POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER – VATICAN INSIDER: CARDINAL WUERL TALKS ABOUT THE SYNOD – THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER

His general prayer intention is: “That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.”

His missionary intention is: “That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.”

VATICAN INSIDER: CARDINAL WUERL TALKS ABOUT THE SYNOD

Tune in this weekend to “Vatican Insider” for my conversation with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, who was in Rome for 3 weeks for the synod on the family – his 7th synod  – and talks to us about that event,  the media coverage, the methodology and the final document. The cardinal was one of 10 people on the commission who put that final document together – and he will tell you how. The original synod message is in Italian, and we are awaiting translations. The relatio has been given to the Holy Father who will write an Apostolic Exhortation.

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Cardinal Wuerl and I first met in Rome during the September 1975 canonization of St. Elizabeth Seton when then-Father Wuerl was the priest secretary to American Cardinal John Joseph Wright, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. His Eminence wanted a secretary for personal correspondence on weekends and, given his great love for Joan of Arc and his vast book collection about her, when my name was proposed, he was apparently enthusiastic (I originally wrote ‘he jumped at the chance’) about the idea of a Joan becoming his secretary. Father, then Bishop and now Cardinal Wuerl and I have followed each other over the years and, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome!  At least for a synod!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

MY FAVORITE STORY OF THE DAY – Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches – a cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican’s XI on Rome’s Campanelle grounds. Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat on Thursday after the St. Peter’s Cricket Club beat the Church of England’s XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.  Pope Francis promptly signed it himself.

POPE-CRICKET BAT

The Vatican team includes seminarians and priests studying at Rome’s pontifical universities. They are 4-0 this season ahead of an April rematch with the Royal Household.  Australia’s Vatican ambassador, John McCarthy, said the Anglicans’ visit “strengthened personal and institutional relations” between the two churches.  (Source: Vatican Radio: AP)

POPE WELCOMES SALVADORAN PILGRIMS – (VIS) – Friday morning 500 pilgrims from El Salvador, who are in Rome to give thanks for the beatification of Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, met with the Holy Father in the Paul VI Hall. The Pope defined the Salvadoran bishop martyr as a “good pastor, full of love for God and close to his brothers who, living the dynamism of the Beatitudes, gave his life in a violent way while celebrating the Eucharist, the supreme sacrifice of love, sealing with his own blood the Gospel that he announced. … From the very beginning of the life of the Church, Christians have always believed that the blood of martyrs is a seed for Christians, as Tertuliano said. Today too, in a dramatic way, the blood of a great number of Christian martyrs continues to be shed on the fields of the world, with the certain hope that will bear fruit in a rich harvest of holiness, justice, reconciliation and love of God. But we must remember that one is not born a martyr. …. “Indeed, the martyr is not someone relegated to the past, a beautiful image that adorns our churches and which we recall with a certain nostalgia. No, the martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the communion of saints and who, united with Christ, does not ignore our earthly pilgrimage, our sufferings, our anxieties.”

PAPAL MESSAGE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING – (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Santa Marta Group, an initiative he personally launched in the battle against human trafficking, involving the security forces of various countries, episcopates, social organisations and representatives of various religious confessions. The group is currently meeting at San Lorenzo del Escorial in Spain. It was inaugurated today by Queen Sofia and attended by cardinals, bishops, social activists and around fifty heads of police from around the world. In his message, Francis wrote that, in the short time of its existence, “this worthy group has made significant achievements and is called upon to play a decisive role in the eradication of human trafficking and modern slavery.” He noted that during the last year there have been important institutional changes that have without doubt supported its activity, starting with the meeting of mayors in Vatican City on 21 July, in which key figures signed a declaration expressing their commitment to eliminating the new forms of slavery that constitute a crime against humanity.

Human trafficking

FRANCIS MARKS CELAM’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY – (VIS) – To commemorate 60 years of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Pope Francis wrote a message to CELAM president, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, in which he expresses his gratitude for all the good the Lord has gradually sown there, and that has borne fruit through the service of God’s Church in Latin America. “I hope that CELAM, making pastoral and missionary conversion its priority, may increasingly participate in, support and give momentum to this evangelising movement towards all environments and all frontiers. It is important that our communities be ‘homes and schools of communion’, which attract by a surprising fraternity based on the recognition of the common father, and help always to keep alive in the Church in Latin America the passion for our peoples, the bearing of our sufferings and the capacity for Christian discernment of the vicissitudes of their recent history, to open up paths of greater equality, peace and justice.”

 

Cardinal Wuerl and I first met in Rome during the September 1975 canonization of St. Elizabeth Seton when then-Father Wuerl was the priest secretary to American Cardinal John Joseph Wright, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. His Eminence wanted a secretary for personal correspondence on weekends and, given his great love for Joan of Arc and his vast book collection about her, when my name was proposed, he was apparently enthusiastic (I originally wrote ‘he jumped at the chance’) about the idea of a Joan becoming his secretary. Father, then Bishop and now Cardinal Wuerl and I have followed each other over the years and, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome!  At least for a synod!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

MY FAVORITE STORY OF THE DAY – Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches – a cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican’s XI on Rome’s Campanelle grounds. Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat on Thursday after the St. Peter’s Cricket Club beat the Church of England’s XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.  Pope Francis promptly signed it himself.

