“Catholics must learn from the faith and the expressions of faith and holiness in other Churches”, the Dublin archbishop has said.

– Knowledge of Jesus not “through belonging to any family or specific religious tradition”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was speaking last Saturday February 22 at a Mass in Thanksgiving for the life and witness of Blessed John Sullivan SJ, a 19th-century Church of Ireland convert renowned and venerated for “the witness of simplicity of life that he developed and his extraordinary outreach to the sick and the dying”, as the archbishop put it.

February 22 is the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle, a day on which Catholics celebrate “the special mission within the Church assigned to Saint Peter”, as Martin recalled.

Picking up on the Gospel reading of the day – the famous pronouncement of Jesus that “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” – the Dublin archbishop said that “Jesus reminds Peter that that gift of attaining a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, is not something that he received simply though his own talents or through ‘flesh and blood’, which means through belonging to any family or specific religious tradition”.

Rather, “we come closer to understanding who Jesus is through allowing the grace of the God our Father to touch our hearts and change the way we live”, Archbishop Martin explained.

– “Leadership in the Church must never be the path of the dictator”

“Mysteriously Jesus wished that the power and the holiness of the Church would be discovered through the ministry of weak and confused men and women who are not perfect, but who in the face of their own human inadequacy strive to carve out a place of integrity in their hearts that allows the hidden power of Jesus to break through”, the Dublin archbishop continued in his sermon.

“Jesus shows his power not through signs of human strength. The Church must mirror this Jesus who serves”.

Referring to the day’s first reading – “Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock”, from the First Letter of Peter – Martin insisted that “leadership in the Church must never be the path of the dictator. Jesus reveals himself not through imposition but through mercy and forgiveness”.

– “Communion with what the bishop of Rome stands for can appear fully in men and women who do not espouse the full Catholic tradition”

“Catholics consider full communion with the Bishop of Rome as an important dimension of Catholic life”, Archbishop Martin continued in his homily.

“The problem is that we often have the idea that the absence of full communion as meaning no communion”.

On the contrary, though, the prelate explained:

“Communion with the bishop of Rome is, however, not some sort of mechanical and empirical bond.

“Communion with what the bishop of Rome stands for can appear fully in men and women who do not espouse the full Catholic tradition as we understand it.

“Catholics can learn from the faith and the expressions of faith and holiness in other Churches. Catholics must learn from the faith and the expressions of faith and holiness in other Churches”, Martin insisted.

– Blessed John Sullivan, “model of an ecumenical Saint”

The Dublin archbishop concluded his sermon by pointing to Blessed John Sullivan as “the model of an ecumenical Saint”.

“It is not just that he spent the early part of his life as an Anglican and the latter part as a Roman Catholic.

“What is true is that even after becoming a Catholic and a Jesuit he remained faithful to the understanding of faith that he learned as a child and as a young man.

“His faith and his humility and his intense prayer life have their roots in both traditions”, Martin explained.

The Dublin archbishop insisted that “the task of the Church in our contemporary world is to lead people to understand the God revealed in Jesus Christ when so often they who no longer know where to seek or find Jesus”.

“This missionary task is a task for all believers over and beyond denominational divisions”, Martin affirmed.

Next on Novena:

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Dublin archbishop decries rise in Ireland of groups “clearly populist and racist”

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.