POPE FRANCIS GREETS 2 CHINESE BISHOPS

One way to follow Vatican coverage of the 2018 Synod of Bishops as it offers speeches by or interviews with participants, videos, live streaming of press conferences in the Holy See Press Office, can be found on the officil Vatican synod website: http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en.html

The Vaticannews site also offers #SYNOD2018

Obviously EWTN and the National Catholic Register are go-to sources!

You might also want to check the Facebook posts or Twitter pages of some of the U.S. participants – or participants you want to know about (just google Facebook or Twitter and then the person’s name).

Here’s a head start to help you:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ArchbishopChaput/posts/?ref=page_internal

https://www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez/

https://www.facebook.com/BishopRobertBarron/

https://www.facebook.com/CardinalBCupich/

https://www.facebook.com/BishopCaggiano/

Interesting news about the two Chinese bishops present for the synod – a historic first. A I understand it, one is from the government-approved Patriotic Association and one from the underground Church that is loyal to Rome and the Pope.

I have been searching for days but without any luck for a piece I wrote a number of years ago while working at the Vatican Information Service (VIS) at the Holy See Press Office. It was just before or at the start if a synod we were covering under Pope John Paul. Bishops from mainland China had been invited to attend but never did make the synod as they were not allowed to get the proper travel documents from the government.

VIS received the text of telegrams written in Latin from the bishops in China, explaining that they would not be present. We were expected to publish the telegrams as they arrived, that is, in Latin, but I said we should translate them and provide that translation along with the original. I translated the Latin to English and gave that to my colleagues who then translated the messages into French, Spanish and Italian.

In all the years I worked at VIS, I don’t think my years of high school Latin had ever been put to such good use. I felt that Miss O’Brien, my Latin teacher at Trinity High School in River Forest, Illinois would have been very proud of me that day!

POPE FRANCIS GREETS 2 CHINESE BISHOPS

Pope Francis greets two bishops from continental China as they arrive Thursday for the second day’s session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocation discernment.

The Synod on young people began with Mass in St. Peter’s Square on October 3. (vaticannews photo)

During the homily at Mass, the Holy Father prayed that the Spirit grant the Synod Fathers the grace to dream and to hope, so as to be able to anoint young people with the gifts of prophesy and vision.

Click here for video: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-10/synod-youth-2018-pope-china.html#play

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WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SYNOD ON YOUTH, FAITH, VOCATIONS – WHAT IS THE REAL ROLE OF THE 2018 SYNOD INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS?

Vaticannews.va has a live stream of current meeting in synod hall. Check this page daily for such streams: https://www.vaticannews.va/en.html

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SYNOD ON YOUTH, FAITH, VOCATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT IS THE REAL ROLE OF THE 2018 SYNOD INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read on for Abp. Chaput’s analysis:

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

The column was published in the Italian newspaper Il Foglio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read entire Abp. Chaput piece in First Things: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/09/thoughts-on-the-instrumentum-laboris

AN OVERVIEW OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS – YOUNG PEOPLE, THE FAITH AND THE DISCERNMNT OF VOCATION – APPROACHING THE SYNOD WITH OPEN HEARTS AND MINDS – FIVE BISHOPS WHO COULD MOVE THE SYNOD

I offer several pieces on the synod of bishops – an overview of synods, a look at the upcoming gathering for young people that opens tomorrow, a piece by vaticannews correspondent Linda Bordoni and a sage analysis by Ed Condon for Catholic News Agency.

I find Condon’s comments very interesting especially because I covered the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family, during which (and also afterwards) there were many reports that the agenda and the observations and commentaries made by synod fathers leading to the final papal document, “Amoris Laetitia” had been “hijacked” by a small group of people. And some are already asking: will there be a repeat?

His insight into five bishops suggests there will be those who can help balance the equation, that is, distance it from a potential “hijacking.”

You may remember this article in the National Catholic Register by Edward Pentin: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/evidence-emerges-of-an-engineered-synod

And Pentin’s Kindle book: “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod: An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.”