Pope – bat

The Vatican team includes seminarians and priests studying at Rome’s pontifical universities. They are 4-0 this season ahead of an April rematch with the Royal Household.  Australia’s Vatican ambassador, John McCarthy, said the Anglicans’ visit “strengthened personal and institutional relations” between the two churches.  (Source: Vatican Radio: AP)

POPE WELCOMES SALVADORAN PILGRIMS – (VIS) – Friday morning 500 pilgrims from El Salvador, who are in Rome to give thanks for the beatification of Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, met with the Holy Father in the Paul VI Hall. The Pope defined the Salvadoran bishop martyr as a “good pastor, full of love for God and close to his brothers who, living the dynamism of the Beatitudes, gave his life in a violent way while celebrating the Eucharist, the supreme sacrifice of love, sealing with his own blood the Gospel that he announced. … From the very beginning of the life of the Church, Christians have always believed that the blood of martyrs is a seed for Christians, as Tertuliano said. Today too, in a dramatic way, the blood of a great number of Christian martyrs continues to be shed on the fields of the world, with the certain hope that will bear fruit in a rich harvest of holiness, justice, reconciliation and love of God. But we must remember that one is not born a martyr. …. “Indeed, the martyr is not someone relegated to the past, a beautiful image that adorns our churches and which we recall with a certain nostalgia. No, the martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the communion of saints and who, united with Christ, does not ignore our earthly pilgrimage, our sufferings, our anxieties.”

PAPAL MESSAGE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING – (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Santa Marta Group, an initiative he personally launched in the battle against human trafficking, involving the security forces of various countries, episcopates, social organisations and representatives of various religious confessions. The group is currently meeting at San Lorenzo del Escorial in Spain. It was inaugurated today by Queen Sofia and attended by cardinals, bishops, social activists and around fifty heads of police from around the world. In his message, Francis wrote that, in the short time of its existence, “this worthy group has made significant achievements and is called upon to play a decisive role in the eradication of human trafficking and modern slavery.” He noted that during the last year there have been important institutional changes that have without doubt supported its activity, starting with the meeting of mayors in Vatican City on 21 July, in which key figures signed a declaration expressing their commitment to eliminating the new forms of slavery that constitute a crime against humanity.

PHOTO

FRANCIS MARKS CELAM’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY – (VIS) – To commemorate 60 years of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Pope Francis wrote a message to CELAM president, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, in which he expresses his gratitude for all the good the Lord has gradually sown there, and that has borne fruit through the service of God’s Church in Latin America. “I hope that CELAM, making pastoral and missionary conversion its priority, may increasingly participate in, support and give momentum to this evangelising movement towards all environments and all frontiers. It is important that our communities be ‘homes and schools of communion’, which attract by a surprising fraternity based on the recognition of the common father, and help always to keep alive in the Church in Latin America the passion for our peoples, the bearing of our sufferings and the capacity for Christian discernment of the vicissitudes of their recent history, to open up paths of greater equality, peace and justice.”

 

RADIO MARIA, ASSISTING THE CHURCH IN EVANGELIZATION

For the first time in recent memory, it was a fairly quiet day in the Vatican. In addition to his morning Mass with guests, Pope Francis had a meeting with members of the Radio Maria family – see his remarks below – and received in audience the president of Lithuania, Ms. Dalia Grybauskaite. In other papal news, the Vatican published the agenda for the Holy Father’s one-day trip on November 10 to Prato and Florence for the Fifth National Congress of the Italian Church. More about that as we near the date.

RADIO MARIA, ASSISTING THE CHURCH IN EVANGELIZATION

The Holy Father Thursday had an audience with members of the “Worldwide Family of Radio Maria” who are in Rome for their Sixth World Congress to reflect on the theme, “On the Roads of the World with Mary.”

Francis highlighted Radio Maria’s objective of “assisting the Church in the work of evangelization,” by “being close to the concerns and dramas of the people with words of comfort and hope, the fruit of faith and of a commitment to solidarity.” Noting that Radio Maria is in 70 countries on five continents, the Pope said this is “good news for everyone” because when there is “the courage to propose high-profile content starting from a clear Christian perspective,” it will surely be well-received, even by those hearing the Gospel for the first time.

Pope Francis exhorted Radio Maria “to persevere in its commitment, a true mission, with fidelity to the Gospel and to the Magisterium of the Church,” and to continue “to listen to society and to people, especially the poorest and the most marginalized.” Do this, he said, in the ‘interior garden’ of prayer, listening to the Word of God” and “doing those very things you propose to your listeners.”

Never forget, said Pope Francis told Radio Maria staff, “the great and unique” gift you offer to those they serve: the gift of Christian hope.”

 

VATICAN MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF VATICAN COUNCIL II DECLARATION, “NOSTRA AETATE” – PAPAL CHIROGRAPH ESTABLISHES GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS FOUNDATION

POPE FRANCIS’ TWEET FOR PARENTS: Parents, can you “waste time” with your children? It is one of the most important things that you can do each day.

VATICAN MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF VATICAN COUNCIL II DECLARATION, “NOSTRA AETATE”

The faithful received a special treat today at the weekly general audience as the gathering was dedicated to marking the 50th anniversary of a celebrated Vatican document, “Nostra Aetate,” on the relations between the Catholic Church and non-Christian religions. Representatives of various religions, as well as the participants in an international congress that commemorated this document, were at the papal audience and later spoke at the Holy See Press Office.

