When did you last tell someone that Jesus is the person who is in charge of your life?

Homily at St John Lloyd, for the First Sunday of Lent. Year C

When did you last tell someone that Jesus is the person who is in charge of your life?

The Chinese Martyr, St Anna WangAnna Wang was born in China, to Christian parents, in 1886; her mother died when she was only five years old. At the age of 14, Anna was among a group of Christians captured by a radical group known as the Boxers. The Boxers told their captives: “The government has banned the practice of western religions. If you renounce your religion you’ll be set free. If you refuse, we will kill you.”

Anna’s stepmother decided to renounce her religion, and urged Anna to do the same. But Anna refused, and cried out: “I believe in God. I am a Christian, I do not want to renounce God. Jesus save me!” Anna, with a number of other Christian prisoners, prayed through the night. In the morning, the Boxers took the Christians who refused to deny their faith to the execution field.

There, a soldier said to Anna, “Give up your faith and you will live.” But she was silent, and when he insisted, she said, “Do not touch me; I am a Christian. I prefer to die rather than give up my faith.” After repeated blows, she whispered the name of “Jesus” three times, lowering her head. Saint Anna Wang – for that is how the Church now knows her – was beheaded for Christ on July 23rd, 1900.

As followers of Jesus, we are invited to do two things: believe in our hearts, and profess with our lips.

In Bible-language, the heart is the place of KNOWING. Faith is a special kind of knowing, a knowing which God writes in our hearts. It’s not the kind of knowing which we can back up with a scientific experiment: Jesus refused to provide a proof of his powers to satisfy the Tempter!

When we hear amazing stories of faith – St Anna Wang declaring her belief in God in the face of executioners, or St John Lloyd labouring as a priest when it was forbidden to do so in Wales – we might wonder how we would react if the ultimate test came our way.

Perhaps you’ve never really been confident in your heart that God is real. If so, then this Lent is an invitation to ask God to be real for you. Not to put God to the test by demanding a miracle on YOUR terms – but asking God to choose His way to connect with you and to make His loving presence clear.

Scripture also invites us to confess what we believe with our lips. The Old Testament reading today was a kind of Jewish Creed, to be recited when making an offering in the Temple. Imagine that you had been picked at today’s Mass to bring forward the bread and wine, and on reaching the step of the altar, I paused the hymn to ask you why you wanted to offer these gifts to God today… what answer would you give?

Every Mass is our thanksgiving to God for the dying and rising of Jesus. We should be people who feel no embarrassment about mentioning the name of Jesus, disciples well able to give a short summary of what we believe about Him. But perhaps you’ve never been invited to have a conversation about what you believe, or why. In fact, we hardly ever hear it spoken about at all, apart from sermons in church and R.E. lessons in school – and then we wonder why our children drift away from faith!

Actually, this stuff matters a lot! What does today’s reading say? Roughly this: “If your lips tell other people that Jesus is real and he is in charge of your life, then you are in the right relationship with God.” But perhaps you’ve never said anything like that to anyone…

If you’ve never said it because you’re not comfortable speaking about what you believe, this Lent is a challenge to try and put your faith into words. Choose a safe pair of ears – your husband or wife, a parent, a friend from this congregation – and break the taboo! Speak about faith! Don’t worry about it coming out in an embarrassed or awkward way. The first time will be the hardest.

There again, perhaps you can’t say that Jesus is your Lord because you’ve never made a conscious decision that Jesus is going to be in charge of your life. Perhaps you’re afraid of what he might ask you to do, or have some serious doubt about whether God is really real. It’s OK to not be sure. We have to know where we’re starting from before we can make the journey called Faith. Remember that Lent leads to the moment at Easter when we renew our commitment to God – this year, let’s make that deeply meaningful.

More people than you think struggle with this. You won’t be the only person here thinking “I can’t talk about my sense of relationship with God” or “I’ve never deliberately decided that Jesus is going to be Lord of all the decisions in my life.” Deacon Rigo and myself will both be very happy to have a conversation with you about your inner struggles with God, if you would find that helpful; you have only to ask.

But remember St Anna Wang. She had the gift of knowing that her faithfulness to God was most important, and she was not afraid to say so. She faced martyrdom; we only face a little embrassment and awkwardness. But it’s not a magic formula – we can’t just say “Jesus is Lord”, we must also know it in our heart. That’s a gift which God will give us at the right time – if we ask for it.