Let’s pray the rosary daily, as Pope Francis has asked us, and put synod work high on the list of prayer intentions!

AN OVERVIEW OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

The Synod of Bishops was created by Pope Paul VI in response to the wishes of the Fathers of Vatican Council II to maintain the positive and collegial spirit engendered by the Council. It was formally instituted on September 15, 1965, during the last session, with the Motu proprio “Apostolica Sollicitudo.”

Even before the Second Vatican Council the idea was growing for a structure that might provide the bishops with the means to assist the Pope in a manner to be determined, in his governing of the universal Church.
However, it was Pope Paul VI who gave force to these ideas going back to when he was Archbishop Montini of Milan. In a talk commemorating the death of Pope John XXIII, he made reference to an “ongoing collaboration of the episcopate that is not yet in effect, which would remain personal and unitive, but given the responsibility of governing the whole Church.”

After his election as Pope he kept returning to the concept of collaboration within the episcopal body—the bishops in union with the successor of Saint Peter—in a talk he gave to the Roman Curia on September 21, 1963, at the opening of the second session of the Second Vatican Council on September 29, 1963) and again at its closing (December 4, 1963).

With its root in two Greek words – “syn” meaning together, and “hodos” meaning road or way, a synod is thus a “coming together,” a meeting or assembly at which bishops and the Holy Father gather to discuss problems or issues relative to the universal Church or, on occasion, to particular Churches.

Pope John Paul II referred to the Synod as “a particularly fruitful expression and instrument of the collegiality of bishops”

The synod is normally a consultative body but the Holy Father may confer deliberative powers on it. Its structure and organization are regulated by Canons 342-348, which describe it as “directly under the authority of the Roman Pontiff whose duty it is” to convoke a synod, assign the agenda, designate members or ratify those already elected and, when he desires, preside over the assembly.

The synod holds three types of sessions: general ordinary sessions deal with matters concerning the entire Church; general extraordinary sessions deal with matters “which require a speedy solution”; special sessions are called to handle matters regarding specific Churches or regions.

The first secretary general of the Synod of Bishops was Polish Archbishop Wladyslaw Rubin, whom Pope John Paul II made a cardinal in 1979. The First General Assembly was held from September 29 to October 29, 1967. On March 23, 1970, Paul VI created a permanent general secretariat in the Synod of Bishops.

YOUNG PEOPLE, THE FAITH AND THE DISCERNMNT OF VOCATION

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 3, will be a big day here at the Vatican for it is the opening of the 15th ordinary general assembly of the synod bishops since it was instituted in 1965 by Blessed Pope Paul VI following Vatican Council II. In fact, Paul VI will be canonized on October 14 during this year’s synod.

As always, the 2018 synod will open with a Mass presided over by the Holy Father. Just weeks ago, on September 15, the Vatican presented Pope Francis’ Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis communio, on the structure of the Synod of Bishops. It had a number of new elements, one of which establishes that the final document of a synod assembly, drafted and approved by a special commission, can be considered part of the ordinary magisterium – that is, the official teaching of the Church – if it receives a particular level of papal approval.

What is a synod? The Code of Canon law defines it as “a group of bishops who have been chosen from different regions of the world and meet together at fixed times to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops,… and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world.”

The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 2018 synod is “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.” It will be one of the longest in the history of synods at 25 days, ending on October 28.

We see that the theme in many ways shows a continuum with the two October synods in 2014 and 2015 on the family, as well as with Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”

An early Vatican communiqué on this year’s synod said the theme “aims to accompany young people on their way of life towards maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life’s plan and realize it with joy.”

Saturday, October 6, starting at 5 pm, there will be a meeting of young people with Pope Francis and the synod Fathers in the Paul VI hall. Intended to allow “young people to offer concrete experiences about their life in study and work, their feelings, their future and their vocational choice,” it will feature testimonies, musical interludes and artistic performances, and will focus on three themes: the search for identity, relationships, and life as service and gift.

“Young people are particularly invited, and we hope they will be numerous in order to make their voice and their warmth heard by the Synod Assembly,” said Vatican statement. The Congregation for Catholic Education is organizing the event.

