The Reconciled Church, what are we to make of this term? A pastor I once knew, now deceased, spoke often of ministers who must be willing to do themselves what they ask of their people, especially newcomers in RCIA. I can see the principle to be applied here. Does a confessor speak often of going to confession? Does he himself make regular use of the practice? Spiritual directors, do they cultivate that daily prayer life they ask of directees? School coaches: stay in shape? Teachers: regular continuing education? Popes have something to say about this.
My venerable predecessor Paul VI commendably highlighted the fact that the church, in order to evangelize, must begin by showing that she herself has been evangelized, that is to say, that she is open to the full and complete proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ in order to listen to it and put it into practice.(Cf Evangelii Nuntiandi 13) I too, by bringing together in one document the reflections of the fourth general assembly of the synod, have spoken of a church that is catechized to the extent that she carries out catechesis.(Cf Pope John Paul II, apostolic exhortation Catechesi Tradendae 24)
In discussing the theme of penance and reconciliation, Pope John Paul II was bold in his own assessment of what the Church must do, what it must show, how it must lead the way:
I now do not hesitate to resume the comparison, insofar as it applies to the theme I am dealing with, in order to assert that the church, if she is to be reconciling, must begin by being a reconciled church. Beneath this simple and indicative expression lies the conviction that the church, in order ever more effectively to proclaim and propose reconciliation to the world, must become ever more genuinely a community of disciples of Christ (even though it were only “the little flock” of the first days), united in the commitment to be continually converted to the Lord and to live as new people in the spirit and practice of reconciliation.
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