For the three days 10th ,11th, 12th October the Archdiocese of Wellington along with the New Zealand Bishops had the privilege of hosting Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga SDB, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa in Honduras. It was a real surprise to receive an email from him saying that he was coming to New Zealand and would like to visit Caritas and to meet with the bishops of New Zealand. It was a surprise because we knew that he was going to Rome to meet with Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals which the Pope had called together. Cardinal Oscar is the coordinator of this Council.
The bishops were very grateful to have discussions with Cardinal Oscar so soon after the inaugural meeting of the Council of Cardinals and their visit to Assisi with the Pope. However we were all very privileged to be able to formally welcome him at the Cathedral on the Friday morning. He spoke frequently over the next two days of the warmth of that welcome and how much he appreciated the Whakatau – and especially the Hongi – as well as the gifting of ulas at the Mass which preceded the welcome ceremony (the photo above is of the Cardinal giving us the love and blessings of Pope Francis in the way they do this in Honduras).
Cardinal Oscar came straight from the meeting of the Council of Cardinals and the Assisi visit. He was able to give us a real insight into Pope Francis and what he is doing, our time with him and our discussions made us all feel more connected to the Holy See and to the Holy Father. He gave us a sense of hope and excitement.
- I found it fascinating to hear from someone who had just been with the Pope about:
- the challenge to go out to the periphery - not only those who are poor and marginalised, but also those parts of the Church which are geo-graphically distant.
- the need to be a Church for the poor
- to warm peoples’ hearts and listen to them talk about the darkness of their lives
- to be people of joy
- to be deeply concerned for those who struggle in life and think there is nothing to hope for.
It was easy to see that he is a man of prayer and a man of deep gratitude. His presence among us was a blessing. May we continue to bless each other by being people of joy, hope and deep prayer.