My photo of a photo of a Vatican Council II session given to a cousin of mine who attended the Council, and who gave it to me:

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The congress was organized by several Vatican offices, including the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Gregorian University. “Nostra Aetate” is Latin for “In Our Time.”

Pope Francis explained today’s anniversary to the pilgrims in the rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square, first noting that he had greeted the sick and elderly who, due to the weather conditions, were participating in the audience via giant screens in the Paul VI Hall.

Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, began the celebrations with brief remarks, after which a short excerpt from “Nostra Aetete” was read in the languages traditionally used at the weekly papal audience.

In his greetings to the pilgrims, the Pope had special words of appreciation for those from other religions who were present at today’s audience, and he noted that this is the case every Wednesday. Summaries of today’s catechesis in Italian were later given in French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, German and Polish.

“Vatican Council II was an extraordinary moment of reflection, dialogue and prayer to renew the gaze of the Catholic Church upon herself and the world,” began Pope Framcis. The Council was “a reading of the signs of the times in order to bring her up to date, guided by a dual fidelity: fidelity to the ecclesial tradition and fidelity to the history of the men and women of our time.”

He stressed that the message of the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” remains valid today, and then listed its key points: the growing interdependence of peoples; the human search for meaning in life, suffering and death, questions that always accompany our journey; the common origin and common destiny of humanity; the unity of the human family; religions as the search for God or the Absolute, within the various ethnic groups and cultures; the Church’s benevolent and careful view of all religions, which does not reject anything good or true in them; the Church’s esteem for all believers of all religions, appreciating their spiritual and moral commitment; and finally, the Church’s openness to dialogue with all, while remaining at the same time faithful to the truth in which she believes, starting from the salvation offered to all that has its origin in Jesus, the sole saviour, and that is worked by the Holy Spirit, as the source of peace and love.”

Noting the many initiatives and examples of institutional or personal relations with non-Christian religions since the publication on October 28, 1965. of “Nostra Aetate,” the Pope said, “the most significant among them include the meeting in Assisi on October 27, 1986, promoted by St. John Paul II.” He also praised the great transformation over 50 years in the relationship between Christians and Jews. “Indifference and opposition have turned into cooperation and benevolence, From enemies and strangers, we have become friends and brothers!”

This was a point that Francis stressed today: men and women of faith, of different faiths, even of no faith, are all brothers and sisters.

He explained that, “mutual knowledge, respect and esteem constitute the way that, valid for relations with Jews, is similarly relevant to relations with other religions. I think in particular of Muslims who, as the Council states, ‘adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of Heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men’. They refer to the paternity of Abraham, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, they honour His virgin Mother Mary, they await the day of judgement, and practise prayer, charity and fasting.”

“Open and respectful dialogue, respecting the rights of others to life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms: that is, freedom of conscience, thought, expression and religion,” said the Pope, must mark our relationships.

“The world looks to us as believers,” underscored the Holy Father, and it “exhorts us to collaborate among ourselves and with men and women of good will who do not profess any religion, and asks us for effective answers on several issues: peace, hunger, the poverty that afflicts millions of people, the environmental crisis, violence, especially that committed in the name of religion, corruption, moral degradation, the crisis of the family, the economy and finance, and above all, hope.

“We believers do not have solutions for these problems, but we have a great resource: prayer. We must pray. Prayer is our treasury, which we draw from according to our respective traditions, to ask for the gifts humanity yearns for.”

The Pope conceded that violence and terrorism have given rise to “an attitude of suspicion and indeed condemnation with regard to religions. In reality, since no religion is immune to the risk of fundamentalist or extremist deviations by individuals or groups, it is necessary to look instead to the positive values they embody and promote, and which are a wellspring of hope.”

Francis stated that the upcoming extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy will offer an opportunity for collaboration in charitable works. “In this field, where compassion is most important, we can join with many people who do not consider themselves to be believers or who are in search of God and truth, people who place the face of others at the centee especially their brothers and sisters in need.”

Let us all pray for the future of interreligious dialogue, concluded Francis, “And pray for each other, as we are brothers! Without the Lord, nothing is possible; with Him, everything is possible.”

PAPAL CHIROGRAPH ESTABLISHES GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS FOUNDATION

With a chirograph dated today and made public this morning, Pope Francis instituted the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, marking yet another Vatican document anniversary. He expressed his gratitude to the Congregation for Catholic Education for its initiatives to mark the 50th anniversary of the Declaration “Gravissimum educationis” on Christian education, promulgated by Vatican Council II on October 28, 1965.

A chirograph is a hand-signed papal document, usually limited to members of or some aspect of the Roman Curia. Interestingly enough, chirograph has its roots in medieval law where it referred to a kind of document written in duplicate (or more) on a single piece of parchment and then cut across a single word, so that each bearer of a portion could prove it matched the others.

“I am likewise pleased,” says Francis in the chirograph, “to learn that the same dicastery wishes to constitute on this occasion a Foundation entitled Gravissimum Educationis, with the aim of pursuing “scientific and cultural ends, intended to promote Catholic education in the world. The Church recognizes the ‘extreme importance of education in the life of man and how its influence ever grows in the social progress of this age’, (and how they) are profoundly linked to the fulfilment of ‘the mandate she has received from her divine founder of proclaiming the mystery of salvation to all men and of restoring all things in Christ’.”

