ARCHBISHOP BROGLIO: SYNOD AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMBAT POLARISATION – POPE GRIEVES FOR CARDINAL BAAWOBR, “WISE AND GENTLE PASTOR”

So much confusion has surround the now three-year long Synod on Synodality –including the very meaning and definition of synodality! – that one looks for clarity anywhere on anything involving that synod that started in 2021 and will now, per Pope Francis, be extended until the fall of 2024. The Church is in the final, continental stage of that synod.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, new president of the USCCB, is in Rome for meetings on the continental stage of the synod. He was interviewed by Vatican News and I think you’ll learn something from the conversation.

I was saddened yesterday to learn of the death of Cardinal Baawobr, I did not know and never met him but I well remember during the busy late August days that included a consistory to make 20 new cardinals and the presence in Rome of the entire College of Cardinals that it was announced that one cardinal had to be admitted to the hospital and he would still get the red hat. Apparently a much-loved pastor, he will be greatly missed in all of Africa.  And it seems the College of Cardinals was deprived of a great gift.

Vatican news reported that Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasaa in the DRC, said: “All of Africa, the Islands, and indeed, the universal Church have lost a great and devout churchman, a selfless servant and a good Shepherd.”

ARCHBISHOP BROGLIO: SYNOD AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMBAT POLARISATION

The newly elected head of the US Bishops’ Conference discusses the synodal process in the country, its potential to combat polarisation in the Church, and strategies for including the voices of the marginalised.

By Joseph Tulloch (vaticannews)

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for Military Services in the United States, spoke to Vatican News on Tuesday about the upcoming Continental Stage of the synodal process.

The Archbishop, who was recently appointed head of the US Bishops’ Conference, was in Rome for a meeting of the Presidents and Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies of the Synod.

During the interview, he discussed the meeting in Rome, strategies for listening to the voices of the marginalised, and the opportunity the synod offers to combat polarisation in the US Church.

The following transcript has been lightly edited for reasons of style.

You’re just coming to the end of this two-day meeting with the Secretariat of the Synod. How has it been? What have you talked about? What have you discussed? What have you learned?

Well, I think it’s been a very useful meeting. In terms of what we’ve discussed, we basically saw how each Continental group has approached the Continental session. It’s interesting that all the continents that are represented are doing it in different ways, and that also reflects the different realities that are represented here. The United States and Canada are using a virtual approach because of the size of the countries and also the question of logistics, but very interesting to see the variety of approaches.

And I think in terms of things learned, the time we spent this morning on spiritual conversation has been very useful. Of course, it was a Jesuit who made the presentation so you could see the spirit of Saint Ignatius kind of lurking over the process, but really fascinating.

I think now the challenge will be how do we put this into action in our different continental gatherings. Obviously, the role of facilitator will be very important, but also this ability to listen and then to put together what we’ve heard.

 One of the things that you read in the Working Document for the Continental Stage is that they’re quite interested in making sure that the Synod hears the voice of all of the people of God. They talk particularly about making heard the voices of women and laypeople, people who live in conditions of poverty and marginalisation. How is the Church in the U.S. going to try and put that into practice?

Well, we’re trying to use, as I said, a virtual method … the hope with that is that by not obliging people to go someplace, we can reach out to those who are more marginalised, and also those for whom affronting the cost of a trip might be problematic.

Now, it’s going to depend very much on each diocesan bishop to recruit those people because each one can have 3 to 5 delegates. So it will depend on the individual dioceses to make sure that they have this cross representation of people. But hopefully, that is taking place now, and also the fact that we’ve extended the deadline by a few days will make it a little bit easier, I think, for some of the dioceses that were lagging behind to catch up. But I hope that it’ll be a fruitful exchange.

And we have ten opportunities to participate; there are five in English, two in French and three in Spanish. So hopefully it will be a wide cross-section of both the United States and Canada because we’re doing it together.

 One of the things you hear people talk a lot about in the context of the U.S. Church is polarisation. And I’m wondering if you think that the synodal path has any potential to help with that.

I certainly hope that it does. I think the emphasis that’s been placed on listening will be a great help if people enter into these moments of conversation and dialogue and discernment with a spirit of listening to the other.

