SYNOD UPDATE: DAY 6, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12 – SYNOD UPDATE: DAY 7, MONDAY, OCTOBER 14

Depending on the time of day you read this, you might want a second cup of coffee or perhaps a glass of prosecco!

Synod participants in coming days will meet in the circuli minores, the smaller language groups, where they will discuss the themes heard in recent days in the synod hall as well as make comments, reflections and suggestions. Under Popes John Paul and Benedict, the names of the participants in each language group and the names of the moderators of each group were published. That is not currently happening in this synod.

SYNOD UPDATE: DAY 6, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12

The first week of the three-week Special Synod for the Pan-Amazon region concluded on Saturday evening, 12 October. Along with the Pope, there were 166 Synod Fathers in the hall, along with others participating in the Synod.

Vatican News – Vatican City

One of the themes put forward in the eighth General Congregation of the Special Synod for the Pan-Amazon region on Saturday afternoon was the centrality of Christ in the Church’s mission. “How many know the Gospel?”, one of the Synod participants asked. In addition, it was affirmed that the Good News must be announced not only in the Amazon, but in the entire world. Since evangelization is never undertaken alone, the creation of a team was proposed. The hope is that this team would be able to both respond adequately to the multiple pastoral challenges facing the region and witness to the joy of evangelization.

A Reflection on celibacy and the priesthood
Once again, the proposal for viri probati returned in more than one intervention. Some contributions highlighted that the lack of vocations is not particular to the Amazon. This led to the question, “Why make an exception exclusively for that region?” Taking up this theme in a future Synod was also suggested. Another observed that it is precisely because of celibacy that priests are welcomed by some indigenous populations. Furthermore, it was also stated that today’s world sees celibacy as the last rampart to be demolished using the pressure of a hedonistic and secular culture. It is, therefore, necessary to carry out an attentive reflection on the value of a celibate priesthood.

Others pointed out that a discussion regarding new models of priesthood is both inevitable and desirable. If on the one hand, sending priests to other dioceses and regions is encouraged, then on the other hand, ordaining wise men of proven faith should also be recommended. This hypothesis would not wound communion in the Church, nor would it undermine the value of celibacy. Rather, it might represent a decisive step toward achieving an ordained ministry that does not just visit a territory, but comes from and remains present in it. Another argument is that this response is not being put forward to solve the lack of vocations, but that the Church might have an identity that is truly Amazonian. It was also suggested that the Synod could lay the foundation for this new step forward in faith in the Holy Spirit that must be stronger than the fear of making a mistake.

Involving women: an antidote to clericalism
The theme of women in the Church was also brought up again in the afternoon, with the request that they be given more pastoral responsibility and effective participation, even at decision-making levels. Discerning the institution of women deacons in the region was also requested. Women today have already acquired greater roles in the life of the Christian community, not only as catechists or mothers, but also as persons capable of taking on new ministries. In addition, it was proposed that the inclusion of women, under the sign of reconciliation of the covenant, could lay the foundation for a less clerical Church. Clericalism is still present in the Church today, one Synod participant emphatically stated, and is an obstacle to service, fraternity and solidarity.

Listening to the Holy Spirit
A Synod exists to listen constantly to the Holy Spirit. This attitude of listening was proposed as the attitude that might guide and inspire an ecological conversion necessary to counteract the environmental destruction that threatens our planet. The Synod participants were reminded that the Creator entrusted the Amazon to our care. It is the most beautiful and vital garden on the planet. But unfortunately, we risk transforming this “terrestrial paradise” into a “hell” because of the fires raging which could deprive certain indigenous peoples of their indispensable heritage. Walking together means listening to “the agony of Mother Earth” and becoming aware of the “violence behind extractive ethnocide.” The appeal made by indigenous Amazonian organizations is that of reversing the tide so as not to fall into greater danger.

Everything is connected
We are all connected to each other. “Good living” (“buen vivir”) does not mean living “the good life”. Rather, it means that we are connected to each other and to the earth. The fragmentation of human existence that leads to disparity in terms of social condition needs to be rejected and condemned. Even though globalization has brought undeniable benefits to our lives, it has also opened the door to “wild capitalism” and a materialism that has created an extremely harmful form of consumerism. While the developed world demands cheap products, the indigenous populations who make them often pay the price in blood. From this reality emerged the appeal for a more simple style of life and for an ecological conversion that embraces fairer trade in the name of justice and peace.

Toward a Church with an indigenous face
Once again the request was heard in the Synod hall to be constantly aware of the suffering of the indigenous population who have a sovereign right to exist in the Amazon. Discovering the seeds of the word of God in the cultures and traditions of the region means recognizing that Christ already lives in the peoples who have not yet heard the Gospel. The Gospel, in fact, is not the exclusive patrimony of any one culture. It is this approach that favours the existence of an indigenous and Amazonian Church, one person said. One proposal is that an a new regional structure be instituted which would continue the momentum created by the positive experience of the networks created in the pre-Synod process and the inspirations of the Spirit received during the Synod.

Gift of religious life in the Amazon
Those at the Synod also heard a precious example of an indigenous person whose life has been offered to God through the religious life, thus helping the Church assume an indigenous face. Men and women religious struggle together for the rights of the people. They also feel called to pursue in their own ongoing formation the discovery of connections between their own indigenous heritage and Christian spirituality. In this way they hope to contribute to an integral ecology leading to the protection of both humankind and nature.

SYNOD UPDATE: DAY 7, MONDAY, OCTOBER 14

Following is a Vatican News summary of the content of the 10th general congregation on Monday afternoon, October 14. Following that is the Vatican News summary of the early afternoon October 14 press briefing.

Vatican News – Vatican City

During the 10th General Congregation that took place on the afternoon of 14 October, the participants in the Special Amazon Synod continued their work. In addition to Pope Francis, there were 177 Synod Fathers present, as well as other auditors, experts and invited guests.

Rethinking ministry in the Church in the light of the parameters of synodality so that the Church might be more and more formed by the Word of God was defined as one of the challenges of the Church in the Amazon region. Several interventions given this afternoon in the Synod Hall highlighted this.

The Word of God
The Word of God is an active and merciful presence; it is educative and prophetic, formative and performative. It underpins that challenge of integral ecology and can be a means for social, economic, cultural and political development and a new humanism. New ministers of the Word, including women, are needed to provide new responses to contemporary challenges. The Church must, therefore, invest in the formation of a well-prepared laity who, in a missionary spirit, will know how to proclaim the Gospel in every part of the Amazon. Providing an adequate formation for committed laity, it was noted, is also fundamental for promoting indigenous vocations to the religious life and ordained ministries.