Today I leave you with some questions to ponder during the week ahead, and you will also find them in the bulletin:

How would you answer a friend who says: “Who is Jesus Christ for you?”

What makes it so difficult to speak to others about your religious beliefs?

How do you give thanks for the gifts God has given you?

When did you last tell someone that Jesus is the person who is in charge of your life?

Saint Anna Wang – pray for us!

Called to be Trustworthy

Homily at St John Lloyd, for Ash Wednesday 2013

When was the last time you were let down by a person you trusted?

When we’ve been let down, it hurts.

When trust is breached, we notice.

For Ash Wednesday, in this Year of Faith, let us ask ourselves a challenging question: are we trustworthy people?  Do we keep faith with others? Can others have faith in us?

We are ambassadors for Christ; God’s goodness lives in us. Part of God’s goodness is that we can always place our trust in Him; therefore, as people called to make God’s love present in this world, we also should be trustworthy. We are not to draw attention to the fact that we are praying, fasting, or giving alms – but as Christians we most certainly should be seen to be trustworthy people, making God’s love present in human society.

So let us ask ourselves: What kind of promises have I made to others? How well have I kept them? Have I betrayed confidences? Have I failed to do what I said I would?

Sometimes, of course, we find that we are no longer able to keep a promise we have made. This week we are still taking in the remarkable news that Pope Benedict XVI believes he can no longer fulfil the duties which the successor of Peter must deal with in the 21st century – and His Holiness has decided that the honourable thing in this circumstance is to step aside because he can no longer faithfully carry out all that is required of him.

Pope Benedict, of course, is not stepping aside from the committment he has made to serve as a priest and bishop. He remains a passionate servant of the church, and feels he can serve the church best by stepping aside from its most demanding role. The way we serve may change, but our committment to serve is for a lifetime.

As members of Christ’s Church, there are three special life-long promises that many of us here, today, may have made.

If you are married, you will have made a solemn vow to your spouse, to God, and to the whole Christian community, that you will love your husband or wife – that you will put their needs and well-being ahead of your own, in all circumstances. This requires a renewed decision each day to love your partner, and to communicate with them. Sometimes this benefits from a more focussed time together – whether that’s a Valentine’s supper, monthly sofa time for a family-needs discussion, or going on a retreat designed at helping couples deepen their communication with each other. So, if you are married, have you faithfully kept your commitment to love your spouse?

If you have accepted the challenge of becoming a godparent to a baby being baptised or sponsored a Catholic being confirmed, you have made a promise to that person,  to God, and to the whole Christian community, that you will help them to grow up as a member of God’s family. When did you last make contact with that person? Are you teaching them how to pray? If others in their life are critical of the Catholic faith, how have you encouraged them to stay faithful?

If you are an adult Catholic, you will have renewed each year at Easter, the committment made at your baptism that you will be a member of Christ’s Church – a promise made to God, and to the whole Christian community. So, I now ask you – and I include myself in the challenge – can our friends trust us to be Catholic? Can they trust us to be Christ to them in their time of need? Can they trust us to be people who pray for their needs? And on this day of fasting and abstinence, let us not forget that we are wielding spiritual weapons which can be used for the good of others. Who are we offering our fasting for today? A friend in trouble? A family member whose faith is weak? Our own need to growth in holiness?

It is God who invites us to wholehearted repentance. God knows how weak we are. We know that Christ came to forgive sinners: even from the Cross, he forgave those who were crucifying him, and invited the Good Thief to join him in heaven. The Good News – the Gospel – is that God is always willing to offer us another chance; today even the Old Testament readings speak loudly of God’s mercy.

The tough news is that on our part, we must be willing to change our ways in order to become more trustworthy. It may be that we have to keep promises we know we have been neglecting; we may also have to admit that we have limited capacity and withdraw promises which we know we cannot keep. This is hard – but honest!

To repent is not only to be sorry, but to choose to change. This is the challenge which we will each hear as we receive the ashes with the words: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

Legitimate Diversity: Carrying on and stepping aside.

In the Radical Catholic Centre Ground, there is room to handle leadership in more than one way.

There is room for a leader to give the courageous witness of offering every last breath to the ministry entrusted to him. Blessed John Paul II courageously did this and is loved for it.

