POPE ON FIFTH COMMANDMENT: INSULT AND CONTEMPT CAN ALSO KILL – LISTENING TO VOICES OF REASON AT THE SYNOD

POPE ON FIFTH COMMANDMENT: INSULT AND CONTEMPT CAN ALSO KILL

By Seàn-Patrick Lovett (vaticannews)
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Deeper meaning
At the general audience today in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that, read in the context of St John’s Gospel, “Jesus reveals a deeper meaning of this commandment”. Even anger against a sister or brother “is a form of murder”. But Jesus does not stop at this, continued the Pope: in the same logic, Jesus adds that even insult and contempt can kill.

It would be nice if this teaching of Jesus were to enter into our minds and hearts”, said Pope Francis, “because Jesus ss to us: ‘If you despise, if you insult, if you hate, this is murder’ “.

Seek reconciliation
The Pope reminded his audience how Jesus invites us to reconcile ourselves with those who have offended us, before we offer our sacrifice in the temple. “When we go to Mass, we too should have this attitude of reconciliation”, he said. Pope Francis gave the concrete example of people gossiping about others as they wait for the priest to begin celebrating: “We chat a little and we talk badly about others. But this cannot be done.” Jesus equates insult, contempt and hatred with killing, he said.

Indifference kills
The Pope continued to provide concrete examples, pointing out how we all possess a sensitive, hidden self that is no less important than our physical self. An “inappropriate phrase”, he said, is enough “to offend the innocence of a child. To hurt a woman, a gesture of coldness is enough. To break a young person’s heart, it is enough to deny them confidence. To annihilate someone, it is enough to ignore them.” Indifference kills, concluded Pope Francis. “Not loving is the first step to killing; and not killing is the first step to loving”.

Antidotes to killing
“Human life needs love”, said the Pope.

“None of us can survive without mercy, we all need forgiveness”, he continued. “So, if killing means destroying, suppressing, eliminating someone, then not killing means taking care of, giving value to, including. And forgiving”.

The Commandment, “Do not kill”, is a call to love and mercy, said Pope Francis. “It is a call to live according to the Lord Jesus”. The Pope then invited all those in St Peter’s Square to remember and to repeat this simple phrase: “Doing no harm is a good thing. But not doing good is not good”. We must always do good, he said.

LISTENING TO VOICES OF REASON AT THE SYNOD

ARCHBISHOP JOSE GOMEZ

(CNA).- Young people should look to the “saints of our times,” as models of holiness, Archbishop José Gomez told the Synod of Bishops on Tuesday. The Archbishop of Los Angeles highlighted the example of the seven recently canonized saints in his speech to the assembly.

Gomez spoke Oct. 16 during the fifteenth ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, currently meeting in Rome to discuss young people, the faith, and vocational discernment. The session continues until Oct. 28.

In looking to saints, of which there are examples from “every continent,” young people will be inspired to live their vocation as “everyday saints” in their own unique way, Archbishop Gomez said. He also called on his brother bishops to be a model of sainthood for young people.

“We need to show young people what holiness looks like, by living the Gospel we preach, proclaiming Jesus Christ by the way we live. We need to call young people to be saints — and we need to be saints ourselves,” he said.

Gomez emphasized that calling young people to “conversion and new life in Christ” should be a priority in the synod’s final conclusions, and that the Church is called to serve and accompany young people on that journey.

This involves, he said, setting an example of how to pray, helping young people meet the Lord in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession, encouraging them to perform works of mercy for the poor, and cultivating a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Sadly, young people today do not know how to live authentic human lives because the adults of our secular society have not shown them the way,” Gomez said.

“The vision for life offered to young people in Western societies does not call them to goodness or beauty or truth. Instead, what is offered are various life ‘styles’ and alternatives for self-creation rooted in the restless consumption of material comforts, virtual entertainments, and passing pleasures,” he said.

The archbishop said that in his conversations with young people in his own diocese he came to see that the Church did offer the answers they were seeking.

“In the Incarnation of the Son of God and in his Passion and Resurrection, we see revealed the dignity and destiny of the human person, created in God’s image and called to live by his Spirit as a child of God and to be saints — to be holy as our Father in heaven is holy,” Gomez said.

Archbishop Gomez, along with seven auxiliary bishops, leads the largest archdiocese in the country, with over 4 million Catholics out of a total population of over 11 million.

