A divided church will never lead people

divided church will never lead

The Pope’s apostolic nuncio to the United States addressed the US bishops on Tuesday, where he stressed, “a divided church will never lead people to where it should be.”

In a 30 minute address during the two-day US bishops’ general assembly, Archbishop Christophe Pierre spoke about synodality, abortion, racism and the Eucharist. He also emphasised the importance of listening to people in the church and being open to the work of the Holy Spirit.

For the bishops, he said, the synodality process should start at home by listening to each other. “The church needs this attentive listening now more than ever if she is to overcome the polarisation facing this country,” he said.

“I believe that synodality is an answer to the challenges of our time and to the confrontation, which is threatening to divide this country, and which also has its echoes in the church,” Archbishop Pierre said.

On abortion, Pierre said that the church “should be unapologetically pro-life”. He stressed the need to look at causes and factors that lead women to seek abortions and then to reach out in practical ways to mothers in need.

Regarding the Eucharist, Pierre said people can have theological ideas about the Eucharist, which are important. But “none of these ideas compare with the reality of the eucharistic mystery, which needs to be discovered and rediscovered through the practical experience of the church, living in communion, particularly in this time of pandemic.”

He also noted that there is “the temptation to treat the Eucharist as something to be offered to the privileged few rather than to seek to walk with those whose theology or discipleship is falling short. And assisting them to understand and appreciate the gift of the Eucharist, and helping them to overcome their difficulties.”

During the general assembly, the US bishops voted to adopt a document about Holy Communion and who should receive the sacrament.

The vote was 222 to 8, with three abstentions.

It is an issue that was in part inspired by President Biden’s election. Mr Biden, a devout Catholic, supports the right of women to have an abortion, which the Catholic Church opposes.

Rather than imposing a mandatory national policy, the document offers guidelines, so decisions about who may receive Communion will be left up to individual bishops and archbishops. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, has clarified that Mr Biden is welcome to receive Communion at churches in the archdiocese.

Archbishop Pierre in his conclusion noted, “We will emerge from the present crises together,” he said, “as the church Christ has called us to be.”


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