According to its preparatory document, the synod’s purpose is to reflect on the Church’s call “to accompany all young people, without exception, towards the joy of love.”

APPROACHING THE SYNOD WITH OPEN HEARTS AND MINDS

(vaticannews.va – Linda Bordoni) Pope Francis will celebrate the opening Mass for the Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” on Wednesday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops briefed the media on Synod proceedings and goals at a press conference on Monday morning.

A Synod of Bishops is a crucial moment in the life of the Church. It is a time for it to reflect on its current status and look to its future, a time to adjust to a world in the throes of change and to set itself new goals and adopt new idioms so as not to lose its footing and risk becoming irrelevant.

All that is especially true in the case of the Synod taking place here in the Vatican throughout the month of October, because it focuses on the very people who will make or break it in the future: young people.

Apostolic Constitution
At a press conference at the Holy See Press office on Monday morning, Cardinal Baldisseri carefully explained Synod procedures pointing out that a new Apostolic Constitution signed – significantly – by the Pope just two weeks ago, strengthens the involvement of the “People of God” and further promotes dialogue and collaboration between bishops and between bishops and the Pope.

Final document
This, he said will give even more clout to the final document Synod Fathers are called to produce, after listening to the interventions of the Synod Fathers themselves and of the so-called 49 auditors, of whom 36 are young people chosen to represent their peers from the five continents.

Bishops from China
All in all some 300 cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay experts will be taking part, and for the very first time since Paul VI established the Synod of Bishops in 1965 to collaborate with the Pope, discuss topics and make recommendations, two bishops from mainland China have been able to accept the invitation thanks to last month’s landmark agreement between the Holy See and Beijing.

Communicating the Synod
As for communicating to the world what is going on inside the Synod Hall, the Dicastery for Communication will be on hand with reports, videos, daily multi-language briefings and lots of social media activity including a special #synod2018 hash tag on twitter.

Clerical sex abuse crisis
Asked whether the latest revelations regarding widespread clerical sex abuse may have spawned a climate of distrust and anger which could lead to a breakdown in communication between young people and the Church, Baldisseri said he is confident the Synod will provide a golden opportunity for exchange on this critical issue as well.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis himself is expected to be present for many – if not all – the Synod sessions, but in a clear sign he it does not want it to be seen as a closed-doors event for a few privileged invitees, he has asked hundreds of young people to join him and synod participants on Saturday in the Vatican audience hall for an evening of music and some lively exchange.

The Church wants to do its part
The Church, Baldisseri highlighted again and again, wants to do its part in walking with its people, and that, he said, is what we intend to do in this Synod “with open eyes and ears, but also with open hearts and minds” accepting the challenges put to the Church through the “restlessness of young people”.

FIVE BISHOPS WHO COULD MOVE THE SYNOD

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- By Ed Condon.

This week the Synod of Bishops begins its fifteenth ordinary general session, convoked to discuss the themes of young people, the faith, and vocational discernment. The session will take place over three weeks, from October 3-28, and include bishops and other delegates gathered from around the world.

The bishops who will attend do so either by virtue of their office (as is the case for many curial prelates), through election by the local bishops’ conference or the synod’s previous session, or because they were specially appointed by the pope.

In total, more than 300 hundred participants will gather in Rome, including clerics and religious, as well as 49 auditors, among them 36 young people from the five continents.

The U.S. delegation was publicly confirmed in July. Elected to represent the American bishops were Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the USCCB; Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the conference’s vice-president; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, chair of the USCCB committee on marriage, family, and youth; Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, who also sits on the committee; and Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.

In addition to these, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark as delegates.

Cardinal Tobin subsequently announced he would not travel to Rome, saying he could not afford to be absent from Newark for the several weeks covered by the synod, and citing revelations concerning sexual abuse in the archdiocese over the summer, which he called a “crisis that continues to unfold.”

