I certainly hope that all the men reading this who are Fathers had a splendid celebration yesterday in the United States. Father’s Day in Italy is a wonderful celebration as it falls on the March 19 feast of St. Joseph! Every Father’s Day since Christmas 1992 when my Dad died, I actually spend a good deal of time going over more than half a century of memories.

Just a few highlights from those memories! Dad worked long hours for his own Dad but the family was all he knew when he came home – time to play with us, help us with homework, etc. He was an engineer and a great repairman and I have very vivid memories of how, as soon as I could walk, I’d follow him around the house to each project. And I always asked a lot of questions! And he always answered with just enough info for whatever age I was so that I’d understand (why, for example does a light bulb go on when you press a switch on a wall several feet away?!)

One of my favorite memories was when he’d occasionally have to go to work at the plant on a Sunday and I’d go with him and he’d teach me songs as we drove there, singing one line which I would then repeat, an so on. He had a wonderful voice, as did my Mom, and played the saxophone. I did not inherit those musical abilities and that’s why I am a lector in my parish, not in the choir!

He tried to reach me to dance when I was a toddler by putting on some danceable music and than I’d stand on his feet (shoeless, of course) and he’d hold my hand and guide each step. Oh, how I cherish that memory!

Dad was a great listener and a great teacher – almost always by example. As I said at the recent award ceremony at my university, I got my PhD at an early age – I got it from my parents: PhD – Passion, Hard work and Dreams. Dad exemplified each of those!

One of the truly unforgettable special memories I have of my Dad is the letter he wrote me on my 21st birthday when I was studying overseas. I still have that letter! He wrote how important it was to be a lady, to be feminine, to dress well, to have a moderated voice when speaking, to be interested in others, even how to use my eyes – it seemed like a how-to-flirt moment!

How great when Fathers have that kind of tenderness but also know how to show tough love!

Now to the news stories I’ve posted….

I guess we should not be surprised at the title and content of today’s first news story below – the publication of the Instrumentis Laboris (IL) or working document of the October 2019 synod for the Amazon. After all, didn’t Cardinal Walter Kasper tell a German publication (Frankfurter Rundschau) in an interview on June 4 that, if the Amazon bishops propose ordaining viri probati, married men of proven virtue, to the priesthood, the Pope would probably accept that in principle. His words traveled widely.

The IL was surely all written and translated by June 4 so the cardinal actually knew what it said. And he seemed to be telling the bishops, “All you have to do now is ask the Pope…he will probably consent.” So a done deal?!

Cardinal Kasper is the former head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It seems that he, Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro (editor in chief of the Jesuit-affiliated journal La Civiltà Cattolica for the past 8 years) and Andrea Tornielli (editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication) are the three voices that most influence Pope Francis and also speak for him.

As to the second story, I found the title quite telling. Of all the quotes one could have taken from Cardinal Parolin’s address to apostolic nuncios, Tornielli chose “Cardinal Parolin To Nuncios: “We Must Be United With The Pope.”

I am surely not the only one who believes (actually, I feel certain) that those words are a swipe at publications by former nuncio to the United States, Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano!

Read on….


Vatican City, Jun 17, 2019 / 07:30 am (CNA).- The working document for the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, released Monday, recommends study of the possibility of ordaining married men in remote areas for the priesthood. (Vatican media photo)

“Stating that celibacy is a gift for the Church, we ask that, for more remote areas in the region, study of the possibility of priestly ordination of elders, preferably indigenous … they can already have an established and stable family, in order to ensure the sacraments that they accompany and support the Christian life,” paragraph 129 of the document released June 17 states.

This opens the door for the discussion of the ordination of viri probati — a term referring to mature, married men — during the Special Synod of Bishops from the Pan-Amazonian region to be held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27.

Canon law for the Latin Catholic Church prohibits the ordination of married men to the priesthood, with limited exceptions regarding the ordination of formerly Anglican and Protestant ecclesial leaders who have converted to Catholicism.

The working document, which calls for “a Church with an indigenous face,” further recommends that the synod identify “an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian church.”