The role of the laity and women
It was also said in the Hall that the gifts of the laity need to be better expressed and appreciated in a ministerial Church. Thanks to the laity, the Church is manifesting itself as a Church moving outward, distancing itself from clericalism. One intervention in particular suggested that the question of the so-called viri probati and the discussion regarding ministries open to women should be treated in an Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops since this theme affects the universal Church. Others suggested that women could be included in non-ordained ministries, ministries intended as service, so as to guarantee the dignity and equality of women in the entire Pan-Amazonian territory. Such ministries could be, for example, that of presiding over celebrations of the Word, or leading the activity of a social-charitable nature.

Viri probati
Another intervention counselled that prior to having viri probati priests, it would be necessary to think of viri probati deacons—that is, that the viri probati priests would come from the ranks of permanent deacons. The Permanent Deaconate can, therefore, be an appropriate “laboratory” for the possible future inclusion of married men to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Care for minors and vulnerable adults
Regarding the care of minors and vulnerable adults in the Amazon, the terrible scourge of pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse requires that the Church be ever vigilant and courageous. It was emphasized that the greatest challenge is that of transparency and responsibility so that these crimes can be prevented and combated.

Sexual exploitation of the young was a recurring theme. One person said that criminal networks rob children of their infancy, making them also victims of the trafficking of organs. One statistic alone suffices to illustrate how dramatic the situation is: in 2018 in Brazil alone, 62,000 rapes were recorded. This is one of the highest numbers in the Amazon region.

At the bottom of all of this are grave economic inequality and the lack of government intervention capable of combating such horrendous crimes both at the local and international levels. Thus arose the appeal for an increased commitment in the area of prevention, including the involvement of the Episcopal Conferences and religious congregations.

The fight against human trafficking, which also heavily involves minors and women, was brought to the attention of those in the Synod hall. They were reminded that the victims of this drama are among the most dehumanized in the world. It was proposed that through the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, large companies be made to comply with international policy regarding human trafficking and that a Special Pastoral Commission be instituted to deal specifically with this crime.

Pastoral work for vocations and youth ministry
From other interventions, there emerged the importance of the pastoral work for vocations that cannot be left out of the work of evangelization. Furthermore, all evangelization must be accompanied by youth ministry which is a call to, and at the same time, a proposal for, a personal encounter with Christ. Those in the Hall were reminded that young people who wish to follow Christ need to be supported by adequate formation through the witness of holy and committed lives. It follows that priests must be capable of understanding completely the specific needs of the Amazon region. Their formation cannot be excessively academic, but most proceed with a missionary spirit and the heart of a shepherd.

Water: a primary resource
Forming catechists toward an integral ecology was underlined again, particularly regarding caring for and safeguarding water, a primary resource and source of life. This theme was also repeated by several auditors and invited guests. One provided the statistic that thousands of children die every day due to water related diseases. Another recalled what Pope Francis has said in the past that the next world war will be connected with water. It is urgent that there be a global awareness of the need to protect our common home, and that we be reconciled with creation. “Later will be too late”, those in the hall were told. An “ecological conversion” consists also in looking at the ethical dimension underpinning contemporary life styles which are often too technocratic, whose ultimate objective is that of turning everything into profit to the detriment of the vision of the human being as an integral human person.

The challenge of communication
A theme from the morning’s 9th General Congregation was repeated in the afternoon: that of communication. It was affirmed that through the mass media we must be open to communicate to every culture and in every language in order to support the Amazonian peoples. Church-sponsored media should, therefore, be a place to consolidate local knowledge that can be done through the formation of indigenous communicators.

Other reflections made by various Synodal Fathers included defending the indigenous peoples, which could also be carried out through education and through other small projects aimed at social development. Because they are often marginalized from society, indigenous populations should not be viewed as “incapable”, but must be empowered, listened to, understood and welcomed. From this theme, emerged the invitation for greater cooperation between the Justice and Peace Commission and that for promoting human rights.

Pope Francis’ reflection
When the Congregation concluded, Pope Francis spoke, reflecting on various themes that had emerged during the afternoon and highlighted a few things that had struck him the most.

OCTOBER 14 – PRESS BRIEFING

Amazon Synod Briefing: New challenges and new solutions
Four participants at the Synod for the Amazon met journalists in the Holy See Press Office on Monday afternoon for an exchange of experiences and impressions regarding the 9th General Congregation.

By Vatican News

The 9th General Congregation, held on Monday morning, was attended by 179 Synod Fathers, together with Pope Francis, who opened the session with a prayer for Ecuador. This was confirmed by the Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communications, Dr Paolo Ruffini, before he invited Jesuit Fr Giacomo Costa, Secretary of the Information Commission, to provide a summary of what was discussed in the Synod Hall.

Summary by Fr Giacomo Costa SJ
Fr Costa began by affirming how Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato sì, is proving to be more than just a text, but truly rooted in the realities discussed at the Synod. This is being demonstrated by the way “everything is connected,” he said.

Amazon Synod: The Church’s commitment against violations of the rights of peoples
Summarizing what was discussed in the Synod Hall on Monday morning, Fr Costa listed several themes: dialogue with indigenous people, and the importance of participating in their lives, protecting local peoples’ rights and safeguarding nature. He said the need to remain rooted in the ground of experience coming from local territory was also mentioned.

The Synod Fathers discussed the challenges to local ministries, he said, how to inculturate the liturgy, and how to respond better to the needs and cultures of the people. The Eucharist, continued Fr Costa, was presented as “a source of unity and light.” Participants at the General Congregation, he said, confirmed we are “custodians of nature,” and stressed the integral and ecological focus of the Synod.

Participants at the morning session, said Fr Costa, affirmed the Church’s role of protecting and promoting the local people, of accompanying those without a voice. A suggestion was put forward to set up an international ecclesiastical observatory on the rights of indigenous people. Some Synod participants confirmed the importance of the Church integrating her perspectives into practices concerning human rights.

Fr Costa continued his summary of the proceedings that included the topic of “circular economic models”: access to food that respects the environment, and has a positive impact on local populations. These models can be achieved through an “integral education” that helps promote an equitable consumption of goods, he reported.

Not just education, but information too, was a topic that came under discussion, said Fr Costa. According to Synod participants, the “communication culture” is growing rapidly in the Amazon Region, and we need to “bridge the communications gap.” This means training local indigenous communicators, and establishing communications networks based on community and solidarity.