Unfortunately, one of the aspects – I don’t know how prevalent this is in the Church, but certainly one of the aspects of the society in general in the United States – is the inability to listen to the other. You only listen to the newscasters that tell you what you want to hear, or from your point of view, and if you don’t agree with someone, then you don’t listen to him or her.

We even see this on university campuses, where you would think a fundamental aspect of learning is also to listen to those who don’t necessarily agree with me. But we have this closing off where we don’t we don’t want to hear people, if they represent a certain position they’re not welcome on a campus.

I’m hopeful that at least among Catholics in those who participate in the Synodal process, perhaps this opening to the presence of the spirit will allow … and that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a moment of changing convictions, but it is a moment of hearing where the other person is and trying to respond and put together that sharing of views. I hope that that will help heal, at least as far as the church is concerned, some of the polarisation.

 What are you most excited about going forward with the Synod process in this next continental stage?

I’m most excited about the fact that we’ll be working together with Canada. As my Canadian brother has pointed out repeatedly, it’s the longest border in the world that’s unfortified.

And so we do have a lot in common – and there’s of course, there’s enough to make the two realities distinct as well – but that’s an enrichment to be able to enter into the other country and to listen with them.

Because of these sessions, you won’t need a passport to participate in them. So they will be mixed. All of the sessions, obviously, probably the two in French should be a little more aimed at Quebec, but I intend to participate, at least in one of them in French, so that I can hear what’s going on.

So I think there will be a great opening and a great appreciation of the church in both countries. And then it will be interesting to see, when we come to the conclusions, what the Church in North America has to contribute to the whole synodal process. I think that will be very interesting to see.

POPE GRIEVES FOR CARDINAL BAAWOBR, “WISE AND GENTLE PASTOR”

Pope Francis on Tuesday expressed sorrow for the death of Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Archbishop of Wa, who died unexpectedly in Rome on Sunday evening.

In a telegram in which he extends his heartfelt condolences to the cardinal’s family, to the Missionaries of Africa of which he was part, to the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Wa, the Pope said he is grateful for the cardinal’s faithful witness to the Gospel, “marked by generous service to the Church in Ghana, especially to those in need.”

“I willingly join the faithful in praying that our merciful Father may grant to this wise and gentle pastor the reward of his labours and welcome him into the light and peace of heaven.”

The Pope’s telegram concluded with words of comfort for all those who are mourning the late cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection and with his apostolic blessing “as a pledge of consolation and peace in Jesus, the firstborn from the dead.”

Created Cardinal in absentia

Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, Ghana, was created a cardinal on 27 August in absentia. He had arrived in Rome the day before but was unable to attend the consistory due to illness. He was hospitalised and spent more than two months in hospital. Only a few days after leaving his hospital room, Cardinal Baawobr passed away on Sunday, while still in Rome. FOR MORE: Pope grieves for “wise and gentle pastor” Cardinal Baawobr – Vatican News

WHITHER GOEST THOU, ACADEMY FOR LIFE? – THE SYNOD ON SYNODALITY: THE CONTINENTAL PHASE, “A BROAD TENT” – VOICES OF EXCLUDED HEARD IN DOCUMENT FOR CONTINENTAL PHASE OF SYNOD – SYNOD ON SYNODALITY: VATICAN REVEALS FRAMEWORK FOR NEXT STAGE OF DISCUSSIONS

WHITHER GOEST THOU, ACADEMY FOR LIFE?

As you may be aware, there has been much consternation in Catholic circles – hierarchy and faithful – about Pope Francis’ recent nomination of a pro-abortion member to the Pontifical Academy for Life. I spent most of the day researching and writing a Special for my weekend EWTN program, Vatican Insider, on this nomination and related issues.

I look at how the academy has changed from its original makeup and focus under its founder, Pope St. John Paul, when it was re-tooled by Pope Francis, and how Francis also re-instituted his predecessor’s John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family to the point where it is unrecognizable for original members.

I ask: Why would a Pope appoint as an academician someone who is pro-abortion?. Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. The academy is FOR life. Now, people are asking: Is it truly the Pontifical Academy for Life?