Monsignor Fabio Fabene, Under-Secretary for the Synod of Bishops highlighted the document’s call for new lay ministries.

“In this sense, one wonders what official ministry can be conferred to the woman,” Fabene said at a Vatican press conference June 17.

He continued, “the document does not speak of the female diaconate, since the pope has already expressed himself on the subject in the Assembly of the Superiors General, declaring that the topic needs further study. In fact, the study commission set up in 2016 did not reach a unanimous opinion on the issue.”

The synod working document, entitled “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” is divided into three sections on the Amazonian cultures, environmental and economic problems, and pastoral approaches for the Church in the region.

Calling for “an integral ecological conversion,” the document touches on the issues of migration, deforestation, urbanization, corruption, health, education, and Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation (PIAV).

The document stresses the importance of inculturation of indigenous cultures in the Catholic faith and the liturgy in the region, starting with engagement with indigenous spiritualities.

“It is necessary to grasp what the Spirit of the Lord has taught to these peoples over the centuries: faith in God the Father-Mother Creator, the sense of communion and harmony with the earth, the sense of solidarity with one’s companions … the living relationship with nature and ‘Mother Earth,’ the resilience of women,” paragraph 121 of the document states.

Recommending that the Church “recognize indigenous spirituality as a source of wealth for the Christian experience,” and the document calls for dialogue with “the Amazonian cosmovision” to be included in formation for religious life.

Monsignor Fabene described inculturation in the liturgy in the region as “a better integration of the symbols and celebratory styles of indigenous cultures … taking into account music and dance, languages and native clothes.”

“Recognition and dialogue will be the best way to transform the ancient relations marked by exclusion and discrimination,” paragraph 35 states. In several places, the document refers to “the wounds caused during long periods of colonization.”

“For this Pope Francis asked ‘humbly for forgiveness, not only for the offenses of his own Church, but for crimes against indigenous peoples during the conquest of so-called America.’ In this past, the Church has sometimes been complicit in the colonization and this has stifled the prophetic voice of the Gospel,” paragraph 38 states.

The document also stresses the importance of having greater respect for the dignity and rights of indigenous populations in the area today.

“The Church cannot but worry about the integral salvation of the human person, which involves promoting the culture of indigenous peoples, talking about their vital needs, accompanying movements and joining forces to defend their rights,” paragraph 143 states.

The synod document therefore recommends that Catholics in the region, “join the basic social movements, to prophetically announce a program of agrarian justice that promotes a profound agrarian reform, supporting farming organic and agroforestry.”

Participants in the special synod of the Amazon will include residential bishops and ordinaries of the nine Pan-Amazonian ecclesiastical territories in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname; the presidents of the seven bishops’ conferences of the Pan-Amazonian Region; members for the Roman Curia; the president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM); and the members of the pre-Synodal Council.

Upon the working document’s publication June 17, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, said:

“The image of a Church with an Amazonian face, courageous in its prophetic proclamation of the Gospel in defense of Creation and of indigenous peoples, is the horizon towards which we are walking under the guidance of Pope Francis.”


In an interview with Vatican Radio the Cardinal Secretary of State speaks of the Pope’s recent meeting with Papal representatives.

By Andrea Tornielli (editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication)

Cardinal Pietro Parolin described Pope Francis’ meeting this week with Apostolic Nuncios and Permanent Observers as having taken place in a simple, positive and fraternal atmosphere.

Asked to assess the encounter, Cardinal Parolin said, “The balance sheet is certainly positive”.

He expressed his opinion that these meetings have a value in themselves because they are a moment of encounter between people who work with the same purpose, with the same spirit and in the service of the Church, and in particular of the Pope, “even if they do so at great distances from each other”.

He remarked on how the themes dealt with aroused much interest on the part of the participants, as manifested by the numerous interventions that took place.

Parolin also recalled a moment of “intense participation for the death of the apostolic nuncio to Argentina, Léon Kalenga, which saw us all united in prayer with the Holy Father during the celebration of the funeral”.