Ms Josianne Gauthier, Secretary General CIDSE (Canada)
CIDSE, the “Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité,” an umbrella organization for Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America. She began her presentation by saying how CIDSE has spent over 50 years supporting communities, including in the Amazon, promoting integral ecology and defending human rights.

We are here at the Synod, she said, in a “listening position,” to hear stories and to begin work on how to support these messages outside the Synod “in political spaces.” The task of CIDSE, she explained, is to ”take struggles and turn them into political pressure.”

Ms Gauthier said those of us who live “from the benefits of the tragic exploitation” that takes places in that part of the world, have a “heightened responsibility.” We need to recognize that “our well-being and comfort comes at a cost,” she said: human life, security, peace, and ecological justice.

Ms Gauthier concluded saying we need to promote consciousness and concentrate on “doing what we can after the Synod to transmit these messages.”

Bishop José Ángel Divassòn Cilveti, S.D.B. of Bamaccora (Venezuela)
Bishop Divassòn Cilveti is a Salesian. The Salesians, he said, have been working in the south of Venezuela since 1957. Reflections after the Second Vatican Council led to a new approach that began in 1976, he said: developing new forms of evangelization that support people and help them “take control of their own destinies.” Priests, laypeople, men and women religious, are all involved in this mission and have developed criteria based on participating in people’s live, and respecting communities, educating them, and assisting them with projects, he said.

In order to evangelize effectively, said Bishop Cilveti, we need to be familiar with people’s feelings, to understand what they think. Speaking in terms of his own experience, he said people “want to follow Jesus Christ, they want to change.” The Gospel has brought new concepts like mercy and forgiveness, he said, and these become the keys to solving many problems and conflicts.

The Bishop concluded by describing the Church in his region as a “young Church with different features,” one that helps people to help themselves.

Bishop Carlo Verzeletti of Castanhal (Brazil)
Bishop Carlo Verzeletti comes from Castanhal, in Brazil. His diocese comprises over 1,000 villages beside the mouth of the Amazon River. His priests, he added, “are few and aging.” They are able to meet people only a few times a year when they visit to celebrate Mass. This “running from one place to another,” does not offer the “presence and proximity, the support and comfort,” the people desire, he said.

The priest becomes the “distributor of the sacraments,” he added. This is why Bishop Verzeletti supports the ordination of “viri probati,” approved married men, “so that the Eucharist can become a reality that is closer to people and communities.” These would not be “second-rate priests,” he added, but men who are formed accordingly, “devoting their lives to others.”

Bishop Verzetti said his region has been severely affected by colonization and globalization: the result is secularization, religious indifference, and the influence of the Pentecostal churches. “Popular piety cannot resist the impact,” he said.

As an example, Bishop Verzetti said there are 750 Pentecostal churches in his city alone, and only 50 Catholic churches.

He has ordained 110 Permanent Deacons, he said, and works at empowering laypeople, “but with difficulty.” Were the Pope to consider the reality of “viri probati,” concluded the Bishop, “we have worthy people who could be ordained priests.”

José Gregorio Dìaz Mirabal (Venezuela)
Mr José Gregorio Dìaz Mirabal is Coordinator of COICA, the Congress of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin. His organization represents 4 million indigenous people spread over 4,500 communities in all six countries of the Amazon Region.

The Catholic Church, he said in his presentation, is the only organization calling for the world “to wake up.” Speaking as an indigenous person, he said, “we will disappear if we don’t do something.”

The presence of COICA at the Synod, said Mr Mirabal, is to support those who are struggling to protect the land, to stop the “violent invasion of development projects,” including hydroelectric schemes, uncontrolled mining, and the agri-food industry. He spoke of those who are imprisoned and murdered for speaking out against land grabbing, or while trying to stop the pollution of the air and water.

Mr Mirabal concluded by inviting the media to help disseminate these messages.

A question about statistics
The first question was addressed to Dr Paolo Ruffini and concerned statistics from the Amazon Region. The Prefect of the Vatican Communications Dicastery responded that, while pre-Synod preparations had produced statistical materials, this is not a study conference that requires statistical data. The Church is reflecting on “how to serve the Amazon though pastoral activities,” he said.

The Synod is not about “percentages,” he added, but about “how the Universal Church relates to a territory.” And a territory is best described by those who live there, said Dr Ruffini.

Bishop José Ángel Divassòn Cilveti confirmed that studies on the Church in the Amazon Region have been made by REPAM, and that this data was collected and published in preparation for the Synod.

A question about sovereignty
Responding to a question on possible interference in the Synod by local governments in the Amazon Region, Bishop Carlo Verzeletti re-affirmed the Church’s respect for the sovereignty of Brazil, in particular. The Church does not give “technical solutions,” he added, but guidelines so that life and rights in the Amazon Region are respected. Resolving economic problems in Brazil doesn’t mean opening up areas in the Amazon that will improve the lives of the rich, but not “the lives of our people,” he said.

With regard to a meeting in the Vatican between the Vice President of Brazil and the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, Dr Ruffini said it had “no influence on the Synod.” The meeting was about “diplomatic relations between States,” he said, and there was “no connection” with the Synod for the Amazon.

A question about future Pan-Amazonian organization
A question was asked about the possibility of setting up a future Pan-Amazonian organization after the Synod. It was confirmed that the topic had been raised in one of the small working groups, but there was a concern about multiplying too many organizations when the REPAM network already exists.

Ms Josianne Gauthier added that any form of collaboration is helpful when it comes to defending human rights. As long as there is “clarity of intention,” she said her organization would work with whatever structure is decided upon.

A question about viri probati
In connection with the ordination of approved married men, or “viri probati,” Jesuit Fr Giacomo Costa stressed the desire of the Pope that “all issues” be discussed in order to discern appropriate solutions. Fr Costa confirmed there are “different positions” on this issue, but that “everyone is listening in a respectful way.”

Dr Ruffini added that while some may be in favour and others against, in the end it is not the Synod that decides. The Synod will eventually entrust its reflections to the Holy Father as “something that is still in progress.”

A question about Ecuador
Responding to a question about the ongoing violence in Ecuador, José Gregorio Dìaz Mirabal said that what is happening throughout the region, “pains all of us.” There are so many challenges in search of solutions, he said.

Bishop José Ángel Divassòn Cilveti added that it is important to be aware of what is happening in these situations. We can only understand if we “look at the overall picture,” he said.

A question about Church investments
A question was asked regarding Church investments in projects in the Amazon Region. Fr Costa responded saying the Church has already disinvested and is disinvesting from certain products and companies.

Ms Josianne Gauthier added that disinvestment is a way by which the Church can show her “coherence with Laudato sì and integral ecology,” the connection between “words and actions.”

