The Opening Mass

New Zealand particpants will be sending posts from the Synod on Marriage and the Family in Rome this month.

Here is a post from Bishop Charles Drennan.

The opening Mass. The sacristy staff of St Peter’s do a marvellous job. Vesting some hundreds of Bishops is quite a task. We gathered in the Braccio di Costantino and laid out on long tables were chasubles and stoles, the albs having been deftly selected (a quick estimate of height) and handed to us as we entered this impressive entrance hallway.

Celebrating Mass in St Peter’s is a special joy and with the Pope even more so. The Bishops close to me in the procession came from Algeria, Greece, Romania, Hungry, Nigeria and Australia indicating something of the universal nature of the Church.

Pope Francis appeared tired (he is not long back from Cuba and the States). The Sistine Chapel Choir (one of two at St Peter’s) I have always find shall we say of mixed ability. It has a melodramatic approach to everything and today’s frenetic movements of the conductor’s baton seemed to be in inverse relation to the result of his efforts. The Basilica was packed and the Holy Father’s homily unpacked some of the depths of what it means to love.

Love was also the talk at the table at which I sat for lunch. The news that an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and lecturer at two Pontifical Universities) had “come out” yesterday and furthermore introduced his partner to the media, inevitably was part of the conversation. The timing of his announcement was of course as orchestrated as it is in my view damaging. He has said he hopes his actions will help the Synod address with seriousness the question of homosexual love. I suspect, however, that the outcome of his actions may well be to the contrary. Grandstanding a position rarely wins friends. I have never met this particular gay Monsignore but I wondered, I hope not uncharitably, if his move were not laced with narcissism. He will have put wind in the sails of all those who struggle to engage in conversation about sexual orientation. Boh! as an Italian prelate sitting next to me proclaimed, and then sensibly he suggested let’s have a limoncello.

Bishop Charles Drennan is Bishop of Palmerston North.