Reading the signs of the times in southeast Michigan
Sep 20, 2017
Editor’s Note: Over 20 issues, The Michigan Catholic is bringing you, in bite-sized chunks, Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel. Below is the third of 20 excerpts, taken from the letter’s third section, its “Catechetical Exposition.
” To read the whole letter — or to catch up on sections you’ve missed — visit www.
Synod 16 was an occasion for representatives from every part of the Archdiocese to listen to each other and discern together “the signs of the times” in southeast Michigan. The Synod participants noted the many opportunities for unleashing the Gospel. Our local Church is rich in lay involvement; there is a wide variety of flourishing movements, ministries, and initiatives. In the half century since Vatican Council II, we have been responding to the Council’s call for lay participation in the life of the Church (the primary focus of our last Archdiocesan Synod, in 1969). We are ready now to build on that foundation. If our first response was to change our way of thinking about ourselves as the people of God, our response now is to make use of the fruit given in these past five decades in order to go outward with the Gospel. Our internal renewal is for the sake of mission.
Unleash the Gospel
Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Missionary Nature of the Church PART 3: SIGNS OF THE TIMES Part 4: Roots of the Crisis Part 5: Bad Habits Part 6: Good Habits Part 7: The New Pentecost Part 8: Repent and Believe Part 9: With Eyes Fixed on Jesus Part 10: The Word Made Flesh Part 11: Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist Part 12: Equipping for Service Part 13: No Bystanders Part 14: Person-to-Person Engagement Part 15: Families Part 16: Attraction Part 17: Encounter, Grow, Witness Part 18: Calling Upon the Advocate Part 19: Propositions and Action Steps Part 20: Conclusion
In our civil society as well, there are many signs that our communities are ready for renewal. There is a recognition that we are in a new social situation, a readiness to move beyond the way we have always done things and to think about new ways.
At the same time the Synod participants recognized the many challenges facing the Archdiocese of Detroit. For several decades the number of practicing Catholics has been in steady decline, a significant factor leading to many painful closings and mergings of parishes and schools, which has in turn caused more people to drift away in discouragement or frustration. The number of active priests has also dropped considerably. In the last half century our metro area has suffered from urban blight, economic decline, racial tensions, family breakdown, substance abuse, and crime. The Archdiocese covers a wide range of geographic and demographic settings — inner city, suburban and rural — each with its own unique characteristics and needs. These multiple challenges have contributed to a widespread pessimism regarding the possibility of authentic renewal.
Some might say that the Archdiocese of Detroit is a most unlikely setting for a large-scale revitalization of the Church. But is it not in the most unlikely settings that the Lord loves to show forth his divine power? Our acknowledgement of our own spiritual poverty is precisely what can lead us to rely wholly on God. Then it becomes clear that success belongs to Him alone and not to any human ingenuity. If we have become spiritually dry, we need not fear. Dry wood is perfect for being set on fire!We also recognize that Catholics are not the only ones who are seeking to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in southeast Michigan. We honor and support the efforts of our brothers and sisters in other Christian communions to bear witness to Christ. God is at work in them, and there is much we can learn from their evangelistic fervor. Wherever possible we should work together with them to bring the light of Christ into our city and region, although without ceasing to proclaim the fullness of Catholic teaching. As Pope Francis affirms, because the disunity among Christians is a counter-witness to the Gospel, commitment to unity is “an indispensable path to evangelization.
”To read more of the archbishop’s letter, or to catch up on sections you missed, visit www.
If the church of Detroit engages in this initiative as directed, what are the possibilities?