This strong piece, “What a Bishop Might Want to Know,” was written by Thomas O’Meara OP in 1994, but it has lost nothing in currency. If anything, it has become more current with the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. It uncannily describes how Pope Francis preaches each day in the St. Martha guesthouse chapel, and how he approaches his ministry in general.
Any bishop – indeed, any preacher, ordained or lay – might profitably use O’Meara reflections to understand how Pope Francis seems to understand the ministry of preaching, and to reflect on his or her own preaching and ministry for and with the People of God.
O’Meara discusses six issues:
- How Jesus is the Logos and completely human. “The Gospels show that [Jesus], out of his experience, changed directions in him ministry, expanded its horizons and came to see that not only success but condemnation lay ahead…”
- Moral theology. “The moral teaching of the Church cannot be presented only as rules found in Church documents.” “Should people expect instant answers to every new topic from the Church?”
- Expansion of ministry now underway. “Diversity in ministry is central to the Church after Vatican II and seems to be the work and goal of the Holy Spirit.”
- “A preacher representing the Catholic Church should discern the ‘essence’ or ‘heart’ of the Catholic spirit.” “What is the difference between Catholicism and fundamentalisms of all sorts?”
- Contact with those from non-Christian religions. “The episcopal preacher needs to have made his own something of the theology of circles of sacramentality found…at Vatican II.”
- Decision-making in the Church. “The bishop needs to explain that not everything central to Christianity has been formally defined as dogma.”
The entire piece is below. I’m sure it will interest you.