The Holy Father also instituted the new foundation, with prenises in Vatican City, as public canonical and civil juridical persons, saying it will be subject to current canon law and current civil law in Vatican City.

 

ON THE ROAD TOGETHER – THE FINAL POST

ON THE ROAD TOGETHER – THE FINAL POST

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, the Blogging Bishop of Brisbane as he has been nicknamed, journeyed with the Pope, Synod Fathers and invited guests here in Rome at the synod on the family, and he is now on the long journey back to Australia. This was his final post from Rome and it is an articulate, personal and yet very eye-opening account of the just-concluded synod on the family. If you have read his previous synod columns that I have posted on “Joan’s Rome,” you will surely also want to read this one!

“The Synod journey is far from over; in some ways an important new phase is only beginning. But we are much better equipped … this doesn’t mean we have a detailed road-map; but Abrahamic journeys never do. They require instead a listening of another and deeper kind.”

October 26, 2015

Into St. Peter’s we marched yesterday to close the Synod that had opened three weeks ago. It seemed like three months. When I made it to my place and sat down, I felt a fatigue come over me – probably the let-down after the intensity and sheer hard work of the Synod journey. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder, thinking it was either my guardian angel or an MC telling me I was in the wrong place. But no: it was the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See who’d been sitting in the front row in all his finery and then saw me take my place. He needed to speak with me. Under Pope Francis, it seems, diplomatic formalities aren’t what they used to be. No one stays in their proper place any more. All these surprises can be exhausting.

Some of the archbishop’s photos in Rome:

ABP COLERIDGE - final synod mass

There have been a thousand different accounts of how the Synod ended and what it all means. They range from the absurd to the insightful via the ideological and bland. Many of them view the Synod through a political lens and ask who won and who lost; they count the numbers. That there were politics is hardly news; it was there for all to see, especially for us inside the Synod. But what was equally clear by the end was that there was more than politics to the process; there really was “something greater than Solomon.” This was patent at the very end when Pope Francis spoke, leaving us with the sense that this wasn’t just Jorge Bergoglio but Peter speaking to the brothers and sisters. Here was “something greater.” So too with the homily during yesterday’s Mass, delivered in a low-key, almost gentle tone which may have been in part because the Pope himself was weary. That was one of my thoughts when the fatigue came over me at the start: what must the nearly 79-year-old Pope feel like?

A couple of bits of the homily especially hit the ear hard and reached deep. The Gospel of the day was the healing of blind beggar, Bartimaeus, from the Gospel of Mark, and here are the two paragraphs of the homily that stayed with me:

“There are some temptations for those who follow Jesus. The Gospel shows at least two of them. None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did. They continued to walk, going on as if nothing were happening. If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf: his problem was not their problem. This can be a danger for us: in the face of constant problems, it is better to move on, instead of letting ourselves be bothered. In this way, just like the disciples, we are with Jesus but we do not think like him. We are in his group, but our hearts are not open. We lose wonder, gratitude and enthusiasm, and risk becoming habitually unmoved by grace. We are able to speak about him and work for him, but we live far from his heart, which is reaching out to those who are wounded. This is the temptation: a ‘spirituality of illusion’: we can walk through the deserts of humanity without seeing what is really there; instead, we see what we want to see. We are capable of developing views of the world, but we do not accept what the Lord places before our eyes. A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts.

“There is a second temptation, that of falling into a ‘scheduled faith’. We are able to walk with the People of God, but we already have our schedule for the journey, where everything is listed: we know where to go and how long it will take; everyone must respect our rhythm and every problem is a bother. We run the risk of becoming the ‘many’ of the Gospel who lose patience and rebuke Bartimaeus. Just a short time before, they scolded the children (cf. 10:13) and now the blind beggar: whoever bothers us or is not of our stature is excluded. Jesus, on the other hand, wants to include, above all those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him. They, like Bartimaeus, have faith, because awareness of the need for salvation is the best way of encountering Jesus.”

Listening to this, it was tempting to think that the Pope was playing the partisan game. But not so. To say that this applies to others and not to me is to mishear what Francis is saying and fall into the trap of seeing the Synod as no more than politics, a partisan play of power. The Pope’s words applied to every one of us listening to him. The same was true of the words he spoke at the end of the Synod or at the celebration of the Synod’s 50 years. This Pope is no ideologue; he loathes ideology. He has an acute political sense, but he doesn’t play politics. He knows there are different convictions and positions, but he rises above the differences.

At times during the Synod I was struck by the apocalyptic vision of some of those most ardently opposed to any thought of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried or a more humane and compassionate approach to homosexual people. For a few, the Synod seemed like Armageddon, the final battle between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. It was good versus evil, black versus white, all or nothing. No wonder they were anxious. Related to this is a view that I cited in an earlier post and which was heard at times in the Hall. It was an anxiety that we might see “the triumph of sociology over theology, history over metaphysics, the subjective over the objective and, fundamentally, becoming over being.” The sense of antagonism expressed here is part of what I mean by an apocalyptic vision. It’s one or the other; it couldn’t be both. This ends up opposing, at least implicitly, truth and mercy, Church and world, the doctrinal and the pastoral. Yet this essentially pastoral Synod – a fact at times obscured – was surely about finding new convergences, not reinforcing old antagonisms. Of course there are antagonisms, but there’s also “something greater than Solomon,” which means the possibility of convergence beyond antagonism. That, I think, is the work of the Holy Spirit who, we kept saying, was the prime mover of the Synod and is the prime agent of evangelisation.

