BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge said Pope Francis told the Synod on the Family that “the Church is not a museum” as the bishops began three weeks of discussion in Rome.
Archbishop Coleridge has been writing a Synod blog, providing insights into a gathering that has attracted media attention across the globe.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the opening day of the Synod and he addressed all bishops the following morning.
“His talk was short and to the point: the Church is not a museum, the Synod is not a parliament where we are trying to forge some consensus or compromise,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote.
“Francis took us way beyond politics into the stranger and less predictable world of the Holy Spirit.
“He warned that, even with the best of intentions, we can end up separating people from God when our task is to bring them closer to the God who is always close to them.
“The supreme law, he said, is the salvation of souls; and he repeated something he said at Mass yesterday, ‘The sabbath was made for human beings, not human beings for the sabbath’.”
Archbishop Coleridge and Darwin Bishop Eugene Hurley are Australia’s representatives at the Synod, which was called early last year by Pope Francis to discuss the family in the modern world.
Each bishop can speak for three minutes, providing insights drawn from their research and from feedback from their diocese.
Archbishop Coleridge has used his blog posts to keep followers posted with his thoughts in a Synod he has described as a “three-week marathon”.
“Marriage is seen now not so much as a state but as a process. It’s no longer experienced as a place where spouses live but as an essentially relational pattern of movement,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote.
“In static terms, marriage is a space which you either do or do not inhabit; but in more dynamic terms it’s a journey towards and beyond a wedding.
“The vocation of marriage is seen today as growing into the fullness of love rather than dwelling in it from the day you meet and then marry. Yet our theology and law of marriage tend to inhabit an older, more static world, which is why in this area there’s a growing gap between the Church and a culture which finds our notions of instant sacramentality and indissolubility perplexing.”
The Archbishop is staying with Bishop Hurley at Maria Bambina.
He said Rome and the Church had comparisons.
“Rome is a city that juggles fixity and flux, changelessness and change, being and becoming,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote.
“It’s a place that holds together past and present, with an unusual capacity to adapt while keeping a core intact. The historic monuments are everywhere, but the city is vibrant and contemporary.
“That’s part of what it means to call Rome ‘eternal’. What’s true of this city is true of the Church, especially as we look to #Synod2015.”
Archbishop Coleridge’s blog can be found at http://brisbanecatholic.org.au/archbishop/articles-releases/. Each post is also on the Archbishop’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopMarkColeridge
– By Michael Crutcher