700 POLES IN ROME TO MARK 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF JOHN PAUL’S ELECTION – ABORTION IS “LIKE HIRING A HITMAN TO SOLVE A PROBLEM” – SYNOD FINAL DOCUMENT: FOLLOWING THE FRANCIS LINE?

700 POLES IN ROME TO MARK 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF JOHN PAUL’S ELECTION

Pope Francis on Wednesday met some 700 Polish pilgrims from Krakow, who are in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the election of St. Pope John Paul II on Oct. 16. He greeted them in the Paul VI Hall before going to St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

St. Pope John Paul II served as the Archbishop of Krakow from 1964 until his election as pope on 16 October, 1978.

Greeting the pilgrims from Krakow who are in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the election of John Paul II, Pope Francis expressed admiration for his predecessor’s great abundance of gifts, which he largely inherited from the treasure of faith and holiness of Poland and its Church.

Richness of Polish faith
Mentioning saints from Krakow such as Stanislaus and Queen Hedwig, Albert and Faustina, Pope Francis said Pope John Paul learned from them about the boundless dedication to Christ and the great sensitivity for every man, which, he said, were manifested in his priestly, episcopal and papal ministry.

John Paul II also knew how to read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel, to make it bear fruit for the benefit of his compatriots who through various painful events of their history never lost their faith in God and were faithful to their culture rooted in the Christian spirit.

Human rights, dignity
Pope Francis said that in his fidelity to his culture and Christian faith, John Paul II sought to “ensure that the Church stood up as the guardian of the inalienable rights of man, of the family and of peoples, in order to be a sign of peace, justice and integral development for the whole human family.”

But at the same time, the Polish pope always underscored the priority of grace and obedience to God’s will, before any human calculation.

This rich heritage of John Paul II, Pope Francis said, is for Christians, especially his compatriots, a challenge to be faithful to Christ and to respond with joyful dedication to God’s call to holiness in the daily specific personal, family and social situation of everyday life.

ABORTION IS “LIKE HIRING A HITMAN TO SOLVE A PROBLEM”

Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Commandments during Wednesday’s general audience saying that welcoming life as God’s gift corrects a vision of life interpreted as a problem to be eliminated.

Francis reflected on the Fifth Commandment: You shall not kill. When life is welcomed as a gift from God, he said, the vision of interpreting life through the lens of eliminating problems can be corrected.

He reaffirmed that the Fifth Commandment is concise and to the point. It is “a defending wall for the foundational value in human relations: the value of life”, he said.

A Gift of God is not a problem

Pope Francis then noted a contradictory approach to life: the suppression of “human life in the mother’s womb in order to safeguard other values”: It is not right to ‘take out’ a human being, no matter how little, to resolve a problem. That is like hiring a hitman to resolve a problem.

Fear is the culprit

Fear leads to violence and rejection, the Pope continued. Welcoming life as a gift of God leads to accepting life in all of its expressions. He noted that parents are in need of true support should they discover that the baby they are expecting will be disabled, saying: “A sick child, …just as an elderly person, needs assistance…. He or she who is presented as a problem is in reality God’s gift who can draw me out of my self-centeredness to make me grow in love.”

God’s love is the measure for life

The world’s idols prompt people to reject life, the Pope said. Pope Francis listed these idols: money, power, and success. He called them “mistaken parameters by which to evaluate life”. Whereas “the only authentic measure for life is love, the love that God has for it!”

ENGLISH SUMMARY:
Dear brothers and sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we now consider the injunction against killing. We could say that every evil is caused by a disregard for life. Assaults upon life occur in many situations, from war and exploitation to the suppression of the vulnerable, elderly and unborn. Ultimately it is fear that gives rise to the rejection of life. To welcome the other, however, challenges such fear. We see the attitude that welcomes rather than rejects life in the heart-rending concern of parents for a sick child. Their desire to protect and save is a sign of life’s precious value, seen above all in those who suffer, who are in fact God’s gift, and who help us to grow in his love. God’s love is the only authentic measure of life, whose secret is revealed by Jesus, who embraced the rejected, weak, poor and sick throughout his life and upon the cross. In the midst of our weaknesses, Christ seeks our hearts in order to reveal to us the joy of love. As the Gospel reminds us, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

SYNOD FINAL DOCUMENT: FOLLOWING THE FRANCIS LINE?

For weeks here in Rome we have been hearing that the synod’s final document is already “a done deal,” that is, officials in the Roman Curia close to the Pope and Francis himself already knew the direction they wanted the synod to take and have been quietly putting talking points together behind the scenes.

The Instrumentum laboris or working document that came out months ago would be a guideline for synod participants but in reality contained the main points the Pope et al wanted to see in the final synod document submitted by participants that would be sent to the Pope so he could write his exhortation.

In other words, why hold the synod if things were already decided?