CARDINAL ROBERT SARAH:

(Catholic Herald – UK) Young people are idealistic and want clarity, the cardinal said
Just because some young people disagree with Catholic moral teaching, including in the area of sexuality, it does not mean the Church’s teachings are unclear or should change, Cardinal Robert Sarah told the Synod of Bishops.

The Church and its pastors should “courageously propose the Christian ideal corresponding to Catholic moral doctrine and not water it down, hiding the truth to attract young people to the bosom of the Church,” the cardinal told the synod on Tuesday.

Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, noted how in preparation for the synod, some young people asked the Church to be clear in presenting its teaching on “some questions that are particularly close to their hearts: freedom across the board and not only in sexual relations, nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, equality between men and women, including in the Church, etc.”

Others, however, “demand not only a discussion that is open and without prejudice, but also a radical change, a real and true U-turn by the Church in its teaching in these areas,” he said.

The Church’s teaching may not be shared by everyone, the cardinal said, but no one can say that it is not clear. However, there may be “a lack of clarity on the part of some pastors in explaining the doctrine” and that requires “a profound examination of conscience.”

Cardinal Sarah pointed to the Gospel story of the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to obtain eternal life; Jesus told him to sell all he had and follow him.

“Jesus did not lower the requirements of his call” and neither should the Church, the cardinal said.

In fact, he said, one characteristic of young people is their idealism and lofty goals, not only regarding their professional and personal ambitions, but also in the areas of “justice, transparency in the fight against corruption (and) in respect for human dignity.”

“Undervaluing the healthy idealism of the young” is a serious error and sign of a lack of respect, he said. It also “closes the door to a real process of growth, maturation and holiness.”

On the other hand, the cardinal said, “by respecting and promoting the idealism of young people, they can become the most precious resource for a society that wants to grow and improve.”

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14 LANGUAGE GROUPS PRESENT THEIR REPORTS IN SYNOD HALL

14 LANGUAGE GROUPS PRESENT THEIR REPORTS IN SYNOD HALL

Today’s Holy See Press Office bulletin said that this morning, during the 5th General Congregation of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on young people, there was the presentation in the hall of the Reports of the 14 small language groups that had met in recent days to reflect on the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris in light of the contributions that emerged during the debate held in the previous General Congregations.

The press office bulletin then published the Reports of the 14 language groups. Many in each language group will have that language as their first language but not necessarily. For some, it might well be their second, or even their third. In many countries of the world, people speak more than one language.

There was a total of 30 pages for the reports from the 4 English groups, 3 French, 1 German, 2 Spanish, 3 Italian and 1 Portuguese. English group reports totalled 10 of the 30 pages, almost half of which came from English group C.

French group C noted that it was composed of 14 bishops, a major superior, two experts, three auditors and two assistants, representing four continents as witnesses to the diversity of the presence and participation of the young in the life of the Church.

Spanish group A began by noting it was composed of 24 synod fathers, 2 experts, 5 auditors and 2 assistants.

Italian group B announced its moderator was Cardinal Fernando Filoni, was Archbishop Bruno Forte of Cieti-Vasto.

Italian group C noted that its cardinals, bishops, auditors, experts and one fraternal delegate came from 11 countries: Italy, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hungary, Lebanon, Greece, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovakia, Iceland and Korea.

English group reports did not note their specific composition.

Below are the reports of the English groups. They will not really take that long to read and you’ll find the content – both the similarity and diversity of viewpoints based on cultural experience, national values, etc – quite interesting. One thing I noted was that many group reports indicated their participants thought the Instrumentum laboris was weak on faith, seeming to stress culture and current sociological trends rather than faith – bringing culture to the faith instead of emphasizing bringing the faith to culture.

Journalists received a copy of today’s bulletin with the language reports via email. I thought perhaps those who wished to read the reports in Spanish, French, Italian, German or Portuguese could do so and – as I write – tried to find that daily bulletin on the vaticannews.va website but to no avail. The Press Review section of synod2018.va is usually a day behind – check that tomorrow if you are interested.

I found it unusual that the language group reports came this early in the synod: they usually are presented much later in the process.

ANGLICUS A

It was suggested that the faith dimension, the Christological perspective could be stronger, making it clear that we are reflecting from the heart and in the light of of faith on the concrete realities of young people – just as Jesus looked with love at the rich young man’s lived experience, and as he encountered the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Relationship is clearly the key to encounter with youth.

