The Parish of Burchetts Green

A hold-up in Pope Francis's reforms  inspires Rev Dilys to consider how to cope with...Set-Backs

This time it's the turn of the Roman Catholic Church to have to exercise patience and discernment in the light of proposed reform.

Recently, Pope Francis convened a synod in Rome to take the first steps in debating his pro posed reforms.

These mainly called for the Catholic church to review its attitude to people who presently are excluded from full communion because of divorce and re-marriage, homosexual issues and co-habiting couples.

He had taken the unprecedented step of asking Catholics in the parishes for their views by way of a detailed questionnaire. He is brave and determined to be open and willing to listen to ordinary folk beyond the hallowed corridors of the Vatican.

The Pope suffered a set-back when his proposals were rejected by just a few votes. We in the Church of England can empathise with how he felt. The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, was keen to stress that this is only the half-way stage and that there is much work to be done before the Synod re-convenes in a year's time.

Set-backs are part of life and they teach us not only to re-think but to recommit to whatever we believe to be right, whilst at the same time considering carefully the opposite point of view.

Our own Archbishop Justin talks about 'disagreeing well' which has been at the heart of the Anglican discussions over women in the Episcopate. This format will inform our own forthcoming debates on the issues we face next. Patience and prayer and a willingness to listen and understand opposing views proved to be the way forward.

Reform in any church takes time. We live life today at such a fast pace that we feel frustrated when we are held up by set-backs.

I have no doubt that Pope Francis wants to press ahead and make changes, but he is a wise man and will continue to exercise his charismatic leadership. This set-back will open up new discussions and in time new ways forward will be found.

We are seeing a similar pattern of argument/discussion in political life. Reform and change bring the same difficulties - overcoming opposition, keeping people from their own party on-side and trying to foresee the consequences of proposed changes.

Anyone in public life has a huge burden of responsibility to shoulder as well as having to deal with media pressure and intrusion which often unfortunately goes beyond acceptable boundaries.

Our young people also have to learn about dealing with disappointment and set-backs, in the cyber world that many youngsters inhabit, it's all too easy to expect instant results with access to an unreal world. Again, responsible behaviour is about thinking through the effect of our actions on others and understanding that not everyone thinks the way we do.

Human kindness, respect and consideration are still the building blocks for a fulfilling life. Overcoming set-backs helps us to be stronger and more resilient and hopefully more self aware. I would encourage us all to be open to change and reform but to also maintain our personal integrity in the way we respond. Enjoy the autumn colours as we move into the weeks ahead and towards Advent.

Every blessing,