There is room for a leader to realise that if he chooses to give such a witness, the institution he loves may suffer from a lack of those qualities which only a robustly healthy person can bring to the task. Pope Benedict XVI has decided that this is his current situation, and has chosen to resign. I believe that Benedict XVI will be loved for this courageous act of leadership, too.

In the Radical Catholic Centre Ground, it is possible to welcome Pope Benedict’s decision without implying any desire that he should have set aside his leadership for any reason other than failing capacity. In this sense, I welcome his decision.

May God bless our Pope and grant guidance to those charged with discerning his successor.

Before We Go Fishing: An Examination of Faith

No sermon this week (because the Archbishop sent us a Pastoral Letter) but a short reflection which I placed in the parish bulletin:

In this week’s Gospel, the disciples are challenged to become “Fishers of Men”. They are surprised when Jesus tells them to pay out their nets, because their experience tells them they aren’t going to catch any fish… but Jesus knows better! The disciples haul in more fish than they can handle, and are given their new assignment, to catch souls for God.

It’s easy for us to become discouraged. The values of the society we live in drift further and further from our Christian values in which every human, however vulnerable, is considered precious, and in which sexual relationships are meant to be lived out exclusively in the life-long commitment of husband and wife. God becomes pushed to the margins of human consciousness. We begin to doubt that new members will want to join our church, and we note our failures to persuade our children and grandchildren to remain faithful Catholics.

In the midst of our discouragement, the Lord invites us to listen attentively for his direction. When he calls us to do so, we must pay out our nets for a catch. Lent begins on Wednesday, and during this Year of Faith, let us repent of our despair; let us believe that Our Lord is indeed inviting us to catch men, women and children to be new inhabitants of his nets.

If our new members are to believe in our church, they must see us living out our demanding values. If every vulnerable human is precious, then we must be prepared to give of our taxes and our time to support those lives. If marriage is going to survive for a lifetime, then husband and wife must be willing to seek to understand each other’s needs and keep working on mutual communication skills throughout their lives. If we are serious about loving God with all our heart, mind, and strength, then we must give time to God, through prayer and meditation, in each day of our personal and family life.

Let this coming Lent be for us, then, an examination of conscience about Faith. Have we believed in our Faith? Have we kept the Faith? Have we lived out our Faith? These questions will be examined Sunday by Sunday as we journey towards our renewal of faith, our renewal of baptismal commitment, at Easter.

Let’s be Catholic: An Invitation to the Radical Centre

My Motivation…

When I look at the Catholic Church within which I live and move, what I see worries me.

I see that many in the current senior generation of working priests place great emphasis on love of neighbour and on building up community, but speak softly of the Great Commandment to love God first and foremost – sometimes failing to acknowledge that love of God demands something more than mere love of neighbour, friend and enemy.

I see that many in the younger generation of priests and of convert lay Catholics have, understandably, reacted by fleeing to the opposite end of the spectrum, embracing the form of liturgy current before Vatican II, and – in many, though by no means all cases – also embracing attitudes inconsistent with the current teaching of the Church concerning religious freedom, ecumenism and fraternal relations among Catholics generally.

The Breadth of Catholicism

The genius of the Catholic Faith is that it has great breadth, yet that breadth has limits. Sometimes doctrine is defined in a way which sets out a belief in a very precise way. But more often the Catholic faith says that you can believe or act according to one of several different shades of meaning.

For instance, as a Catholic, you can be a pacifist, or a serving member of the Armed Forces of a democratic state. But you cannot insist that armed resistance is forbidden to all Catholics under all circumstances; neither may you morally take part in an unjust war.

As a member of a religious order, you may be called to a ministry of the head (for instance, the depth of study of the Dominicans), or a ministry of the hands (consider the work of Franciscans among the poor), or the ministry of the heart (the work of spiritual direction, often guided by the deep mysticism of the Carmelites). All of these are organs of the body of Christ; none is the whole body.

The documents of Vatican II set out a wonderful vision of what the Church could and should be. But that vision has not yet been lived in its fullness, so it cannot be realised by imitating the saints or role models of the past. It must be brought into being by courageous Catholics treading a new path from the present to the future.

In this post, I am going to attempt to present a vision of the Catholic Faith according to the teaching of Vatican II. It is a vision not yet lived out in its fullness. It is a vision which can never be exemplified by any one role-model, but only ever by a community containing legitimate plurality, within the limits defined by the Church’s teaching.

