VATICAN INSIDER, PART II: ARCHBISHOP GARCIA SILLER ON V ENCUENTRO – POPE TO YOUTH: WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR VOICE FOR 2018 SYNOD

Pope Francis tweeted today: Children forced to flee, especially if fleeing alone, are most defenseless and vulnerable. Let’s pray for them and help them. @M_RSection

VATICAN INSIDER, PART II: ARCHBISHOP GARCIA SILLER ON V ENCUENTRO

Vatican Insider’s interview segment offers Part II of my conversation with San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia Siller as we talk about the V Encuentro and other topics during a visit he made to Rome.

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The V Encuentro is a four-year process of ecclesial reflection and action that invites all Catholics in the United States to intense missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization. It is part of the priority activity of the USCCB’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2020. The V Encuentro (5th Encounter) started this very month at the grass roots level and calls for the development of resources and initiatives to better serve the fast growing Hispanic population in dioceses, parishes, ecclesial movements, and other Catholic organizations and institutions in light of its theme Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love.

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POPE TO YOUTH: WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR VOICE FOR 2018 SYNOD

In view of the 2018 synod on on the theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” Pope Francis has written a letter to young people. It was revealed Friday ahead of a press conference at the Holy See Press Office to present the preparatory document for the Synod.

The Vatican document focuses far more on getting input from young people, learning who they are and what they want as they grow up and live in an era so different from their parents and pastors. And that is what the Pope says in his Letter to young people: the Church wants “to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith, even your doubts and your criticism.” He wants youth to tell him, the bishops and pastors about their hopes and struggles. “Make your voice heard. Let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.”

He starts the Letter by teling youth, “I wanted you to be the center of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the (synod) Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.”

“I would also,” said the Pope, “remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: ‘Teacher […] where are you staying’ He replied, ‘Come and see’.  Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.”

The Pope noted that, “In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: ‘Can we change things?’ And you shouted: ‘yes!’ That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a ‘throw-away culture’ nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves!”

“A better world,” continued Francis, “can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.”

“Such is the case,” Pope Francis ended his letter to young people, “even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: ‘Here I am’.”

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THE SYNOD’S LIGHTS AND SHADOWS SEEN IN FINAL DOCUMENT

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

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

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

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

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

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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