4TH GENERAL CONGREGATION, TUESDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 8 – 5TH GENERAL CONGREGATION – WEDNESDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 9

One comment on celibacy at today’s press briefing turned a few heads and sent fingers flying over keyboards when Bishop emeritus Erwin Kräutler of Xingu, Brazil said, in answer to a question if married permanent deacons were the answer to the lack of priests in the Amazon region: “indigenous people do not understand celibacy. They do not understand why a man would not be married, Why does he not have a women by his side who cares for the house and home? It was difficult to explain to people my commitment to the priesthood that included not being married.”

Will that comment get traction in the daily discussions? Stay tuned!

Vocations to the priesthood, celibacy, the permanent diaconate and roles for the laity in the Church, especially women are a fair part of the reflections that have been made so far in the general congregations of the Pan-Amazonia synod. Sunday’s Mass in St. Peter’s basilica presided over by Pope Francis, officially opened the 21-day meeting.

Other issues, as you will see below in my translation of the Vatican-provided summaries of the daily General Congregations, include a great emphasis on ecology and “ecological sins,” human rights, migrations, young people, ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, meeting the needs of the Amazonian peoples, Indian theology and local traditions, and urban pastoral ministries – and much more.

There are daily press briefings in the Holy See Press Office that are carried live each day starting at 1:30 pm Rome time at http://www.vatcannews.va

4TH GENERAL CONGREGATION, TUESDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 8

Vatican News – Vatican City

#Amazonsynod. The Church confesses “ecological sins”. Priests should be saints. With the 4th congregation Tuesday afternoon, the second day of work of the Special Synod for the Pan-Amazonian Region ended. 182 Synod Fathers were present at the congregation in the presence of the Pope. (vatican media)

The systematic violation of the rights of the original peoples of the Amazon and the life at risk of the entire region, wounded in its habitat, were at the center of reflections of the fourth congregation of the Synod of Bishops.

‘No’ to indifference, ‘yes’ to responsibility.
A strong appeal that the Church with her authoritative voice in the moral and spiritual sphere will always protect life, denouncing the many structures of death that threaten it. No’ to individualism or indifference that make us look at reality as spectators, as on a screen. ‘Yes’ to an ecological conversion centered on responsibility and on an integral ecology that focuses above all on human dignity, too often trampled.

International community and human rights violations.
The unacceptable situation of environmental degradation in the Pan-Amazon region – it was denounced – must be tackled seriously by the entire international community, which is often indifferent to the shedding of innocent blood. The native populations, custodians of the natural reserves, evangelized with the cross of Christ, must be considered as allies in the fight against climate change in a synodal perspective, that is, a journey “together”, in friendship. In the intervention of a fraternal delegate in this regard, the need to join forces and engage in dialogue was highlighted, because friendship – he said – “respects, protects and cares.” The invitation to the Church to become an ally of the basic social movements has come from many quarters. An ally that offers itself in humble and welcoming listening to the Amazon worldview, in understanding the different meaning, with respect to the Western tradition, given by local cultures to ritual symbols.

Greater knowledge of “ecological sins.”
A sustainable development that is socially just and inclusive and combines scientific and traditional knowledge has been emphasized, because the future of the Amazon region, a living and non-museum reality, is in our hands. Also hoped for is an ecological conversion that would make us see the gravity of the sin against the environment as a sin against God, against our neighbor and future generations. Hence the proposal to deepen and disseminate a theological literature that includes together with the traditionally known sins the “ecological sins.”

Promoting the indigenous permanent diaconate.
Enriching the reflection on ministries was the appeal to join forces in the formation of Amazonian missionaries, lay and consecrated. It is necessary to involve the indigenous peoples more in the apostolate, starting with the promotion of the indigenous permanent diaconate and the enhancement of the lay ministry, understood as an authentic manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It also called for a greater involvement of women in the Church.

Reflection on the priestly vocation.
The theme of the criteria for admission to the ordained ministry returned in more than one intervention. There are those who have urged prayer for vocations, asking for the transformation of the Amazon into a great spiritual sanctuary from which to raise the prayer to the “Lord of the harvest” to send new workers of the Gospel. The numerical insufficiency of priests – it is known – is not only an Amazonian problem, but common to the whole Catholic world. Hence the call for a serious examination of conscience on how the priestly vocation is lived today. The lack of holiness is in fact an obstacle to evangelical witness: pastors do not always carry the scent of Christ and end up driving away the sheep they are called to lead.

The scent of sanctity and the young.
Also highlighted was the shining example of the martyrs of Amazonia, like the two Servants of God killed in Mato Grosso: Salesian Father Rudolf Lunkenbein and a lay person Simão Cristino Koge Kudugodu. In fact, ecological conversion is primarily a conversion to holiness. This has enormous power of attraction among young people, for whom renewed, more dynamic and attentive pastoral care is called for. It was asked that, also through the media, the many witnesses of good priests be emphasized and not just the scandals that today fill so many pages of newspapers. Furthermore, if wounds such as violence, drugs, prostitution, unemployment and an existential void threaten new generations, it should be stressed that there are no lack of positive examples of many young Catholics.