What I have written above is merely my own motivation for this project. What appears below is…

The Charter of The Radical Catholic Centre

Revelation and Authority

Our faith is based on God’s revelation. This is found most clearly in the Bible. Modern scholarship legitimately asks what the human authors of scripture were trying to say to the readers and listeners of their own age. Sometimes scholarship rules out traditional and cherished ways of reading certain Bible stories according to its analytical rules. But we do not stop with our analysis of the human author. We believe that the Holy Spirit is behind every word of Holy Scripture, causing it to be written in just the way God intended that it should be. Our cherished readings may now be part of the spiritual, rather than literal, interpretation of the text. We trust the Bible – especially the fullness of revelation found in the New Testament – to teach us authoritatively about spiritual realities and the salvation of human beings, while allowing it to reflect the limited understanding of its own age on questions of history, geography and science. Apart from those relatively few passages for which the Popes, or those authorised by them, have set out a particular nuance of interpretation, we remain free to interpret the Bible within broad limits.

God also speaks through Tradition – practices dating back to the time of Christ and the Apostles – through the Book of Nature, and through the guiding hand of the Magisterium. Here also the Popes claim the ability to speak authoritatively – sometimes even infallibly – on matters of doctrine and morals, but not on history or science. Administrative decisions of the Magisterium are never beyond question. Doctrinal and moral declarations must be analysed and treated according to the implicit or explicit level of obedience which they require. As faithful Catholics we may petition the Magisterium privately to reconsider the expression of any teaching which is not infallible, while teaching and acting publicly on the presumption that the Magisterium is correct and our personal viewpoint will turn out to be flawed.

Where pious Catholics draw attention to private revelations, we are free to heed, or not, any claimed apparition, so long as it has not been ruled “not credible” by the Church; but we always treat the directions of visionaries as exhortations to works of piety over and above the necessities of the Catholic faith taught by the Magisterium. We strongly resist those who seek to impose a private revelation on the community at large, recognising that such revelations are invitations for those who choose to accept them.

The Blessed Trinity

We accept the great truths taught in the ancient Creeds, that God exists as one Nature present in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We confess that the Son took flesh in the womb of Blessed Mary, lived a life on earth subject to all the limitations of frail humanity, was crucified and died a criminal’s death. We acknowledge diverse viewpoints, present even in the Gospels, about the extent to which Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, had access to divine knowledge during his years of earthly ministry. We confess that Jesus appeared, risen and glorified, to the Apostles and many witnesses before ascending into heaven; on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit filled the Apostles with a new zeal, and the same Spirit continues to bestow gifts upon the Church today.

We acknowledge the Father as Creator, the Son as the one through whom all things were made, and the creative presence of the Holy Spirit as “Lord and Giver of Life”. We allow science its rightful autonomy to enquire about how the world and the cosmos came into being; we can allow more or less problematic readings of Scripture as long as we acknowledge inconsistencies with science as having the dignified status of “issues requiring future resolution”.

The Virgin Mary

We acknowledge that the Holy Mother of God was conceived without Original Sin, remained a virgin throughout her earthly life, and when that life ended, whether or not she was spared the experience of bodily death, she was assumed body and soul into heaven. There she has the power to intercede for all humanity. Unless the Church should choose to define it, we are free to believe that she is in fact mediatrix of all graces, or only of much grace. We acknowledge the excellence of the spiritual path of total entrustment to Jesus through Mary,without requiring that all Catholics should walk this path.

The Eternal Destiny of the Human Person

We acknowledge that humans are made in God’s image and that those who attain moral maturity will be judged by God according to their actions. A moral action is only virtuous if both the act itself and the motive are morally good, though we allow that a foreseen, undesirable consequence does not invalidate the goodness of an act. Different texts in Scripture present morality, or faith in Jesus Christ, as criteria which will determine a person’s fate when judged by God.

We believe that some souls will go to Heaven even though they never professed Christ during their lifetime: those who followed the conscience the unknown God had planted in them, and – we hope can but cannot definitively affirm – the souls of unbaptised infants. But we also recognise that Jesus spoke of the very real possibility of those hearing and rejecting his message entering eternal damnation. We know that God’s fundamental desire is that all souls should be saved, yet God has entrusted us with the duty of spreading the Gospel. Faith only takes root where God Himself has granted the grace of believing, yet the work of proclaiming the message is ours. We might hope that all souls will be saved, but recognise that this is not clearly guaranteed by God’s Word, while the duty to proclaim the Gospel is unambiguous.