The Cardinal also pointed out that Pope Francis considers these meetings as so fruitful, that in 2013 he expressed his desire they be held every three years, thus the tradition continues.

Decalogue of dos and don’ts
Regarding the content of the Pope’s address to the nuncios during which he issued a series of recommendations, some of which were seen by the media as reprimands, Cardinal Parolin noted that the media are always on the look-out for anything that might appear to contain controversy.

He said he doesn’t personally believe that one should limit oneself to focusing only on some aspects of a whole, and he pointed out that during his words of greeting to the Pope, he expressed the openness of those present to receive “every encouragement and also every correction that can serve to improve our service to the Church, to the Pope and to mankind”.

So, Parolin said, in this sense the Pope’s words must be read in a positive context, just as they were “welcomed and experienced by the participants”.

Unity, freedom, love
Regarding the part of his speech in which the Pope said a nuncio is called to be a “man of God”, a representative of the Church and of the Pontiff, thus it is inherently incompatible with his mission to “criticize the Pope, write blogs or join groups that are hostile to the Pope and to the Church.” Cardinal Parolin said there can never be a total uniformity of thought, and that there are issues that need to be discussed as upheld by the ancient axiom that says in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas (“unity in necessary things; freedom in doubtful things; love in all things”).

He pointed out that as representatives of the Pope the nuncios feel free to say things to the Pontiff and, he said, Pope Francis is very open and well-disposed to receive comments, observations and reflections on various questions.
At the same time, he said, “we must try to maintain unity, which is the condition for the effectiveness of our action in the world”.

“We will be all the more effective if we are really united in the fundamental things. Therefore, above all as pontifical representatives, we must have this unity with the Pope and this adherence to his teaching that must then be translated concretely into attitudes of sharing his thought and his direction,” he said.

Finally, Cardinal Parolin described the part of dialogue that took place behind closed doors as very “open and frank.”

He said various topics were addressed and said the nuncios appreciated the Pope’s input “because he was not afraid to tackle delicate themes, talking about them with much frankness and openness”.

(JFL: And the Pope enjoyed lunch with the nuncios during their time in Rome – seemed to really enjoy it:

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SYNOD ON YOUTH, FAITH, VOCATIONS – WHAT IS THE REAL ROLE OF THE 2018 SYNOD INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS? has a live stream of current meeting in synod hall. Check this page daily for such streams:


The 25-day long Synod of Bishops on the theme, “Youth, the Faith and Discernment of Vocation,” opened this morning in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, an ever stunning venue, with Mass presided over by Pope Francis.

This is the third synod that Francis has convened after the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. As he did previously he also chose the theme for the 2018 synod.

The very first meeting of the synod began at 4:30 this afternoon with talks by the Holy Father, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of the Synod of Bishops, and Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha of Brasilia, Relator General of the just-begin synod. (photos vaticannews)

Cardinal Baldisseri, who also organized the 2014-2015 synods on the family, began his 4900-word talk by noting, “It is appropriate here to recall that the Holy Father has affirmed right from the start of the pathway to the synod, that the Church “wishes to place herself as a listener to the voices to the sensitivities, to the faith and even the doubts and criticisms of young people. Therefore we must first of all listen to the young people but also – and it is for this reason we are gathered here – we must answer their challenges with the hearts of pastors, through appropriate proposals and the good advice of the Holy Father.

Cardinal Baldiseri also spoke of the just-released Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis communio, written by the Pope and published on September 15. He noted this was a long path of revision of the institution of the Synod and in particular of the Synod methodology. In fact, there were many new elements in that document.

Cardinal Baldiserri noted that present at this 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops are 267 synod fathers, 8 fraternal delegates, 23 experts and 49 auditors for a total of 347, to which we must add Pope Francis.

The cardinal referred to four different events and elements that led up to the synod that began today. He noted the online questionnaire, saying there were 221,000 contacts, of whom 100,500 young people who answered all of the proposed questions: 58,000 girls and 42,500 boys. Almost 51,000 participants, corresponding to 50.6%, turned out to be young people between the ages of 16 and 19.

