(From: Tuesday, October 7, 2014)
POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR CONSISTORY ON MIDDLE EAST
The Vatican announced today that a consistory for the causes of saints has been expanded to include a discussion of the situation facing Christians in the Middle East. The announcement was made by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, during this morning’s meeting of the Extraordinary Synod. The change was made especially in light of the recent meeting of apostolic nuncios from the Middle East here in Rome.
All cardinals in Rome, including those here for the Synod, are invited to attend the consistory. The principle relator at the consistory will be Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
The consistory will take place in the Vatican on October 20th.
The announcement comes as the Custody of the Holy Land confirmed that Franciscan Fr. Hanna Jallouf of the Custody of the Holy Land, and parish priest at Knayeh (Qunayeh), Syria, was abducted on Sunday night by some brigades linked to the Jahbat Al-Nusra militant group. Along with Fr. Hanna, several men of the Christian village were also taken. A number of nuns managed to escape and found refuge in nearby houses.
VATICAN CONFIRMS PAPAL TRIPS IN 2015 TO LOURDES, PARIS
Pope Francis is adding another trip to his 2015 travel agenda that already includes Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January: The Vatican has, in fact, confirmed he will visit France next year, stopping off in Paris and Lourdes. It is highly likely that the Holy Father’s 2015 pilgrimages will also include Philadelphia in September 2015 for the World Meeting of Families.
Pope Francis’ next scheduled trip is at the end of November when he will travel to Strasbourg to address the European Parliament. He will leave several days later for Turkey for a brief visit.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE, AND OTHER NOVELTIES OF THE 2014 SYNOD
I had television commitments and interviews today so was unable to attend the daily press briefing but the following is an excellent summary from Vatican Radio:
Journalists heard how the bishops meeting on the second full day of the Synod for the Family have been discussing the importance of using more inclusive language to talk about people living outside the teachings of the Church. They’ve also been stressing the need for a ‘gradual’ or ‘stepping stones’ approach to couples, and the recognition that elements of truth also exist in those relationships which do not conform to the Church’s ideal vision of family life.
The head of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi and his assistants, spoke of the many different subjects under discussion on the first two days of the Synod, in particular the need for a more sensitive and inclusive language about family life that will not turn people away from the Church. Canadian Fr Tom Rosica gave some specific examples from the English speaking bishops present at the meeting:
“Language such as ‘living in sin,’ ‘intrinsically disordered,’ or ‘contraceptive mentality’ are not necessarily words that invite people to draw closer to Christ and the Church.”
Synod participants have also been underlining the need to apply the so-called ‘law of graduality’ or ‘stepping stones approach’ as they minister to people living in all kinds of relationships that do not conform to the Church’s ideal of marriage and family life.
Philippa Hitchens reported on Vatican Radio:
Fr Lombardi used an analogy from the Second Vatican Council which led to profound changes in the Catholic Church’s relations with other Christians and people of other religious traditions. During the Council, bishops agreed that while the fullness of Christ’s Church “subsists” only in the Catholic Church, important elements of truth and holiness also exist in other churches and faith communities. In a similar way, he said, valid and important elements of true love and holiness can also exist in a relationship that does not conform to the full vision of an ideal Catholic marriage.
English Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai also shared impressions from the Synod Hall, including the call for a special message for families being persecuted for their Christian faith Iraq. They spoke about Synod Fathers who live in countries where Catholics are a tiny minority and who say the Church has much to learn from the wisdom and experience of other religious traditions.
Cardinal Nichols also described the very open and relaxed atmosphere of the Synod and the importance of hearing married couples share details of their relationships, including the pivotal role that sex plays in the life of most married couples:
“The Australian couple were quite explicit and developed in their thought and emphasis on the central role of sexuality and sexual intercourse in their marriage – now that’s not what we bishops talk about mostly! But to hear that as the opening contribution did open up an area which others followed and it was a recognition that it is often central to the wellbeing of a marriage.”
Cardinal Nichols pointed out it’s too early to draw any conclusions from these first sessions, yet it does seem clear that this first synod of Francis’ pontificate is shaping up for a much more honest and down-to-earth discussion than most bishops have experienced here in the Vatican over recent decades.
Today, in particular, you’ll want to listen to the video interview with Australian couple Ron and Mavis Pirola. I have heard they received a standing ovation after their talk in the synod hall. There is also a nulti-lingual summary of the Monday afternoon session of the synod.
For the entire list of participants, click here:
FROM THE SYNOD, IN A NUTSHELL
– Pope Francis said in an interview with the Argentinian daily La Nación, “It is important for everyone to be able to express their ideas in complete freedom. Governance of the Church is another matter. That is in my hands, after appropriate consultations.”
– The Holy Father also said on Monday: “Synod is always conducted cum Petro et sub Petro [with Peter and under Peter] and the presence of the Pope is a guarantee for all and a safeguard for the faith.”
– Is renewal in the air? The synod’s special secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, a theologian, said: “If we were to repeat what has always been said, there would be no point in holding another synod.”
– Abp. Forte also defined the synod’s work and focus on Monday at the press conference: “Souls to save, that’s what a ‘pastoral’ synod means. Doctrine is not an abstract value in itself, a bludgeon to be hammered home all the time. Doctrine is the message of salvation and at its center is the charity of God, mercy, compassion. It is necessary to look at people.”