Did the Synod achieve much? Yes and no. The very fact that we voted to accept all 94 paragraphs of the final document was important, no matter that some of the votes were close. The Synod brought to the surface what had been submerged – that the pastors are not of one mind and heart on some of the deepest and most complex issues facing the Church. This might be considered a negative of the Synod, but I see it as a positive. An essentially pastoral approach has to start with the facts. It’s no good living in some idealised Pollyanna world where all the bishops are supposed to be perfectly united, mind and heart. They aren’t; and at least now we know that as we journey on together. We have a more realistic basis for what lies ahead as we explore more of what synodality means. We’re living in the world that is, rather than the world as we might wish it to be. Yet our differences didn’t amount to open warfare or lead to irretrievable breakdown. That’s what the final voting showed and why it mattered.

The final document isn’t perfect nor does it provide pat answers to all the tough questions. It doesn’t try to say everything about everything, as some seemed to think it should. But it’s a vast improvement on the Synod working document, and it does provide the Pope with something he can work with. It’s clear and compassionate, doctrinally sound and pastorally sensitive. There’s a fair bit of Church-speak, but the document doesn’t drown in it; and its preference is to speak positively rather than negatively, to affirm rather than condemn.

Some think that the fruits of this Synod process, reaching back to late 2013 when Pope Francis announced the two Synods, are meagre indeed, given the time, energy and resources that have been required. That sense of disappointment is tied, I think, to unrealistic expectation. As I look back now, I think we’ve achieved about as much as we could realistically have expected to achieve. We’ve certainly come to a deeper sense of the synodality of the whole Church – and both episcopal collegiality and the Petrine ministry within that context. That in itself may turn out to be the major achievement of this Synod process and what Pope Francis always had in mind.

As he has said and as we’ve all come to feel, the Synod journey is far from over; in some ways an important new phase is only beginning. But we are much better equipped for the new phase because of what’ happened since late 2013. This doesn’t mean we have a detailed road-map; but Abrahamic journeys never do. They require instead a listening of another and deeper kind. Through these weeks we’ve listened to each other; and at times that’s been hard work. Part of the hard work has been resisting the temptation not to listen to certain voices or to listen only to those with whom one agrees. But if this Synod process has produced a (slightly or substantially) more listening Church, then it will have been worthwhile.

In these blog posts, I’ve spoken often enough of the moments of farce that punctuated the Synod. Looking back, they were more important than I thought at the time, when they seemed simply welcome distractions about which I could blog to give people a bit of a chuckle and a sense that the Synod wasn’t all doom and gloom. Kierkegaard, I’m told, was a great aficionado of farce. He preferred its spontaneity, singularity and contingency to the ideal or universal aims of other dramatic forms admired by other critics. That may be why the Synod’s farcical moments made such an impression on me, and why I bothered recounting them to you. I’ve never thought of myself as a Kierkegaardian before this, but now I do … a bit.

Today I pack my bags and look to another long journey – the haul from Rome back to Brisbane which takes most of a day. The blog has turned out to be a bigger thing than I expected; I thought it’d be just to keep a few folks back home in the picture. But it’s been more than that. If it’s helped others be part of the Synod, I’m glad. It’s certainly helped me to focus my thoughts and feelings through the Synod and to maintain a sense that it wasn’t just about us bishops in an upstairs room but about the whole Church. But now I return to the silence from which I came – and to Australia where we’ll have to ask what all this means for us as the synodal journey continues. Thanks for your company.

 

POPE FRANCIS ADDRESSES CHALDEAN BISHOPS, SPEAKS OF “HEMORRHAGE OF FAITHFUL” FROM LANDS “DEVASTATED BY HATRED”

POPE FRANCIS ADDRESSES CHALDEAN BISHOPS, SPEAKS OF “HEMORRHAGE OF FAITHFUL” FROM LANDS “DEVASTATED BY HATRED”

The synod on the family that just concluded brought bishops from the universal church to Rome to discuss critical issues and challenges facing the family in contemporary society. Bishops came from far flung corners of the world, including Tonga in the middle of the Pacific to places north and south of the equator to the diocese of Rome whose bishop is Pope Francis.

The Holy Father closed the synod on the family Sunday with a final Mass and homily and on Monday he addressed another synod whose bishops have far more serious problems than some of the ones we have been talking about.

They are in Rome to discuss the very survival of their Church, of their faithful.

Pope Francis, in fact, addressed the synod of Chaldean bishops from around the world as they gather in Rome for five days, relocating to the Eternal City after their planned September 22 synod in Ankawa in northern Iraq had to be postponed. The Pope spoke to the 21 bishops from Chaldean dioceses in Iraq, the Middle East and the diaspora as they gathered in Rome from the United States, Australia and Canada. Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako was already in Rome, having attended the synod on the family.

Ankawa is a suburb of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. It is a majority Christian town that is housing great numbers of refugees who have fled incredible dangerous situations in Iraqi cities such as Mosul, where ISIS terrorists have taken over.

