Breathing through both lungs

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Scenes from the Mass which was celebrated in the Byzantine Rite. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Scenes from the Mass which was celebrated in the Byzantine Rite. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Eastern bishop urges members to beware a worldly spirit at Council

The Plenary Council must not listen only to the “intellectual and theological elite”, and must keep the commandments of the Lord if it wishes to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Syro-Malabar Eparch Bosco Puthur said in his homily at a liturgy of the Eastern Bishops on 4 July.

Invoking Pope Francis, Bishop Puthur cautioned that the Plenary Council must not become the preserve of experts and theologians.

“A problem arises, as Pope Francis reminds us, when in any Church assembly decisions are made by the intellectual and theological elite, and is much influenced by outside pressures, without taking into proper account the simple faith experience from the pews, or the ordinary Church-going faithful.”

“How true it is now in Australia that the Catholic Church breathes through her two lungs, as St John Paul II reminded us …”

The Mass to conclude the second assembly’s first day of business was celebrated in the Byzantine Rite by Ukrainian Eparch Mykola Bychok CSSR, with Maronite Archbishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay and Bishop Puthur concelebrating and Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP presiding.

“This reminds us that the Catholic Church is not monolithic, but a communion of Churches comprising both Eastern and Western traditions,” Bishop Puthur said.

“How true it is now in Australia that the Catholic Church breathes through her two lungs, as St John Paul II reminded us in his encyclical, Ut Unum Sint (That they may be one).”

krainian Eparch Mykola Bychok CSSR celebrates Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral at the end of the first day of the second assembly of the Plenary Council on 4 July. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
krainian Eparch Mykola Bychok CSSR celebrates Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral at the end of the first day of the second assembly of the Plenary Council on 4 July. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The Plenary Council has invoked the presence of the Holy Spirit in its prayers and official texts, but Bishop Puthur gave the assembled clergy and Plenary Council members a firm message: Jesus “puts a condition to us” to receive his Spirit.

“We are to love him, and keep his commandments.

“Do we follow the Lord’s commandments, or are we making our own new commandments, influenced by the spirit of the world?

“The problem starts when the ear wants to grab power from the eye; the leg wants to do the job of the hand; envy is the number one enemy.”

“Are we incapacitated to receive the Spirit promised by the Lord because we are so consumed by the spirit of the world?”

He drew on St Paul’s teaching that the Church is a body made of many members to describe the Church’s “unity in diversity”, but added a second warning.

“The problem starts when the ear wants to grab power from the eye; the leg wants to do the job of the hand; envy is the number one enemy,” he said.

Syro-Malabar Eparch Bosco Puthur. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Syro-Malabar Eparch Bosco Puthur. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Bishop Puthur concluded his homily by asking Bishop Bychok to convey the prayerful regards of the Plenary Council to the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s Holy Synod.

“Tell them that we are with you. May God save and protect the people of Ukraine,” he said.

Archbishop Tarabay, who presented an intervention to the second assembly on the Eastern Churches, told The Catholic Weekly that the celebration of the Byzantine liturgy gave “a different perspective for the Plenary Council, about the presence of the Eastern Churches here in Australia”.

Sui iuris means a Church with autonomy, and with a structure, and canon law. This canon law is approved by the supreme authority of the Church, the Vatican.”

“The Plenary Council is a journey.

“It is a journey we walk together as the Catholic Church here in Australia.

“Clearly now the situation, as I mentioned in my intervention, is that the Eastern Churches are well established.

Scenes from the Mass which was celebrated in the Byzantine Rite. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Scenes from the Mass which was celebrated in the Byzantine Rite. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“When we speak about the Catholic Eastern Churches we’re not talking about ethnic communities, ethnic groups, or migrant groups, or ethnic churches.

“We are sui iuris Churches – what does that mean?

“This is something new to the Catholic people here in Australia.

“Little by little we are building our presence here and the people in Australia …”

Sui iuris means a Church with autonomy, and with a structure, and canon law.

“This canon law is approved by the supreme authority of the Church, the Vatican.

“Little by little we are building our presence here and the people in Australia, the Catholic people in Australia and other Christians, can get to know more and more about the presence of the Eastern Churches.”

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