A question about the Church’s Amazonian face
The last question was about the kinds of changes that need to be made if the Church in the Amazon Region is truly to have an “Amazonian face.”

José Gregorio Dìaz Mirabal responded by repeating that it is not up to the Synod to make decisions. He confirmed, however, that the Church “must reach out” and must be reflected in the realities of the local people. He admitted that the Church needs support, and needs to build greater unity with the indigenous people in some parts of the Amazon Region.
In order to make one another stronger, he concluded, we need to “walk together – even if it means going barefoot.”

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH, A “TIME OF GRACE”

Pray for all the synod participants as they end their work of 25 days in the Vatican. May each one of them, from the Holy Father to the lay auditors, bring the gift of a synod that many have called “grace-filled days” to their home dioceses and parishes. The closing Mass is this Sunday at 10 am in St. Peter’s Basilica. Safe travels to all who came to the Eternal City for this important meeting.

Also this weekend: Tune in to Vatican Insider as I look back at the synod and other Vatican news and then present a special interview. IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH, A “TIME OF GRACE”

The Primate of all Ireland said at Friday’s Synod of Bishops press briefing that he that has not engaged with and encouraged young people enough.
By Russell Pollitt, SJ (vaticannews)

A graced month

Both Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria and Archbishop Eamon Martin of Ireland said that the Synod has been a time of grace – despite their personal apprehension before it started.

Synod Fathers are shown here after the Mass yesterday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica following the pilgrimage along the Via Francigena to the tomb of the first Pope. The Pope, in the center, is not vested as he did not celebrate Mass but was present. In the background you can see three archways over three altars in the south aisle of the basilica. The center altar – the Altar of St. Joseph –  has the relics of two of the 12 Apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude. Not many people know that St. Peter is not the only Apostle buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. By the way, their feast day is this Sunday, October 28!

Cardinal Schönborn said that when appointed he was concerned about being away from Vienna for such a long time. Now, he says, he realises what a good experience it was for bishops to come from all over the world so that they could listen to young people and share with them. He said that they heard more about the experiences and life situations of youth. He said that here is no other comparable social body of leaders in the world who will take the time – a whole month – to listen to young people with empathy and true attention.

The Vienna cardinal said that the atmosphere was not one in which the bishops had answers but simply one in which they gave attention to the vision and dreams of young people. He said that at the Synod they laughed a lot and that there was an excellent atmosphere and real communion. He said that he will be more determined in his missionary spirit because the courage and willingness of young people.

Archbishop Martin echoed this. He said that it was a graced-filled month. He too said that he was skeptical before arriving. He said that in Ireland they have to connect with young people but they haven’t done a great job. He said that the Church connects with families and schools but after that they struggle to engage young people. He said that the Synod has offered him much for reflection on how to go about connecting with youth. The communion at the Synod, with the Holy Father, bishops and young people was a real grace, he said.

Archbishop Anthony Muheria from Kenya said that the Synod was an exceptional experience of the universality of the church, its diversity and also of collegiality. He says that the Synod has been like a flame, a fire, which reignited the desire of the bishops to engage young people and in so doing give new life to the Church.

The Church must preach a counter-cultural message

Archbishop Martin said that this Synod was not talking about a particular doctrinal issue. The Synod touched on many issues from the point of view of young people. In the first week the gathering identified the pressures that young people were under. The reality of poverty, human trafficking, migration, how many young people are lost, the increase in depression, mental illness and their yearning for a stable reference point. The Archbishop said that the bishops felt the importance again of the Church presenting a counter-culture message to the world, a world, he added, in which young people are drowning and feel suffocated. He said that the Church gives people a reason to hope, to hold on to life, to live with passion. If anything, he said, the Church mustn’t chase after fashions but fearlessly speak and go against the grain of what society proposes. We need a Church that is counter-cultural, he said.

The future challenge

Archbishop Muheria said that the challenge is now for the bishops to pass the flame of the Synod on to young people. We need to instill hope. He said for him it is now about what will happen when the Synod ends on Sunday. He said that the Church needs to help young people face hurdles so that they can have great dreams for the future – great dreams which are calling the whole Church forward, he added. He said this will mean a change in approach and therefore a new adventure. He said that the majority of Catholic youth are in Asia and Africa and the Synod must connect with them despite their particular challenges.

Archbishop Martin said that he is nervous as he has to go home and bring the power and joy and life of the Synod back to the particular Churches in Ireland. “I have to be an ambassador of the Synod,” he said.

He said that young people have to be involved in the contemporary Church. In society they are in politics, education, policing, government and the legal system. For this reason, too, he said, the Church must engage with them so that they can transform society from within the places they are already working and involved.

Archbishop Martin said that he came to the realisation that young people are not the object of ministry, young people are themselves agents of evangelisation. He said that he realises that he must engage more with young people so that they can become missionary disciples. He said he sees now that he has not engaged with and encouraged young people enough. He said that he must go and reimagine his diocese and parishes. A question, for himself, he said, was how he facilitates making faith-filled young people part of the decision-making of the Church back in Ireland.

Mr Erduin Alberto Ortega Leal from Cuba, said that the Church does try and help young people find answers but that the Church of the future must also be involved and active with all people. He said that sometimes people in the Church don’t understand the mistakes of the past but, thanks to the Synod, he feels that there is a better understanding now.

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: GOD IS AN ABSTRACT THOUGHT FOR THE YOUNG

If you want to spend some very special time understanding the synod with Bishop Robert Barron or in some of the Eternal City’s beautiful churches via his video team, go here for some marvelous videos! https://wof.digital/synod2018/#updates

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: GOD IS AN ABSTRACT THOUGHT FOR THE YOUNG

Although many young people attend mass and go to confession, and despite 12 years of catechism, God still remains an abstract thought for them, a bishop says at Wednesday’s press briefing.
By Russell Pollitt, SJ (vaticannews)

On Wednesday the Synod Fathers discussed the draft of the final document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. A letter to young people, from the Synod, was also read out in the General Assembly. It is expected that the letter will be read at the closing Mass of the Synod on Sunday, 28 October.

Full Churches but what happens outside?
Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Cameroon said that parishes in Africa are full, there is not enough space to contain all the young people. The problem is that after joyful celebrations – sometimes lasting a number of hours – young people leave and enter a world of unemployment, no medical care, high rates of poverty and war situations.
The Bishop said that the understanding of family in Africa was still very strong. He said that traditional values correspond to values in the Church. They are passed on from generation to generation, youth still follow their elders.