I know quite a number of the Chaldean bishops and will be meeting several of them tomorow during their early afternoon break. In fact, it was at the Chaldean seminary in Ankawa that I stayed during both of my visits to this land, and it was then Fr. Warda who was the rector during my first visit. I also got to know his friend, Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul (he is now in Australia with the diaspora), and became acquainted with Archbishop – now Patriarch – Louis Sako.

IRAQ - LEBANON  2010 115

The Pope’s talk to the bishops Monday brought back so many memories of my two trips to Iraq, the second being to attend the episcopal consecration of my friend Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil. How we became friends is like something out of a movie!

Abp. Warda’s episcopal consecration:

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The Holy Father’s address speaks not only to the Iraqi and Chaldean situation but to that of the entire Middle East. Yesterday I gave a few excerpts from that talk: Following is his entire address to the prelates.

Dear Brother Bishops, I welcome you with joy and I thank His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako for his kind words. I take this occasion to reach out, through you, to the faithful and all those dwelling in the beloved lands of Iraq and Syria in this particularly troubled and sensitive moment, with a message of comfort and Christian solidarity. With the approach of the Jubilee Year, may God’s mercy soothe the wounds of war afflicting the heart of your communities, that no one may feel discouragement in this time when the outcry of violence seems to drown out our heartfelt prayers for peace.

Today the situation in your lands of origin is gravely compromised by the fanatical hatred sown by terrorism, which continues to cause a great hemorrhage of faithful who leave the lands of their fathers, where they grew up firmly rooted in the furrow of tradition. This state of affairs clearly undermines the vital Christian presence in that land which witnessed the beginning of the journey of the Patriarch Abraham, heard the voice of the Prophets who called Israel to hope during the Exile, and saw the foundation of the first Churches upon the blood of many martyrs. There too Christians bore witness to the fullness of the Gospel, made their specific contribution to the growth of society over centuries of peaceful coexistence with our Islamic brothers and sisters. Sadly, these are times which are instead marked by countless examples of persecution, and even martyrdom.

The Chaldean Church, which suffers from the war, is also conscious of the needs of the faithful in the diaspora, who are desirous to maintain their solid roots while becoming part of new situations. So I confirm, today more than ever, the complete support and solidarity of the Apostolic See in favour of the common good of the entire Chaldean Church. I pray that Christians will not be forced to abandon Iraq and the Middle East – I think especially of the sons and daughters of your Church, and their rich traditions. I urge you to work tirelessly as builders of unity in all the provinces of Iraq, fostering dialogue and cooperation among all those engaged in public life, and contributing to healing existing divisions while preventing new ones from arising.

Your visit enables me to renew my heartfelt appeal to the international community to adopt every useful strategy aimed at bringing peace to countries terribly devastated by hatred, so that the life-giving breeze of love will once more be felt in places which have always been a crossroads for peoples, cultures and nations. May the peace for which we all hope arise on the horizon of history, so that the grievous tragedies caused by violence may yield to a climate of mutual coexistence.

The Synod which you are celebrating these days in Urbe , is a “journeying together”, a favorable moment of exchange amid the diversities which enrich your fraternal communion under the gaze of Christ, the Good Shepherd. As I had occasion to say in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, “Journeying together is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice… Let us never forget this! For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday, today and always, the only authority is the authority of service, the only power is the power of the cross. As the Master tells us: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” ( Mt 20:25-27). It shall not be so among you : in this expression we touch the heart of the mystery of the Church, and we receive the enlightenment necessary to understand our hierarchical service” (Address for the Fifieth Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops , 17 October 2015).

I ask, then, to take up the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to have among you the mind of Christ (cf. Phil 2:5), acting with mercy, humility, patience and a mutual acceptance which gives rise to communion.

May the work of the Synod reflect a sense of responsibility, participation and service. Keep always before you the image of the Good Shepherd who is concerned for the salvation of his sheep, and is especially concerned for those who have strayed. May you imitate him: zealous in seeking the salus animarum of priests as well as laity, realizing full well that the exercise of communion sometimes demands a genuine kenosis , a self-basement and self-spoliation.

I encourage you to be a father to your priests and all consecrated men and woman, who are your primary collaborators, and, in respect for tradition and canonical norms, to be accepting of them, benevolent and understanding of their needs, discerning ways to help them be ever more aware of the demands of their ministry and service to the faithful. In doing so, you will bridge distances and discern the response to be given to the pressing needs of the Chaldean Church today, in your native lands and in the diaspora. In this way the reflections which emerge from your discussions will be able to provide fruitful solutions to your current needs and points of convergence for resolving liturgical and more general issues.

As I urge you to carry on your pastoral responsibilities with fraternal communion and a missionary spirit, I ask all of you, their pastors, to bring my words of encouragement to the faithful of the Chaldean Church. May they echo on your lips as a caress from the Pope that warms their hearts.