We have offered a “modus” to Paragraph 3 which suggests deepening the process of “recognizing; Interpreting; choosing” to include, as Evangelium Gaudium puts it: “not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also – and this is decisive – choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil” (EG 51). Our Group recommends that quotations from young people in the Aula and at the Pre-Synod would help to bring any final synod document to life, as well as providing examples of thriving “peer to peer” youth movements in various parts of the world.

We considered that the various sections on the digital world might be brought together to allow a more thorough reflection on this topic, including its potential for mission and new evangelization. We suggested that such a reflection might include a treatment of the compulsive attraction of ‘screen culture’ including cinema, mini-series and video gaming. We raised concerns about the exploitation of young people online, including the harvesting of their data, identity theft and scams. It must of course be recognized, as the young people at the Pre-Synod put it, that Technology, and especially Social Media is now understood as a permanent part of the life and identity of young people….

Since we found paragraphs 52-53 to be somewhat muddled, we have offered a modus reshaping these paragraphs to reflect the importance of the human person and the human body. We noted that a proclamation of chastity, as achievable and good for our young people, is missing from the document.

Our Group believes that the Church is called to respond to the desire of many young people for stable reference points, moorings or stepping-stones to help them navigate their way through the often contradictory messages being hurled at them from every direction. From the riches of her teaching, including from her “treasure trove” of social doctrine, the Church can offer them reasons for living and hoping. She does this best with young people by avoiding a moralistic or polemical approach – as if we had all the “ready- made” answers – but instead accompanying young people in a climate of joy and adventure of discovery. …..

However, the context for vocational discernment has changed utterly. Our Group suggests that the issue of child sexual abuse in the Church cannot be skimmed over tangentially in a few short sentences. The shattered trust, the trauma and lifelong suffering of survivors; the catastrophic failures in case management; the continued silence and denial by some of these awful crimes and sins – these issues cry out to be named openly by the Synod. We feel that as well as reassuring young people and their families that our safeguarding processes and norms are now robust and stringent, this Synod also provides an opportunity for us to prepare for February 2019 by speaking from our hearts about how we, as Synod Fathers feel about this shocking betrayal of our youth and of all the faithful. We should not be afraid to do so. If young people and their families are asking themselves: can our priest and bishop be trusted? If priests themselves are afraid to minister among the youth, then how can our Synod get out the message that young people, their faith and their vocational discernment are important to us?

As one member of our Group reminded us: “Trust arrives slowly, on foot, but Trust leaves on horseback! Trust must be rebuilt, one person at a time”. But is there another way of looking at all this? What if now, out of our fragility, we seek the caress of God’s mercy, and aim to find new ways to relate to young people, as a more humble Church, facing this reality?

ANGLICUS B

Interaction with the Youth of the World. Our small group, aware that the final document from the Synod is directed to the pope, considered how the Synod might want to present itself to young people. In itself this is starting the work of improved attentive engagement with young people that we are considering in this Synod. This is in addition to the important communication currently underway.

We propose a two-element solution. Firstly, a series of small messages, updates, perhaps at the end of each week from the Commission for Information. To be accessible to youth, these should have a component which is in video format and is short (less than 3 minutes). Any text should be less than 400 words and be accompanied by pictures. (‘If there isn’t a picture, it didn’t happen.’) These should be done in at least the major languages of the Synod. Secondly, a message from the Synod to the Youth of the World. This message should be inspirational and missionary in character. It should be scripturally based and start from Christ. We picture a simple, direct, honest message that would contain elements such as:  We want to listen to you  We are sorry for our failures  We love you and have faith in you  We want to walk with you in hope. We recommend that two Synod Fathers, with two Youth Auditors (chosen by the auditors from among themselves), be asked to prepare a text.

Apostolic Exhortation. Further, we hope that the Holy Father will again take the opportunity to write an Apostolic Exhortation which takes into account the experience of the Synod. As few young people will read an Apostolic Exhortation, we encourage the Holy Father to consider releasing an aid to help young people read the Exhortation and to increase their interest in it (a “study guide”?).

And we further ask the Holy Father, with the help of suitable experts, to make both the Exhortation and aid interactive. For example, they might end each major section with some direct and open-ended questions that could help the youth in their reflections and could be used to promote personal sharing ideas in small groups. Also, at the end of each major section there might be a QR code (Bar Code) which takes young people to a special website which (i) has a chatroom where the youth could meet and discuss the questions, and (ii) might have also short evocative videos, some of which could be a direct message from the Pope. We also invite the Holy Father to consider ‘road testing’ or work shopping the condensed version of the Apostolic Exhortation, and perhaps even the Exhortation itself, with a number of young people. Perhaps if this is successful, all major church documents could be presented with such youth friendly characteristics.

