A Catholic Monthly Magazine

“Openings to Renewal” by Peter J Cullinane

Openings To Renewal: Opportunities For Grace


By Liz Pearce

“In a renewed church,” writes Peter Cullinane, “the kind of questioning that rightly belongs to adult learning will not just be allowed but encouraged.” (p 39). He has written twenty three letters, addressed to a variety of recipients, covering a broad spectrum of topics, encouraging all to open themselves to grace, to conversion, to contemplation, to compasssion and to genuine dialogue. I encourage the reader to listen deeply, pay attention to the words, to the spaces between the words, and to the whole person.

Bishop Peter says, “Too often Catholics have felt alienated from the Church in ways they do not feel alienated from Christ” (p.52). Throughout the book, he presents an issue, such as ‘receiving’ the findings of the Second Vatican Council; identifies misconceptions or flaws in our common understanding; and points us to an opening for a renewed understanding or expression of our belief or practice. It may be as simple as a clarification of terms used in the Church’s teaching on contraception, which will broaden both our vision and our compassion. He seems to be offering a bridge between Christ and the Catholic Church.

I sense a sigh throughout the letters. Perhaps a sigh of impatience, like Jesus talking to Philip, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you for such a long time?” (Jn 14:9) Or is it rather a breath held in silent hope that these openings are like ‘mud and spittle’, sloughing off the blindness built up over years of spiritual illiteracy and poor catechesis.

Bishop Peter Cullinane

Bishop Peter Cullinane

‘Openings to Renewal’ offers a firm foundation; a broad sweep of topics; a scholarly selection of reference materials; and a skilled interpretation of the blueprints. Bishop Peter offers a way to make wise, informed choices. His comments won’t please everyone. At some points, the letters are liberating and embracing. At  others, there still appears an immovable ecclesial approach.

I like openings. They illuminate; focus the attention; whet the appetite; encourage further exploration, and genuine dialogue. I hope there is room in the Church in New Zealand for us to enter ‘more deeply into revealed truth’. I recommend you read this book with the charity and clarity with which it has been written. St Benedict says, “Always we begin again” I believe this collection of letters is a graced opportunity for each of us to ‘begin again’..

Openings to Renewal, ATF Press 2011

Openings to Renewal is available at $34.99 from Pleroma Christian Supplies, 38 Higginson Street , Otane, Central Hawkes Bay


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