Restore My Church

“I was at the Tomb of St Francis of Assisi, agonising on how to present this keynote address, when the words came: RESTORE MY CHURCH,” said Bishop Bernard Paul to the 618 delegates of the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPC) IV on October 2.

Oct 21, 2016

Archbishop Julian Leow, Bishop Bernard Paul and Bishop Sebastian Francis with their candles aloft, sending the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPC) IV delegates off as missionary disciples to restore the Church. Archbishop John Ha of Kuching and Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia are in the background.

PLENTONG, Johor Bahru: “I was at the Tomb of St Francis of Assisi, agonising on how to present this keynote address, when the words came: RESTORE MY CHURCH,” said Bishop Bernard Paul to the 618 delegates of the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPC) IV on October 2.

The famous 4 Ls (Least, Little, Lost and Last) of Archbishop Julian Leow has become so often referred to as ‘others.’ But we have forgotten that we are a 4L Church ourselves. We are lost. We are the least. We are little .... the little ones. We are the Last. The Roman Church that we belong to is a 4L Church or “Roman cacats.”

We have lost our influence; we have the least impact; we are little in maturity and the last in making a difference (m.a.d.) and engagement. People wonder if we reflect the Church established by Jesus. Many a time Jesus is not there. We only want to think that He is there. We think that He approves of our doings. St Francis saw it. Pope Francis intuited this state of the Church. Is this the Holy Spirit’s call for us too? To restore Christ’s Church?

The document Ad Gentes began all this .... to enlarge and spread out the tent to include all, a reminder to the Malaysian Church to re-discover, re-invent and rebuild herself. Pope Francis, through the Evangelic Gaudium, the Laudato Si and the Amoris Laetitia reminds us plainly of our origin, our identity and our Mission. It is not an option but the very nature of being the baptised. At every stage of biblical history, God provided images to His people so they would know themselves and what they have become. Today, Pope Francis articulates an image, an image of the CHURCH as a FIELD HOSPITAL image that challenges all of us to depart from perfectionist and superiority attitudes. We are made to admit:

a) That we are a wounded Church; that we are in the battlefield, vulnerable to evils and in no way superior to the evils. But a Church that chooses to be near the wounded, and courageous enough to acknowledge her wounds.

b) That we are a battling Church, present in the streets, bruised ...hurting and dirty; that takes risks; that goes beyond small things and small minded rules; that proclaims “Jesus Has Saved Us”, not only, Jesus saves.

If we opt to be this ‘new Church’, we need to consider the demands pointed out by William T Cavanaugh, in his book Field Hospital — Church’s Engagement with A Wounded World.

This ‘new Church’ must be:

a) mobile, event-like, not a rigid institution
b) going out to respond to emergencies, not defending prerogatives
c) visible, creating spaces for healing, not withdrawn nor resigned from the world
d) be a change agent by living our faith, at the grassroot level, not to be a player in the game of the powerful nor influence the powerful to change the world.

The way to restore the Church is to heal the Church

“Heal the broken Church. For I sense many hurts, pain, discouragement and disappointments,” said Bishop Bernard Paul to the PMPC IV delegates on October 5, 2016.

The bishop suggested that a new Church could only start “when we heal ourselves”.

“Dear leaders, heal the brokenness with forgiveness, which is charity today,” he urged the 618 delegates at the closing Mass on Wednesday, October 5.

Following the example of Pope Francis, Bishop Bernard Paul said, “As a bishop, as clergy, I beg for forgiveness from you. I am sorry for being a disappointment. By being little ‘lords’, for building our own kingdoms and not His kingdom.

“We are sorry for passing on our own flaws and prejudices, for hiding behind authoritarianism and not real authority and transparency,” he added.

Bishop Bernard used St Paul as his model for the Church. “See the partnerships, the collaboration and ecclesial conversion that are needed. This is the sense of Church that St Paul had. We need to learn from him. He did three things:

a) Submit his mission to be authenticated
b) Added to the mission of the Church
c) Recognised and endorsed the mission to the poor

“So today, the Church in Malaysia will continue to be an evangelising Church that is creative, inclusive and a bridge builder with the vision and mission of the local Church,” he emphasised.

Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Malaysian Church.

At a glance:

The total number of delegates: 618

Comprising of Arch/Bishops: 8
Clergy: 119;
Religious: 46;
Seminarians: 32;
Laity: 395;
Guests: 9;
Others: 9.

Breakdown of male and female (laity):

Male: 207;
Female: 188;
ratio:52.4 per cent
Breakdown by ages:
30 years and below - 81;
70 years and above - 38;
The average age - 48

Total Comments:0