Chris Richardson

The current crisis in the Church is expressed as a wicked problem and some possible ways forward are retrieved from the teaching of Vatican II. Chris Richardson is a retired Catholic secondary headteacher and diocesan commissioner. He is currently a visiting lecturer in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

The word crisis has been heard in Church circles more and more over the last decade. Encouragingly it was missing from reports on the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. The publication of the relation half way through the Synod caused the usual flurry of excitement and expectation among the media and those anxious to see a more pastoral approach to the divorced and a more inclusive approach to homosexuals. There was also dismay and even anger among those who saw the proposals as incompatible with Scripture and Tradition and a betrayal of those who adhered faithfully to Church teaching.

Unusually the result was not a complete anti-climax. The whole process adopted by the Synod and its continuation through a further period of reflection and debate before it resumed last October can be seen as a recognition that the Church is not dealing with a crisis but with something else.

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January/February 2016

Stephen McKinney, Robert, J. Hill and Honor Hania

Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ draws the current ecological crisis to our attention and reminds Christians of their responsibility to care for God’s creation. He calls for a greater commitment to an ecological spirituality and, where necessary, an ecological conversion. This article explores the Old Testament roots of this responsibility to the earth through an examination of two key interrelated themes in the two creation accounts in Genesis. These two themes are: the God-given dominion over creation and the naming of creation by man. Both of these demand that Christians accept that they have responsibility for creation. Stephen J. McKinney and Honor Hania are from the University of Glasgow, Robert J. Hill is parish priest of St Matthew’s, Bishopbriggs.

On 24 May 2015 Pope Francis published his encyclical letter Laudato Si’ (on care for our common home). He examines the contemporary ecological crisis and discusses the serious challenges to the earth as a consequence of pollution (20), toxic waste (21), climate change and global warming (23-25), scarcity of clean drinking water in parts of the world (27-31), loss of biodiversity (32-42) and even forms of media pollution (47). Much of this is closely connected to the inequality that exists in the world and Pope Francis states that ‘a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach’ (49).

Pope Francis states very clearly that humanity is responsible for plundering the earth:
We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.

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January/February 2016

Philip McParland

This article proposes that the primary reason the Church exists is to bring people into a relationship with Jesus. It explores what this means for pastoral practice at parish level. Philip McParland lives in Northern Ireland where he provides a spirituality ministry called Soul Space.

Some years ago a seventeen year old asked his parents if he could attend the local Methodist church to experience their Sunday service. Even though he was brought up a Catholic, went through the sacramental programme and served on the altar in his local church he obviously was searching and wanted to explore the liturgy in other churches. When he returned home from his experience praying with the Methodists the first thing he said to his mother was, ‘You never told me I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!’ Needless to say she was surprised at her son’s ‘revelation’ and to this day has not forgotten his comment.

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January/February 2016

Peter Tyler

This article argues that Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ can be understood as a manifesto for an ‘integrated humanity’ as well as a call for an ‘integral ecology’. In making this claim the article follows the structure of the encyclical whilst suggesting links with Franciscan sources such as the work of St Bonaventure. Peter Tyler is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

Be praised, my Lord,
through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day;
and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High,
he bears the likeness.
Praise be You, my Lord,
through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through Brother Wind,
and through the air,
cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance
to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.1

The poetic hymn of St Francis of Assisi from which Pope Francis takes the title of his encyclical Laudato Si’ encompasses, as the pope acknowledges, much of what we could call ‘Franciscan’–orientated spirituality.

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January/February 2016

Claire Fernandes

The Parable of the Lost Sheep is recommended as a Lenten reflection for primary school children. Claire Fernandes draws on her experience as a visiting lecturer in Primary RE at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and as a children’s catechist.

Introduction for teachers
The Parable of the Lost Sheep teaches us that the Good Shepherd is always ready to seek out those who stray, delights in their recovery, and brings them back close to his side where they can enjoy life to the full. It is particularly suited to Key Stage 1/lower Key Stage 2.

•    Table with purple cloth, bible, candle
•    Green circle of cloth (to represent sheepfold)
•    Shepherd figure (playmobil is fine)
•    Sheep (from a farmyard set or homemade)
Draw attention to the purple cloth. Do they know what time of year it is?

Purple reminds us that this is a time of preparation (Lent in this case) as we journey towards Holy Week.

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January/February 2016

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