The working document that will form the basis for the synod’s deliberations was released in May. Drawing on responses gathered from local Churches and young people as part of the synod’s preparatory phase, the document outlined a number of themes for discussion during the general session. These include vocational discernment and the transmission of the faith, but also how the Church can better engage with young people on issues such as sexuality and gender, social justice themes including racism, migration, and economic exclusion, and the place of young people as “leaders” in their communities.

Some bishops, including Chaput, have questioned the appropriateness of continuing with the synod as planned in the wake of the sexual abuse crises which have rocked the Church in the last few months. In an op-ed published Sept. 29, Chaput noted that a meeting on young people and vocational discernment in the midst of clerical abuse scandals was poorly timed.

“A more ironic, and more difficult, confluence of bad facts at a bad time for the meeting can hardly be imagined,” he wrote.

Many concerns have also been raised that the synod itself might be pressured to focus disproportionately on so-called LGBT issues, much as the last synod, held on the family, was seen as fixating on the pastoral care of the divorced and civilly remarried.

Like all sessions, the synod will produce a final document treating the themes discussed. Traditionally, the pope issues a document of his own in response to the synod’s deliberations, called an apostolic exhortation. Recently, Pope Francis approved changes to the way the synod functions, creating the explicit possibility that he could adopt the final document as his own and incorporate it into the ordinary papal magisterium.

Looking ahead to the synod sessions, a number of bishops and cardinals from around the world are expected to figure heavily in the deliberations.

Possibly the two most influential figures will be Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Cardinal Sergio da Rocha.

Baldisseri is the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops and has had a central role in the synod’s preparations, and he will help manage the day-to-day progress of the meetings. He has been in charge of the synod’s permanent secretariat in Rome since 2013.

During the last synod session in 2015, on the family, Baldisseri came under criticism for attempting to steer the process and content of the discussions and final document. A letter signed by 13 cardinals, including Cardinal DiNardo, was handed to the pope the day the session began complaining about shortcomings in the working document to be discussed, and of attempts to foist an agenda on the bishops before they had begun discussions.

On Oct. 1, Baldisseri publicly criticized Archbishop Chaput for raising concerns about the working document ahead of this month’s session. Chaput, who as a member of the synod’s ordinary council was involved in the preparation of the instrumentum laboris, published a theological critique of the working document Sept. 21 prepared by an anonymous theologian.

The critique highlighted “a pervasive focus on socio-cultural elements” in the working document “to the exclusion of deeper religious and moral issues.” It also said the text relegated the Church’s essential teaching function and authority in favor of a passive posture of “listening” and “dialogue.”

Baldisseri said he could not understand Chaput’s criticisms, or the need to make them publicly. Instead, the cardinal said, concerns should have been raised privately and could have been included in the document “with calm.”

Cardinal Sergio da Rocha is the Archbishop of Brasilia. In November of last year, Pope Francis named him as the relator-general of the synod, charged with outlining the synod’s themes at the beginning of the session, and summarizing the contributions of members throughout the synod’s progress. He will also play a key role in drafting the text of the synod’s final document which will be put to members for a vote.

Cardinal da Rocha has played an active role in public life in his native Brazil, chairing a debate between the country’s presidential candidates, and publicly condemning the legalization of abortion in response to the Zika virus outbreak. Da Roche was also a member of the planning committee for the 2015 synod on the family.

Another potentially crucial figure at this month’s session will be Cardinal Wilfred Napier Fox, Archbishop of Durban.

Cardinal Napier was also an active participant in the 2014-2015 sessions, where he played a vocal role in opposing what were seen by many as attempts to push through plans to admit the divorced and civilly remarried to Communion over the majority-consensus of the synod fathers.

During the last synod, Pope Francis asked Napier to join the group charged with drafting the synod’s relatio, or final document, citing concerns that the Churches in Africa and Oceania were under-represented.

During the drafting meetings, Napier recalled that he objected to the inclusion of language about same-sex couples in the section on marriage, noting that the Church does not recognize such unions to be marriages at all, and that the proposed text undermined efforts by bishops in African countries to oppose the recognition of same-sex unions as marriage.