He then mentioned one very significant data: the country from which we got the greatest number of answers to the questionnaire was Uganda with more than 16,000 completed answers.

Baldisseri then outlined the other pre-synod elements: the international seminar on the condition of youth today that took place in September 2017, the pre-synod meeting with 300 young people from March 19 to the 24th, 2018 in the Vatican with the Pope, and last, but certainly not least, the Instrumentum laboris, the working document of the synod,

He said “in the 25 workdays of the synod that begins today, we have before us the instrumentum laboris which not only constitutes the point of departure for reflection and debate but the base text for the elaboration of the final document which at the end of the synod works will bring together the results reached by this synodal body.”

The secretary general went on to say that, after these first presentations, the synod Fathers will start to speaking, doing so in the order in which their request to speak, via a synod form they had to fill out, arrived in Rome. Basicall they are scheduled to speak only once in these 25 days, although the cardinal said there will be periods, usually lasting an hour, for free interventions. Because of the number of speakers, time will be limited to four minutes.

He also explained that participants will also work in small groups called circuli minores: these will gather people by language.

In the end, the speeches of the synod Fathers, the collective works of the language groups and the reports of the language groups will be gathered and synthesized into a text which will constitute an integrated development of the instrumentum laboris.


Reading Cardinal Baldisseri’s remarks, a lot of questions arose in my mind about the overarching importance that he gives to the synod’s Instrumentum laboris, or working document. I cannot deny it is indeed an important document, without which no synod has ever proceeded.

The Instrumentum laboris is born from responses to the Lineamenta, an outline of the future synod topic and focus that is composed by the secretariat general of the Synod of Bishops and sent to all Episcopal conferences, Oriental or Eastern Catholic Churches, offices of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General before the start of the assembly. Responses are sent back to Rome and studied, evaluated and analyzed by synod personnel.

The Instrumentum laboris is drafted from this input, read and approved by the Pope and sent to the bishops called to the synod. The bishops may then make their own changes, suggestions and contributions. The final document is usually released to the public, always in Italian.

The instrumentum laboris is not necessarily an indicator of what the conclusions of a synod will be,but can give an idea of the general consensus in the Church on the subject of discussion.

Reading Cardinal Baldisseri’s words, it does sound like the Instrumentum laboris for this 2018 synod is the be all and end all for the synod: “…we have before us the instrumentum laboris which not only constitutes the point of departure for reflection and debate but the base text for the elaboration of the final document which at the end of the synod works will bring together the results reached by this synodal body.”

Will synod Fathers actually be able to change, delete, etc what they do not like and add or otherwise contribute at the end of the synod the elements they found to be the principal focus and talking points of the participants?

Since its publication on May 8, 2018, this document has been heartily criticized for what it contains and what it does not contain

Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C said in a piece dated October 3 for “The Catholic Thing”: “I am in Rome for the Synod on “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” which begins today. I’ll be here, Deo Volente, essentially the whole month of October. It’s an inopportune time for such an event: the abuse crisis – and the involvement in that crisis of several bishops participating in the synod – have damaged the Church’s credibility with young people. The “Working Document” (Instrumentum Laboris) is cumbersome and deeply flawed – more sociology than theology – as our friends Archbishop Chaput and George Weigel have argued. And the “Instrumentum” betrays signs of wanting to move the Church more in the direction of secular culture rather than moving the culture in the direction of the Church. But the show goes on. The Catholic Thing will be bringing you regular synod reports (daily, if warranted) from Rome, as well as our regular columns during October. This is a crucial moment: Oremus pro invicem”

He also noted that, “Just yesterday, Cardinal Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, questioned the “loyalty and honesty” of Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. After the tumultuous 2015 Synod on the Family, Chaput was elected to the Council of the Synod of Bishops (basically the planning committee) with the most votes for any single candidate by the bishops of the whole world. His recent offense? Substantial criticisms of the Working Document intended to guide the month’s proceedings.”

Read on for Abp. Chaput’s analysis:

Rome, Italy, Sep 29, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- In an op-ed column published Saturday, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has restated his concerns about the upcoming synod of bishops on young adults, faith and vocational discernment, set to begin Oct. 3.