The 4th congregation Tuesday afternoon that was presided over by the Pope opened with the prayer of the whole assembly for Cardinal Serafim Fernandes de Araújo, who died that same day in Belo Horizonte.

5TH GENERAL CONGREGATION – WEDNESDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 9

Vatican News – Vatican City

#SinodoAmazonico. Proposals for a female lay ministry. The work of the Pan-Amazon Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican is continuing. 174 fathers were present this morning during the course of the 5th General Congregation

The integral health of the Amazon was one of the concerns expressed this morning by the synod fathers. The model of development of capitalism that devours nature, the fires that are destroying the region, corruption, deforestation and illegal cultivation in fact threaten both the health of people and that of the territory and of the entire planet.

Protect populations in voluntary isolation.
Attention focused on indigenous populations in voluntary isolation, particularly vulnerable and exposed to genocide. To keep the attention on this issue high, we feel the need to establish an international ecclesial observatory for the protection of human rights and the needs of these communities.

More dialogue: the Church reaches the local populations.
The slowness sometimes registered by the Catholic Church in meeting the needs of the population was highlighted. Sometimes, in fact, it is far from the local peoples and this void is filled by the proposal of the neo-Pentecostal churches.

The ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue remains urgent and indispensable: Respectful and fruitful, (this is) a fundamental dimension for the outgoing Church in the Pan-Amazonian region, marked by a multicultural context. Inter-culturality is more than a challenge. ‘No’ to imposing one’s own culture from above. ‘Yes’ to the acceptance of the other and to a healthy decentralization in a synodal perspective. The Church, without hiding the difficulties, is missionary, has an indigenous face and favors a logic according to which the periphery becomes the center and the center becomes a periphery in a rich movement of mutual transformation.

Ministries respond to the needs of Amazonian peoples.
The appeal to a greater involvement of the laity with the creation of new ministries that respond to the needs of the Amazon peoples is also part of a synodal perspective: May the Church be creative in proposing a multi-faceted ministry between the Indians and the peoples of the forest. Since Vatican Council II, greater efforts have been requested in favor of an inculturation of the liturgy, with celebrations respectful of both the traditions and languages of the local peoples and the integral message of the Gospel. Careful discernment on the part of the bishops is needed so that no solution can be excluded a priori, not even the ordination of married men. The request of many seminarians for an affective formation aimed at treating the wounds caused by the sexual revolution resonated: today many wish to rediscover and know the value of celibacy and chastity. The Church does not keep silent about this, but offers its treasure: the doctrine that transforms hearts.

A lay female ministry.
At the same time, rampant violence against women must be combated. The idea of establishing a lay female ministry for evangelization was launched. It is necessary to promote a more active participation of women in the life of the Church in a Samaritan perspective.

Unity in diversity.
Unity in diversity must be pursued according to the image of a multifaceted stone often suggested by the Pope. There has been a request to pass, in the school of Jesus, from a pastoral visit to a pastoral presence, from listening and proclaiming divine tenderness to promoting the care of the ‘common house’ not only among friends, but also between those who are far away and think differently. The values of universal brotherhood, of integral ecology and of lifestyles inspired by “good living” must be rooted in Jesus as a response to the many egoistic proposals of our times.

Faced with the global climate tragedy, the Synod is a moment of grace and a great opportunity for the Church to promote an ecological conversion and an integral education.

Migration and urban pastoral care.
The issue of migration, whose main causes are socio-political, climatic, economic or ethnic persecution, has also been brought to the attention of the synod fathers. All the above require a specific pastoral approach. The imposition of a Western extractive model affects families and forces young people to move to cities. The Church must promote an urban pastoral care.

Indian theology and local traditions.
The debate focused on the value of Indian theology, with reference to the Pope’s appeal to shape a Church with an indigenous face, capable of re-reading the essential elements of the Catholic universe in an indigenous key. Also underlined is the value of traditional medicine, a valid alternative to Western medicine. Proposal to create more natural reserves to preserve both biodiversity and the plurality of Amazonian cultures.

A special prayer was recited by the Congregation this morning, opened as usual by the recitation of Terce, the Third Hour, for the difficult situation in Ecuador

WHAT A WEEK! – POPE AT GENERAL AUDIENCE: HOLY SPIRIT IS THE PROTAGONIST OF EVANGELIZATION

WHAT A WEEK!

And it’s only just begun!

Last Sunday Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

On Monday the Vatican announced a papal document by which Pope Francis instituted the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as Sunday of the Word of God.

On Tuesday, October 1, the Holy Father celebrated Vespers at six in the evening in St. Peter’s to open the extraordinary missionary month of October.

