COVID-19 is changing the Church now

An Australian archbishop says the COVID-19 epidemic is changing the way the Church evangelises.

“This is not a theoretical discussion for the future but is happening in real-time”, says Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli.

Comensoli says the epidemic is forcing the Church to be more creative in the way it reaches people.

It is also reshaping the way faith is practised at home, he says.

“In this last week alone the shift between doing things in one particular way to now doing things differently is quite extraordinary,” he says.

It’s important that the Church recognises and takes advantage of the current opportunities, he adds.

Right now the Church has the opportunity “not just to move what we already did onto an online platform, but to find genuinely different ways of evangelizing, of reaching out to people and letting them know that the Lord is with them and finding ways that they themselves can be a part of the life of the Gospel and the life of the local faith community.”

Each diocese and parish will work out how to do this in their own way, he adds.

In Melbourne, for example, the solution has been to get “seriously geared up around digital and online opportunities.”

With schools closed, the Melbourne archdiocese is looking for ways to help children and adolescents continue their education and faith journey online with the help of their families.

“We’ve been saying for decades and decades that faith is at home and in the parish, and now it’s literally at home,” Comensoli says.

Comensoli says although he is not frightened of COVID-19 on a personal level, “there are many, many people who are, and my role and responsibility is to be able to accompany and carry those who are fearful, who are overwhelmed.”

He also thinks the pandemic will see a “shift in people’s priorities.”

“People will start to give consideration to … ‘What is important in my life? What is important in our family life?’

“I think faith opens up as a possibility there,” he says.

His job as archbishop “is to find ways of enabling that to happen.”

For Catholics, the way faith is lived at home “will become substantive” in a way that it was not before, Comensoli predicts.


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