The column was published in the Italian newspaper Il Foglio.

According to Chaput, after the Pennsylvania statewide grand jury report, and abuse problems in Chile, Germany and elsewhere, “the Church is in turmoil.”

“In this turbulent environment, the Holy See will host a world synod of bishops, October 3-28, in Rome. Keyed to the theme of ‘young people, faith, and vocational discernment,’ a more ironic, and more difficult, confluence of bad facts at a bad time for the meeting can hardly be imagined.”

The archbishop explained that, “this does not mean the synod need fail in its work. Francis’ personal appeal and the good will it can engender remain strong.”

“This is why many young priests, like those who wrote an open letter to delegates of the impending synod earlier this month, see an opportunity in the synod’s subject matter. As they make clear, the synod’s success depends on a profound confidence in the Word of God and the mission of the Church, despite the sins of her leaders.”

“It’s in the light of their faith, and the faith of other young men and women like them, that the synod’s instrumentum laboris or ‘working document,’ needs to be reviewed and revised. As it stands, the text is strong in the social sciences, but much less so in its call to belief, conversion, and mission,” Chaput wrote.

Citing a recently published theological reflection, Chaput lamented within the document “‘serious theological concerns…including: a false understanding of the conscience and its role in the moral life;’ a ‘false dichotomy proposed between truth and freedom,’ a ‘pervasive focus on socio-cultural elements, to the exclusion of deeper religious and moral issues,’ an ‘absence of the hope of the Gospel,’ and an ‘insufficient treatment of the abuse scandal.’”

“Comments like these sound harsh,” Chaput admits, “but they are not wholly unwarranted. A synod that deals with issues of sexuality and young people should also deal — honestly and thoroughly — with the roots of a clergy sexual abuse disaster involving minors.”

“Neither the Pope nor the Church is served – particularly in a time of humiliation and crisis – by an overdose of sentiment, accommodation, and sociology. Faith demands more than that,” Chaput, who is a delegate to the synod, concluded.

Il Foglio – The Sheet- was founded in 1996 by Italian journalist and agnostic intellectual Giuliano Ferrara. Despite its limited circulation of 47,000, the newspaper is regarded as one of Italy’s most independent and influential voices in matters of politics, culture and religion.

Click here to read entire Abp. Chaput piece in First Things:


To keep up with synod news, events, interviews and press briefings, the following is a very interesting link from the webpage of the Holy See Press Office:

There was a press briefing today, October 12, about the work of the language groups in recent days. You will find my report on that below, in the form of bullet points. And following that is a more lengthy but interesting piece from L’Osservatore Romano about the 13 language group reports

After a report today by Fr Lombardi, head of the press office, and summaries of the language groups reports, there was a brief Q&A period and, following that, two couples reported on their participation as synod auditors. They were generally very upbeat and positive about their participation, about their voices, stories and witnessing being heard and about the synod’s realistic understanding of marriage and family life – the joys, the sorrows and the challenges – around the world, within the diverse cultural contexts.

The couples were asked by a priest reporting on the synod what had most surprised them about the synod and their participation in this event. I think the priest was the one who was surprised because one husband replied that he and his wife were most surprised by what they were reading in the media as so much of it did not correspond to what they were experiencing in the synod!

One of the day’s top stories involves a letter allegedly sent to the Holy Father and signed by 13 Synod Fathers who outlined the many serious concerns they have with the work of the synod, the methodology and, importantly, the Instrumentum laboris or working document. Sections of the letter are a scathing critique of the above-mentioned concerns.

Fr. Lombardi was asked about the letter and he said he had not seen it so could not personally verify its existence. However he did say that two cardinals, cited among the signatories, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan and Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, have told him they did not sign any such document. The original of the letter is in English.


Fr. Lombardi stated this morning that, notwithstanding reports that the relatio or final report has “disappeared,” input from synod participants would be included in a final document, that document will be presented in the synod hall the morning of October 24 (the synod ends the following day), voted on that afternoon and then given to the Holy Father. It is not known of the Pope will ask that it be made public or will keep it as a reference for a document he might intend to write.