Asked why he thought the Church in Africa was thriving, he said that he believes that it is because community is at the heart of African life. The Bishop said that in Africa they fight the “in-creeping” of individualism. He said that once people lock themselves up in big houses and build high walls then community and connection are lost. The Church as community and family is very strong in Africa. If this is lost, then the Church will empty out.

He also noted that the Church must speak in unambiguous language, tell young people the truth. It is important that the truth is not watered down, he added, especially about delicate topics.

God is an abstract idea
Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś of Poland said that it is not that Poland’s parishes are empty, to the contrary. He said that about 50 percent of young people go to Church and seek confession regularly. This, however, does not necessarily mean that they know Jesus. He said that for many youngsters God is an abstract idea after 12 years of catechism. He said that young people know little about faith. He went on to explain that if you ask young people about values they say that family is a value; faith is, sadly, way down the list. Family is important because of the relationships. He used the example of religious feasts like Christmas and Easter. Young people see these as significant “family events” and not as religious occasions. He added that this is not a judgement but something important to take note of.

Accompanying the young as they make existential decisions
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany said that Pope Francis has decided to use Synods as part of a global process and way of moving the Church forward. The Cardinal said that looking at young people between the ages of 15-28 was key because this is when they are making existential decisions. He said that they are at a sensitive age and one that the Church must understand. He said that accompaniment at this time was crucial because if they are not well accompanied then the Church will be a lost playing field for evangelisation.

Women
Asked about the role of women in the Church, Cardinal Marx said that without change and development one can never make any progress. The question of women’s roles in the Church is important for the whole Church. He said that women need to be given real participation in the Church’s decision-making processes. In some place this is already happening. The Cardinal said that 30 years ago he too may have been opposed to this but, he said, “thank God I didn’t get stuck there!”

The Cardinal said that the Church must understand the evolution of time and the development of women’s equality. He said that this is a gift that God gives the Church in the light of the Gospel. We would be foolish if we did not make use of the potential that women have. Thank God we are not that stupid, the Cardinal added.

Sexuality should not be exploited for ideological reasons
Asked about the use of the acronym LGBTI in the final document, Bishop Nkea said that we must be careful of the language we use. He said that the Church is the only voice that is opposed to certain ideologies. He said that there were programmes that require pro-abortion policies in order to receive aid. This cannot be accepted. The Bishop said that he would not be in favour of the acronym “LGBTI” being used in the final document. He said that 99.9 percent of young people in his diocese would not know what that means. He said that if the acronym was used in the document, he would have to take time to become conversant with something he is not familiar with so that he can explain it to others.

Cardinal Marx was asked about sexual orientation and the way that the German Church has handled this. He said that sexuality is being discussed at the Synod but that this is not a Synod on sexuality. It is being dealt with in the dimension of accompaniment. He said that there are lobbies from all different sides wanting to have their agenda heard. He warned against those who use sexuality to exploit it for ideological reasons. He said that the Church needs to use a language that is understandable to everyone, one that accompanies and does not homogenise cultures. He said that this Synod is not about language but about accompanying the young as best as the Church can. He said that, for Jesus, sexuality is one dimension of the whole person and not the whole person.

Commenting on sexual abuse, Cardinal Marx said that this was brought back into focus in Germany just before Synod. He said that it has been discussed at the Synod and that a change of attitude is necessary. He added that abuse was also an abuse of power, as Pope Francis has said many times.

OCTOBER 22, SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING

This column is “Joan’s Rome lite” today as the commitments I have – often to be in two different places at the same time – only allow me time to write a fairly short summary of today’s press briefing with three very interesting guests from three very diverse cultures.

OCTOBER 22, SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING

Today is special in many respects and for many reasons but the first reason for so many people is that October 22 is the feast day of St. John Paul II.

In fact, Sunday, October 22, 1978 was the day that he inaugurated his pontificate, the third longest in history. St. John Paul wrote and spoke and preached extensively on the family and many have been praying to him for the success of the current synod of bishops with the family as its focus. Pope Francis, synod fathers and invited guests have been meeting for three weeks on the theme:  “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World.” Only three days remain for this gathering. Pope Francis will close the synod Sunday with Mass in St. Peter’s basilica. Work might finish here but there will be a fair amount of post-synod work for the Holy Father and others.

One of the penultimate press briefings by and about the synod of bishops on the family took place today, Thursday. Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office and secretary of the synod’s Commission for Information presided. The special guests were Cardinals Oswald Gracias of Bombay, Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles. Each gave brief opening statements before answering questions.

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Cardinal Gracias, who is also one of the C9 Council of Cardinals that advises Pope Francis, said every synod he has attended is a new experience.. This time was a “true walking together with diverse opinions, different viewpoints, different cultural situations. It was “marvelous to learn all that, and also that it has been a spiritual experience.” He said, “we look to the Holy Father to give direction in our pastoral work.”  He said families are in difficulty today but there are also many good families. How do we help them become better? He said he saw in the small language groups “the deep passion of bishops for the suffering of their people.”

Cardinal Mafi noted that he was also at last years Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He said he was looking forward to this synod but was also apprehensive. “My people are waiting at home to hear from me.” He described the people of his South Pacific island nation as “very much family oriented, we have especially extended families.” Though we are somewhat isolated, he said, “globalization is also entering our world, the good and the bad of globalization, and we are now facing the challenges of globalization.

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The youngest member of the College of Cardinals said “it is a wonderful experience to listen, to hear and to learn, to learn from brother bishops in the synod, and he asked: “What are the lessons I should take from this synod…..hopefully we will learn from one another and continue to walk together in the synod.”

Later, in answer to a question, Cardinal Mafi (whose first names Soane Patita translate to John Baptist) said, “in Oceania we are in a transitional period, if you like, small little island nations, many of which became independent in the 70s and 80s. This has impacted on the family, on the traditional family values, often vulnerable in this transitional period. … Individualism is starting to come slowly to our shores. We see some family breakdown from the traditional extended structure. Material well-being can bring blessings as well as challenges. We can become very materialistic. A big concern is migration as some look for a better life. But I ask: why leave paradise? Now, whole families move overseas and break away from certain values.”

Archbishop Gomez, said “it has been a blessing to be part of this synod on the family. It has been a special grace for all of us to be together, especially as we talk of the family, so important for society and for all of humanity. We are listening and learning and hearing of different realities. We are united in this global village we live in. We are asking: how can we strengthen marriage and the family in their vocation and mission?