Despite his opposition, he said, the drafting committee “just carried on discussing how the proposition should be phrased in Italian.” According to an account given by Napier, the drafting committee, led by Cardinal Baldisseri, continued to ignore his objections, prompting an angry intervention in support of him by Washington archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

As an outspoken defender of the Church’s teaching on life issues and a frequent presence on Twitter, and given his previous criticisms of the synod process being overly managed, many are looking to Cardinal Napier as a potential voice for synod members, and a force for “fair play” in how the final document is drafted.

Another bishop-attendee predicted to play an influential role is Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznan, president of the Polish bishops’ conference. Gądecki has shown himself to be an adept leader of the bishops of one of Europe’s most conservative, and sometimes combative episcopal conferences.

During a period in which European countries have struggled to form a common approach to the issues of increased political integration and the migrant crisis, which still dominate large parts of political debate, Gądecki authored a document contrasting the “dangers of nationalism” with the “beauties of patriotism.”

Similarly, the pastoral guidelines issued by the Polish bishops’ conference on the implementation of Amoris laetitia were widely seen as a thoughtful via media.

Emphasizing Pope Francis’’priorities like better and longer marriage formation for couples, before and after the wedding, the document stressed the need for pastoral accompaniment for couples in irregular unions, while underscoring the Church’s discipline with regards to reception of Communion.

Often seen as an agent of compromise, but unflinching on matters of doctrine, Gądecki could well emerge during the synod as a constructive force in reconciling those looking for a change of pastoral tone with others concerned with protecting the integrity of the Church’s teaching and discipline.

A final synod father likely to make an impression is Cardinal Louis Raphaël I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon and Archbishop of Baghdad. In addition to choosing him as the first voting cardinal from the Chaldean Church, Pope Francis has asked the head of the Church in Iraq to serve as one of the synod’s four presiding delegates, charged with leading the sessions.

A tireless advocate for persecuted Christians, especially in the Middle East, Sako will provide a global perspective for the synod’s deliberations and could well serve as a vocal corrective should proceedings begin to turn too closely around what are seen as European and North American concerns.

Formed by his own experiences in Iraq and by the sufferings of Christians in that country, Sako frequently references the Christian call to heroic witness and martyrdom, something which may well feature in discussions of how the Church best expresses unpopular truths in the modern world.

Before being submitted for consideration by the pope, the synod’s final document will be voted on my members, with a two-thirds majority needed to include an item, and only a simple majority needed to strike an item.

Given the express possibility that Pope Francis may adopt the final text as a magisterial document of his own, the debate amongst delegates over the final wording could prove even more contentious than the last meeting of the synod in 2015. In such a case, figures like Baldesseri, da Rocha, Napier, Gądecki, and Sako could well prove decisive in forging not just a final document, but the support needed to pass its provisions.

VATICAN INSIDER: A FOCUS ON HOLY SEE-CHINA RELATIONS – YOUNG PEOPLE PARTICIPATE IN SYNODAL PROCESS

VATICAN INSIDER: A FOCUS ON HOLY SEE-CHINA RELATIONS

The interview segment of Vatican Insider is my must-not-miss conversation
with a special guest and friend of over 20 years, Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, editor of AsiaNews, a PIME missionary online publication. We talk about the very troubling situation in mainland China and the issues between China and the Vatican.

As I mentioned last week for Part I of our conversation, Father Bernardo has been to China many times and is an expert on China and Church affairs. Though I have nowhere near his expertise in all things China, I did spend three weeks in Beijing as a member of the Holy See delegation to the September 1995 United Nations Conference on Women, and I learned a great deal about China at the time, especially on matters of religious freedom. I learned even more six years later when I spent 12 days in Taiwan, devoted to visiting churches and schools, meeting priests and nuns and the late Cardinal Paul Shan whom I visited in Kaoshiung.

And I have followed all things China ever since!