The Text. Our proposals have largely centred around enriching the reality presented in the text and occasionally providing some balance. Some of the discussions with more energy in them were around:

– The role young people already play as protagonists Youth are already involved in ecumenism and interreligious dialogue by the way they live, study, play, pray and work with and beside others. Sometimes this is intentional. The document often misses the opportunity to recognize the role that young people already and currently play as active agents, for example in the areas of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, especially in Asia (discussed in nos. 10, 24, and 25). We likewise propose that the indispensable role of young people as active agents in the life of the Church and society be acknowledged and underlined.

– The many ways in which family acts and is formed In many cases and places, the family is still very much the domestic Church as well as a sociological or biological reality. It is the font and primary nurturer of the spiritual life. The effects of brokenness of families and diminishment of the passing on of relationship with Jesus is captured very well but this positive aspect is not sufficiently well recognized. Also, there are many other forms of family other than the nuclear family or the extended family. We had a debate in our small group about non-ideal groupings from the Christian perspective. Does leadership in the Church require bishops and priests to proclaim the Gospel truth by denying that these are families? Or does our leadership require us to accompany the young people in the reality in which they find themselves? Perhaps these are not contradictory realities: St John recounts that Jesus both accepted the woman caught in adultery and proposed something else. Is it possible for us to both accept and even honour the family unit that a young person finds herself in and to share the Gospel ideal to her? In addition, families of origin are not the only family context for people in this age group. There are young adults who are preparing for or entering into marriage at this period of their life. As well, many families are headed by people in the age group considered here.

– The faith and thirst for deeper faith that many young people do have. The Instrumentum Laboris captures well the reality that there are many young people who are distanced from the Church and also from relationship with God. There was energy in our group around a need also to be attentive to and appreciate the openness of young people to faith. The document is weak in this area. We are not accompanying an empty glass. There are already gifts in this area present in young people that we want to recognize, accompany, strengthen and send into the Church and the world. The dynamic when we accompany is to lead a person to the more.

ANGLICUS C

Chapter 1 – Being Young Today

Fears

 Chapter 1 discusses a lot of fears: corruption, drugs, employment. This is a whole area to address.

 The kind of families they have been brought up in is very important. The families in the Western world are shrinking in terms of natality. Need to focus on motherhood, fatherhood, spending time generously with their kids.
 One important challenge we face: the number of young people who come from single-parent families. In some societies it is quite high. Lack of knowledge of motherhood or fatherhood (what it means). This makes many challenges for young people as they grow older. Is this in the document?
 Family ministry is a challenging area for us to engage in. Parents want to make money to support their kids. If we tell them to stay at home more, our words not be well received.
 Young person agrees in centrality of family, but we need a village to raise a child. If we can create communities that support families, then families can do better job of provide good lives for their children.  The Church has to be a family. We have a tendency in developed countries to make church just mass for 1 hour on the weekend. …..

……  #11: what do you mean by a traditional family? This term should be explained. ◦ Does it mean nuclear family? A wider family? A family with man at the head? ◦ Did this come from African setting, where it means extended family? ◦ Is it being used to oppose to “non-traditional” families? ◦ Single parent? Grannies?

 The Church can supply for what is missing in the family – need a modus, perhaps added to #12  mixed marriage families and the transmission of the family – not mentioned at all.

14 & 15: Intergenerational relationships

 Pope Francis sees youth and elderly as both being “thrown away”. We need to find ways to bring them together. It does good things for both sides.
 Often youth do have a good relationship with older people, it is the 40-60 group they have trouble with. The older generation seems to be better listeners. In religious life one particular community always includes older sisters because they are the ones that sit and listen.
 Experience of young people: relationship with elders is good when they recognize the need and have the ability to listen to younger people. No matter the age, the ability to have dialogue and conversation is key for a good intergenerational relationship.
 In Asian context, one bishop said he has never seen old age homes. Older people are “adopted” into families.
 In Europe there are no one to build a bridge between elder and youth. Each seems isolated to each other.
 In South Africa, there is often a grandmother taking the place of a parent (perhaps parents have died). The grandmother’s often say they are not appreciated despite their sacrifices.

