Cardinal Joseph Coutts, former archbishop of Karachi, said there is a great parallel between the synodal journey of the church currently underway and the Lenten journey the church has just began.
Both events, he said, include a communitarian as well as personal dimension. The Synod, like the Lenten journey, he said, is a call to walk the path of God, to listen to his voice, and to recognize the God of love and tenderness, mercy and compassion. God is patient and he awaits the return of the sinner like the father of the prodigal son.
Cardinal Coutts was speaking during a Mass he presided over at Baan Phu Waan, Bangkok, Thailand, February 25, the second day of the Asian continental assembly of the Synod. The three-day synodal assembly is attended by more than 100 church leaders consisting of cardinals, bishops, priests, lay men and women from across Asia. The event is marked by group reading and reflection of draft documents, moments of sharing, listening, personal and community prayer and silence.
There is a great parallel, a kind of symbiotic relationship, between the synod called by Pope Francis and the call of the prophets of the Old Testament, the cardinal said. The call is to listen to the voice of God, to walk in humility and to be open and sincere as the leaders of the church called to lead the people of God on this massive journey. Like the people of the Old Testament, it is possible for us too to go the wrong path, to lose our way. But when we go astray the Lord calls us back, beckoning us to accept his ways and follow his path.
He called Pope Francis, who initiated the worldwide synod, a prophet of our times. The synodal path we are called to take is an invitation not to reject or exclude anybody, but to take everyone along. We also need the humility to know that Jesus himself is leading us, said the Cardinal.
The 77-year old Cardinal Coutts has served as bishop of Faisalabad, Hyderabad, and archbishop of Karachi. He was the president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference from 2011 to 2017. In 2007, the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany, awarded Bishop Coutts the Shalom Prize for his commitment to interfaith dialogue in Pakistan. Pope Francis created Coutts a Cardinal in 2018. Currently he is a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. - George Plathottam
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