AUCKLAND — An Auckland priest, Msgr David Tonks, has challenged Catholics disillusioned with the Church not to split away into a merely privatised relationship with Jesus.
Speaking at the National Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults gathering in Ponsonby on July 21, Msgr Tonks, who is pastoral assistant to Bishop Patrick Dunn, gave a keynote address linking the upcoming Year of Faith with the RCIA.

Delegates at the National RCIA gathering in Auckland.

Developing a theme of community involvement in the Year of Faith, Msgr Tonks said most Catholics love the Church.
“ . . . [B]ut some have become cynical because of VatiLeaks, disappointment with the new Mass translations and a frustration that some curial officials in Rome do not want to listen even to the Church’s bishops,” he said.
“We know the Church’s laws, say, about who receives Holy
Communion,” he continued, “but we ask ourselves, ‘What would Jesus do in a situation?’”
Msgr Tonks said that is a fair question, but it drives a wedge in our thinking between Jesus and his Church.
“We need to rediscover the link between Jesus and the Church.
Otherwise discipleship can easily become about Jesus and me, Sunday Mass is optional and my interpretation of the Bible is my only moral guide.”
Msgr Tonks said it is a challenge to believe the Church, with all its failings, is the Bride of Christ that is loved by the Lord. But Catholics need to remember how much they have received from participating in the Church’s ways and to find ways to love her, “despite all her warts”, he added.
Archbishop John Dew of Wellington echoed Pope Benedict’s words that the purpose of evangelisation is to bring people into a living personal relationship with Jesus,who is an “overwhelmingly attractive figure”.
Archbishop Dew spoke about the time before engagement with RCIA, when a person becomes aware of God’s “gentle invitation in their life”.
A common theme from many people who have come to faith is the initiative of another person or community who, through their actions, have revealed something of the compassionate face of Jesus.
“This is the enormous responsibility that is placed on the Christian and Catholic community — to be that face, those hands, that heart, that mind
. . . that can touch others wherever in their life they are searching for God,” Archbishop Dew said.
He also challenged parishes to continue to support and integrate the newly baptised into parish life, adding that the Year of Faith, starting in October, would offer some wonderful opportunities.
To read or listen to all the keynote speeches and to view the new policy document on the RCIA in New Zealand, visit


  1. “What would Jesus do?” This has got to be one of the most critical questions any Christian could ask. Surely Jesus would forgive His church as His church should forgive others. So, why is there a concept of excommunication?

  2. I guess if a person is a comitted Catholic that means taking the rough with the smooth. In as much as the Church involves human agency it is bound to have the shortcomings that all institutions involving human beings have. I support a stance of Christian realism that recognises that the Kingdom of God is present in the Church and in the world but is not yet fully realised. Christian faith, hope and love are made real through the Church and its mission even if imperfectly.