16-18: Life Choices

 this sounds more like language from an educational book, without much mention of God
 nothing mentioned of divine intervention in the life of youth
 no listening to God in making life choices

19-21: Education

 In Myanmar, children often have to work to feed their family, so they cannot study.  Zimbabwe: Other religions are maximizing on education. Those who are unable to pay school fees are lured in to schools via paying of school fees. Our Catholic schools have become more academic and a place of formation into a Catholic ethos.
 Nigeria: While growing up, parents studied free of charge, but many cannot go to school as it is too expensive. Can Church make Catholic schools affordable? Or raise funds for those who cannot go? For those who don’t have a mind for academics but have skills. Pentecostal churches pay for services that require skills – they promise jobs, accommodation, food, a place to develop and sell skills (so even if volunteer work they go there for other benefits). Catholic schools built with contributions from faithful, but only children of elites can do to those schools.
 His Beatitude: education can be used to promote a form of manipulation, and globally we are seeing this – education is instrumentalized to manipulate human beings today – so we see a tendency to eliminate the church presence
 no mention of pastoral care and spiritual guidance as part of the formation context; can chaplaincies be mentioned, e.g. Newman centres (see 147-148)
 Home based schools – a model coming from America. ◦ USA has many home schoolers – bishops in USA are not united, as homeschooling can have an ideological basis – kids may have special needs ◦ are parents qualified to homeschool them?

Group C went on at quite some length in its study of the various paragraphs of the Instrumentum Laboris they were to study.

ANGLICUS D

It is my privilege to report on behalf of English-language small group “D,” an extraordinarily diverse and lively community of English speakers from all over the world. For the sake of brevity, I will highlight seven themes from an extremely wide-ranging conversation.

First, there was a strong consensus in our group that the document should commence, not with sociological analysis, but rather with a Biblical icon that would serve as a leitmotif for the entire statement. We felt that the story of Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus—already referenced in the IL—would be the ideal choice, for it beautifully demonstrates Jesus in both his listening and teaching manner. Further, the image of the disciples—still fascinated by the Lord and yet wandering in the wrong direction—aptly describes the condition of many of the young today. Once that elaborated icon is in place, we feel that the overall “see, judge, and act” interpretive framework of the IL should be retained.

Secondly, there was a strong sense in the group that the opening section of the IL was too negative in tone, focusing excessively on the dangers and challenges that young people face, especially in regard to the faith. We wondered whether a greater stress might be placed on the many examples of young people who are joyfully living out their Catholicism, despite the difficulties of this cultural moment. The suggestion was made that the still massively successful World Youth Days, inaugurated by St. Pope John Paul II, are one of the principal signs of this positive engagement of young people.

A third theme, brought up by many in our group, is that the text of the IL remains, in many ways, too Western in focus and tone. More specifically, it overlooks the situation of young people in those parts of the world where Christians suffer active persecution and are, quite literally, fighting for their lives. And it fails to take into account the struggles of those in many third world countries where economic and medical assistance from wealthier nations is frequently tied to an acquiescence to Western moral values in regard to sexuality and marriage. This ideological colonization, as Pope Francis has rightly characterized it, especially harms the young. Also, contemporary advertising, which teaches people to be dissatisfied with the goods that they have, contributes mightily to the throwaway culture so decried by Pope Francis. This dynamic is especially destructive in poorer countries.

A fourth motif from the IL that found particular resonance with our group was that of spiritual paternity and maternity. Many thought that this image lyrically expresses what young people want and expect from the Church. They desire mentors, guides, spiritual friends willing to walk with them. Especially at a time, at least in the West, when the family is in crisis, this trusting relationship between young people and mothers and fathers in the spiritual order is of crucial importance. One of the African members of our community reminded us that in many African languages, there are no words for cousin or uncle or aunt, since everyone in the family is considered brother and sister. This same sort of unity and connectedness ought to mark the life of the Church.

Fifthly, we focused on the prevalence and influence of the digital culture. We would like first to make the stylistic observation that the digital reality is discussed, here and there, in many sections of the first part. It might be wise to bring all of it under one heading. In terms of content, there was a universal consensus that the social media produces both light and shadow in the lives of young people and that the IL was correct to point this out. Two particular observations of our group are especially useful here. On the one hand, the immersion in the virtual world has produced a kind of “digital migration,” which is to say, a wandering away from family, cultural, and religious values into a world of privacy and self-invention. Just as many immigrants feel uprooted from their spiritual homes, so many young people in the West can experience the same kind of rootlessness, even while remaining physically in place.

