Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl
Cardinal urges Catholics to help transform world with faith
October 2nd, 2012
By Mark Zimmermann
WASHINGTON – In a new pastoral letter, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl offers an overview of what the Catholic Church is, so Catholics can better understand their role in it, and he encourages them to help transform the world with their faith.
“The family of God is called his church. Its members, those baptized into the church, you and I, form a body with Christ as its head. In order to truly know Christ, one must know him in his body, the church,” Cardinal Wuerl wrote.
Issued in mid-September, his pastoral was addressed to the clergy, religious and laity of the Washington archdiocese. It is titled “The Church, Our Spiritual Home.”
The pastoral comes at a time, he noted, when the universal church is taking up Pope Benedict XVI’s call for the new evangelization and Catholics are encouraged to deepen their own faith and reintroduce the Gospel to those who may have drifted away from the faith or never heard the good news of Jesus.
On Oct. 7, the pope will convene the world Synod of Bishops on the “New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The Year of Faith opens Oct. 11, which is also the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.
Cardinal Wuerl, who was appointed by Pope Benedict to serve as the synod’s recording secretary, noted in his pastoral that the Washington archdiocese is preparing for its own synod in 2014, and Catholics will offer input on the local church’s future pastoral direction.
“We can only move forward if we fully understand who we are as members” of the Catholic Church,” he said. “The Catholic Church is the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the world – in our day and time.”
To better understand what the Catholic Church is, Cardinal Wuerl pointed out several things it is not.
It is “not a man-made organization,” the cardinal wrote, because its “origins are found in the will of Christ. ... To ensure that each subsequent generation would have the opportunity to hear of his kingdom, to know his Gospel and to receive his invitation to follow him, Jesus established his church on the foundation rock – St. Peter.”
It is “not a club made up of like-minded people,” nor is it a political party, he continued. “The church has an identity, purpose and teaching that transcends and defies reduction to any specific political philosophy or party. ... It presents the received teaching of Jesus that comes to us from the apostles.”
“The church is not an expression or manifestation of current popular or cultural conditioning,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “As significant as are political correctness, peer pressure and cultural influence, the Catholic Church does not draw its inspiration from these, but rather from the word of God as it has been faithfully passed on over 20 centuries within the church.”
The Catholic Church “is the enduring, visible yet spiritual, structured yet Spirit-led, human yet divine presence of Christ in the world today. The new body of Christ teaches in his name, sanctifies with his grace and leads with his authority. ... Being a member of the church incorporates us into something beyond us – greater than ourselves.”
From October 5, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.