The second article in my column today is a talk, presented here in its entirety, that was delivered Friday in the synod hall by an auditor, a Romanian doctor. Of all the talks given, this one has risen quickly to the top of the pile. Read her plea asking the Synod Fathers to stay true to the faith, to keep the Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, to stay true to the teachings of the founder, Jesus. And, by the way, sin is at the root of evils. We need evangelization, repentance, conversion. Is the Church being formed by society – or should the Church be forming society? The very last sentence in her talk gives one pause.
DAY 13: SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING
Tuesday, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa cautioned against using “politically correct language” at the daily press briefing for the Synod on the Family on Tuesday. He was a guest together with Cardinals Lluis Martinez Sistach of Spain and Alberto Suarez Inda of Mexico.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, explained that the interventions in the plenary sessions of all the Synod auditors were now available. Tomorrow the press will be briefed on the reports that come from the working groups – or “circoli minores” – of the Synod. The bishops will meet in plenary for the report back session on Tuesday evening.
Each of the three gave an introductory address before taking questions from the press. Following is a report by Vatican Radio’s Fr. Russell Pollitt SJ.
Cardinal Sistach said that he has experienced a real sense of synodality in the past two weeks. He said that his small group was very much focused on looking at marriage preparation. They bishops in his group also spent time examine the process of annulment in the light of the Motu Proprio, issued by Pope Francis earlier this year, so that they could make sure annulments are done expediently.
His Eminence Inda said he believed that the Synod was important and would have an impact on the whole world. He said that the family was the “cell of life” in the Church. The cardinal said that it was the role of bishops to be merciful judges in their dioceses. The bishops have to “listen like mothers” and practice discernment in specific situations. He also thanked the bishops of the United States of America for their welcome to South American migrants. Many migrants found hospitality in parishes in the USA. He said that the US bishops provide services to assist migrants.
Carinal Inda criticized American foreign policy which divided many families. He said that the bishops of Mexico and the USA need to work together to support marriages that have been divided because of migration. Many people migrate, not because they choose to, but because they have to, in order to survive. This leads to difficulties – like infidelity in marriage when the spouses do not see each other for extended periods.
South African Carinal Napier spoke specifically about what the African bishops thought. The African bishops have a great sense of optimism, first because it is God that is leading them and second because of the way that Pope Francis is leading the Church. He thanked lay people who were praying for the delegates of the Synod. Napier also affirmed people living in good marriages because “they help us to see where we need to go as a Synod.”
He said that the Synod was being guided by the title “The Mission and Vocation of the Family in the Church and in the World” and that he thought that some issues needed to be dealt with in another forum, especially issues related to discipline, that had been brought up in the Synod. Napier stressed that in Africa there was a different view of marriage. “Marriage is not between two individuals but two families.” He went on to explain that, unlike the West, cohabitation is often part of the actual preparation process for marriage which is sanctioned by the families. He also spoke about how the Church must support child-headed households in Africa. A number of young girls are left with the responsibility of heading households because of the HIV pandemic.
Cardinal Inda explained that drugs and guns were a huge problem and caused much harm to many families in Mexico. He said that for the bishops doctrine is of utmost importance, “but doctrine is not just theories, it must be rooted in reality.”
Spanish Cardinal Sistach said that Christians get married in order to be joy-filled. He said that the work of the Synod is to aid people to be truly happy in their marriages.
Speaking on the Synod process, Cardinal Napier said that the African bishops were happy. He said that there had been some problems – hence the private letter written to the Pope last week by some cardinals – but that these were resolved when the Holy Father “registered our concerns.”
When asked about the annulment process all three prelates said that the Motu Proprio gave them the tools they needed assist people. The major difference was that they do not need to go to a second court of appeal which was often the cause of delays. They said, however, that the shortened process challenged bishops to ensure they had proper personnel in place and that the process was followed faithfully. If a case is complicated it must then go through the longer process so that the Church can ensure things are done correctly. Cardinal Sistach humorously said that a way of dealing with the Motu Proprio would be the creation of a new religious order!
At the end of the briefing Cardinal Napier was asked about the change or use of “new language” by the Church. This has been a consistent topic at the Synod – that the Church finds new ways of talking that is more sensitive and inclusive. Napier said that it must be remembered that this was a pastoral synod, looking at how the Church can be servant and minister. He cautioned against the use of “politically correct” language and said that the Church has to be prophetic too.
A ROMANIAN DOCTOR BEGS SYNOD FATHERS: STAY TRUE TO THE FAITH
The following intervention was made by Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, President of the Association of Catholic Doctors of Bucharest (Romania), at the Ordinary Synod on the Family on Friday.
Your Holiness, Synod Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, I represent the Association of Catholic Doctors from Bucharest.
I am from the Romanian Greek Catholic Church.
My father was a Christian political leader, who was imprisoned by the communists for 17 years. My parents were engaged to marry, but their wedding took place 17 years later.
My mother waited all those years for my father, although she didnit even know if he was still alive. They have been heroically faithful to God and to their engagement.
Their example shows that God’s grace can overcome terrible social circumstances and material poverty.
We, as Catholic doctors, defending life and family, can see this is, first of all, a spiritual battle.
Material poverty and consumerism are not the primary cause of the family crisis.
The primary cause of the sexual and cultural revolution is ideological.
Our Lady of Fatima has said that Russia’s errors would spread all over the world.
It was first done under a violent form, classical Marxism, by killing tens of millions.
Now it’s being done mostly by cultural Marxism. There is continuity from Lenin’s sex revolution, through Gramsci and the Frankfurt school, to the current-day gay-rights and gender ideology.
Classical Marxism pretended to redesign society, through violent take-over of property.
Now the revolution goes deeper; it pretends to redefine family, sex identity and human nature.
This ideology calls itself progressive. But it is nothing else than the ancient serpent’s offer, for man to take control, to replace God, to arrange salvation here, in this world.
It’s an error of religious nature, it’s Gnosticism.
It’s the task of the shepherds to recognize it, and warn the flock against this danger.
“Seek ye therefore first the Kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
The Church’s mission is to save souls. Evil, in this world, comes from sin. Not from income disparity or “climate change.”
The solution is: Evangelization. Conversion.
Not an ever-increasing government control. Not a world government. These are nowadays the main agents imposing cultural Marxism to our nations, under the form of population control, reproductive health, gay rights, gender education, and so on.
What the world needs nowadays is not limitation of freedom, but real freedom, liberation from sin. Salvation.
Our Church was suppressed by the soviet occupation. But none of our 12 bishops betrayed their communion with the Holy Father. Our Church survived thanks to our bishops’ determination and example in resisting prisons and terror.
Our bishops asked the community not to follow the world. Not to cooperate with the communists.
Now we need Rome to tell the world: “Repent of your sins and turn to God for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Not only us, the Catholic laity, but also many Christian Orthodox are anxiously praying for this Synod. Because, as they say, if the Catholic Church gives in to the spirit of this world, it is going to be very difficult for all the other Christians to resist it.