The Vatican today released the names of the 12 members of the Commission for the Preparation of the Final Document. They include the Relator General of the 2018 synod, the head of the Synod of Bishops, 2 special secretaries, 3 members named by the Pope and 5 elected by continent.

When I was working at the Vatican I learned that, for the Vatican, there are only 5 continents. I was always taught – and today believe – there are 7 continents: North America, South America Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Antarctic.

In the list of 5 continental commission members, there is Vatican City (Cardinal Turkson is from Africa), Mexico, India, Italy and Australia. Only one has English as his mother tongue, Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne.

Here’s an interesting take on this issue, given the release today of the names of the members of the Commission

https://cruxnow.com/synod-of-bishops-on-youth/2018/10/10/papal-allies-and-friends-tapped-to-shape-synods-conclusions/

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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.

THE SYNOD: GETTING THE NEWS OUT – OR KEEPING IT IN? – CARDINAL DINARDO WELCOMES VATICAN INQUIRY INTO MCCARRICK FILES

As you know from reading this column both Saturday and Sunday, it was a big weekend here! The synod did not make headlines but two Vatican communiqués did: Saturday’s Holy See Press Office statement on ex-cardinal McCarrick and Sunday’s Open letter by Cardinal. Marc Ouellet on recent accusations against the Holy See. They are still – and will be for a while – the focus of news stories around the world.

A big news story today is about the news – read on…

THE SYNOD: GETTING THE NEWS OUT – OR KEEPING IT IN?

The Vatican Information Service (VIS) was instituted because of a desire of Pope John Paul to be closer in touch with the Church’s bishops and nuncios who had been telling him for years that communications with the Vatican, the Holy See were sporadic at best.

We are talking decades before the advent of today’s communications media – Internet, email, cell phones, social media, Facebook live, etc. Even the fax machine was relatively new in the 1980s, and certainly was uncommon in most homes.

When, sometime in the late 1980s, John Paul asked Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who headed the Holy See Press Office from 1984 to 2006, how the Vatican could better communicate with the bishops and nuncios around the world, Navarro-Valls said that, although telegrams and faxes were the best options at the time, technology was always developing and he wanted the Vatican to be on the cutting edge of whatever was new. The Vatican’s first webpage appeared in 1996 so the Church did get in on the ground floor of cutting edge technology.

Holy See diplomats had the distinct advantage for years – and still do – of receiving news from Rome in a very timely fashion in diplomatic pouches – and getting back to Rome in the same manner.

When the 1990 synod on “The Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day” took place, VIS was opening its offices, hiring staff, etc., and therefore did not cover it. I had begun to work at VIS in August 1990 and was greatly honored in the new year with an invitation to help translate into English parts of Pope John Paul’s Apostolic Exhortation on that synod, “Pastores dabo vobis.”

The years I was at VIS we covered the following nine synods, several of which were continental and had been called by Pope John Paul as a lead up to the Jubilee Year 2000: 1991 Europe, 1994 The Consecrated Life and its Role in the Church and the World, 1994 Africa, 1995 Lebanon, 1997 America, 1998 Asia, 1999 Oceania, 1999 Europe II, 2001 The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.

Whenever we heard an announcement that a synod was being planned for such-and-such a year, we groaned. It was an enormous amount of work, though we fully realized that the staff of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops probably worked double the hours we did, preparing the synod and then being present in the synod hall almost around the clock while it was underway.

The press center was set up temporarily in the Synod Hall in a spot known as the “fungo”, the mushroom.

All participants in a synod who were to give a talk, were asked to hand that talk – preferably a summary of the short intervention – over to synod officials who then turned those summaries over to translators and to all of us at VIS as VIS transmitted its daily new service in four languages: English, Spanish, French and Italian.

For example, a bishop from France would give his French-language summary to synod officials, that summary was translated into other languages and then the original and the translations were placed in color-coded (for language) synod daily bulletins and made available to every member of the press corps, permanent or temporary, who was accredited by the Holy See Press Office to the synod.

Thus, French-speaking journalists would pick up the blue-color French synod bulletin to know what their prelates and those from other parts of the world were saying on the synod floor. The Spanish bulletins might be yellow, English green and so on for other languages.

The media was usually only allowed in the synod hall at the start of morning and afternoon sessions when the synod participants opened with a prayer. Media did not remain during the work session, although Vatican staff from VIS, the press office, and Vatican radio were usually present.

This system meant that all members of the media, in addition to any private interviews they had done or meetings they held with synod participants, had a very good overview of what was happening and what was being said in the synod hall. They knew what was being said and debated on certain topics relevant to the synod theme

In addition to the synod’s language bulletins, journalists keep abreast of news via press office conferences and, almost on a daily basis, briefings in different languages for smaller groups, ie, an English-speaking prelate for English media, etc.

