Bishop Kevin Dowling: We Can Become A Different Kind of Church
The bishop of Rustenburg has said that the current coronavirus crisis is a time to look at the future of the Church.
Writing in this week’s edition of the British Catholic journal The Tablet, Bishop Kevin Dowling said he hopes that, “as time goes on, we can start to discern what the experience of this pandemic calls for from the Church in terms of its vision, mission and ministry”.
The closing of churches and the suspension of public Masses “is challenging us to become a different kind of Church”, the bishop said.
Noting that South Africa is facing “a serious crisis”, Bishop Dowling explained that the Church leadership in Southern Africa, under the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and its president, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha, “has encouraged us to respond as creatively as possible to the needs of the people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable”.
“We cannot go back to what was normal in the past.
We must be a Church which is much more inclusive of the destitute and of those who are suffering in so many ways: the victims of violence against women and children, all those who are stigmatised or suffer discrimination,” he wrote.
“This requires addressing honestly the systemic issues in the political fabric of the nation, the massive corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence.
But it also requires of us as Church to reflect on and discern what the signs of the times call us to be and do, what model of Church we need to create and develop,” Bishop Dowling wrote.
“I hope and pray that this crisis will bring out the treasures of who we are called to be as disciples of Jesus, and to be the field hospital that Pope Francis dreams of,” he said.
“This means building on what we have achieved in the past — but then, to be creative in imagining something new for the future.”
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