The bottom line of my piece is: What are we to make of the remarkable dichotomy between the Church’s Magisterium on protecting and defending all life from conception to natural death and the appointment of people to Church institutes and academies who do not defend and protect that life?

So tune in this weekend for that analysis.

And that is the reason I did not read the entire synod document presented today.

THE SYNOD ON SYNODALITY: THE CONTINENTAL PHASE, “A BROAD TENT”

I am still in the process of reading the 56-page document on the continental pages of the Synod on Synodality that was presented today in the Holy See Press Office. I am not qualified at the moment to write a decent summary of a document I’ve not finished reading but I offer links to two articles that summarize the document. And here is a link to the original document in English: Documento-Tappa-Continentale-EN.pdf (synod.va)

VOICES OF EXCLUDED HEARD IN DOCUMENT FOR CONTINENTAL PHASE OF SYNOD

The Synod of Bishops published the text that will provide a “frame of reference” and form the basis for the work of the second stage of the synodal path launched by Pope Francis in 2021. The Working Document for the Continental Stage was based on the syntheses coming from the churches of the five continents after consultation with the faithful and others.

By Salvatore Cernuzio (Vatican news)

Here are the poor and the indigenous, families, remarried divorcees and single parents, LGBTQ people, and women who feel excluded. Here are the victims of abuse or trafficking or racism. Here are priests, laicized priests, and lay people; Christians and those ‘distant’ from the Church, those who want reforms on priesthood and the role of women, and those who “following the liturgical developments of the Second Vatican Council, do not feel at ease.” Here are those who live in countries of martyrdom, those who deal daily with violence and conflict, those who fight against witchcraft and tribalism. In short, here within the approximately 45 pages that make up the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) is the whole of humanity, with its wounds and fears, its imperfections and demands. Voices of excluded heard in Document for Continental Phase of Synod – Vatican News

SYNOD ON SYNODALITY: VATICAN REVEALS FRAMEWORK FOR NEXT STAGE OF DISCUSSIONS

The Vatican revealed on Thursday a key document to guide the next stage of discussions in the Synod on Synodality.

The working document, titled “Enlarge the space of your tent,” covers issues across a broad spectrum, from the clergy sexual abuse crisis to Christian unity. The text calls for “a Church capable of radical inclusion” and says that many synod reports raised questions about the inclusion and role of women, young people, the poor, people identifying as LGBTQ, and the divorced and remarried. (Vatican photo)

The 44-page working document is officially called the DCS (Document for the Continental Stage). It summarizes the reports shared with the Vatican by bishops’ conferences, religious congregations, departments of the Roman Curia, lay movements, and other groups and individuals.

Published on Oct. 27, the document aims to be “the privileged instrument through which the dialogue of the local Churches among themselves and with the universal Church can take place during the Continental Stage.” Synod on Synodality: Vatican reveals framework for next stage of discussions | Catholic News Agency (The document, with art, is 56 pages on the synod webpage).

 

A PAPAL SURPRISE: SYNOD ON SYNODALITY TO EXTEND TO 2024 – SYNOD IN TWO SESSIONS WILL ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION

Due to the technical issue yesterday affecting the appearance of “Joan’s Rome,” I’m reposting that column, along with an additional look at the main news story here about the prolongation of the Synod on Synodality by one year to October 2024.

A PAPAL SURPRISE: SYNOD ON SYNODALITY TO EXTEND TO 2024

In a surprise announcement at the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis extended the term of the synod on synodality, scheduled to end in October 2023 but now to end in a second session in October 2024. The synod began in 2021 and is in the final continental phase, the phase that would conclude the original synod date of October 2023.

The Pope said, “In order to provide more time for extended discernment, I have established that this Synodal Assembly will take place in two sessions, October 4-29, 2023 and October 2024.” He said he hoped this decision will “favor the comprehension of synodality as a constitutive element of the Church, and help everyone to live it as a journey of brothers and sisters who bear witness to the joy of the Gospel.” Francis said there are already many first fruits from the ongoing Synod, but more time is needed in order for them to become fully mature.

The Pope explained that the September 2018 Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis Communio on the structure of the Synod of Bishops, allows for such an extension.