Our conversation this weekend in Part II of our meeting is of vital importance, especially because we talk about the seemingly great differences in the stories about China that are coming from the Vatican and also from a very respected, retired Chinese cardinal – Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

YOUNG PEOPLE PARTICIPATE IN SYNODAL PROCESS

300 young people will participate in a first-ever of its kind pre-synodal meeting that will take place from March 19 to 24 in preparation for the XV Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

An estimated 300 young people from around the world have been chosen to come to Rome in preparation for the XV Synod of Bishops to take place in October 2018. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops explained at a press conference on Friday that for the first time in the history of the Synod of Bishops, a pre-synodal meeting is planned for March 19 to 24.

The young people attending this meeting were chosen by conferences of bishops, religious congregations, and other Vatican dicasteries. They represent young people from various ethnic, and religious backgrounds, walks of life, and lived experiences—including some who have experienced human trafficking.

This meeting is being held to assure that the voice of the very audience the Synod is addressing – young people – will be heard first-hand. The input from this meeting will be presented to Pope Francis on March 25. It will also be included in the Instrumentum laboris that will be used by the Synod Fathers as they focus this theme.

How young people’s voices are being heard

Social media is the primary way that the Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops wishes to hear from young people. Over 221,000 responses to the online questionnaire have already been received. It is now possible to participate in Facebook Groups in various languages by signing up using the link found on the Synod’s website.

Also present at Friday’s press conference were two young people participating in a group organized by the secretariat preparing for the synod. Filippo Passantino underlined the use of social media in order to involve young people in the synod. Referring to the synod’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, he said that “with our advice and our intuition, we offered a younger perspective in order to speak to other young people. The objective of the online presence is to create interactions with our peers throughout the world and to facilitate their participation.”

Stella Marillene Nishimwe, speaking in French, said, “I would (…) like to invite all the young people of the world to participate in this precious moment that the Church offers us to make our voice reach as far as possible.”

POPE CELEBRATES 800 YEARS OF FRANCISCANS IN THE HOLY LAND – BISHOP THANKS POPE FOR CALLING SYNOD FOR PAN-AMAZON REGION

Pope Francis tweeted today: It is the duty of the human family to help free every single person from poverty and hunger.

As a Lady of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, I follow any and all news on the Holy Land because it is that holy part of the world that is the first and main concern of the Order – of our activities, our pilgrimages, our financial help and our prayers. The Franciscans in the Holy Land are celebrating a historic anniversary, and Pope Francis had great praise for the Order as you’ll read below. If you’ve even been on a Holy Land pilgrimage, the Franciscans undoubtedly played a big role in your visit. Remember them in your prayers today!

The big news this weekend was Sunday’s announcement by the Holy Father of a synod for the Pan-Amazon region! The staff of the Synod of Bishops never seems to rest – they are currently working on the October 2018 synod for young people.

Before I move on, here’s a photo I took when I got up this morning. This vessel looked familiar and I remembered I had seen a news story on TV Sunday when I arrived. Here’s a related online news story with video: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/36597875/fire-ignites-aboard-vessel-stuck-in-waikiki-waters

Someone in our building told me today the big problem is trying to remove this vessel without harming the reef it is stuck on!

POPE CELEBRATES 800 YEARS OF FRANCISCANS IN THE HOLY LAND

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land marking the 800th anniversary of their presence as guardians of the holy sites in modern day Israel and Palestine.

In the letter, published on Tuesday, the pope praises the Franciscans for their vital contribution to life in the Holy Land, in particular their work to accompany pilgrims coming from all over the world. (photo: news.va)

The Pope recalls the way that Saint Francis, in May 1217 during the chapter of his recently founded order, decided to send the friars out on mission. The first missionaries to the Holy Land arrived that summer in the town of Acre, near Haifa, in northern Israel and just over a hundred years later, Pope Clement VI confirmed them as the custodians of the holy places.

Sowing peace, fraternity, respect

In the message, Pope Francis notes how the Franciscans live alongside people of different cultures and religions, sowing seeds of “peace, fraternity and respect”. As well as their work as guides for pilgrims, the Pope recalls, they are also committed to biblical and archaeological studies. Franciscans also work closely with the local Churches taking care of the poor, the sick, the elderly and the young people who find it hard to keep up hope amidst the ongoing conflict.

