ADDRESS GIVEN BY
ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE LAUNCH OF
'LISTENING, LEARNING AND LEADING:THE IMPACT OF
CATHOLIC IDENTITY AND MISSION'
AT THE CARDINAL KNOX
CENTRE, MELBOURNE, ON THURSDAY 22 MAY
2014 AT 5.00 P.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
is with significant and convinced appreciation that I read 'Listening, Learning
and Leading', in which Gabrielle McMullen and John Warhurst have gathered
together the results of the Catholic Social Services Victoria Conference on 8
and 9 October last year.
am sure many of us consider that in the Church we have lived in a very exciting
time of development. The recent
canonisation of Pope John XXIII reminded us that our mission is to all people,
one of service, bringing them to know and love the one true God and to provide
a Christ-like vision.
her talk, Sister Margaret Mary Flynn said that people should be able to glimpse
Christ in the way we act. Tim Fischer
made the telling comment that, in mission, there must always be a fundamental
ability to communicate with clarity, while Pope Benedict brings the situation
together, as he typically does, in these words of Deus Caritas Est: "The
Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility of
proclaiming the Word of God, celebrating the Sacraments, and exercising the
ministry of charity." (Deus Caritas Est, 25).
would make my own the words of Father Gerry Arbuckle, that particularly in the
healing ministries, it is the ongoing process of the healing mission of Jesus
Christ engaging with each health care facility according to Catholic
tradition. I referred specifically to
Pope Benedict because word and Sacrament and a personal knowledge of Christ are
the prerequisites of what Pope Francis describes as the Church being
permanently in mission, getting our feet dusty in the world around us, and
seeing the Church as an inclusive home for all.
this end, the title of the book 'Listening, Learning and Leading', is
particularly apt because it lays the foundations of what it means to be
Catholic and how then to be involved in the world of today. Father Frank Brennan reminds us that faith
liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be evermore
fully itself (page 66), and quotes Pope Francis in the letter Lumen Fideii: "Faith is truly a good
for everyone; it is a common good. Its
light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church nor does it serve
solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter. It helps us to build our societies in such a
way that they can journey towards hope." (Lumen Fideii, 51).
identifies two central traits in a spirituality of leadership: a sense of
purpose greater than self, which he calls heroism, and a deep self-awareness
and a habit of reflection. Heroism applies to anyone, anywhere in the
organisation. It is not restricted to
those in high office.
Catholic identity, therefore, comes
from the mission given to Christ by the Father and passed on to us all in the
Church to be not merely for ourselves, but to bring light, hope and service to
the people of our time.
Social Teaching can be a very positive point of entry to the mission of a
Catholic agency, so too can it engage all staff in reflection on how things are
done. For example, Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est identified as key
features of Catholic social services humility in our engagement with others and
a spirit of dialogue with the world.
These two themes, each developed by speakers at the conference, resonate
easily among people of good will, and are areas where the Church has much to
learn from others.
have been years when we have learnt more of Catholic identity as a basis for
mission. Pope Benedict articulated it
particularly well. Pope Francis is
leading us to be active, perceptive and drawn by what Tim Fischer expresses as
the clarity and precision which are needed to express our mission, and
therefore to make our service more effective.
the Gospel always, when necessary use words” is an insight attributed to Saint
Francis of Assisi, and is one that leaders work with often in this area. This is a necessary step – for unless what we
do and how we lead is aligned with the Gospel, words about these matters are
unlikely to be effective. The dialogue
around issues of identity and mission that can flow from consideration of
Catholic Social Teaching and the impact of mission on our work can often be a
starting point for dialogue on why and how we do it.
I congratulate Professor McMullen and
Professor Warhurst for their collaboration in this work, and all the
contributors who provide such a rich, unfolding of the exercise of the mission
which we share in common. In concluding,
Bishop Eugene Hurley stresses the absolute importance "to heal the wounds,
warm the hearts and be close to the people since the blazing glory of the
Resurrection far surpasses any human weakness and their effects." We should let Pope Francis have the final
word from his recent Exhortation on The Joy of the Gospel:
we adopt a pastoral goal and a missionary style which would actually reach
everyone without exception or exclusion, the message has to concentrate on the
essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the
same time most necessary.” #35
“Before all else, the Gospel invites
us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go
forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be
is with this glory and hope and the enthusiasm that shines so clearly through
the work of the authors that I now declare "Listening, Learning and
Leading: The Impact of Catholic Identity and Mission" launched as a
wonderful help to you who exercise servant leadership with such skill and generosity. May the fruit of this Conference long resound
in our minds and in our hearts.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE