DAY 6: PRESS BRIEFING ON THE SYNOD – VATICAN PAPER: U.S. BISHOPS ON ASSISTED SUICIDE IN CALIFORNIA

POPE FRANCIS TWEETED TODAY: Work is important, but so too is rest. Shouldn’t we learn to respect times of rest, especially Sundays?

….and that is just what I will do tomorrow, respect the Lord’s Day and bring you up to date on the synod on Monday

 DAY 6: PRESS BRIEFING ON THE SYNOD

I was unable to cover today’s press briefing but bring you Vatican Radio’s report on Fr. Lombardi’s briefing along with His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, president of the Indian Bishops Conference and head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. (photo news.va)

HIS BEATITUDE THOTTUNKAL

A number of issues were spoken about and addressed in interventions from Synod Fathers at the Synod on the Family on Friday evening and Saturday morning. The Fathers continued with their interventions on part two of Instrumentum Laboris. Once they had completed this section they began to listen to interventions on part three, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, told the media

Fr. Lombardi told journalists that there were 75 interventions in the plenary session. There were a good number of interventions from Fathers representing Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. He noted that there were few interventions from North America.

A number of themes emerged from the interventions including the spirituality of family life, the missionary responsibility of families to look after and foster good marriages, the role of various family movements in the church and ways that the church can remain close and show tenderness to families that are struggling.

There were also a number of interventions on the relationship and balance between justice and mercy. The media were told that there are divergent views on this issue amongst the Fathers. One of the Fathers said that mercy does not mean an abandonment of the church’s teaching.

His Eminence Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, president of the Indian Bishops Conference and head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was a guest at the press briefing. He told the media that mercy means conversion which is reciprocal.  “The Gospel demands this as a condition. The Kingdom of God is at hand, be converted,” he said.

Concern was also expressed for military families. Many military personnel are far from home and often separated from their families for extended periods. These men and women, as well as their families, are in need of special pastoral care.

The Fathers acknowledged that due to diverse situations and contexts there is no such thing as a “typical family.” Many of them spoke about indissolubility being one of the essential elements of Christian marriage.

A number of Fathers also spoke earnestly about marriage preparation. Many considered pre-marriage formation to be seriously lacking. One Father suggested that the bishops themselves needed to penitentially admit that they had failed to provide formation for the lay faithful in this regard. There was a suggestion in another intervention that couples, like those in formation for the priesthood or religious life, also need a “noviciate” time before the sacrament of marriage is entered into. It was thought that the crisis in religious and priestly vocations is directly linked to the crisis in family life.

Fr. Lombardi was asked questions about the process of the Synod after it was reported that a suggestion had been made that, in future, synods are longer processes that begin with continental meetings first. This means that issues would be more focussed and refined when they were brought to the universal synod. His Beatitude Cardinal Thottunkal responded by saying that things have to start in local contexts so that it can be brought to synods like this one. He said that he saw no contradiction in this kind of methodology and thought that the fruits of such a process could be much better for the whole church.

Fr. Lombardi explained that the Instrumentum Laboris could be changed if, in the small groups, an absolute majority proposed changes. This proposal would then go to the Synod Committee. He reminded the media that interventions in the plenary were not proposals to the Synod; they are part of the “conversation.”

The effect of migration has been a reccurring theme in this Synod for the whole of the first week. Cardinal Thottunkal said that he agreed with Pope Francis’ request that people welcome migrants and are generous to them. He added, however, that he also has his own personal view on the matter. He believes that the world community and leaders should make it possible for people to be accommodated and sustained in their own countries. “We must work to keep these people in their own countries,” he said.

The Synod Fathers will return to work on Monday morning when they will, again, break into small groups to discuss part two of Instrumentum Laboris.

VATICAN PAPER: U.S. BISHOPS ON ASSISTED SUICIE IN CALIFORNIA

L’Osservatore Romano, in its October 9 online edition, offered the following article entitled, “U.S. Bishops on Assisted suicide in California – The Sick are being Discarded”:

California’s legalization of assisted suicide, which took place a few days ago when Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, signed the law, has been defined by U.S. Bishops as “a great tragedy for human life.” In a letter, adding to the firm stance of local bishops, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed his grief over this “deeply flawed action.”

The law, which will be brought into effect in the coming months, will allow terminally ill adults who are in full possession of their mental faculties to choose voluntary death through lethal drugs. The law requires the prior approval of two doctors and for many witnesses to be present – of which only one can be a relative – at the time the lethal substance is administered. According to O’Malley, “Governor Brown said he signed this law because it should not be a crime for a dying person in pain to end his life.” However, the Cardinal stressed, “suicide itself is a tragedy, not a crime. The crime is for people in authority such as physicians to facilitate the deliberate deaths of other, more vulnerable people. That crime will now be permitted in California.”

Cardinal O’Malley also said this legislation will create “confusion”, because “seriously ill patients suffering from depression and suicidal feelings will receive lethal drugs, instead of genuine care to help alleviate that suffering.”

The result, he said, is that “where such ‘assistance’ is legal, most people taking the lethal drugs do so not because of pain but because they feel they are helpless and a ‘burden’ on others. The state of California in effect is now confirming this judgment. A government that legalizes assisted suicide sends the terrible message Pope Francis has so eloquently warned us against, that there is such a thing as disposable people.”

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