Collection for the Holy Land

The Pope says that the Franciscans are ambassadors for the whole people of God, who support them through the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land and through the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches, which is currently marking the centenary of its foundation.

BISHOP THANKS POPE FOR CALLING SYNOD FOR PAN-AMAZON REGION

(Vatican Radio) Bishop Emmanuel Lafont of Cayenne in French Guyana reacted with joy Monday when he heard Pope Francis’ announcement of a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region.

French Guyana and Suriname are part of the Amazon territory together with Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. (photo news.va)

Pope Francis had announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region that will focus on the needs of its indigenous people, on new paths for evangelization and on the crisis of the rain forest. The announcement came on Sunday during the Angelus after a canonization Mass during which he canonized 35 new saints, including three indigenous children martyred in 16th century Mexico.

As well as being an essential ‘lung’ for the entire planet as Pope Francis said when he made the announcement, the six million square kilometers that define the region are home to indigenous tribes and even uncontacted peoples whose cultures and whose very existences are threatened by large-scale logging, mining and other industrial projects as well as by pollution and climate change

Speaking to Vatican Radio Bishop Lafont said he is very grateful to Pope Francis for having called this Synod.

“I am very happy, grateful to the Holy Father for having called this Synod which is most important” he said.

For the benefit of the indigenous peoples

First of all, Bishop Lafont continued “for the benefit of the indigenous people – the First Nations – of the Amazonian region, because they have a long history, for the past 500 years of submission, of exploitation, of misunderstanding.”

For the protection of Creation

The second reason for which he is grateful, the Bishop said, that “the Amazon is one of the most important regions in the world for the protection of Creation” and it is currently facing many challenges. “The Church, he said, ought to speak even more loudly for the protection of the region, and for the sake of the protection of the whole world”.

 

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BE JOY-FILLED MISSIONARIES OF HOPE – POPE ANNOUNCES 2018 PRE-SYNOD MEETING FOR YOUTH – EGYPT, “A LAND OF COHABITATION, HOSPITALITY AND ENCOUNTER, OF HISTORY AND OF CIVILIZATION”

The Catholic American Community of Saint Patrick’s Church is holding a Prayer Vigil to honor the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas tomorrow, Thursday, October 5 at 5 PM., Via Boncompagni, 31. All are welcome.

October is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis tweeted the following today: Like Saint Francis of Assisi, let us be transformed by the love of Christ in order to live in simplicity and joy.

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BE JOY-FILLED MISSIONARIES OF HOPE

Pope Francis Wednesday continued his catechesis on Christian hope at the weekly general audience in a sun_splashed St Peter’s Square. This week he turned his attention to the Christian’s calling to be a missionary of hope.

“I would like to speak of our calling to be missionaries of hope,” began the Pope. He expèlained that “October is traditionally dedicated to reflection on our participation in the Church’s mission.  Saint Francis of Assisi, whose feast we celebrate today, can serve as our model in this regard.  Francis was a true missionary of the joyful hope born of Christ’s victory over death and our own share in his risen life.”

Francis stated that “Jesus asks us to be witnesses of that same hope, confident in the transforming power of his Spirit at work in our hearts and in our world.  Joy is the sure sign of true Christian hope, for we know that evil will not have the upper hand, and that God’s love, revealed on the cross, will ultimately triumph.”

“However,” noted the Holy Father, “there are certainly times when the gift of hope proves cost. This is the case with so many of our fellow Christians who presently experience persecution, and with the martyrs in every age.  Their witness inspires us to continue to hope in Christ’s promises.  As missionaries of hope, may we rejoice in God’s saving power, never lose heart, and help others to look to the future with confidence.”

POPE ANNOUNCES 2018 PRE-SYNOD MEETING FOR YOUTH

(Vatican Radio) After delivering his general audience catechesis on Christian hope, Pope Francis announced that the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will convene a pre-synodal meeting from March 19 to 24, 2018, to which it will invite young people from different parts of the world, including young Catholics, young people from different Christian denominations and other religions, and non-believers.