That useful and worthwhile system, however onerous it was for all of us involved – nonstop work, skipped meals, late hours, etc – has been relegated to the past, given what I’m hearing and reading about the current synod.

You may have seen Ed Pentin’s tweet: Information Sec Fr. Spadaro justified not giving interventions in detail by saying #synod2018 is a “place of discernment” so delegates “must know what they say will remain in the hall.” If everything “were repeated externally, it would limit freedom, as it’s a spiritual context”

Hello! Several hundred people in the same room at once and not a single word will get out! We won’t find out what’s happening unless you want us to know?!

Delegates who want their message to get out will post on Facebook or a blog, tweet it and/or give a radio or print or TV interview.

If delegates want the world to know what is really happening in the synod hall and during coffee breaks, they will tell us.

If their want their intervention not to be published or publicized, that too will probably happen.

There cannot be a repeat of the 2014-2015 synods where enough people inside and outside the synod hall knew what was happening, knew and reported what people were saying so that when a draft of the final message came out and it did not reflect what the majority of synod fathers had said, all you-know-what broke loose!

I suggested a few sites the other day to follow for synod news. I included vaticannewsa.va and http://www.synod2018.va but now realize they in no way reflect what is happening in the hall where prelates and experts and auditors from around the world gather twice daily and scores of speeches are given.

Vaticannews, at least so far, has given only a handful of highlights – the Holy Father, the head of the Synod of Bishops and a few prelates. Iit does offer the possibility each day of clicking onto the link to the daily press conference so that viewers can listen in to the reports of Synod Fathers – all very helpful if you know several languages.

http://www.synod2018.va is basically a fact sheet on the synod. The section called “Press Review” highlights articles from vaticannews.va in different languages as well as articles from a few independent media organizations. It does not feature the speeches of Synod Fathers.

I recommend now, more than ever, following synod participants on their blogs or their Twitter accounts.

It will be interesting in coming days and weeks (the synod ends October 28) to see the news as it comes from official Vatican sites and what we hear from those participating. Will they be telling the same story?

CARDINAL DINARDO WELCOMES VATICAN INQUIRY INTO MCCARRICK FILES

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2018 / 03:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The president of the U.S. bishops conference said Sunday he welcomes the Vatican’s announcement of a further investigation into files on Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, praising the pope’s steps to end sexual assault.

“On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of October 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said.

DiNardo’s Oct. 7 statement was a response to the Vatican’s announcement that it would review its files pertaining to allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of McCarrick, who has been accused in recent months of serially sexually abusing two teenage boys, and of sexually coercing and assaulting priests and seminarians during decades of ministry as a bishop.

The Archdiocese of New York has already conducted a formal investigation into one allegation that McCarrick serially sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, and announced in June that the allegation had been found credible.

The Vatican said that Pope Francis has decided to combine the information from that investigation “with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick.”

“The Holy Father’s ‘pressing invitation to unite forces to fight the grave scourge of abuse within the Church and beyond’ has been and will continue to be diligently accepted by the bishops of the United States,” DiNardo said.

He stated that the truth is what will ensure the “terrible sins of the past are not repeated” and said the courage of abuse survivors in bringing sexual abuse to light must be matched by the courage of pastors “to respond in justice.”

“Pope Francis echoes the call of Christ to be with survivors in their time of need. Let us respond simply. ‘Yes, Lord!’” he continued.

The statement also said the bishops offer their prayers and solidarity for the pope at this time and urged everyone in the Church, “particularly the bishops,” to reaffirm communion with Pope Francis, “who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church.”

“We unite in prayer and service with His Holiness as he leads the Church to meet our brothers and sisters in their suffering. With a pastor’s heart, the Holy Father calls us to a path of healing,” the statement concluded.

DiNardo, who is Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, also met with Pope Francis and other Vatican offices Oct. 8, ahead of the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly next month.

USCCB Vice-President Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles and Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB general secretary, were also present at that meeting. They were joined by the conference’s associate general secretary Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill.

The meeting took place just one month after Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop Gomez, Msgr. Bransfield, and Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston, met with Pope Francis to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse scandals in the Church in the U.S.

CARDINAL OUELLET RESPONDS TO VIGANO ACCUSATIONS

The Vatican this morning published a letter from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in answer to last week’s letter, the second he has written, from Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano that contained, among other things, accusations of coverup in the Vatican at the highest levels in the Abp. McCarrick scandal. Vigano’s second letter specifically named Cardinal Ouellet, by virtue of his office, as possessing information that would prove his – Vigano’s – claims.

The letter was written in French and translated into Italian – both were published.

I offer the following English language translation of that letter. Where you see bold, that was in the original.