There were 43 talks given last Saturday. In this afternoon’s press briefing, Italian-, English-, French- and Spanish-language press office assistants gave summaries of the themes and topics under discussion by the language groups and other synod participants:

–         The need for good formation and accompaniment of both engaged couples and married couples;

  • –         the reconciliation of truth (Church teaching) and mercy:
  • –         sacraments for the divorced and remarried;
  • –         creating new language, news ways of expressing the pastoral ministry in what today are perceived like harsh terms;
  • –         focus on a pastoral ministry for the young;
  • –         some groups focused on many themes of Part II of the working document (difficulties in relationships, the break-up and breakdown of families, violence and abuse, external pressures on the family including poverty, migration, consumerism, social media and counter-witnessing in society): they stressed that the synod’s options do NOT lie in changing everything or changing nothing.
  • –         The great majority of pastors (priests, bishops,) present were seen as inspiring, hopeful pastors who, as Pope Francis has said, “have the smell of their flock”;
  • –         The Jubilee Year, mercy and the forgiveness of sins were big topics: how can we open wide the doors of God’s mercy;
  • –         focus on inter-religious and mixed marriages;
  • –         the many differences among families throughout the world, especially in ever-changing societies and different cultural contexts; the Church must be an accompanying mother who reaches out to all, does not reject people, and affirms ecclesial principles:
  • –         new family structures (single parent homes, mixed faith marriages, same sex unions, the absence of grandparents or parents, separated families, migrants, refugees, poverty-stricken families) each situation calls for different pastoral strategy;
  • –         the Church’s duty to teach, form and inform and bear strong witness vis-à-vis societies with liberal attitudes towards abortion, same sex unions, euthanasia; One cardinal said: “Our mission is to make disciples but culture is more effective at unmaking them!”
  • –         the discrimination, accusations, persecution, secularization and blasphemy to which Christians are subject in so many parts of the world:
  • –         the need to teach and acknowledge the goodness and beauty of Christian marriage.
  • –         some groups looked at the third and final part of the working document (which is on the agenda for next week) entitled “An Openness to Life and Parental Responsibility in Upbringing”;
  • –         focus on the indissolubility of marriage;
  • –         we must rediscover the pastoral sense of doctrine;
  • –         a return to moral conscience, the faithful must be formed and informed;
  • –         the importance of accompanying engaged and married couples and giving adequate pre-marriage preparation;
  • –         the immense amount of money spent on promoting contraception instead of natural family planning methods


On Friday, October 9, the Synod Fathers prayed at the Hour of Terce. Patriarch Sako delivered a homily expressing heartfelt gratitude to Pope Francis on behalf of all the Synod Fathers present. The reflection given by the Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans, who spoke of the “challenge of faith” which “involves the shepherds as much as the faithful”, was inspired by the Pope’s appeal for peace in the Middle East and Africa. Sako noted that today, “unfortunately, many Christians are ashamed of their faith”, when instead they should be living it with courage in their “everyday lives”. In this sense it may be useful for everyone to listen to the experiences of persecuted Iraqi Christians.

After the prayer, says the L’Osservatore Romano report, the Assembly — meeting for their fourth General Congregation under President delegate Cardinal Damasceno Assis, in the presence of 266 Synod Fathers — prepared to listen to the reports of the circuli minores. The reports showed the Fathers to be seeking a simpler language for the final document, a language that is direct and engaging, and that sheds light not only on the challenges and problems that the family faces in the world, but also and most importantly the beauty and hope that is sowed every day by families who are living in the light of the Gospel.

This was visible in nearly all thirteen of the reports, which were summaries of the work of the circuli minores which — divided into four languages (French, English, Italian and German) — came together on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss and propose appropriate modifications to the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris.

With the adjustments and additions of the individual propositions to the document, drawn up by Fathers, the Synod has reached its first key step. The Commission will now work with these results to prepare the final report.

