2014-10-20 09:56:00

Card. Nichols: bridging divide between doctrine and practise

(Vatican Radio) Bishops from around the world wrapped up the work of their Synod on the Family on Sunday at the beatification Mass for Pope Paul VI who introduced the synodal process to the Church. On Saturday participants in the two week meeting voted on a concluding document and issued a message of encouragement to families, speaking of the miracle of married life, as well as the complexity of relationships where the Christian choice is not always an obvious one.

As head of the bishops conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster was amongst the Synod Fathers taking part in this historic encounter. He sat down with Philippa Hitchen to discuss the focus for the two year Synod process, including the questions of care for homosexuals and for divorced and remarried Catholics….

Listen to the interview:

Cardinal Nichols says all participants at the Synod were very taken by the consistent and persuasive emphasis that Pope Francis has been giving to the whoole theme of God's mercy.

"I think that is something that has encouraged everyone in the Church: I think is a very first quality of God that we have to discover" he says.

"For me" - Cardinal Nichols continues - "it's like saying we have to remember that the air that we are to breathe is the mercy of God, and without that oxygen in our lungs we can't really have the energy and the encouragement to continue in the journey of discipleship".

And - he points out - it is also crucial to remember that mercy leads us to seek forgiveness and conversion in our lives.

"The two" - Nichols says - "aren't the same thing: the pathway we are to walk is a pathway of constant conversion and of seeking forgiveness; so while mercy is the oxygen, the pathway - the action - is seeking reconciliation and forgiveness".

He says taht it is the relationship between those two and the way the life of the Church can be reinvigorated with the oxygen of mercy that is very important.

A second thing, Cardinal Nichols says, is how we face up to the challenge of trying to present and refresh our understanding of marriage.

He says the very notion of marriage has been an area of great contestation in England over the last two years, "but what we in the Church have is a very deep sense that marriage is a Sacrament. By a Sacrament we mean a place in which God is at work; a place, a human reality, which is transformed through the power of grace".

So - he says - "a full understanding of marriage as a Sacrament tells us that this is a relationship, an intimacy, a creative coming together of a man and a woman in which Jesus is active, to which Jesus gives his name. So the Lord is committed to a marriage in as much as the husband and wife are".

"That sense of the true sacramentality of marriage is something we need to find and deepen and invite people to share".





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