WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Archbishop Richard Smith spoke to the annual regional meeting of Development and Peace.
The reason for the existence of Development and Peace lies in the nature of the Church itself, says Archbishop Richard Smith.
As Church, he said, we are committed to the integral development of the human being as well as to satisfy the immediate needs of the individual. "Where there is hunger, we feed."
The archbishop also noted that the human being was created in the image and likeness of God and therefore is central in the mind of the Church. The human person must be helped to reach its full potential.
Smith spoke about the "why" of Development and Peace at the regional meeting of the Alberta and Northwest Territories branch of the organization at St. Angela's Church April 28.
"I really think we need to be connecting the why of Development and Peace clearly with the nature of the Church," he said.
Smith said the mission of Development and Peace connects with the call for evangelization.
"We need to be lifting this up again and again; we are in a time of the Church when the pope is insistently calling on the need for a New Evangelization. Anyone who reflects upon this for a minute recognizes the urgent need for the New Evangelization to help our own people reconnect with the beauty of Jesus."
Smith said the most effective way to evangelize is through the witness of Caritas, the witness of love.
The archbishop said the reflection on the "why" of Development and Peace leads to questions of formation.
He said the Catholic faithful need to be informed about the purpose of Development and Peace. "People need to understand what we mean by integral human development, what is the relationship between justice and charity."
The archbishop also spoke of the need to allow people "to inform us of their priorities.
"The deepest concern of our people, if we pay attention to what comes out of their wallets, is going to be the immediate relief of people on the ground that have needs today."
Asked Smith: "Is our work accurately reflective of the will of the donors?"
He also questioned the spiritual formation that takes place among staff and volunteers of Development and Peace and asked whether staff and volunteers are praying together and how.
"How are we helping one another within Development and Peace to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ so that all of us working together are coming at this out of the same motivation?" he asked.
"Are we celebrating the Eucharist together? Are we placing the Mass at the centre of all what we do? Are we allowing ourselves to be fed and nourished by the Word of God whenever we come together? How are we allowing Jesus to be the motivation and the direction for all that we do?"
Another formational dimension that is critical and needs time and attention is the question of what we understand the Church to be, Smith said.
Among the questions on ecclesiology is the relation of bishops and laity in the one and same mission. "Each has a distinctive apostolate."
However, many have taken the word "distinct" to mean "separate," lamented the archbishop. "'You do your thing bishops, we do our things.' It doesn't work that way."
"There needs to be a close and clear relationship between the bishops who are ultimately responsible for handing on and keeping the faith, ultimately responsible for the mission of the Church, ultimately overseeing and guiding all aspects of the life of the Church."
"Last fall a few bishops including myself raised a few questions about the particular tenor of the campaign.
"One of the responses coming back was 'Who are you bishops to be telling us anything?'
"(This is) democracy within a communion hierarchically constituted. If we don't understand and grapple with this then we are going to get a lot of misunderstandings that can cause some tensions."
Smith said the bishops and Development and Peace are working on several ways to strengthen the organization's policies "but within all of that I find the relationship is good."
However, there needs to be a growing closer "and I don't even know what that would look like."