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The archbishop said he wish there had been more time to further discuss issues close to his heart and the hearts of many, such as poverty, migration, the role of education and many other issues. The archbishop of Los Angeles said, “I hope the final document reflects our talks.” He added, jokingly, “three weeks is enough, and we are looking forward to going back home.”

Later, answering a question about what he hoped would come of the synod, he spoke of spirituality and said, “the hope for our families is that the synod helps them find new ways to be active members of the church. Society has changed and people are so busy sometimes it is difficult to practice your faith. We need a sense of how to be good Catholics in today’s world.” And he underscored the need for unity: “we need to be united, and social media has helped people stay together, helped families in many ways to be united.” Archbishop Gomez stressed that “the people we can trust 100 percent are always family.”

Father Lombardi, having earlier joked about the fact that Hollywood is part of Abp. Gomez’ archdiocese, pointed out that Bollywood is part of Cardinal Gracias’ archdiocese.

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Cardinal Gracias, a member of the commission of ten that is preparing a document to be read and approved by the Synod Fathers and then passed on to Pope Francis, explained the various procedures involved in this. The commission has spent long hours, working very late at night and very early some mornings to get the document ready that is intended to reflect the input of the interventions given in the hall and the reflections and amendments (apparently over 500) passed on by the 13 language groups.

The cardinal mentioned that at one point, Pope Francis briefly joined their group last week, noting that, “he encouraged us but did not stay for our discussions.”

He said the group has finalized the text – they voted unanimously – to be presented this afternoon, Cardinal Erdo will give a brief presentation and the text then given to synod fathers who will meet tomorrow morning in General Congregation. We hope, he said, to have written amendments by lunch. We meet again tomorrow evening to polish the final draft on Saturday, and the plan is for it to be ready to go to whole house and we will vote paragraph by paragraph in the afternoon.

UPDATED REPORT ON PAPAL HEALTH RUMOR – PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT: FIDELITY IN MARRIAGE – DAY 14 SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING – HERE’S HOW THE SYNOD WORKS….

UPDATED REPORT ON PAPAL HEALTH RUMOR

VATICAN DENIES POPE FRANCIS HAS TUMOR

Statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office (news.va: ANSA)

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI

With regard to the unfounded news on the health of the Holy Father, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., has issued the following statement:

The circulation of entirely unfounded news regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention. Furthermore, as is clearly evident, the Pope is carrying out his very intense activity in an totally normal way.

AT SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING ON WEDNESDAY, Fr. Lombardi said, referring to the original article, that no Japanese doctor specializing in brain tumors ever came to the Vatican last January to see the Pope,  no helicopter ever brought a person to the Vatican. He also mentioned that, next to the article about the papal health, was an interview by the same writer with a woman doctor about tumors. She personally called Fr. Lombardi from New York, saying she saw the report of a papal tumor, knew absolutely nothing, only that a journalist had called her and asked, in a very generic way, about tumors.

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT: FIDELITY IN MARRIAGE

Some of the Synod Fathers, accompanied by faithful fom their dioceses. were at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square where tens of thousands of pilgrims braved chilly October temperatures to hear the Holy Father talk about fidelity in marriage.

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Francis began by noting, “In our catechesis on the family, we spoke last week about the promises we make to our children by bringing them into the world. Today we consider the promise of love and fidelity made between husbands and wives, which is the basis of all family life. This promise is called into question nowadays, and seen as somehow opposed to personal freedom. Yet the truth is that our freedom is shaped and sustained by our fidelity to the choices and commitments we make throughout life. Fidelity grows through our daily efforts to keep our word; indeed, fidelity to our promises is a supreme expression of our dignity as human beings.

“A family that closes up on itself is a contradiction, a mortification of the promise that brought it to life,” said the Pope. “Never forget that the identity of the family is always a promise that extends and expands to all the family, and also to all humanity. … Love, like friendship, owes its strength and beauty to the fact that it generates a bond without curbing freedom. Love is free, the promise of the family is free, and this is its beauty. Without freedom there is no friendship, without freedom there is no love, without freedom there is no marriage. So, freedom and fidelity are not opposed to each other; on the contrary, they support each other, in terms of both interpersonal and social relationships.

In a very beautiful and moving passage, Francis said: “Being faithful to promises is a true work of art by humanity. No relationship of love – no friendship, no form of caring for another person, no joy of the common good – reaches the height of our desire and our hope, if it does not arrive at the point of inhabiting this miracle of the soul. And I use the word ‘miracle’, because the strength and persuasiveness of fidelity, in spite of everything, can only enchant and surprise us.”

“There is no greater ‘school’ to teach us such fidelity than marriage and the family,” continued the Holy Father, because they are, “in God’s plan, a blessing for our world. Saint Paul tells us that the love which grounds the family points to the bond of love between Christ and the Church. In these days of the Synod on the Family, let us pray that the Church will uphold and strengthen the promise of the family, with creativity and with unfailing trust in that faithful love by which the Lord fulfils his every promise.”

DAY 14 SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING

Papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi started today’s briefing on the synod by adding to his earlier denial of what he called “the circulation of entirely unfounded news” that Pope Francis has a benign brain tumor. He had said that the report “regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention.”

At the briefing, referring to the original article, he stated that no Japanese doctor specializing in brain tumors ever came to the Vatican to see the Pope last January, nor had a helicopter ever brought a person to the Vatican. Father Lombardi also mentioned that, next to the article about the papal health, was an interview by the same writer with a woman doctor about tumors. She personally called Fr. Lombardi from New York to say she had seen the report of a papal tumor, knew absolutely nothing, only that a journalist had called her and asked, in a very generic way, about tumors.

Cardinals Daniel Sturla Berhouet of Montevideo, Uruguay and Reinhard Marx of Munich, Germany and Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland addressed the media. Each began with an opening statement.

Cardinal Marx, who is also one of C-9 Council of Cardinals that advises the Holy Father, began to speak in his native German and then switched to English, a language understood by the greater majority of the journalists present.

He said he thinks “the synod is nearing the end but that it will not be the end because there will be a ‘relatio’ (report) and propositions. In our German-speaking group we had propositions and reflections about marriage and the family. The Holy Father will make something of the texts (of the language groups) so the synod is not at an end.”

Cardinal Marx said from the (2014) consistory to the 2014 synod to this synod, he sees that, “most of the people agree with the central part of the document (the Instrumentum laboris or working document), that is, one man, one women, together, forever. That is the great majority of the people I know in the church and also in society in general, and they will agree with the message of the Church. The Church says be faithful to your dreams – and people want to hear this – but they ask: what will you say to us when we fail?  That is the center of the discussions. Our answer: we stay with you even when you fail. This is a challenge in pastoral work.”

