Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword  - Leadership
The burden of leadership is never light and the example set by the Apostles Peter and Paul remain a constant for those who succeed them in guiding the community of people known as the Church. 

Acts 12:1-11:  The miraculous liberation of Peter gives another indication of his importance in the establishment of the early Church.

2 Tim. 4: 6-8, 17-18: Having spent himself fully serving the vocation given to him by Christ, Paul now writes of his approaching death with resignation and gratitude.

Matt. 16: 13-19: Inspired by God, Peter acknowledges Christ to be the Messiah, the Anointed One, and is declared to be the Leader  in succession to Christ of the Christian community.

Point 1: One of the more noticeable changes in the Church in the past seventy years or so has been the public role adopted by the various Popes in that time.  From being the €œPrisoner of the Vatican€ as earlier Popes described themselves, recent occupants of the See of Peter have presented a high public image as they travel the world rallying the Faithful, men, women and children; with calls for justice and freedom to the United Nations; and with diplomatic meetings with the Heads of Protestant and Orthodox Christian groups as well as ground breaking encounters with Jewish and Muslim representatives. 

One of the great tragedies in history is that somewhere along the line the Papacy became a subject of controversy.  For centuries, it had been recognised as a unifier of persons. Individual Popes may have appeared to be controversial, but the role of the Papacy remained.  Then came the Schism dividing Christianity into Eastern & Western, giving rise to the Orthodox Church.  At a later stage came the Reformation, further dividing the Church into Protestant and Catholic branches. At the heart of these divisions was the role of the Papacy.  Multiple divisions have followed creating what recent Popes have recognised as the Great Scandal of a divided Christianity. 

Point 2: A great change came with Pope John XX111.  He realised that a Pope could be, despite historical divisions, a leader of people universally. And so he spoke to the world and for humanity, not just to and for the church. As he explained €“ €œhe was opening the windows for fresh air to enter!  It is a role that has been carried on by his successors, notably Pope John Paul 11 and now Pope Benedict XV1.  Whilst Pope John Paul€™s approach was more the €œbarnstorming€ style, rivalling the pop stars of his time, Pope Benedict€™s approach seems to be directed more to the leaders of the different groups as he meets regularly with   Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim leaders and the United Nations.  And, of course, with the Youth as he prepares for his second World Youth Day. 

Conclusion: Whatever approach, it needs to be recognised that the controversies and conflicts of a thousand years cannot be wiped away overnight. But, just as a tsunami commences as a ground swell, let us pray that the desire of millions for a deeper understanding may find ultimate expression in this new style leadership.