CARDINAL OUELLET RESPONDS TO VIGANO ACCUSATIONS

Dear Brother Carlo Maria Viganò,

In your last messgae to the media, in which you denounce Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, you exhort me to tell the truth about the facts you interpret as an endemic corruption that has invaded the Church’s hierarchy to its highest level. With due pontifical permission, I offer my personal testimony here, as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, on the events concerning the Archbishop emeritus of Washington Theodore McCarrick and his alleged ties with Pope Francis which are the object of your resounding public denunciation as well as your claim that the Holy Father resign. I write my testimony based on my personal contacts and the documents of the archives of the aforementioned Congregation, which are currently the subject of a study to shed light on this sad case.

Allow me to tell you first, in full sincerity, by virtue of the good relationship of collaboration that existed between us when you were Nuncio in Washington, that your current position seems incomprehensible and extremely reprehensible, not only because of the confusion that it sows in God’s people, but because your public accusations seriously hurt the fame of the Successors of the Apostles. I remember having once enjoyed your esteem and your confidence, but I note that I would have lost the dignity you recognized in me, simply because I remained faithful to the guidelines of the Holy Father in the service entrusted to me in the Church. Is not the communion with the Successor of Peter the expression of our obedience to Christ who chose him and supports him with His grace? My interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, which you lament, is inscribed in this fidelity to the living tradition, of which Francis has given us an example with the recent modification of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the question of the death penalty.

Let’s go to the facts. You say you informed Pope Francis on June 23, 2013 on the McCarrick case in the audience he gave you, as well as many other pontifical representatives whom he met for the first time on that day. I imagine the enormous amount of verbal and written information that he had to gather on that occasion on many people and situations. I very much doubt that McCarrick interested him to the point that you would have us believe, since he was an Archbishop emeritus of 82 years and seven years without an assignment. Moreover, the written instructions prepared for you by the Congregation for Bishops at the beginning of your service in 2011, did not say anything about McCarrick, except what I told you about his situation as Bishop emeritus who had to obey certain conditions and restrictions to because of the rumors about his behavior in the past.

Since 30 June 2010, that is, since I have been Prefect of this Congregation, I have never brought the case of McCarrick to an audience with Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Francis, except in these last days, after his demission from the College of Cardinals. The ex-cardinal, who had retired in May 2006, had been strongly urged not to travel and not to appear in public, in order not to provoke other rumors about him. It is false to present the measures taken against him as “sanctions” decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and canceled by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I note that there are no documents signed by either of the Popes, nor a note of the hearing of my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, who gave the mandate of the Archbishop’s emeritus McCarrick to silence and private life, with the rigor of canonical penalties. The reason is that then, unlike today, there was no sufficient evidence of his alleged guilt. Hence the position of the Congregation inspired by the prudence and the letters of my predecessor and mine that reaffirmed, through the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi and then also through you, the exhortation to a discreet lifestyle of prayer and penance for his own good and for that of the Church. His case would have been the subject of new disciplinary measures if the Nunciature in Washington or any other source had given us recent and decisive information about his behavior. Like so many, I hope that, out of respect for the victims and the need for justice, the investigation underway in the United States and the Roman Curia finally offers us a critical and comprehensive view of the procedures and circumstances of this painful case, so that such facts are not repeated in the future.

How can it be that this man of the Church, whose incoherence is known today, was promoted on several occasions, up to the very high functions of Archbishop of Washington and then of Cardinal? I am amazed by it myself and I recognize the flaws in the selection procedure that has been carried out in your case. But without going into details, it must be understood that the decisions taken by the Supreme Pontiff rest on the information available at that precise moment and which constitute the object of a prudential judgment that is not infallible. It seems unfair to me to conclude that the persons responsible for the discernment prior to them are corrupt even if, in this specific case, some evidence provided by the testimonies should have been further examined. The prelate in question was able to defend himself with great skill from the doubts raised about him. On the other hand, the fact that there may be people in the Vatican who practice and support behavior contrary to the values of the Gospel in matters of sexuality, does not authorize us to generalize and declare this or that and even the Holy Father himself unworthy and complicit. First of all, do not the ministers of the truth look at themselves from slander and defamation?

Dear Pontifical Representative Emeritus, I tell you frankly that to accuse Pope Francis of having covered this presumed sexual predator with full knowledge of the facts and therefore to be complicit in the corruption that spreads in the Church, to the point of deeming him unworthy to continue his reform as the first pastor of the Church, I find it incredible and far-fetched from all points of view. I am unable to understand how you could convince yourself of this monstrous accusation that does not stand up. Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick’s promotions in New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington. He dismissed him from his dignity as a Cardinal when a credible allegation of child abuse became evident. I have never heard Pope Francis refer to this so-called great adviser of his pontificate for nominations in America, although he does not hide the trust he accords to some prelates. I sense that these are not your preferences, nor those of friends who support your interpretation of the facts. However, I find it aberrant that you take advantage of the resounding scandal of sexual abuse in the United States to inflict on the moral authority of your Superior, the Supreme Pontiff, an unheard and undeserved blow.