“In our relatio, continued the archbishop of Munich, “we stressed the point because marriage and the family is such a center for the world, for society. The family is the center and thanks to the Catholic Church for making this possible. Our discussions are for the world – this is our message to the world.” Cardinal Marx noted, “we have to do a lot to strengthen and support families, to accompany them and help them, to help families to realize their dream when they say ‘Yes’ to each other. One man, one woman, forever, and children. Thus, this most intimate private action is also most important for the public interest.”

Another point was “the discussion on gender and we tried to make a difference.” There is this new social construction of gender, and we are against these ‘new’ genders. That people can ‘choose’ gender is not acceptable to the Church.”

On the issue of the divorced and civilly remarried who wish communion, the German said, “everyone is looking at this issue. We are looking at what I just said about these people: what will you say to us when we fail?”

He pointed out that “every proposition, every text of German language group is unanimous – no vote against it. We feel there must be a way for us to be with these people who are aiming for full reconciliation with the church.”

“I hope this synod will not be a synod of closed doors but of open doors for people – open to young people who want to marry. We truly hope your dream will come true.”

(FYI: In actual practice, a number of bishops in Germany and Switzerland are already giving communion to divorced and remarried, an issue of great concern and consternation for many Church fathers and Catholics elsewhere.)

Cardinal Sturla from Uruguay said he has only been a bishop for three and a half years and cardinal for half that time and this is his first synod. He said he is learning a lot from his brothers, learning how to listen, to see the universal church. He sees the universality of the Church in the Italian language group of which he is part as there are Italian-speaking prelates and guests from the Eastern Churches and from around the world. He is impressed with the intensity of work, the conscientious care with which Synod Fathers prepared their text.

The Salesian cardinal said there was great attention in language groups, as well as diversity of opinions, freedom to talk, fraternity and unity. “We touched on all the topics Card Marx mentioned,” and spoke of the ideology of gender, He stressed the strong secularization process in Latin America where, in many instances, even same sex unions are approved. He said his group was struck by the unity given by the figure of the Pope. He said “we work but the last word will be the Pope’s.” He also underscored how, “for us of Spanish language, the word ‘accompany’ is very important, fundamental, in fact.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland said this was his first synod and it has been a “marvelous, special experience.”

“Last night in our small language group of which I am moderator,” he began, “I thought: what will come out of this synod? Were we all to go home last night, before any document was issued, then I feel the synod has been worthwhile. The synod is about finding synergy, as Pope Francis said Saturday (in his talk about the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops). The convergence was around Pope Francis.”

Abp. Martin noted that, “this synod is entitled ‘vocation and mission of the family.’ Vocation often suggests priesthood and consecrated life. But they are in decline. What do we do? We pray for vocations and we support those who believe they have a vocation. So why not do the same for the family, think in the same way? The tsunami of secularism has led to this decline in the sense of vocation, so how do we support that?

The archbishop of Armagh suggested three answers. 1. We must surely pray for the family, for marriage; 2. We need to have a clear, positive definition of marriage, of vocation to marriage and family, and 3. We need to support and nourish those in the vocation of marriage. In coming weeks, months and years, we have to ask: What are we doing to support the vocation and mission of the family?

HERE’S HOW THE SYNOD WORKS….

On The Road Together – The soil of real experience

“We’ve come far but there’s still a long way to go in a short time” – by Abp. Mark Coleridge, Brisbane, Australia

Yesterday (Tuesday) we finished work in the small groups. Our group was a very mixed bag, as were all the groups more or less. But English being spoken so widely we had a real jumble of nationalities (18), and voices spoke from vastly different backgrounds, at times it seemed from different planets. It wasn’t always easy to weave a tapestry from this but – thanks in large part to the tact and patience, the tactics and hard work of the Moderator, Archbishop Eamon Martin – we came close enough to it.

It was a challenge to put the final group report together, because Part III on which we were reporting contains most of the hot-button issues, on which there wasn’t always agreement in the group. The final report didn’t gloss over this totally; nor did it give much sense of the disagreement among us. At times our focus, I thought, was more doctrinal than pastoral and that, as a result, we tended to talk in some kind of noosphere which bore little relation to the reality of people’s lives – or at least the lives of the people I serve back home. The word “pastoral” means in the first place that we’re in touch with the reality of people’s lives, not caught in some doctrinal or ideological bubble where things may be beautiful in their own neat way but where you don’t deal with the mess of reality. The group was at its best perhaps when we were sharing our experiences of marriage and the family in our home situations. That’s when you felt we were touching down in the soil of real experience.

At times we wandered away from the focus of the family, talking about issues in global terms rather than within the context of the family. As a result, there was sometimes a feeling that we had to say everything about everything, which is not what a Synod is about – especially when we’re looking at the family which is not a single theme but a whole host of themes. You have to be very focused if it’s not to become unmanageable; and our focus had to be essentially pastoral and strictly within the context of the family.

Read the rest of Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s very informative blog here (you really have to wonder where he finds he time to write this, given what he said about his schedule!): http://brisbanecatholic.org.au/articles/soil-real-experience/

 

DAY 13: SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING – A ROMANIAN DOCTOR BEGS SYNOD FATHERS: STAY TRUE TO THE FAITH

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.

DR ANCA

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.

 

BRIEFING DAY 12: SYNOD OF BISHOPS – BEHIND THE SCENES WITH A SYNOD FATHER

When one is not gifted with the grace of bi-location, covering a synod can be a real challenge.

You see, a journalist:

