NZ archbishop finds hope and excitement at synod

VATICAN CITY (VaticanRadio) — New Zealand’s bishops were overwhelmed with the responses to the lineamenta (the questionnaire sent out before the Synod of Bishops on the Family), Archbishop John Dew told Vatican Radio on October 10.
The archbishop said that 25 per cent of the New Zealand respondents were non-practising
Catholics. “And really what they were saying was that the language in Church documents is
not helpful.”

Archbishop Dew told interviewer Emer McCarthy that when he was elected, Pope Francis quipped that his brother bishops had gone to the ends of the world to choose the Bishop of Rome. “Since his election he has pushed for greater attention to the people and Churches on the peripheries. This — it seems — has struck a chord with the Church in New Zealand, particularly people who saw themselves as being ‘outside the Church’.”
Archbishop Dew said another dominant issue in New Zealand is the annulment process. “It’s
been another big call at the synod, too, to simplify the annulment process to make it easier.”
He put that in his own context: “For example, in New Zealand for a lot of Polynesians, they
find the annulment process very invasive, they feel that they are being disloyal to a family
member if they talk about a marriage break-up.
So there was a big call to maybe just have the first judgment and not having to go to a court
of second instance. And it’s great to hear all of that spoken about.”
He said that he is refreshed by that debate, but he also warned against false hopes of immediate change, emphasising that the synod is part of a process. In the meantime, he welcomed
Pope Francis’s decision to set up a committee to investigate the procedure for annulment.
“Those couples where the marriage has broken up and the aggrieved party, the one who
through no fault of their own has been left in the lurch, what can happen for those people, that is a very big question that is being asked. But it’s not going to be resolved overnight.”
He described a pervading sense of hope and excitement among people in the synod hall: “I
would say that overall there is a great sense of hope — not that things are going to change
immediately, but that at least we can talk about some of these issues that in the past we haven’t been able to talk about.
“Nine years ago at the Synod on the Eucharist I talked about the possibility of Communion for
the divorced and remarried and got a lot of criticism. Now at this synod it’s being talked about openly by many, many people.”
Archbishop Dew said that although a synod veteran, there is “a difference with Pope Francis”.
“He is just there wandering around and talking to people. He’s very serious about collegiality.
People feel freer and you can sense that in the atmosphere.”

Posted in

Michael Otto

Reader Interactions


  1. Francis says

    “Nine years ago at the Synod on the Eucharist I talked about the possibility of Communion for the divorced and remarried and got a lot of criticism. Now at this synod it’s being talked about openly by many, many people.” – Yes there is possibility for them to receive Holy Communion. It is the same for all of us when we find ourselves living in the state of mortal sin. It involves amending our lives, and going to confession. And for a Confession to be valid it requires a firm purpose of amendment, ie stop living with another person when you are married to someone else. That is what Archbishop Dew should be telling people. And no it is not possible for any of us to receive the Holy Eucharist while in the state of Mortal Sin. To do so we commit another Mortal Sin – the sin of Sacrilege. As Our Lord said to Mary Magdalene after hearing her “confession” – “Go and sin no more”. He did not say: “stay in your sins, it’s all good because I’m nice and merciful, go ahead and break my commandments”….

    • Br Graham-Michoel SH says

      How sad it is to see this one response lacking compassion. I am sure the Archbishop knows what to do when it comes to direction for what we call sin – he represents a Christ who came to save sinners, not to condemn them. The assembly around the Altar is for everyone, and to receive Holy Communion is for all who have been Baptised and Confirmed. Without following such judgemental dictates as above, I might ask, if we were all to line up for Confession before the Mass with just the one priest present, would there be any time left for the Mass?

  2. Francis says

    I’m sorry Br Graham-Michael, but what have I said above that is wrong? Could you please point it out. This is the constant teaching of the Church over centuries. You will find much more firmer words said by the great Saints of the Church – St Alphonsus, St Francis de Sales, St John Vianney, St Thomas Aquinas, St. John Chrysostom, St Robert Bellermine, etc etc… These were Saints who converted hundreds if not thousands of souls through their firm, honest but charitable words. Yet what are the fruits of this new orientation of not talking about sin, repentance, amending one’s life and saving our souls? Empty pews, closing churches, and massive loss of Faith all over the world. What’s the point of being Catholic, going to Mass etc if apparently there is no sin, you don’t need to amend your life, everything goes and we know better than God. And I’m sorry, but your Statement “and to receive Holy Communion is for all who have been Baptised and Confirmed.” is lacking one crucial point, that “one needs to be not in the State of Mortal Sin”. And no this is not being judgemental. It is the teaching of the Church. It is a simple fact, which applies not just to those co-habitating etc, but to me and everyone else who commits any mortal sin. It is the very fact that we receive Our Lord Jesus Christ ie God, in the Eucharist that it is so special beyond words. And it is for that reason that we are not allowed to receive Our Lord when we have seriously broken our friendship with him through Mortal Sin. And you talk about lack of compassion – well the Sacrament of Confession is really the highest form of compassion – God forgiving us when we have committed deliberate offenses against his infinite goodness!! And regarding your last question – no, the whole congregation does not have to line up for confession before Mass. What a ridiculous statement. Those that need to, if they want to receive Holy Communion, are only those who are in the state of Mortal Sin. Besides, what you describe as “Judgemental Dictates” happen to be the teaching of the 2,000 year old Catholic Church, founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *