This has been my most perplexing week as editor of The Catholic Herald. I will try to explain why with a little metaphor: imagine that Benedict XVI is a conductor and the Church an orchestra. Last Tuesday, the Pope took to the podium to lead us in a hymn of praise to the Eucharist through his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. When he raised the baton, the Herald began to play at full volume, devoting pages to the new document and hailing it as a masterpiece. But we were bewildered when we looked
up and saw that great sections of the orchestra were sitting in silence.
There has been a lot of speculation about why the bishops of England and Wales did not join their counterparts in Ireland and America in immediately welcoming the document. Some have suggested that it was to ensure that Benedict XVI's firm liturgical injunctions would never be implemented in this country.
That thought made my head spin: it was inconceivable that the bishops would snub a text which they had helped to shape, echoed their own compelling 1998 document One Bread One Body, and confirmed them in their wish to put the Eucharist at the heart of their diocesan renewal programmes.
Almost a week after the Pope's document was published, I received assurances that there was a "total consensus" among the bishops about the importance of the Exhortation and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor commended the text. I welcome these assurances wholeheartedly, but feel sad that we missed an opportunity to work side by side in communicating the Pope's clear and attractive message to as many people as possible.
The question I wish to ask is: could all the parts of the Church - bishops, priests, the Catholic press, bloggers and committed lay people - find a new way to work together to ensure that the Pope's message is heard not only by all Catholics but also by those outside the Church who are anxious to receive it?
Benedict XVI has said that when all the elements of the Church work together they create an "ordered and harmonious symphony". We have a beautiful and inspiring message to offer, but people will only hear it if we play as one.
Sunday, 25 March 2007
This weeks' Catholic Herald has the following editorial by Luke Coppen (note the reference to bloggers in the penultimate paragraph):