“This initiative is part of the preparations for the next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be on ‘Youth, Faith and Vocation Discernment’ in October 2018. With this journey, the Church wants to listen to the voice, the sensitivity, of faith and also the doubts and criticisms of young people. Following this, conclusions of the March Meeting will be transmitted to the Synod Fathers.”

EGYPT, “A LAND OF COHABITATION, HOSPITALITY AND ENCOUNTER, OF HISTORY AND OF CIVILIZATION”

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis Wednesday had a special greeting for an Egyptian delegation led by the country’s Tourism Minister, in Rome to promote a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt.

Speaking during the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled his Apostolic Journey to Egypt last April saying that he has fond memories of the visit.

He said Egypt is “a land where Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus, as well as many prophets lived: a land that has been blessed with the precious blood of martyrs spilt throughout the centuries”.

And describing Egypt as a land of cohabitation and hospitality; a land of encounter, of history and of civilization, the Pope imparted his blessing on Egyptians and prayed the Lord to protect the nation, the Middle East and the whole world from all kinds of terrorism and from evil.

The Pope also blessed an icon that represents the Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt.

The Egyptian delegation, led by the Minister of Tourism Yahya Rashed, is meeting with tourism officials in Rome in an effort to promote the Holy Family in Egypt route as an important  pilgrimage destination.

 

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR – SYNOD OF BISHOPS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

Pope Francis tweeted today: In his passion, Jesus took upon himself all our suffering. He knows the meaning of pain, he understands and comforts us, giving us strength.

There have been a few rough days lately, given an infection in my right ankle that has made walking difficult and painful. Several days ago, as I was leaving the Vatican medical center and nearing the Sant’Anna entrance to Vatican City to get a taxi, I had a lovely encounter with a Swiss Guard. As two elderly gentlemen were leaving the church of Sant’Anna, one with obvious mobility issues, the Swiss Guard stepped in and helped the gentleman.  As they walked away, I smiled and said to him, “That’s also part of the life of a guard, isn’t it?  His answer (with a smile): “That’s the best part of my life as a Guard!”

May God bless this young man abundantly! He made my day and I’ve thought of that answer every day since.

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

The Vatican today released Pope Francis’ message for the First World Day of the Poor to be celebrated worldwide next November 19 on the theme, “Let us love, not with words but with deeds.”

At a press conference today announcing the papal Message and the November 19 celebration, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, charged with implementing this World Day, said that Pope Francis wil presidet at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 19, after which there will be a lunch for about 500 poor in the Paul VI Hall.

The archbishop is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. That office was also charged with organizing the recent Holy Year of Mercy.

In his Message, in number 3, Francis writes: “We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.  Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.”

Pope Francis eats lunch with homeless and poor people in Campobasso, Italy (photo Boston Globe)

“Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty,” the Pope wrote. “Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve him in the poor.  If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.  At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life.

“We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is.  Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.  Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money.  What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!”

In Number 6, the Holy Father explains when this world day was born: “At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.  To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor.

“I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father.  This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.  At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity.  God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded.

“It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.  They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday.  The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God’s love.  Jesus’ complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.

“This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favourable moment to encounter the God we seek.  Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently.  With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God’s providence.

Click here for complete Message: http://www.news.va/en/news/first-world-day-of-the-poor-message-released

SYNOD OF BISHOPS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced a new website on Tuesday in preparation for the October 2018 synod that be dedicated to the role of young people in the life of the Church. That site will be active as of tomorrow, June 14: http://youth.synod2018.va

A statement from the Secretariat explains that the site is designed to promote the broad, interactive participation of young people from all around the world in preparations for the Assembly.

The new website includes an online questionnaire addressed directly to young people in different languages ​​(Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), with answer due in by November 30, 2017.

The statement goes on to encourage young people especially to visit the site and respond to the Questionnaire, saying that wide and fulsome response will be of great use in the process of preparing the Synod Assembly, and will be part of the extensive consultation that the General Secretariat is doing at all levels of the people of God. (Vatican radio)