Name dropping 9th May

In the early 90s I was walking to the Vatican with Cardinal Basil Hume (hence the name dropping.) The ordination of women priests was being much discussed at the time and so I asked him what he thought. He said that it would only be possible if the ‘sensus fidelium’ moved in such a way as to show us that God wished us to change the tradition of the Church in such a radical way. The idea of the ‘sensus fidelium’ is a complex one. How do you translate it? The spiritual understanding, feeling, will of the people of God? The people sensing God’s will? How is it interpreted and by whom? It is hard to answer. The Amazonian Synod recently raised the question of communities which rarely received the Eucharist/ Holy Communion, especially deep in the Amazonian area, and which were crying out for it. Was it not their right to receive what the Church tells us is the source and summit of our faith? Could we not ordain appropriate men (and I think some wanted to go further) of good family to preside at a celebration? Some years ago a Brazilian priest came to our diocese and spoke of the women’s groups that gathered under trees or in homes and shared the scriptures. He asked whether they too could not break the bread as well as the word. Many oppose this of course and they are defending a long tradition. But we are always taught it is a living tradition, just as we are all living stones, and is it not necessary to respond to people’s cry for spiritual nourishment and most of all to share in Christ himself, which we know is so vital. We know that it is from the poor that we learn. Jesus taught us that. Could it be that it is from the poor of the Amazon forest that we are hearing the will of God?

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