FR Chris Hanlon (Question Box, CL 12/11/00) has left his wisest reply to last. The headline of his column expressed it with no fuss: “Importance of asking why”.
Brisbane archdiocese is currently working towards a local synod for 2003. What needs to be on the agenda in 2003? Should the synod be prepared to consider foundation issues or should the synod examine only aspects of practical Church practice? How does loyalty to the Bishop of Rome require a limitation on the scope of our enquiry?
Is success dependent on an increase in catechists and evangelisers or should the synod be prepared to investigate the need to re-establish the nature of our religious understanding and beliefs?
Should it consider threshold issues such as whether the modern Western
mind is asking for a new explanation of what living in the era between the resurrection/ascension and the second coming means?
The “good old days” seemed to represent a “golden era” for religion. Improvements in education and health plus the computer and electronic age have dramatically increased the lay person’s self-confidence and their confidence in the material world.
The Church has stopped being an oasis from the corrupt world and has become more relevant in a world focused on environmentally-friendly policies.
Is the Church, like many traditional community-based groups, experiencing a lack of membership interest because in an age of mass consumption we often feel individually alienated.
Certainly the individual is defiantly seeking recognition on his or her own terms. Community must be compatible with the preservation and sovereignty of individuality.
Modern church architecture reflects a dominant spirit of “communal gathering” and “communal belonging”.
The modern Christian community does not seem to emphasise private prayer as much as existed in past times.
The gospels portray Jesus at his best when he confounded the crowds with questions about core values. The synod is a test of whether we current Christians are as enquiring in seeking wisdom.
Fr Hanlon enjoins us to be enquirers so that we may always have a “deep love of the Church and of Jesus Christ who is its head”. Jeremiah anticipated no less.
VINCENT HODGE Paddington, Qld