I have the privilege of meeting Pope Francis for a long time each week, to discuss the appointments of the Bishops and the problems that affect their government. I know very well how he treats people and problems: with much charity, mercy, attention and seriousness, as you yourself have experienced. Reading how you conclude your last message, apparently very spiritual, playing a game and casting doubt on his faith, it seemed really too sarcastic, even blasphemous! This cannot come from the Spirit of God.

Dear brother, I would really like to help you rediscover the communion with the one who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church; I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your way in service to the Holy See, but you can not conclude your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion, which inflicts a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, exacerbating division and bewilderment in God’s people! How can I answer your question if not to tell you: come out of your clandestinity, repent of your revolt and return to better feelings towards the Holy Father, instead of exacerbating hostility against him. How can you celebrate the Holy Eucharist and pronounce his name in the canon of the Mass? How can you pray the holy Rosary, St. Michael the Archangel and the Mother of God, condemning him whom you protect and accompany every day in his heavy and courageous ministry?

If the Pope were not a man of prayer, if he were attached to money, if he favored the rich to the poor, if he did not demonstrate an indefatigable energy in welcoming all the poor and giving them the generous comfort of his word and his gestures, if he did not multiply all possible means to announce and communicate the joy of the Gospel to everyone and everyone in the Church and beyond its visible borders, if he did not extend his hand to families, to the abandoned elderly, to those sick in soul and body, and above all to the young people looking for happiness, one might, according to you, perhaps prefer someone else with different diplomatic or political attitudes, but I who have been able to know him well, I cannot question his personal integrity, his consecration to the mission and above all the charism and peace that live within him by the grace of God and the power of the Risen One!

In response to your unjust and unjustified attack on the facts, dear Viganò, I conclude therefore that the accusation is a political frame devoid of a real foundation that can incriminate the Pope, and I repeat that it deeply hurts the communion of the Church. It is to God that this injustice is quickly repaired and that Pope Francis continues to be recognized for what he is: a distinguished pastor, a compassionate and firm father, a prophetic charism for the Church and for the world. May he continue with joy and full confidence his missionary reform, comforted by the prayer of the people of God and by the renewed solidarity of the whole Church together with Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary.

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

October 7, 2018

HOLY SEE INVESTIGATING ARCHBISHOP MCCARRICK CASE

Below is the long-awaited Vatican statement issued today about its investigation in the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. It does leave a few questions, but the Holy See has at last spoken in a summary fashion to some of the accusations issued in two letters in August and September by former nuncio the United States, Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò. One of those accusations was that the Holy Father knew of the scandal involving the former cardinal and never did anything about it, instead making him an important part of Vatican diplomacy, sending him on missions,. including one to China.

More to come as the statement does say, “The Holy See will, in due course, make known the conclusions of the matter regarding Archbishop McCarrick.”

Read the Holy See statement first and then watch the following, absolutely riveting video of Raymond Arroyo’s interview with Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that aired on Thursday on “The World Over” – 40 minutes you’ll never forget! I found myself holding my breath at a few points. He talks of the McCarrick case (very interesting once you have read today’s Vatican statement!), the abuse scandal, the China deal, the synod on youth, the papal document on the synod, Episcopalis communio, and much more! You will learn a great deal! Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin appears after the cardinal so stay tuned for that !

HOLY SEE INVESTIGATING ARCHBISHOP MCCARRICK CASE

After the publication of the accusations regarding the conduct of Archbishop Theodore Edgar McCarrick, the Holy Father Pope Francis, aware of and concerned by the confusion that these accusations are causing in the conscience of the faithful, has established that the following be communicated:

In September 2017, the Archdiocese of New York notified the Holy See that a man had accused former Cardinal McCarrick of having abused him in the 1970s. The Holy Father ordered a thorough preliminary investigation into this, which was carried out by the Archdiocese of New York, at the conclusion of which the relative documentation was forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the meantime, because grave indications emerged during the course of the investigation, the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Archbishop McCarrick from the College of Cardinals, prohibiting him by order from exercising public ministry, and obliging him to lead a life of prayer and penance.

The Holy See will, in due course, make known the conclusions of the matter regarding Archbishop McCarrick. Moreover, with reference to other accusations brought against Archbishop McCarrick, the Holy Father has decided that information gathered during the preliminary investigation be combined with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick, in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively.

The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: “We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead” (Philadelphia, 27 September 2015). Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.

The Holy Father Pope Francis renews his pressing invitation to unite forces to fight against the grave scourge of abuse within and beyond the Church, and to prevent such crimes from being committed in the future to the harm of the most innocent and most vulnerable in society. As previously made known, the Holy Father has convened a meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences from around the world for next February, while the words of his recent Letter to the People of God still resonate: “The only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within” (20 August 2018).

VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: THE AUGUSTINE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION (PART II) – THREE U.S. BISHOPS, ONE AUSTRALIAN ADDRESS THE SYNOD CHALLENGES

VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: THE AUGUSTINE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION (PART II)

Tune in to the interview segment for Part II of my conversation with Sue Ferandin, the vibrant and wonderfully caring executive director in Hawaii of AEF – the Augustine Educational Foundation – a foundation whose mission is to make Catholic education more affordable for families in Hawaii.

Sue and I met during my recent visit to Honolulu when Bishop Larry Silva invited me to attend the September 13 AEF donor appreciation reception. She was a speaker at this event, as was the bishop. I was enthralled by her words and her mission. I told Sue I’d love to have her as a guest on Vatican Insider to speak about AEF and her work. So here we are…..

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

THREE U.S. BISHOPS, ONE AUSTRALIAN ADDRESS THE SYNOD CHALLENGES

ARCHBISHOP CHARLES J. CHAPUT, O.F.M. CAP of Philadelphia
Synod intervention on October 4: Comments on Instrumentum Laboris, Chapter IV, paragraphs 51-63:

From http://catholicphilly.com/2018/10/homilies-speeches/truth-of-church-teaching-on-sexuality-missing-in-synod-doc-archbishop-says-2/

Brothers,

I was elected to the synod’s permanent council three years ago. At the time, I was asked, along with other members, to suggest themes for this synod. My counsel then was to focus on Psalm 8. We all know the text: “When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?”

Who we are as creatures, what it means to be human, why we should imagine we have any special dignity at all – these are the chronic questions behind all our anxieties and conflicts. And the answer to all of them will not be found in ideologies or the social sciences, but only in the person of Jesus Christ, redeemer of man. Which of course means we need to understand, at the deepest level, why we need to be redeemed in the first place.

If we lack the confidence to preach Jesus Christ without hesitation or excuses to every generation, especially to the young, then the Church is just another purveyor of ethical pieties the world doesn’t need.

In this light, I read Chapter IV of the instrumentum, grafs 51-63, with keen interest. The chapter does a good job of describing the anthropological and cultural challenges facing our young people. In fact, describing today’s problems, and noting the need to accompany young people as they face those problems, are strengths of the instrumentum overall.

But I believe graf 51 is misleading when it speaks of young people as the “watchmen and seismographs of every age.” This is false flattery, and it masks a loss of adult trust in the continuing beauty and power of the beliefs we have received.

In reality, young people are too often products of the age, shaped in part by the words, the love, the confidence, and the witness of their parents and teachers, but more profoundly today by a culture that is both deeply appealing and essentially atheist.

The elders of the faith community have the task of passing the truth of the Gospel from age to age, undamaged by compromise or deformation. Yet too often my generation of leaders, in our families and in the Church, has abdicated that responsibility out of a combination of ignorance, cowardice and laziness in forming young people to carry the faith into the future. Shaping young lives is hard work in the face of a hostile culture.

The clergy sexual abuse crisis is precisely a result of the self-indulgence and confusion introduced into the Church in my lifetime, even among those tasked with teaching and leading. And minors – our young people – have paid the price for it.

Finally, what the Church holds to be true about human sexuality is not a stumbling block. It is the only real path to joy and wholeness. There is no such thing as an “LGBTQ Catholic” or a “transgender Catholic” or a “heterosexual Catholic,” as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ.

This has never been true in the life of the Church, and is not true now. It follows that “LGBTQ” and similar language should not be used in Church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the Church simply doesn’t categorize people that way.

Explaining why Catholic teaching about human sexuality is true, and why it’s ennobling and merciful, seems crucial to any discussion of anthropological issues. Yet it’s regrettably missing from this chapter and this document. I hope revisions by the Synod Fathers can address that.

BISHOP ROBERT BARRON. Auxiliary of Los Angeles

From his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BishopRobertBarron/
Thursday, October 4, Bishop Barron offered the following intervention at the Vatican during the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. For more Synod content from Bishop Barron, visit WordFromRome.com, where you’ll find behind-the-scenes videos, interviews, commentaries, and more.

Jesus’ encounter with two erstwhile disciples on the road to Emmaus provides a beautiful template for the Church’s work of accompaniment across the ages. The Lord walks with the couple, even as they move away from Jerusalem, which is to say, spiritually speaking, in the wrong direction. He does not commence with a word of judgment, but rather with attention and quiet encouragement. Jesus continues to listen, even as they recount, accurately enough, all the data having to do with him. But then, knowing that they lack the interpretive pattern that will make sense of the data, he upbraids them (“Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!”), and then he lays out the form (“beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.”). He listens with love, and he speaks with force and clarity.