Sixthly, we spent a good deal of time discussing the sex abuse crisis in the Church, especially regarding its effect on the evangelization of the young. As is obvious to everyone, this scandal has undermined the work of the Church in practically every way, precisely because it has compromised our credibility. A Church that cannot be trusted is simply incapable of reaching out to young people in an effective way. Though some members of our discussion group felt that this matter should be addressed at the very beginning of the document, the consensus was that it ought to remain in paragraph sixty-six, but also be considerably expanded. For instance, even as we acknowledge our sorrow and guilt in this regard, mention should be made of the very positive and effective steps the Church has taken since 2002 to address this matter concretely. And we should make it clear that the commitment to reform, in both matters sexual and financial, is operative at all levels of the Church’s life. Relatedly, we ought to articulate the Church’s understanding of bodylines and sexuality, but we should not hesitate to utilize the language of our theological tradition, including body and soul, the call to virtue, and the ideal of chastity. Many expressed the concern that the terminology of the IL in this area was too marked by contemporary psychological categories.

Seventhly and finally, we had a particularly energetic discussion around the complex issue of the play between listening and teaching in the life of the Church. Some members of our group wondered whether the IL’s strong emphasis on listening didn’t compromise or underplay the Church’s authentic teaching mission. It was observed that many young people today, in the midst of a postmodern culture so marked by relativism and indifferentism, long for the clarity and confidence of the Church’s doctrine. Others insisted that the stress on listening and relationality is indispensable in the measure that no doctrine, however beautiful and true, will be accepted unless it comes from a trustworthy source. One member observed that the maternity of the Church is a helpful image in this regard, provided that we remember that the manner in which a mother teaches her infant child is radically different from the manner in which she teaches her adult child. One of our elders in the group insisted that we move away from any antagonistic construal of the relationship between listening and teaching, as if the two are in tension or competition. Rather, he insisted, they are mutually implicative moments in any constructive conversation. An observation that especially caught the attention of our group was that, in speaking of a Church that listens to young people, the IL inadvertently positions the young as somehow outside the Church. We must always remember that they are listened to, precisely as members of the Mystical Body.

By way of conclusion, I might mention that, alongside of the Biblical narrative of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the image of the restless heart proposed long ago by St. Augustine still sings to young people today. We could use this as another leitmotif throughout the document.

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.

AN OPEN LETTER FROM YOUNG CATHOLICS

I spent one of the most fascinating afternoons imaginable in New York City yesterday, a city of countless fascinating places to visit.

In the company of two very dear friends, I visited – for the first time – Ground Zero.

Also for the first time, I visited the indescribably remarkable and compelling 911 Museum.

One of my friends, Maria, is a docent at the 911 Museum and if anyone could resurrect miracles out of mounds of rubble or somehow give life back to death, it is Maria.

Both Maria and our mutual friend Blanche (they’ve been friends since college) lost friends in 911 so there were many extremely poignant moments during our afternoon together.

I will tell you about that visit and do so as soon as possible, putting together all my memories, my feelings and the stories Maria told us, together with some photos.

Today, I’d really like you to focus on the following letter as the drama of the sex abuse crisis and reaction to the McCarrick scandal, seem to have no end.

AN OPEN LETTER FROM YOUNG CATHOLICS

Another excellent offering from First Things on the sad and sordid case of Archbishop McCarrick and the situation of sexual abuse by clergy in the Church.

These young people will make you think. They tell you of their love for the Church and for the good and faithful servants of the Lord and they tell you of their fears and hopes and their demands on Church leaders. These youth in their own ways are all leaders now, as you will see by their signatures, and will surely be even greater ones in coming years.

I hope and pray that the Holy Father and the October Synod of Bishops for youth put everything the young people have said in this Open Letter at the top of the synod agenda.

In fact, I hope and more than anything else that someone on the papal staff brings this to the attention of Pope Francis.

Here’s the First Things article:

Archbishop McCarrick’s predatory career would not have been possible without the culpable silence or active complicity of men at the highest levels of the Church. Revelations of his abuse have therefore gravely damaged the credibility of the whole Catholic hierarchy. Here a group of young Catholics speaks with one voice about the need for a cleansing fire.