Archbishop Kurtz, the relator of the English Circle “A”, was the first to speak. He said that confidence in Jesus Christ “is to be the first and last word of the synod”. The working group proposed focusing more on a positive message and the signs of renewal that are encountered today. One of the suggestions pays particular attention to the theme of families who are forced to emigrate and to those who experience pain and disability. In this sense, the group aimed to highlight the role of public policy and recommended using a tone the is more “global” and less “Euro-centric”.

An invitation was also made in the speech given by Archbishop Chaput, the relator of English Circle “D”, who said that the Instrumentum Laboris displays a vision that is “overwhelmingly Western”. The group highlighted issues that they felt were not given enough attention, and also pointed to unclear and uncertain elements in the English translation of the document. They called for the use of a more engaging and appealing language, and the need to highlight positive aspects. Hence the suggestion was made to reverse Section ii with Section i of the document, in order to begin with a message of hope.

In agreement with the other relators, Fr Arroba Conde, cmf, relator of Italian Circle “A”, spoke of the spirit of collaboration that has been breathed into working groups: an awareness of differing opinions, but a sincere desire to promote that which unites them. He spoke of awareness that “is more complementary than conflicting”. In the details of the group’s proposals, it was again suggested that the document begin with a positive note. One of the goals the relator listed was to formulate a “Gospel of the family” as a cultural proposal offered to everyone. Particular attention was given to issues of gender ideology, secularisation and to the problems of human trafficking and migration.

“We can only give thanks” for all of the “families who try to make God’s dream their dream”, said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the relator of English Circle “B”. In particular, this working group called for greater use of biblical references to facilitate clearer and more compelling understanding, stating that the language of scripture “can become a bridge between faith and life”.

A language that touches upon the real problems of the family was also called for by French Circle “A”: Archbishop Laurent Ulrich, the relator, said that the text should have a more open tone and promote dialogue with peers.

Self-criticism over family ministry (“What have we forgotten to do?”) was heard from Cardinal Lacunza Maestrojuán, the relator of Spanish Circle “A”. One of the key points to emerge from his group was the invitation to learn more about the cultures, and to focus on formation, not merely stopping at the norms.

In addition to the request for a more simplified text and the addition of more biblical references, Cardinal Piacenza, the relator of Italian Circle “B”, drew attention to themes such as: the equal dignity of man and woman, the need to reiterate the Church’s positive outlook on sexuality, further education on integral ecology, and the demand for pastoral care specifically for migrant families.

Archbishop Mark Benedict Coleridge, the relator of English Circle “C”, highlighted the fact that “the Church does not inhabit a world out of time” and the need to address the facts of history with eyes of faith. The key issue for this group was to clarify that the family is based on the “the marriage of a man and a woman”, and expressed the need to propose this “positive and luminous” reality to the world with a more “accessible” language.

Fr Dumortier, the relator of French Circle “B”, spoke of the family as a “school of humanity”. The group also suggested magisterial participation on issues addressed by the Synod.

In favour of opting for a language of hope, showing “a Church that says ‘yes’”, Archbishop Porras Cardozo, the relator of Spanish Circle “B”, emphasized the importance of formation (“if faith is weak it is difficult to respond to the challenges”) and of a transition “from an individual spirituality to that of communion”.

A methodological point was offered by Archbishop Heiner Koch, the relator of German Circle “A”, who suggested taking cultural difference into account. He said that there must be a “differentiated analysis in order to contribute to an exchange in the universal Church”. The goal, said Archbishop Durocher, the relator of French Circle “C”, should be to answer two questions: “What is the family?” and “What does the family do?”. He pointed out the need for a clear analysis, saying that the “pastoral needs must be grounded in reality”. This group called for vigilance and commitment with regards to the widespread gender theory and to distortions of bioethical technologies.

Bishop Brambilla, relator of Italian Circle “C”, was the last of the interventions. By reiterating the importance of integrating the many perspectives that come from different parts of the world, he invited the Fathers to always decipher the challenges of society and contemporary culture in a positive way, highlighting the positive points and not allowing them to be crushed by diagnosis that favour the shadows.

At the end of the Congregation, the some of the Synod Fathers began speaking about the second part of Instrumentum Laboris.