Also Tuesday: Vatican prosecutors seized documents and electronic devices in a raid at the offices of the general affairs section of the Secretariat of State in connection with an investigation following complaints brought in early summer by the Institute for Religious Works (known as the Vatican Bank) and the office of the Auditor General.

Today, Wednesday was the general audience in Saint Peter Square at which Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, focusing, this week on the episode of the deacon Philip converting the Ethiopian. (see below).

Also Wednesday: It was announced that Pope Francis has named Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo, Malta as pro-secretary general of the Synod of Bishops. He will become secretary general when the mandate of the current secretary general, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, ends. Bishop Grech will act as apostolic administrator of Gozo until a new bishop is named.

Tomorrow, Thursday 34 young men, seminarians at the Pontifical North American College, will be ordained to the diaconate in a morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

On Friday afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis will confer Episcopal ordination on three priests whom he had earlier appointed as apostolic nuncios or ambassadors. They will have the rank of archbishop.

Saturday, the College of Cardinals will receive 13 new members as Pope Francis holds another consistory. Ten of the 13 are under the age of 80 and will be eligible to vote in a conclave until they reach 80.

Sunday, The Holy Father will preside Mass in St. Peter’s Square to open the October 6 to 27 synod on the Amazon.

The above schedule does not include all the press conferences and other events related to the consistory for new cardinals, the synod for the Amazon and the October 13th canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of 5 to be canonized that day. So yes, what a week!

POPE AT GENERAL AUDIENCE: HOLY SPIRIT IS THE PROTAGONIST OF EVANGELIZATION

Continuing his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles at Wednesday’s General Audience this week, Pope Francis explains on how the Holy Spirit leads the deacon Philip to help the senior official of the Queen of Ethiopia to embrace Christ.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Pope Francis began his catechesis, explaining how after the persecution of Christians following the martyrdom of Stephen, the spread of the Gospel appeared to suffer a setback. As a result, many Christians dispersed elsewhere.

But persecution that appears to be the hallmark of Christ’s disciples, the Pope explained, “instead of extinguishing the fire of evangelization, feeds it even more”.

The deacon Philip, who was proclaiming the Gospel along with healing and casting out evil spirits in Samaria, is impelled by the Holy Spirit to meet a stranger with a heart open to God. With enthusiasm, he set off on a deserted and dangerous road to meet a senior official of the Queen of Ethiopia, the administrator of her treasures. The Jewish proselyte, a eunuch, was travelling home after worshipping in Jerusalem. In his carriage, he was reading a passage from the Prophet Isaiah on the “servant of the Lord”, but understood nothing.

Humility and Word of God
Philip approached the carriage and asked him if he understood the passage. The Ethiopian said he could not unless someone guided him. The Pope noted that this powerful man recognized the need to be guided in order to understand the Word of God.

“He was the great banker, he was the minister of economy, he had all the power of money,” the Pope noted, “but he knew that without the explanation he could not understand. He was humble.”

Word of God transforms life
Drawing a lesson from this conversation, the Holy Father said, “it is not enough to read Scripture, it is necessary to understand its meaning, to find the “juice” going beyond the “rind”, to draw the Spirit that animates the letter.”

In this regard, he recalled Pope Benedict XVI on exegesis, who said that the true reading of Sacred Scripture is not just a literary phenomenon, it is the movement of one’s existence. Pope Francis explained that entering the Word of God means to be willing to go beyond one’s own limits to encounter God and to conform oneself to Christ who is the living Word of the Father.

In fact, the Holy Father continued, Philip helped the Ethiopian understand that the “meek suffering servant” he was reading about was none other than Christ whom the whole Church was proclaiming. The Ethiopian finally recognized Christ and asked for Baptism and professed his faith in the Lord Jesus.

Holy Spirit – the protagonist of evangelization
Pope Francis said that it is the Holy Spirit who pushed Philip into the desert to meet this man, stressing, “The Holy Spirit is the protagonist of evangelization”. “If there is no Holy Spirit there is no evangelization,” he said, adding without Him it can be proselytism, advertising, anything… In evangelization, the Holy Spirit makes you leave, pushing you to proclaim with testimony, even with martyrdom and words.”

CLICK AND SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO ALBUM OF PAPAL AUDIENCE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-10/pope-francis-general-audience-acts-philip-ethiopian-holy-spirit.html

AMAZON SYNOD TO CONSIDER POSSIBLE ORDINATION OF MARRIED MEN – CARDINAL PAROLIN TO NUNCIOS: “WE MUST BE UNITED WITH THE POPE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now to the news stories I’ve posted….

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

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

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

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

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

Read on….

AMAZON SYNOD TO CONSIDER POSSIBLE ORDINATION OF MARRIED MEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CARDINAL PAROLIN TO NUNCIOS: “WE MUST BE UNITED WITH THE POPE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”