Bishop’s Column – Church as People of God – June 2013


Recently Pope Francis reminded us that the Second Vatican Council defined Church as the People of God.


Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s descendant,
heirs according to the promise.
Gal 3:26,27,29


My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Recently Pope Francis reminded us that the Second Vatican Council defined Church as the People of God. As People of God, how might we think of each other? How might we treat each other? Perhaps understanding yourself as one of the People of God, you would bring God’s hope and salvation to the world: “to be a sign of the love of God who calls all to friendship with Him,” as Pope Francis suggests.

As I travel throughout the nine counties of the Diocese of Orlando and celebrate Mass in every corner of the Diocese, I am joyous at the faith of the People of God. As your shepherd, I am also a little concerned about the lack of understanding or priority of the faith we profess to each other every day. As enkindling a deeper faith within each other is important to me and reflecting upon this concern, I asked staff members of various Diocesan ministries to lead an educational initiative to help you, the faithful, understand the teachings of the Catholic Church as they relate to life, marriage, family and freedom. This initiative, called The Way, The Truth and The Life, will include educational materials such as videos, articles, homily suggestions, and web content.

The materials will be provided to parishes and schools and will hopefully be shared and viewed by all so that these important principles of our faith will be explained, understood and lived.

As we began speaking about this initiative, we also learned that an international gathering in Rome with Pope Francis on June 15 and 16 will focus on the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life. This event coincides with the anniversary of Evangelium Vitae, (Latin for the Gospel of Life) which is the name of the encyclical written by Blessed John Paul II expressing the position of the Catholic Church regarding the value and sacredness of human life.

Thousands will gather with the Holy Father in a communal witness to the sacred value of all life: the lives of the aged, the lives of the sick, the lives of the dying, the lives of the unborn, the lives of the physically and mentally challenged, and the lives of all those who suffer. I encourage you to pray with the Holy Father that life will be valued and protected in all stages of development and in all circumstances.

On June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul, Apostles, at 10:00 a.m. in St. James Cathedral, it is most fitting that seven men of the Diocese of Orlando will be ordained to the Order of Permanent Diaconate. These men have labored and sacrificed with their wives and families for five years enkindling a deeper faith within themselves and those who supported them on this journey. They understand more fully what it means to be the People of God. We are grateful to them and their families for their undertaking in the Lord’s name and their acceptance of God’s blessing in such a special way.

In the simplest sense, a deacon is known as a servant. Deacons are called to be Sacramental signs of the servant, as Christ is the servant to all. They should always be seen in one of three ministries: Ministry of Charity and Justice; Ministry of the Word; and Ministry of Liturgy.

Pope Francis said, “The goal of this people is “God’s kingdom, begun on earth by God himself, and which must be further extended until it is brought to perfection, when Christ, our life, shall appear. The objective (of the People of God), therefore, is full communion with the Lord, familiarity with him, entering into the divine life itself, into his family, where we will live the joy of his boundless love.”

Having clothed ourselves with Christ, may our living reflect our faithfulness as the People of God.