  1.       Wants to be outside the synod hall in the fenced-in area for the media where you try to shout greetings to prelates you know or want to know or at least take a few important photos: You can do this at least once a day but will probably meet more people if you stand there at least twice daily, such when the synod fathers arrive at the morning and afternoon sessions and then leave both sessions;
  2.      Wants to attend the daily briefings, normally scheduled for 1 pm in the Holy See Press Office: they can last as little as an hour or well over 90 minutes. In any case, if you have lunch, it will be a late lunch. Now, there is an alternative: stay at home or in your office and watch online. But most likely you have stayed at home because you are trying to write an article from a previous interview or you are trying to prepare a new interview – but how do you listen attentively to the press briefing (where some interesting things can be learned) AND write a thoughtful, comprehensive piece, blog, daily column, script for radio or TV, etc.?
  3.       If you do attend the press briefing, you then have to write your column and that might take considerable time to do well (reading your notes, translating the shorthand, etc.). You will probably do this as you eat a snack from the press office vending machine. However, if you eat a really decent lunch, the writing will be put off.
  4.      But you can’t put off the writing because you have a 4:30 appointment to interview a prelate. Do you prepare your press briefing column or make sure the interview is well prepared? Is there time to do both? Something might give along the way.
  5.       If everything actually falls into place (and by the way, I did not include the time it takes to download photos, selecting a few for your column, and/or listening to your recording of the press conference or an interview) by late evening you will have accomplished most of the day’s objectives and then, feeling you deserve a really good break, you seek a really good meal, preferably breaking bread with friends and colleagues who have shared the same daily schedule.
  6.      Things should and probably will work out with some level of determination and organization but it is always the little extras that can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back: the “extras” like meeting deadlines for two weekly television shows and three radio programs or having to re-arrange schedules to accommodate an interviewee who has to change his/her schedule, or an unexpected assignment from your editor. My “extra” today was an almost daylong repair job on the centralized satellite we have in our Vatican-owned apartment building. I’ve been without a great number of channels, including EWTN, for several months. A technician came at 10:30 am and left a little after 5:30 pm but he did solve the problem. I had to be available part of the time as the technician needed to check damage and/or repairs against my TV. In any case, I can now watch EWTN’s nightly show on the synod at 7 pm, instead of streaming on my iPad (but thank the Lord for little favors!)
  7.      And the synod days will pass – not as rapidly as one might like – but we are now, after all, in the third and final week of this marathon synod on the family that ends – at least here in Rome – on Sunday, October 25. Deo gratias for endings!

BRIEFING DAY 12: SYNOD OF BISHOPS

Archbishops Enrico Solmi of Italy, Mark Coleridge of Australia and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Beatitude Fouad Twal, answered questions from the media at the daily press briefing on the Synod of the Family. Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, explained that the delegates were meeting in small groups on Monday and Tuesday so there will be no report until Wednesday of the discussions that were underway. The three prelates answered a number of questions which mainly focussed on the admission of the divorced and civilly remarried to Communion.

Bishops arrive at the synod hall for meetings (photo: news.va):

bishops arrive for synod

Following is a report by Vatican Radio’s Fr. Russell Politt, SJ

“Discernment is always messy and uncertain,” said Archbishop Coleridge. He went on to say that despite the mess and the challenges the Synod faces, he is confident that deep down something is moving. Coleridge said that he thought Pope Francis’ address at Saturday’s celebration marking 50 years of the institution of the Synod of Bishops was a key moment and that he hoped what the Pope said would be taken forward.

Archbishop Solmi said that climate at the Synod was one of listening and expressing things openly which included different opinions and nuances. He said that a fundamental aspect of the Synod was to try and look at the family through the eyes of God. Solmi said that he really thinks the Synod understands a sense of Catholicism – the universal Church meeting and sharing their lived experiences from all over the world.

All three prelates spoke of the importance of being in touch with human experience. Coleridge said that often bishops can indulge in “Church-speak” that is truly beautiful but abstract and doesn’t touch people in their reality. He underlined that this was a pastoral synod. We need theology but we also need to be deeply in touch with human experience, he added.

Beatitude Twal, speaking on the admission of the divorced and civilly married to Communion, said that this is a very serious and complicated discussion. He said that in no way can we generalise, sometimes there may be no sin but “a lack of order” and so we have to look at these issues very closely. Coleridge said that if a second marriage is good, stable and the children were well cared for, then we need to see if there is some pastoral solution that can be used. He added that there are many people who are alienated from the Church and so it’s important that we go to them and reach out.

Solmi said that people may be living in a situation that is not God’s will for them. He said that there may be sin but we need to remember that we are dealing with the reality of peoples lives and that accompanying them means listening and embarking upon a path of discernment.

The prelates were asked how they are dealing with three vexed questions which seem to be central to the narrative around the Synod: the admission of the divorce and civilly remarried to communion, homosexuality and cohabitation. Twal said that he did not believe these were central. He said that these were not the items of the Synod but amongst items being discussed at the Synod. He mentioned other issues like war and poverty. He said that even with much goodwill on the part of the Synod delegates, they are aware of their limits and that they cannot solve all the issues before them. He said that in his part of the world he does not have the same problems as the West.

Coleridge said that there will be no substantial change in Church teaching on these issues. He said that, hopefully, there will be a movement to a new, genuine, pastoral approach to things. He said the approach requires new language, a language that listens. He said that although the Church may understand a certain language – like “love the sinner but not the sin” or “intrinsically disordered” – this no longer communicates with the people of our times. It would be helpful to find others words to express truths that are more positive. He asked if there was another way, for example, that the Church could express “indissolubility” more positively.

The bishops said that they were working hard, and feeling tired, trying to put together a report that could be presented to the Pope. They said that they would give their recommendations to him but that, in the end, the Holy Father will decide on the way forward.

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH A SYNOD FATHER

ON THE ROAD TOGETHER – BETWEEN ABRAHAM AND MOSES

“We’re caught at the moment between Abraham and Moses. All of the bishops have a bit of both in them, but some are more Mosaic than Abrahamic, others more Abrahamic than Mosaic. Let’s hope the two patriarchs can embrace by week’s end.”

October 19, 2015 – Abp. Mark Coleridge, Brisbane, Australia

Yesterday, being Sunday, was free from Synod commitments. But that didn’t mean free from praying and eating – both of which are done in considerable quantities during the Synod, free day or not. I had two invitations for Mass – one to the Domus Australia where Cardinal Pell was celebrating the fourth anniversary of the Aussie house in Rome, the other the Canonisation Mass in St Peter’s Square. I decided the Square was closer, so over I went with Bishop Hurley to join the mob of of bishops who gathered around the Pope as he declared four blesseds – among them the parents of Therese of Lisieux – to be saints.

These papal occasions have about them a grand formality, at least out in the Square. But things are a little less formal, in fact a bit messy, in the Basilica where the bishops vest. It’s very pleasant to have, as it were, the run of St Peter’s without the vast crowds that throng through it from day to day.

We were vesting in the chapel of St Gregory Nazianzen who, by the way, hated episcopal synods and councils and thought that no good ever came of them. He retired from his see early to produce some of the most memorable theology ever written. Nearby was the chapel of Pope St John XXIII and he, of course, loved synods and councils. All the bishops stopped before his tomb to seek his intercession as the start of the final week of this Synod. I certainly did, in part because I think this Synod is more directly linked to Vatican II than any other Synod through the last 50 years.

Continue with this fascinating insider’s look here: http://brisbanecatholic.org.au/articles/on-the-road-together-between-abraham-moses/