Wellington Cardinal John Dew assured parishioners hurt by divorce or separation that the Church loves and supports them and that they are part of the faith community.
The cardinal gave the reassurance at a Mass held for the divorced or separated at St Joseph’s church in Mt Victoria on August 9. Some 60 people attended.
It was the first time in the archdiocese
that a Mass was celebrated especially for those hurt by broken marriages.
In his homily, Cardinal Dew recalled the time when, as a member of the writing party for the final document of the 2015 Synod of the Bishops on the Family, Pope Francis dropped in unannounced on the writing party and told them of his [Pope Francis] concern. The writing party was composed of ten cardinals, including Cardinal Dew.
“He [Pope Francis] walked in, sat down at the table with us and said ‘I am very worried for families, give me a document I can use, give me a document that I can use to encourage families . . .’,” Cardinal Dew said.
“That is what this Mass tonight is about . . . encouraging families, encouraging you. Thank you for being here this evening in such good numbers.”
The cardinal acknowledged that many Catholics whose families were broken feel judged by those in the Church.
“You live with fractured love, there are times when you feel lost, lonely, your dreams have been broken, your hopes shattered and destroyed, so often you feel judged by the Church and by other churchgoers. Tonight, I want to reassure you that you are part of the faith community,” he said.
“Pope Francis has shown us very clearly that all the broken, the lonely, lost, hurt,
separated, divorced, bereaved and hurting are all the family of the Church.”
Cardinal Dew reminded those who attended the Mass that Jesus is the healer who never turned anyone away “no matter what stage of life we are at”.
He said the document produced by the cardinals eventually resulted in the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love.
“As he [Pope Francis] said [in] this document, ‘No family drops down from heaven
perfectly formed’,” Cardinal Dew said.
“We are all deeply aware that we are not perfect, we all struggle and, in that struggle and imperfection as Church, we try to support and encourage each other. That’s what we are doing this evening, we encourage each other as we reflect on the words of Jesus.”
Wellington Marriage Ministry consultant Felicity Giltrap said there has been a wonderful response and an outpouring of gratitude from those who attended.
“The time together was a grace filled one with a great sense of support and encouragement for one another,” she said.
The event concluded with a prayer written and prayed by Joy Cowley during the Mass:
‘For our own soul stories. For our families. For the new love that has brought new life. In our gratitude, we look back at the times of brokenness and see if we are still carrying some kind of resentment or small anger. We lay this at the foot of the cross, as Jesus invites us into his own story of love – that what is resurrected is always greater than what has died.’
“We ask for prayers as a new ministry for those affected by divorce and separation is developed in the Archdiocese. It is hoped to hold this Mass annually and strengthen existing networks to support those affected throughout the region,” said Ms Giltrap.
For more information, please contact Felicity Giltrap, Family and Young Church Vicariate (04) 496 1719 or firstname.lastname@example.org