Innumerable surveys and studies over the past ten years have confirmed that young people frequently cite intellectual reasons when asked what has prompted them to leave the Church or lose confidence in it. Chief among these are the convictions that religion is opposed to science or that it cannot stand up to rational scrutiny, that its beliefs are outmoded, a holdover from a primitive time, that the Bible is unreliable, that religious belief gives rise to violence, and that God is a threat to human freedom. I can verify, on the basis of twenty years of ministry in the field of online evangelization, that these concerns are crucial stumbling blocks to the acceptance of the faith among young people.

What is vitally needed today, as an aspect of the accompaniment of the young, is a renewed apologetics and catechesis. I realize that in some circles within the Church, the term apologetics is suspect, since it seems to indicate something rationalistic, aggressive, condescending. I hope it is clear that arrogant proselytizing has no place in our pastoral outreach, but I hope it is equally clear that an intelligent, respectful, and culturally-sensitive explication of the faith (“giving a reason for the hope that is within us”) is certainly a desideratum. There is a consensus among pastoral people that, at least in the West, we have experienced a crisis in catechesis these last fifty years. That the faith has not been effectively communicated was verified by the most recent Religious Landscape Study, from the Pew Research Center in America. It indicated that, among the major religions, Catholicism was second to last in passing on its traditions. Why has it been the case, over the past several decades, that young people in our own Catholic secondary schools have read Shakespeare in literature class, Homer in Latin class, Einstein in physics class, but, far too often, superficial texts in religion? The army of our young who claim that religion is irrational is a bitter fruit of this failure in education.

Therefore, what would a new apologetics look like? First, it would arise from the questions that young people spontaneously ask. It would not be imposed from above but would rather emerge organically from below, a response to the yearning of the mind and the heart. Here it would take a cue from the method of St. Thomas Aquinas. The austere texts of the great theological master in point of fact emerged from the lively give-and-take of the quaestiones disputatae that stood at the heart of the educational process in the medieval university. Thomas was deeply interested in what young people were really asking. So should we.

Secondly, a new apologetics should look deep and long into the question of the relationship between religion and science. For many people today, scientific and rational are simply equivalent or co-extensive terms. And therefore, since religion is obviously not science, it must be irrational. Without for a moment denigrating the sciences, we have to show that there are non-scientific and yet eminently rational paths that conduce toward knowledge of the real. Literature, drama, philosophy, the fine arts—all close cousins of religion—not only entertain and delight; they also bear truths that are unavailable in any other way. A renewed apologetics ought to cultivate these approaches.

Thirdly, our apologetics and catechesis should walk the via pulchritudinis, as Pope Francis characterized it in Evangelii Gaudium. Especially in our post-modern cultural context, commencing with the true and the good—what to believe and how to behave—is often counter-indicated, since the ideology of self-invention is so firmly established. However, the third transcendental, the beautiful, often proves a more winsome, less threatening, path. And part of the genius of Catholicism is that we have so consistently embraced the beautiful—in song, poetry, architecture, painting, sculpture, and liturgy. All of this provides a powerful matrix for evangelization. And as Hans Urs von Balthasar argued, the most compelling beauty of all is that of the saints. I have found a good deal of evangelical traction in presenting the lives of these great friends of God, somewhat in the manner of a baseball coach who draws young adepts into the game by showing them the play of some of its greatest practitioners.

When Jesus explained himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, their hearts began to burn within them. The Church must walk with young people, listen to them with attention and love, and then be ready intelligently to give a reason for the hope that is within us. This, I trust, will set the hearts of the young on fire.

BISHOP FRANK J. CAGGIANO of Bridgeport – From his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BishopCaggiano/

My friends, yesterday I gave my intervention at the Synod2018. I would like to share it with you now:

Holy Father, my brother bishops and my sisters and brothers in the Lord, allow me to share two points that weigh on my heart as we begin this synodal journey.

Reflecting upon paragraphs 59-60, the first is the need for the Church to continue to directly address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors and youth by clerics in many regions of the world (#50). It is a both a crime and a sin that has undermined the confidence and trust that young people must have in the Church’s leaders and the Church as an institution, so that they may again trust their priests and bishops to exercise true spiritual fatherhood (#12), serve as adult figures in their lives (#79) and as authentic mentors of faith (#120, 130-132). The Instrumentum Laboris speaks insightfully of young people’s growing disaffection with civil and social institutions (#59-60) and their desire to address issues of discrimination (#48) and exploitation (#44). Building upon this, we must continue to face courageously and honestly the betrayal of young people by clerics to whom they were entrusted. This sin must never again be found in our midst. Only in this way can the youth of the world believe our synodal call to offer them reassurance, comfort, hope, and belonging.

