God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

12.01.2010 Installation of a new bishop

Today, the invitation arrived via email to attend the installation of the new Archbishop of Cape Town, Stephen Brislin.  As always in the life of the church, a new bishop awaits a huge amount of different expectations and hopes. And these expectations and hopes are most times so far away from each other, that it seems to be a mission impossible to be a bishop in our days.  On the other hand: Within the church, a bishop has power and according to the CIC he is the head of the community of the faithful with many far-reaching rights. Especially when it comes to the lives of the priests – so much of their well-being hangs in balance with a good bishop’s rule. Humility and the knowledge, that we are all remain humans, even in the service of the church, are essential for such a service. And this is indeed the core of his vocation: To be a servant for the people of in this case Cape Town, to assist in the well-being of the people of God, to encourage and go with and lead those seeking to come closer to God.

And obviously, he does it not alone, but in communion with the other bishops and the bishop of Rome. In our days, it seems that this communion is rather centralized – word coming from Rome and filtering down to the different dioceses’.  From outside it looks and from inside it feels often as a one-way-road. It would be great if the communion and the collegium of the bishops will play a bigger role in the life of the universal church, so that also we from Cape Town, we from Africa can contribute more to the development of this universal church. It would also support the message of the African Synod which puts lots of responsibility on the church of Africa.

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11.01.2010 resolutions

End of the year or beginning of the year is normally also the time, where one is very good in formulating resolutions. And some weeks in the new year or even earlier one discovers that it is not that easy to keep up with one has aimed to do. Either, we think, it might be the wrong time – or it is not necessary – or whatever reasons we find to get back on our old tracks and habits. It is so difficult to change, and we priests are not an exception. I think it is so important to realise it, because it makes us more human and acceptable for the struggles of others coming to us with their problems. Compassion is only possible if self-realization sets in and humility prevails.

I sometimes think that we have lost in our church much of that humility, especially in the upper field of the hierarchy. In struggling to keep our identity lots of church leaders think if they act strong and with determination, then they will keep the church running. I am not sure it will succeed.  Unconditional love we are supposed to bring to the people has no such tool to prevail. If Paul is right that God has chosen the weak to make his point, then that is the path to follow.

Being on holidays means to have much time to think about resolutions, about humility and all such things. I also have done my resolutions.. 🙂 And as every human being I hope that I can keep them. But I was clever. I thought it is the best to start with all my resolutions after the holidays, to give me the time to bid my old habits farewell. So far, all is working out quite nicely… 🙂 Let’s hope for the time after the holidays – fast approaching and after the time of relaxations I am looking forward being back to work and to start a new chapter in my life.

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