When a person dies, our working assumption is that the person is in God’s hands, on the way to Heaven, but in need of our prayers to ease the passage through Purgatory. Only when the church canonises a Servant of God can we freely declare that the soul has reached Heaven; and it is not the church’s practice to proclaim that notorious souls are possibly in Hell, even though such persons might be denied a church funeral.

We accept that in the fullness of time, this earthly life as we know it will pass away, and Purgatory will also come to an end; the souls of all who have lived will be raised into everlasting bodies, and enter the new life which awaits us – together with, or cut off from, the presence of God.

Religious Freedom, Ecumenism and Dialogue

We are under a general obligation to make Christ known. We are to evangelise people of no religion and of any non-Christian religion. But we do so with respect for the right of other people to reconsider their religious beliefs without undue pressure or harassment; and we acknowledge that in certain circumstances, we may set aside the motive of converting others for the sake of creating a forum where we and members of other faiths can listen to each other’s beliefs with mutual respect, to foster mutual understanding.

We are under a solemn duty to work with other Christians for the sake of the Gospel. We do not deny that in the Catholic faith is the fullness of the means of grace; we rejoice if another Christian enters the full communion of the Catholic faith. But we also recognize that what we hold in common with every baptized Christian is greater than that which divides us, and that Catholics must spearhead ecumenical co-operation whenever other Christians are not already taking an initiative.

We stand firmly on our belief that the Catholic faith is true, and that part of that truth can only be known through a gift of revelation from God. We support religious freedom not because we believe that other religious viewpoints are of equal validity – far from it – but because we acknowledge that all human beings have a right to be wrong and to come to faith at their own pace. We believe that democratic societies must allow Catholics and other religious believers enough space to live out their beliefs in all ways which do not intrinsically compromise the freedom of other citizens, and we consider it praiseworthy when states require religious beliefs to be accommodated within work situations where believers would otherwise be forced to compromise or quit.

Human Dignity and Sexuality

The Human Person has a fundamental dignity which attracts certain rights. A human life should always be conceived within the loving embrace of a married couple, without technology interfering in the moment of conception. The unborn child may not be wilfully harmed. The disabled person must be supported by society, through both personal and governmental initiatives. The quality of life of the lonely must be supported by Christians who freely give of their time to love the unloved. The one who is terminally ill must be granted the dignity of food and water, and may be offered analgesia, whatever its foreseeable side-effects, but not wilfully terminated. The organs of one who has died may not be taken for transplant except by express wish of the donor given during their lifetime.

The Church’s sexual teaching is challenging but clear: the only appropriate context for seeking sexual arousal and consummating intercourse is between a man and a woman who have vowed to be with each other in a lifelong and exclusive relationship, in which childbearing will not be deliberately prevented by the couple’s actions. Within marriage, each spouse must be selfless in their concern for loving their partner rather than seeking self-gratification. A couple who might enter such a marriage may, while dating, express physical and emotional affection in ways intended to communicate exclusive intimacy rather than sexual arousal. All other human relationships must refrain from these levels of expression – this is called chastity. Some Catholics will be called to make a deliberate and public declaration that they will never seek marriage, devoting their energies instead to the worship and work of God: celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Human Society and the Global Environment

The fundamental commandment for Christians in society is to love your neighbour and forgive your enemy. The neighbour is first and foremost the one your daily duties bring you into contact with, but in an unbalanced global economy, we must also have a special concern for the poorest of the poor. Further, a willingness to forgive others is a basic Christian orientation, one which the Lord’s Prayer makes a condition of our own forgiveness being received from God. There is also a special duty on members of a local Christian community to care for one another’s spiritual, emotional and practical needs which makes real the spiritual truth that we are members of one family under God.

The Church endorses neither state-controlled communism nor unbridled capitalism. The Catholic “Third Way” is one where those who possess wealth freely choose to give generously of what they have, for the sake of those who have not. To some extent this may be administered through taxation, in which case the Catholic has a civic duty to pay tax; but more must be given, according to one’s means, to support the Church and the poor.