Entrusting the Chaldean Church to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, I impart to you, your priests and religious, and all the faithful, my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of hope and consolation in the love of our Merciful God.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 26: THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

MONDAY, OCTOBER 26: THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

POPE FRANCIS ADDRESSES SYNOD OF CHALDEAN BISHOPS – (Vatican Radio) – Pope Francis Monday addressed the members of the Synod of the Chaldean Church, reminding them that “the only authority is the authority of service, the only power is the power of the Cross”. He spoke about the responsible use of authority in the Church, saying “journeying together is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice”. The Holy Father urged the prelates to “keep always before you the image of the Good Shepherd who is concerned for the salvation of his sheep …  May you imitate him: zealous in seeking the salus animarum of priests as well as laity, realizing full well that the exercise of communion sometimes demands a genuine kenosis, a self-basement and self-spoliation.” Francis lamented the situation caused by hatred sowed through terrorism, saying it has created “a great hemorrhage of faithful who leave the lands of their father.” The Pope affirmed the “complete support and solidarity of the Apostolic See in favour of the common good of the entire Chaldean Church”, as many Christians are displaced by violence. (more details tomorrow)

POPE RECEIVES GYPSY PEOPLE – (VIS, Vatican Radio) – This morning, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the World Pilgrimage of Gypsy People, which gathered together Roma, Sinti and other itinerant peoples, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples in collaboration with the “Migrantes” Foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference and the “Migrantes” Office of the diocese of Rome and the Sant’Egidio Community. Pope Francis noted there was a strong growth in vocations to the priesthood and ‎religious ‎life from among the gypsy people, holding out an Indian bishop from among them as case in ‎point.  ‎‎“Today we have with us Bishop Devprasad Ganawa, a son of this people,” Pope Francis said, ‎pointing ‎to the first bishop from among the gypsies appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to Jhabua, ‎Madhya ‎Pradesh, in 2009 and then to Udaipur, Rajasthan, in 2012. His remark ‎came during the meeting with some 7000 gypsies from around the world. Monay was the final day of a ‎‎4-day ‎pilgrimage to Rome, to commemorate 50 years of the historic visit of Blessed Pope Paul ‎VI to a ‎gypsy ‎camp in Pomezia, near Rome.

FRANCIS MEETS MILITARY CHAPLAIN TRAINEES – (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday urged the “abolition of war” while meeting participants in a training course for military chaplains jointly organized by the Congregation for Bishops, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The course explored some of the current challenges of international humanitarian law regarding the protection of human dignity during internal armed conflicts and the so-called “new conflicts.” Pope Francis told the participants the issue is “unfortunately, very topical” due to the increased violence and armed conflicts in different parts of the world, such as Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. “In this age, in which we are experiencing a ‘piecemeal third world war ‘, you are called upon to supply the military and their families with the spiritual and ethical dimensions which help them to face the difficulties and often harrowing questions inherent in this peculiar service to their country and to humanity,” he said.

CHURCH LEADERS SIGN APPEAL FOR FRUITFUL COP 21 CONFERENCE – (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Appeal by by Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops from across the globe representing the continental groupings of national episcopal conferences, to the negotiators of the COP 21 in Paris (Conference of Parties), to be held from 30 November to 11 December this year. The initiative was promoted by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, inspired by the Holy Father’s Encyclical “Laudato si’” The appeal is issued by Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops from across the globe representing the continental groupings of national episcopal conferences and it is addressed to those negotiating the COP 21 in Paris, calling on them to work toward the approval of a fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement. “Representing the Catholic Church from the five continents, we Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops have come together to express, on our own behalf and on behalf of the people for whom we care, the widely-held hope that a just and legally binding climate agreement will emerge from the negotiations of the COP 21 in Paris. We advance a ten-point policy proposal, drawing on the concrete experience of people across the continents, and linking climate change to social injustice and the social exclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.”

LAUDATO SI

PAPAL TELEGRAM UPON DEATH OF SLOVAK CARDINAL KOREC – (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava, president of the Episcopal Conference of Slovakia, for the death last Saturday of Cardinal Jan Chryzostom Korec, at the age of 91. The Pope remembers with profound emotion the archbishop emeritus of Nitra, a committed and generous pastor who throughout his long episcopal ministry was a “fearless witness of the Gospel and a tireless defender of the Christian faith and the rights of the person”. The cardinal, who was imprisoned for several years and prevented from freely exercising his episcopal mission, “did not let himself be intimidated, always giving a luminous example of strength and trust in divine providence, as well as faithfulness to the See of Peter”, Francis writes. “I thank the Lord for having given His Church this eminent priestly and episcopal figure, and raise fervent prayers to God that He might welcome in His eternal joy, after so much suffering, this good and faithful servant”.

THE SYNOD’S LIGHTS AND SHADOWS SEEN IN FINAL DOCUMENT

Following is an excellent summary of remarks made by Fr. Lombardi after the release Saturday evening of the final document of the three week-long synod on the family. The document, published at this point only in the original Italian, will eventually be published in other languages after what everyone hopes will be careful and accurate translations. There were huge translation problems at the 2014 synod – at least from Italian into English – where entire meanings of paragraphs were changed.

The 94-paragraph document has been given to Pope Francis and, as I write, only the Holy Father knows what will come of that. Will he produce a magisterial papal document – as hoped for by many Synod Fathers and other participants? Will it be given to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to file away with other documents – or will it produce a new one?

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the document is how it was reported on by the media. Headlines ranged from observations and victory language on the far right to observations and language of victories won on the far left. And just about everything in between.