A Vatican News editorial entitled “Synod In Two Sessions Will Encourage Participation,” stated:Lengthening the time of the ordinary assembly of the Synod, taking it from one to two years, means in reality seeing the method and process as more important than the individual themes themselves that have emerged so far and also need to be addressed.”

That title intrigued me because my very first thought after the papal announcement was how disappointed the Vatican and Pope had to be at the numbers coming in from the around the world on the participation of the faithful. The numbers revealed so far indicate that, of the 112 of 114 episcopal conferences that have sent their reports to Rome, participation has been consistently in the low single digits – rarely even above 4%. In the US, for example, it was 1%!

Responses also came in from Eastern Catholic churches, religious orders, church organizations and movements, and the Roman Curia.

As I wrote yesterday, many thoughts came to mind as I heard Pope Francis make the announcement Sunday at the Angelus and as I read the editorial.

To be honest, the very title of the editorial suggests what might be a reason for extension, namely, the extremely low participation worldwide in the synod process since it began in 2021. So one asks: if we add a year, will more people participate? How will they participate? The parish-wide and diocesan phase, as well as that of the world’s Episcopal conferences have all concluded.

The very meaning of the world “synodality” seems to have been up for grabs during this process. So many people, and not just the faithful but priests and bishops, have asked the office of the Synod of Bishops in Rome for a precise definition, stating that what they have read about the process so far has not been illuminating, much less helpful.

Could another reason be that, in reading some of the results that have come in, the Vatican saw that the synod has not been, by and large what they envisioned, that is, people listening to one another and discerning the will of the Holy Spirit, but rather, people communicating how they want the Church to change some of her teaching?

Just a year ago, October 9, Pope Francis warned about three possible obstacles to a fruitful synod, one of which was “intellectualism.” Francis said “the synod ‘could turn into a kind of study group,’ losing itself in abstraction.” It would thus consist of “the usual people saying the usual things, without great depth or spiritual insight, and ending up along familiar and unfruitful ideological and partisan divides, far removed from the reality of the holy People of God and the concrete life of communities around the world.”

Did that happen?

In fact, it seems from the Vatican editorial that both the method and process of the synod might have to be reviewed!

The Pope explained that, “It is important that the synodal process be exactly this: a process of becoming, a process that involves the local Churches, in different phases and from the bottom up, in an exciting and engaging effort that can forge a style of communion and participation directed to mission.”

On October 2, the Pope met with several dozen people commissioned to read the syntheses coming in from around the world and to write a draft document that will be used in the current continental phase of the synod on synodality. Bishops from the Synod office joined the draft group and a document was approved that is expected to be released later this month.

SYNOD IN TWO SESSIONS WILL ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION

(Vatican News) Editorial Director says Pope Francis’ decision to extend the Synod to two sessions – in 2023 and 2024 – reflects the reality of an increasingly missionary Church that involves everyone.

By Andrea Tornielli

The journey has begun, but not without many efforts. The journey has started and the dream is to transform the ordinary life of the Church through the participation and involvement of everyone, to renew its life and help Christian communities be ever more faithful to the Gospel and therefore ever more missionary. (Vatican file photo)

Pope Francis’ announcement on Sunday at the Angelus that the next ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in two sessions, each one year apart in October 2023 and October 2024, shows how much the Pope cares about this dream that little by little is becoming a reality.

There is a need to fully appreciate the many contributions that have come in and will continue to arrive from the continental assemblies, so that every baptized person feels called to this journey in communion with their own parish priests and Church leaders.

Such a great opportunity must not be missed by using the same old ways of doing or looking at things – whether “always looking to the past” or to progressive attitudes. These stances always take for granted the starting point regarding the faith of the people of God and end up focusing only on single issues rooted in past and self-referential ideological battles.

In his homily on 11 October for the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pope Francis said, “The Church needs first to be viewed from on high, with God’s eyes, eyes full of love. Let us ask ourselves if we, in the Church, start with God and his loving gaze upon us. We are always tempted to start from ourselves rather than from God, to put our own agendas before the Gospel, to let ourselves be caught up in the winds of worldliness in order to chase after the fashions of the moment or to turn our back on the time that Providence has granted us, in order to retrace our steps.”