Their statement is non-partisan, assuming nothing but the eternal validity of the Church’s teaching. They call for an independent investigation of who knew what and when, a new intolerance of clerical abuse and sexual sin, and public acts of penance by Catholic bishops. They promise to work and suffer for the Church, and to strive for holiness in their own lives. As children of the Church, they ask for fathers who honor the Father above. They are confident that their pleas are heard by God. They hope that they will likewise be heard by the priests and bishops who fear him.

“Dear Fathers in Christ,

In preparation for the upcoming Synod on Young People, the Vatican asked for reports from young Catholics around the world concerning their faith and the role the Church plays in their lives. Some of us are younger than others, but we were all children in the decades leading up to the sexual abuse crisis of 2002. In light of that experience and the recent revelations about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, we answer the Church’s invitation to speak.

Our experiences have given us cause for gratitude, but also for anger.

We are grateful for the way good priests and bishops lay down their lives for us day after day. They say the Mass, absolve us from sin, celebrate our weddings, and baptize our children. Through their preaching, teaching, and writing, they remind us that Jesus Christ has conquered evil once and for all. Their daily sacrifices give us blessings of infinite worth. For all of this, we are profoundly thankful.

We are also angry. We are angry over the “credible and substantiated” report of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse of a minor. We are angry over the numerous allegations of his abuse of seminarians and young priests. We are angry that “everybody knew” about these crimes, that so few people did anything about them, and that those who spoke out were ignored.

In addition, we have heard reports of networks of sexually active priests who promote each other and threaten those who do not join in their activities; of young priests and seminarians having their vocations endangered because they refused to have sex with their superiors or spoke out about sexual impropriety; and of drug-fueled orgies in Vatican apartments.

As Catholics, we believe that the Church’s teaching on human nature and sexuality is life-giving and leads to holiness. We believe that just as there is no room for adultery in marriages, so there is no room for adultery against the Bride of Christ. We need bishops to make clear that any act of sexual abuse or clerical unchastity degrades the priesthood and gravely harms the Church.

We are scandalized by the fact that men like Archbishop McCarrick have held positions of authority in the Church. Indeed, we are alarmed by reports that Pope Francis acted on McCarrick’s guidance in creating cardinals and appointing men to senior positions in the Church. Men McCarrick mentored and lived with are now important archbishops and heads of Vatican dicasteries.

We want to know what those men knew about McCarrick and when they knew it, especially since “everybody knew.” If the pope himself knew, we want to know that as well.

You are the shepherds of the Church. If you do not act, evil will go unchecked. As members of your flock, we therefore ask the following of you.

We ask you to agree to a thorough, independent investigation into claims of abuse by Archbishop McCarrick, both of minors and of adults. We want to know who in the hierarchy knew about his crimes, when they knew it, and what they did in response. This is the least that would be expected of any secular organization; it should not be more than we can expect from the Church.

We ask that the silence surrounding sexual impropriety in the Church be broken. We ask that bishops take clear action when priests flout the Church’s sexual teaching and that networks of sexually active priests be rooted out. We ask that good priests be given the freedom to tell their bishops what they know, without fear of reprisal. Along with these actions, we ask that bishops engage in formal acts of public penance and reparation.

We also commit to the following. We will refuse to be silent when we see or hear of sexual assaults taking place anywhere in the Church and by any person, clerical or lay. When those we know are assaulted, we will encourage the victims to come forward. We will stand with them until justice is done. We will not accept silence and inaction. Rather, we will publicly name and expose those who harm others and superiors who fail to take action when others are harmed.

We will likewise speak out when we discover clerical sexual impropriety. We will work to protect the good priests and seminarians who are threatened when they refuse to condone the sins of their fellow clerics, or when they speak out about them.

Above all, we pray for holiness in our Church and in ourselves. We pray for good priests and bishops who can lead us on to the vision of God. You constantly remind us that Jesus Christ is the fountain of mercy. Please do not forget that he is also the judge of the world.”

The letter is signed by 43 young people who contribute to various publications, including First Things, Commentary, National Review and Catholic Herald. They attend Catholic universities and public institutions. They hail from the U.S. and the UK. I have not listed their names for reasons of space but they are here: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/08/an-open-letter-from-young-catholics

THE AUGUST SNOWFALL IN ROME – 30,000 ITALIAN YOUTH ON WALKING PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

August 6 is the feast of the Transfiguration and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI who will be canonized in October. Pope Francis spoke of this at the Sunday Angelus, saying, “Forty years ago Blessed Pope Paul VI – the Pope of modernity – was living his last hours on this earth. He died in the evening of August 6, 1978. We remember him with great veneration and gratitude. From heaven, may he intercede for the Church and for peace in the world.”

