

I believe we can do this without touching on the doctrinal issue of access to the priesthood, which in my opinion is another question. The media pounced on the last sentence of my three-minute intervention and basically ignored the rest. And I have to admit I feel some sadness because of this.

So this evening, as I accept your award, I would ask you to turn your minds and hearts with me to all those women who do not worry so much about whether they can be deacons as about whether they can avoid another argument with their husband, another fight and another beating. I echo Pope Francis’s call that we not be turned in so much on our own inner issues as a Church that we forget the more burning problems with which so many of our sisters and brothers are struggling. I would thank you for this.

The second point I’d like to make is this. A number of people have asked me in the past few days if I know who Future Church is. They have pointed to a number of positions you have taken or initiatives you have undertaken that run counter to the Church’s teaching, particularly on the issue of the access of women to the priesthood. I honestly replied that I don’t know your organization very well, and that I would not agree with everything they told me you are about. 

Nevertheless, like Pope Francis, I believe in building bridges. I believe in dialogue. I might not agree with everything you espouse, and you might not agree with everything I do, yet it is important that in the Church we never stop reaching out to each other and working together for the greater good whenever we can. We are bound by the same faith in Jesus-Christ as the Incarnate Son of God, by a common desire to see his Gospel spread to all the world, and by a shared love for the Church, his Body and Bride. So it is in that spirit of bridge-building and dialogue that I humbly accept your award, as a token of my respect for each one of you, and as a common pledge all of us will continue to speak to one another, pray with one another and walk with one another on the pilgrimage of life. Again, I thank you.