Deeper understanding of synodality

Starting from the loving gaze of God with the joy that flows from feeling loved, welcomed, and accompanied by Him is also the key to understanding the Synod.

The Church exists to proclaim the Gospel. And the Church’s structures, always subject to reform, exist only for this aim.

Pope Francis’ announcement at the Angelus tells us that synodality in the Church is a process and not a rushed restructuring of some of its ecclesial structures where nothing really changes.

Lengthening the time of the ordinary assembly of the Synod, taking it from one to two years, means in reality seeing the method and process as more important than the individual themes themselves that have emerged so far and also need to be addressed.

The process of involving everyone that began in 2021 in the local Churches has led to as many as 112 (out of 114) Bishops’ Conferences to carry out extended discernment on what has emerged from listening to the people of God. It is a beginning marked by hope.

SYNOD IN TWO SESSIONS WILL ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION

Following is the editorial that Vatican News released yesterday after the Pope announced that the synod on synodality that began in 2021 and was set to conclude in October 2023, has been extended and will now add a session in October 2024.

Many thoughts came to mind as I heard Pope Francis make the announcement Sunday at the Angelus and as I read this editorial.

To be honest, the very title of the editorial suggests what might be a reason for extension, namely, the extremely low participation worldwide in the synod process since it began in 2021. So, one asks: if we add a year, will more people participate? How will they participate? The parish-wide and diocesan phase, as well as that of the world’s Episcopal conferences have all concluded.

The very meaning of the word “synodality” seems to have been up for grabs during this process. So many people, and not just the faithful but priests and bishops, have asked the office of the Synod of Bishops in Rome for a precise definition, stating that what they have read about the process so far has not been illuminating, much less helpful. In fact, it seems from the editorial that both the method and process of the synod might have to be reviewed!

I’ll try to learn more about this in coming days and weeks.

SYNOD IN TWO SESSIONS WILL ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION

(Vatican News) Editorial Director says Pope Francis’ decision to extend the Synod to two sessions – in 2023 and 2024 – reflects the reality of an increasingly missionary Church that involves everyone.

By Andrea Tornielli

The journey has begun, but not without many efforts. The journey has started and the dream is to transform the ordinary life of the Church through the participation and involvement of everyone, to renew its life and help Christian communities be ever more faithful to the Gospel and therefore ever more missionary. (Vatican file photo)

Pope Francis’ announcement on Sunday at the Angelus that the next ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in two sessions, each one year apart in October 2023 and October 2024, shows how much the Pope cares about this dream that little by little is becoming a reality.

There is a need to fully appreciate the many contributions that have come in and will continue to arrive from the continental assemblies, so that every baptized person feels called to this journey in communion with their own parish priests and Church leaders.

Such a great opportunity must not be missed by using the same old ways of doing or looking at things – whether “always looking to the past” or to progressive attitudes. These stances always take for granted the starting point regarding the faith of the people of God and end up focusing only on single issues rooted in past and self-referential ideological battles.

In his homily on 11 October for the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pope Francis said, “The Church needs first to be viewed from on high, with God’s eyes, eyes full of love. Let us ask ourselves if we, in the Church, start with God and his loving gaze upon us. We are always tempted to start from ourselves rather than from God, to put our own agendas before the Gospel, to let ourselves be caught up in the winds of worldliness in order to chase after the fashions of the moment or to turn our back on the time that Providence has granted us, in order to retrace our steps.”

Deeper understanding of synodality

Starting from the loving gaze of God with the joy that flows from feeling loved, welcomed, and accompanied by Him is also the key to understanding the Synod.

The Church exists to proclaim the Gospel. And the Church’s structures, always subject to reform, exist only for this aim.

Pope Francis’ announcement at the Angelus tells us that synodality in the Church is a process and not a rushed restructuring of some of its ecclesial structures where nothing really changes.

Lengthening the time of the ordinary assembly of the Synod, taking it from one to two years, means in reality seeing the method and process as more important than the individual themes themselves that have emerged so far and also need to be addressed.

The process of involving everyone that began in 2021 in the local Churches has led to as many as 112 (out of 114) Bishops’ Conferences to carry out extended discernment on what has emerged from listening to the people of God. It is a beginning marked by hope.