The dignity of the human person absolutely rules out any legitimate use of weapons of mass destruction or deliberate genocide. The Church has principles which sometimes allow that war might be conducted in the name of justice, but respects also the conscience of those who would choose the path of non-violence even in extreme circumstances. Capital punishment is theoretically permissible, but not to be carried out in practice in today’s global society when humane alternatives always exist.

Humanity has been entrusted with the role of stewardship of the planet on which we live. As Catholics, we are not commanded explicitly to preserve biodiversity or to avoid genetic engineering of non-human species; but the duty to love our neighbour requires us to use our best judgment about ecological and economical consequences for the human race and especially the poorest of the poor. Such considerations should also affect our daily decisions as consumers.

Worship, Liturgy and Charisms

We believe that Baptism makes Christians children of God in a way which is not true of other human beings. Only baptised Christians have the right to stand before God in prayer, addressing Him as Father. As baptised Christians we are profoundly united to Christ, who prays constantly at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We acknowledge that there is a common pattern of growth in the spiritual life, from awareness of sin, to knowledge of God, ultimately reaching a lived experience of union with God, though not all souls complete the journey in a human lifetime; this journey is punctuated by dark nights – episodes of the apparent absence of God. We rejoice in the rich heritage of different kinds of prayer in the Catholic tradition, though no prayer other than Sunday Mass is mandatory for any member of the Church.

We believe that as Catholics we are called to worship God by taking part in the formal liturgy of the church and in personal prayer. We acknowledge that ordained clergy are icons of Christ among us and are set apart to preside at worship; and because of the God-given symbol of Christ as bridegroom of the Church, the sacramental sign requires that the ordained minister be male. We accept the official position that the Catholic Church has no authority (because it is not entrusted to the Church by God) to ordain women. On the other hand we acknowledge that rules about whether or not married persons may serve as clergy have changed over time, and there is room for legitimate debate about the circumstances under which married men might be admitted to priesthood.

We acknowledge the presence of seven sacraments and acknowledge the duty of Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days whenever they are able to do so. We recognise a legitimate diversity of liturgical rites: contemporary, extraordinary form, Anglican Usage and Eastern Rite; we do not proclaim that any of these is intrinsically more excellent than any other, though personal taste or past experience may draw worshippers in one direction or another. We acknowledge the principle that the Latin language ought to be used widely wherever the Latin (Western) Rite is used, but also the practical reality that using anything other than the vernacular is difficult once fluency in Latin has been lost. We observe the Lord’s Day as a day for worship, and for resting from whatever laborious work can reasonably be left until another day. We observe the days of fasting and of abstinence from meat as prescribed by the Church, whether or not we view this discipline as helpful to the spiritual growth of ourself or of others.

We acknowledge legitimate diversity of sacramental practice: confession at least once a year for those conscious of serious sin, but often monthly by the devout; holy communion not more than twice a day, but at least once a week at Sunday Mass for those in a state of grace. We acknowledge the freedom of the communicant to partake of, or refrain from, communion in the hand and communion from the chalice, where these options are offered. We recognise the Church’s rule that lay ministers must only assist with the distribution of communion at Mass when this is truly necessary, while allowing that there are vastly different interpretations of when such assistance is unnecessary. We acknowledge that liturgical rubrics often allow great latitude for interpretation, while agreeing that clergy are not to innovate in any matter liturgical for which the rubrics provide clear norms. We note that we are free to celebrate paraliturgies, which are relatively unconstrained compared to formal liturgy.

We recognise that God offers charismatic gifts to members of the Church. All are called to acknowledge them. Some are called to receive them. Those who do receive them have a right and duty to exercise them for the benefit of the wider church, which in return is duty-bound to welcome these charisms and to affirm those members of the Church touched by them, with appropriate pastoral care. Mindful of Vatican norms, healing services relying on charismatic gifts are not to be integrated with Mass or the Anointing of the Sick.

Some members of the Church will be called to embrace poverty, chastity and obedience within religious orders. Others may be called to lay movements which enrich the church. Every authentic call of God should be welcomed, and lay movements should be presumed to be a gift to the church and offered appropriate pastoral care. It may be historically true that lay movements cause tension between their members and non-members in the parish, but new movements should not be judged in the light of old difficulties.

What now?

If you feel that your spiritual home is in the Radical Catholic Centre described above, you are invited to be part of an ongoing conversation on Facebook.