Bishops urged to have open-door policy

At the 94th Plenary Session of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB), Archbishop Joseph Marino addressed the Arch/bishops at the opening session.

Jul 17, 2014

By Vincent D’ Silva
At the 94th Plenary Session of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB), Archbishop Joseph Marino addressed the Arch/bishops at the opening session.

He said that he was delighted to acknowledge the presence of Fr Julian Leow Beng Kim whom Pope Francis appointed as Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur on July 3.

He called on the CBCMSB to welcome him and embrace him as a true brother as he carries out his ministry in the enormous vineyard of the Lord now entrusted to him by the Pope.

Archbishop Marino said he was aware of the important ministry the Arch/bishops have been given, “a ministry with all of is challenges and, at times, disappointments.”

He told the Bishops present that as pastors of particular churches, “You are always the leader, the point of reference, the paternal guide, the spiritual guru, given the mission of fulfilling these tasks in relationship with a wide variety of people, priests, religious, laity, government officials and even those of other faiths.”

He said in the midst of this already demanding mission, there is now, a new challenge, one that has been given to us by our Holy Father Pope Francis.

“We are all aware of the process that he has undertaken himself, to reform the Curia and many structures in the Vatican,” he said.

Archbishop Marino went on to say that in order to renew and reform ourselves at the local level, we need first to examine ourselves. He said the call to reform is directly stated in the clearest of terms in number 25 of the document Evangelii Gaudium where the Pope states that we “cannot leave things as they presently are,” adding that the Church needs reform and change.

The Nuncio explained that the reform that the Pope is speaking about is not just changing structures or establishing new structures or reforming or changing for the sake of reform or change. Rather he said, the Pope calls for a deep and overall reform, with the goal of assisting the Church to fulfill her essential mission, that of evangelization, marked by enthusiasm and vitality, adopting “a definite style of evangelization in every activity which we undertake.”

Archbishop Marino went on to say that the Holy Father is insistent that reform is not something to reflect upon, but rather it is something to act upon.

Quoting the Pope, he said, “I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.”

He said that in this “bold and creative” rethinking of who we are as Church and how we carry out our ministry of evangelization, there are three ideas that come from the document (Evangelii Gaudium) that hopefully will assist us in our evaluation of ourselves, and encourage us to renew our missionary action and impulse: i) a Church that proclaims with joy, ii) a Church that bestows mercy without end and iii) a Church that goes forth with eagerness.

Archbishop Marino told the Arch/bishops that Pope Francis wants the Church to live the experience of its life with Christ with a spirit of joy and “to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy.”

He stressed that Pope Francis invites all Christians everywhere “to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.”

He said Pope Francis tells us that we proclaim the message of joy by being with the people, among the people, adding that, “at times we need to get on our knees and wash the feet of our brothers and sisters in need.”

He urged the Arch/bishops to be supportive of people, especially the weak, not only materially but also spiritually.

He emphasized that “we must be bold enough to discover new signs and new symbols, new flesh to embody and communicate the word and different forms of beauty which are valued in different cultural settings.”

The Nuncio also stated that the Holy Father wants to have the doors of our churches open — meaning that the doors of the sacraments cannot be closed — especially for Baptism and the Eucharist.

He said to have an open door policy means to go to everyone without exception, especially the poor, “for there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor.”

According to Archbishop Marino, the Holy Father makes it clear that our lack of pastoral care for the poor is a reason why many people are leaving the Church.

He states that the reasons for this breakdown include: a lack of opportunity for dialogue in families, the influence of the communications media, relativistic subjectivism, unbridled consumerism which feeds the market, lack of pastoral care for the poor, the failure of our institutions to be welcoming and our difficulty in restoring a mystical adherence to the faith in a pluralistic religious landscape.

To reach the poor and to give special pastoral care to them, he said, the Holy Father calls us to overcome an interior life that is totally “caught up in its own interests and concerns” where “there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.”

On the other hand, he stated that we must become spirit-filled evangelizers. “If we are filled with the Spirit, we become evangelizers who pray and work.”

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