This column might be Joan’s Rome lite tomorrow as I will be travelling much of the day. I’ll bring you what I can – if I can!

THE AUGUST SNOWFALL IN ROME

Every so often people write me to tell me they’ve read stories of snowfall in Rome in August, traditionally the hottest month of the year – perhaps together with July! The snowfall they read about has nothing to do with needing warm clothes when you visit Rome in August but has everything to do with one of the four papal basilicas in Rome, Our Lady of the Snows aka St. Mary Major.

The other three papal basilicas are St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and St. John Lateran. By the way, these four basilicas, with three others, constitute the 7 must-visit pilgrim churches in Rome. The remaining three: St. Sebastian, Holy Cross in Jerusalem (with relics of the crucifixion) and St. Lawrence – San Lorenzo al Verano.

Now about the snowfall:

The year was 358 A.D. John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and requested that they build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night.

John and his wife went to tell their friend Pope Liberius of their dream and to their amazement discovered that the pontiff had had the same dream. That morning, August 5, one of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline, was covered in snow, as witnessed by John, his wife, the Pope and his entourage, and a throng of Romans. Pope Liberius took a stick and traced the sign of the future basilica in the snow, a basilica which would be forever known as Our Lady of the Snows, in addition to the name it bears today, St. Mary Major, the greatest – and the oldest – Marian church.

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5. Each year, there are two celebrations on that day. In late afternoon during a liturgy, usually vespers, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released through one of the square panels of the basilica’s glorious gilt ceiling. In the evening, about 9 pm, outside the basilica, white flower petals are showered down on the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

If you are ever in Rome on August 5 go to St. Mary Major in mid-afternoon or about 9 at night to witness the snowfall and participate in a liturgy.

Here’s a brief Youtube video I did on my first visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9LTZk-k2k8

30,000 ITALIAN YOUTH ON WALKING PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

The initiative organized by the Italian bishops conference is in preparation for the Synod on young people in the Vatican in October and the World Youth Day in Panama in January.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews.va)

More than 30,000 young people of some 200 Italian dioceses set out in groups Friday morning on a weeklong walking pilgrimage in the territories of their respective dioceses, an experience that will conclude in a mega rally in Rome next weekend with meetings with Pope Francis.

The National Service for Youth Ministry of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) has organized the initiative in view of the Synod of Bishops on young people scheduled for October in the Vatican.

Father Michele Falabretti who heads the Youth Ministry office explained that they wanted to add a special experience to their meeting with the Pope, hence the initiative called, “Per Mille Strade” (Through a thousand roads), a pilgrimage involving young people and those accompanying them and “Siamo Qui” (We Are Here), the encounter with Pope Francis on the last two days in Rome, August 11 and 12.

Pilgrimage through the world

To be able to make the most of the walking pilgrimage, each participant has been provided with a pilgrim’s kit containing both practical and spiritual items. This includes a pilgrim’s shoulder bag with items such as a headlamp for use at night, a hat, a portable water bag, a diary, a Gospel, a cross, a commentary booklet on the encounter between Jesus and the disciples, a small canvas with the image of the holy shroud, a map and an identification badge.

The young pilgrims have also been furnished with a log, where they will post their experiences as they pass through the various stages of their journey.

Fr. Falabretti said the purpose of the pilgrimage is to help young people step out of the beaten path, slow down and keep their eyes open to the testimonies of life and faith that they come across and to know about the stories of today’s man and his difficulties and hopes. This journey is to make the children think and feel as part of the Church, he said.

Rally with the Pope in Rome

After the pilgrimage across their respective dioceses, the youngsters will board buses, trains or other means to converge on Rome on Saturday, August 11, where they will hold an evening prayer vigil at Circus Maximus with the participation of the Holy Father.

The following day, Sunday, they will attend a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, at the end of which the Pope will hand them a missionary mandate and bless the Crucifix of St. Damien and Our Lady of Loreto which they will carry to the World Youth Day in Panama, next year.

The young people have been encouraged to remain connected by posting their experiences online on the social media that will be shared with all in real time as the pilgrimage progresses.