Parramatta bishop urges faithful to end quarrelling
Bishop Kevin Manning has used the examples of St Paul, and the cardinals, who prayed for for nine days before the Conclave, to encourage Catholics to move beyond factionalism.
Bishop Manning's advice was the subject of his monthly latter for May, which was published in the latest issue of the Parramatta Diocese newspaper Catholic Outlook.
He said that St Paul wrote much about the Cross and told the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:17) that if quarrelling and strife dominate the path to the Cross it will be emptied of its power.
"For this reason [St Paul] stressed that factions who oppose each other and espouse specific leaders are to be excluded from the Church on the grounds that they segment the Body of Christ by their divisions," he said. "It is worth noting that the Cardinals, in preparing for the election of a new Pope, spent nine days in prayer seeking the Spirit's guidance on their deliberations (and to avoid factionalism?)"
Bishop Manning said that factions - with both right and left wing leanings, paralleling those of Paul, Apollos and Cephas - "flourish in our Church and cause division".
"They wound Christ's body with their theories and opinions about what Christianity should be," he said. "Personal views, and entrenched stances, are more important to them than what Christ taught and His Church developed."
The bishop commended St Paul, whom he described as "no wimp". Paul, he said, "challenged the factions to preserve the unity of Christianity".
He said that the Corinthians, to whom St Paul wrote, speculated about most things, and had varied theories about Christianity. But, in general, they clung to what conformed to their own opinions and were selective in what they chose. Much of this conflicted with Christ's teaching, for making one's own judgement the decisive criterion, fragments and divides.
Bishop Manning explained that freedom from factionalism comes down to an "obedience to the truth revealed by Christ".
"It is not a matter of conforming Christian teaching to my feelings and my desires, but conforming myself to the will of Christ as conveyed to us through revelation."
He also said that Christ did not found a political party.
"One of the more difficult things for self-righteous and blinded factions, whether right- or left-wing, is to grasp that Christ did not found a political party, nor was He a speculator. He didn't dream up ideas that were to benefit him."
Bishop Kevin Manning: The Bishop's Letter (Catholic Outlook May 2005)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Parramatta
11 May 2005