I spent a week in January with Archbishop Aquila as we were both speakers on the Good News Marriage Cruise. As always he was brilliant, approachable, and godly. I told him I wished we had 100 more like him and our country would be a different place. This is a erudite and timely message from the good Archbishop to counteract much of the garbage being taught by too many bishops today.


Radical Inclusion Requires Radical Love, by Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Feb. 1, 2023

The Church needs the courage, and love, to be clear in inviting people to leave their sin. What Jesus offers is better than what the world offers the person in sin, and his grace and power is sufficient to free anyone from the slavery to sin.

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I have written of my concerns in the past with the German Synodal Process, as well as concerns with other bishops and cardinals and their take on the process. They essentially ignore the oft repeated words of Pope Francis, that in the synodal process there must be a deep listening to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and charity that keeps us firmly attached to Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has made it clear that the synod on synodality is not about changing long standing Church teaching and is not a democratic or parliamentary process.

In a recent article, my brother bishop, Cardinal Robert McElroy, laid out a vision of the church in the context of synodality calling for “radical inclusion”. According to His Eminence, the Church “contains structures and cultures of exclusion.” He then goes on to speak about categories of people who are systematically excluded from the life of the Church. He speaks about a need for “radical inclusion” that invites all the baptized to participate fully in the life of the Church regardless of his or her relationship with the Church and Jesus Christ.

There is much that could be addressed, but I would like to focus on putting Jesus Christ first and the joy that flows from adhering to the Gospel. Staying attached to Jesus Christ the “vine” is essential, for the Lord tells us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Similarly, the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him Jesus endured the cross…” (Hb 12:1b–2 emphasis mine).

Cardinal McElroy’s reflection paints the Church as an institution that harms due to its incapacity to welcome everyone into full participation in the life of the Church. According to His Eminence, the Church categorically discriminates, but did not Jesus himself put demands on his disciples which distinguished them from those who did not respond to the radical and costly call of the Gospel?

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Indeed, in the encounter with the rich young man (cf. Mk 10:17–22), Jesus demands radical discipleship from the young man, and he lets him refuse and walk away. Furthermore, Jesus lays out the cost of discipleship as denying oneself, and even family, for the sake of the Gospel (cf. Lk 9:23–26; Mt 16:24–25; Lk 14:25–27). And, just as he was not received by everyone, he reminded his disciples as he sent them out if people did not receive the message of the Gospel to simply “shake the dust from your feet” (Mt 10:14), not wishing them ill but turning them over to the Lord.

Finally, many disciples left Jesus because of his teaching on the Bread of Life, (cf. Jn 6:66) and he goes even so far as to ask the apostles if they want to leave (cf. Jn 6:67). Jesus never waters down his teaching, nor does he appeal to conscience; he gives testimony to the truth (cf. Jn 18:37). The call Jesus gives is radical, and it goes out to everyone, but is not received by everyone because of the cost of discipleship.

The presentation given by some bishops and cardinals sadly fails to preach the radicality of the Gospel and obscures the true eternal love of the Father for the sinner.

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