For now, here is Father Lombardi’s summary. When we have the entire English translation (and I’ve checked it out against the Italian), I’ll bring you that. I will try in coming days to synthesize the Pope’s speech to the synod at its closing.

(VIS) – The Synod Fathers approved by 177 votes out of 265, a two-thirds majority, the final Relatio of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod on the Family, made up of 94 paragraphs, each one of which was voted on individually. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave a briefing on the document, which was authorised for publication in Italian by Pope Francis. (photo ANSA for news.va)

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI

Fr. Lombardi remarked that the text takes into account the many difficulties faced by the family, but also its great capacity for facing and reacting to them. The conclusive document of the Synod includes many of the amendments to the Instrumentum Laboris presented by the Synod Fathers and therefore reflects the voice of the Assembly.

With reference to the two paragraphs dedicated to complex family situations, which were approved by a very slender majority of 178 and 180 votes, Fr. Lombardi noted that they regard the pastoral approach to wounded families or those that are irregular from a canonical point of view and in terms of the discipline of the Church: in particular, cohabitation, civil marriage, divorced and remarried persons and the way of pastorally addressing these situations.

Fr. Lombardi underlined that the tone of the document is positive and welcoming, and that it has greatly enriched the Instrumentum Laboris. Similarly, the Pope’s Motu Proprio on the reform of marriage annulment procedures made an effective and decisive contribution to the theme of the Synod.

The final Relatio reaffirms the doctrine of the indissolubility of sacramental marriage, which is not a yoke but rather a gift from God, a truth based in Christ and in His relationship with the Church. At the same time, it underlines that truth and mercy converge in Christ, which leads to welcome to wounded families. Without expressly mentioning access to the Eucharist for remarried divorcees, the Synod document recalls that they are not excommunicated and refers the analysis of complex family situations to the discernment of pastors. This discernment, the text underlines, must be applied in accordance with the teaching of the Church, with trust in God’s mercy that is denied to no-one. With regard to cohabiting couples, the text reiterates that this situation should be faced constructively, seeking to transform it into an opportunity for a path to conversion towards the fullness of marriage and family, in the light of the Gospel.

Other salient points of the document refer to homosexuality. There must be no discrimination against people with homosexual tendencies, but at the same time the text states that the Church is contrary to same-sex unions and external pressure on the Church in relation to this matter is not accepted. There are special paragraphs dedicated to immigrants, refugees and persecuted families who are often divided and whose members can become victims of trafficking. A welcoming approach was invoked for them too, recalling their rights and also their duties in their host countries.

There are specific paragraphs on women, men and children, the mainstays of family life: the text emphasises the need for the protection and the recognition of the value of their respective roles. It is hoped that a more prominent role will be identified for women in the formation of ordained ministers, while in relation to children mention was made of the beauty of adoption and fostering, practices which reconstruct ruptured family bonds. The Synod does not forget widows and widowers, the disabled, the elderly and grandparents, who enable the transmission of faith in the family and must be protected from the throwaway culture. Unmarried people must also be acknowledged for their commitment to the Church and society.

Among the “shadows” that are frequently cast on the family, the Synod notes the presence of political and religious fanaticism hostile to Christianity, growing individualism, gender ideology, conflicts, persecution, poverty, precarious employment, corruption, economic difficulties that can exclude families from education and culture, the globalisation of indifference in which humanity’s place at the centre of society is usurped by money, pornography, and the declining birth rate.

The Relation therefore gathers together suggestions for strengthening preparation for marriage, especially for the young who appear intimidated by it. They are in need, says the Synod, of an adequate emotional formation, following the virtues of chastity and self-giving. In this regard, mention was made of the bond between the sexual act and procreation between spouses, of which children are the most precious fruit, since they bear the memory and hope of an act of love. Another bond is that between the vocation of the family and the vocation to consecrated life. Education in sexuality and corporeality and the promotion of responsible parenting would also be central, in accordance with the teachings of Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae” and the primary role of parents in the education of their children in faith.

An appeal is launched to institutions to promote an support policies in favour of the family, and Catholics engaged in politics are exhorted to protect the family and life, as a society that neglects them loses its openness to the future. In this respect, the Synod reaffirms the sacredness of life from conception to natural death, and warns against the grave threats posed to the family by abortion and euthanasia. Further paragraphs are dedicated to mixed marriages, whose positive aspects in relation to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue are underlined, while confirming the need to protect religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection in society.

The text includes extensive reflection on the need to modify the language of the Church, making it more meaningful so that the proclamation of the Gospel of the family may truly respond to the deepest human aspirations. This means not only presenting a series of regulations but rather announcing the grace that gives the capacity to live well the good of the family.

Finally, the Relatio emphasises the beauty of the family: as a domestic church based on marriage between a man and a woman, the fundamental cell of the society whose growth it contributes, a safe entry to the deepest sentiments, the sole point of connection in a fragmented age, and an integral part of human ecology, it must be protected, supported and encouraged, also by the authorities.

The document concludes by a plea to the Synod Fathers by the Pope, regarding the possibility of producing a document on the family. As Fr. Lombardi explains, “The Synod Fathers do not say that all is complete, but affirm that they offer the Relatio to the Holy Father to enable him to evaluate whether to continue on this route with a document, on the basis of the Synod text, to further examine the theme of the family from the perspective he wishes to offer. ‘We continue on our path’”.