Reflecting upon paragraphs 34-35, the second issue involves the role that technology now plays in the development of young people. The Instrumentum Laboris rightly identified the key phenomenon that visual images play as the prime medium through which young people understand reality (#38). However, it does not fully explore, nor take advantage of the formative power that technology now exercises upon the full development of young people. For example, the document notes that music and the arts are powerful ways to open up spaces of interiority among young people that the written word may not do as effectively (#36). Young people are more apt to seek creative solutions and collaborate with a variety of relationships (#154). This shift is as much determined by physiology as it is by culture or theology. I urge the Synod to seek ways to investigate further these fundamental changes now experienced by young people so that the pastoral initiatives we embrace can be as comprehensive as possible.

Allow me to conclude by offering one concrete way towards achieving this goal. It was Saint Thomas Aquinas who taught that the human person can encounter God by three privileged paths: truth, beauty and goodness. In terms of technology’s formative influence on young people, I would respectfully suggest that it is the path of beauty that must be better explored for the sake of evangelization and catechesis. In my experience with young people, the questions that haunt them are not simply intellectual ones. They are first and foremost affective questions (i.e., “questions of the heart”), that ask about their self-worth, the reasonableness of hope, the ability to commit to another and to be loved in return. We must unlock the power of beauty, which touches and captures the heart, precisely by utilizing the many opportunities now afforded by digital communication and social media to accompany young people to experience beauty in service of the Gospel (#162). Let us offer the sacred liturgy as a celebration of the beautiful, the transcendent, with an engagement of the affective senses (#187). Let us work to capture the heart of all believers to encounter a God who does not promise a sterile but a life that is itself beautiful, rich in meaning, that invites one’s heart to dare to believe that this earthly life is worth living and worth fighting for in light of an eternal life where the restlessness of the heart will find its final rest in the salvation that alone comes from Christ Jesus the Lord.

ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY FISHER, OP, of Sydney, Australia:

A photo from his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyfisherop/
Just a couple of days in to #Synod2018, and I’ve been given a job to do. Yesterday, I was elected to the Information Commission for the Synod on Youth, as representative of Oceania. It will be our role to establish criteria and methods for disseminating news coming out of the Synod. We got to work immediately, having our first meeting yesterday afternoon. (Photo: Alessandro Gisotti)

Also from his Facebook page: This is the full text of the Intervention given by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP on 4 October at the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops:

Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.

Today in the presence of the Holy Father and amidst my brother bishops, I want to say sorry to young people for all the ways we’ve failed them.
For the shameful deeds of some priests, religious and lay people, perpetrated upon you or other young people just like you, and the terrible damage that has done; and for the failure of too many bishops and others to respond appropriately when abuse was identified, and to do all in their power to keep you safe and for the damage thus done to the Church’s credibility and to your trust: I apologise.

For the times Catholic families, parishes and schools have failed to introduce you to the person of Jesus Christ, his saving word, and his plan for your life; and for the times we’ve seemed to you unwelcoming, distant or harsh, or have not demonstrated the sheer joy of being Christians; and for the times when you were searching for your sexual, ethnic or spiritual identity, and needed a moral compass, but found Church people unsympathetic or ambiguous: I apologise.

For when we’ve sold you short not encouraging you to live heroically your baptismal call to holiness and the paschal path to life through self-renunciation; or when we’ve provided too little youth ministry or other support, so you’ve found living as a young person of faith and ideals lonely in a secular, often cynical world; or when unbeautiful or unwelcoming liturgies have failed to inspire or include you, and when you’ve been denied the Church’s treasury of examination of conscience, reconciliation, adoration, pilgrimages, penances and devotions: I apologise.

For poor preaching, catechesis or spiritual direction that fails to convert, and for lack of imagination or enthusiasm for that new evangelisation to which the recent popes have called us; and for our failures to demonstrate God’s mercy, as Pope Francis has insisted we must, and to involve you in campaigns for justice and in works of mercy; and for families, dioceses and religious orders that with a contraceptive mentality have given up on generating new vocations and so have not nurtured yours: I apologise.

To any young person we have let down in these or other ways: from the bottom of my heart I apologise to you. And to the Lord I pray: Kyrie eleison.

But I say to young people also: never give up on Jesus because of our failures. Never give up on the Church that you can help make more faithful. Never give up on the world that, with Christ and the Church’s help, you can make a better place.

In Jesus Christ, the Ancient of Days is made young – for you. The Creator of this beautiful universe comes close to your life to save you. He calls you to ‘come, follow’ him and become his young disciple. He sends you out as a missionary to our world. You can be a hero, for nothing is so exciting as the adventure of the Gospel!

So: when you are lost and need direction, know that the young Jesus is the eternal Way for you! When you are confused and need sound teaching, know that the young Jesus is the eternal Truth for you! When you are searching for the vocation that will most fulfil you, know that the young Jesus is eternal Life for you!

In the presence of the Holy Father and amidst my brother bishops, I recommit myself to young people and to drawing them closer to Christ who is always there for them.

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