Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I write this letter, I cannot help but think of the many crises that we are experiencing: the looming “fiscal cliff” and the other profound issues facing our elected leaders in our rather polarized country, including ongoing challenges to religious freedom and the care of the most vulnerable in our society . . . a civil war raging in Syria with the catastrophic toll it is taking in terms of human life and suffering . . . escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinian people . . . our brothers and sisters on the east coast still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy . . . and technology that is developing faster than we can carefully reflect on the questions that such advances pose.
It is with these realities in front of us that we enter another Advent . . . this season of expectant joy, of hope. Fifty years ago, Blessed Pope John XXIII was looking out on a not-so-different world: one in the grip of a Cold War that threatened the annihilation of the whole planet . . . one looking for answers to the problems of global poverty, the struggle for human rights and questions raised by rapidly occurring cultural shifts — including technology that was advancing at an unprecedented pace. Looking out on these scenes, there were those who saw “nothing but calamity and disaster in the present state of the world” and who said over and over “this modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating.”
Yet, in the midst of the tumult of the early 1960s, as he opened the first session of the Second Vatican Council he could say in response to them:
“One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life, had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the Church’s rightful liberty were concerned. We feel that We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.”
In this Year of Faith, we are challenged to do the same — to say “no” to the prophets of doom, those who would look at the world (or the Church) and see nothing but darkness — and instead walk through the “door of faith” with expectant joy and undiminished hope.
We are challenged to renew and deepen our relationship with the One who is the Light of the world — not blinded to the real suffering and real needs that surround us, but knowing full well that the ultimate answer to the suffering and needs, the struggles and hungers of our world lies in Christ alone, Christ whom we unreservedly and unceasingly proclaim.
In that same spirit of joy and hope that filled Blessed Pope John XXIII, I pray that you have a blessed Advent.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Martin Amos
Bishop of Davenport