EXPAND YOUR READING!!

"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

THE SYNOD, AN EXERCISE IN "SOBORNOST" (Synod - 11)


One of the key words of Pope Francis' pontificate is "synodality" (I am translating from Spanish) which, in Russian is "sobornost".   The synod is an exercise in "sobornost".   Part of our dialogue with the Orthodox must be our willingness to LISTEN, to LEARN and to PUT INTO PRACTICE what we have learnt.   I sincerely hope that the Orthodox too will LISTEN, LEARN, and be READY TO ACT.   If, however, they decide that "sobornost" is their doctrine rather than ours, and that they are the experts in "sobornost"  and have nothing to learn from us, then, let them compare this process with theirs when the bishops pf the Orthodox churches meet in 2016.   If the Orthodox Synod expesses "sobornost" better than we do, we will learn from them.   If, on the other hand, our practice demonstrates "Sobornost" in a way better than theirs, will they learn from us?  

Will the patriarchate of Moscow listen to the patriarchates of Constantinople or of Antioch, or will it be content to assert its own Orthodoxy that all others must follow?   What is going to win out, nationalism or universality, the spirits of pan-hellenism and pan-slavism or God?

 In 2016, the Orthodox too wil have a shot at "sobornost" at a universal level.- with their own great synod.    We will all be interested in this because, if they manifest the "sobornost" we are looking for, then we can learn from them; but, if they don't, we shall have to strive to do it ourselves without their help.   The wonderful thing is that, for the first time in the second millenium, both Catholics and Orthodox are trying to do the same thing, and neither side knows for certain how it is going to turn out.   Hence, whether we pray separately or together - and I believe that we pray together, whether we like it or not, because our prayer is united in Christ, thanks to the Holy Spirit -  we must PRAY!! 

Following is Vatican Radio's provisional translation of Pope Francis' address to the Synod Fathers: 


Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.

From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.

I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!

Rockhurst-event.jpgJoin Rockhurst University and NCR Nov. 1 for a series of discussions on the milestones and lessons of Pope Francis’ transformative papacy. Learn more.
I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

 - One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

 - The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

 - The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

 - The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

 - The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God's People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it... that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].

May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

[The hymn Te Deum was sung, and Benediction given.]

Thank you, and rest well, eh?


(from Vatican Radio)


my source: National Catholic Reporter

Following is Vatican Radio's provisional translation of Pope Francis' address to the Synod Fathers: 
Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.

From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.

I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!


I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

 - One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

 - The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

 - The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

 - The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

 - The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God's People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it... that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].

May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

[The hymn Te Deum was sung, and Benediction given.]

Thank you, and rest well, eh?

(from Vatican Radio)

Synod report narrows open tone, pope calls for middle path


Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi as they leave the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. At right is Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Joshua J. McElwee  |  Oct. 18, 2014

my source: National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN CITYWrapping up his global meeting of Catholic bishops on family issues -- which has seen both decisive shifts in tone from the Vatican and heated debates over the church's direction -- Pope Francis called on bishops to find a middle path between doctrine and reality.

Emphatically calling on the prelates to "feed the flock" and to search for lost sheep, the pontiff also directed them to avoid the temptation to become either a "hostile rigorist" concerned only with enforcing church doctrine or a "destructive do-gooder" that advocates "false mercy" instead of truth telling.


Saying the some 190 prelates at the meeting faced ''moments of desolation, tension and temptations," the pope also warned against the temptation to "transform bread into stone and throw it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick -- to turn [the bread] into 'unbearable burdens.'"


Francis was speaking Saturday evening at the closing session of the synod of bishops, one of two global meetings of prelates on family issues he has called for 2014 and 2015.


The pontiff spoke following the bishops' vote on their final report from the synod, much anticipated after a preliminary report Oct. 13 made headlines when it took an unusually open tone for the church, calling on it to listen more and to apply mercy much more widely.


The final report, the product of revisions this week of small working groups of bishops, maintains that tone but narrows the original document's openness, particularly when speaking about gay people.


Where the Oct. 13 document, for example, had a section titled "welcoming homosexual persons," Saturday's document has a section on giving "pastoral attention" to persons with "homosexual orientation."


While the bishops Saturday voted on the document paragraph by paragraph, expressing approval or disapproval with each, Francis asked for the whole document to be published, even the three paragraphs that did not garner the needed two-thirds majority for passage by the synod.


The full text was published by the Vatican alongside the tally of bishops who voted approval and disapproval for each paragraph.


The three paragraphs that did not garner the traditional two-thirds majority -- 122 of the 183 prelates who were present during the voting -- concerned gay people and the church's teaching regarding divorced and remarried persons who do not obtain annulments before remarrying.


In his talk Saturday, Francis frankly addressed some of the divisions and discussions the synod has evinced.


"Many commenters, or people that talk, have imagined seeing a church in dispute where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of unity an harmony in the church," he said.


Referencing a talk he gave the synod when it began its work Oct. 6, Francis said "it was necessary to live ... with tranquility and also with interior peace because the synod takes place with Peter and under Peter and the presence of the pope is the guarantee for all."


"The task of the pope is to guarantee the unity of the church; to remind pastors that their first duty is to feed the flock -- feed the flock -- that the Lord has entrusted to them and try to search to welcome -- with fatherhood and mercy and without false fears --the lost sheep," he said.


Then, saying, "I made a mistake," Francis corrected himself: "I said welcome. Go find them!"


Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said Saturday the pope decided to publish the synod's entire final document, including the three paragraphs without a two-thirds majority, "to ensure maximum transparency on this whole process" and to allow bishops' conferences around the world to use the document in preparation for the 2015 synod.


When addressing gay people, the Oct. 13 document had given its focus to the church itself, asking if the church community was welcoming to gay people and was giving them a "fraternal space."


The final document instead restates norms from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding same-sex marriage.


In a paragraph in its section on gay people that 118 bishops voted in approval of and 62 opposed, the final document states that there "is no foundation whatsoever" to compare homosexual marriage to heterosexual marriage but says gay people "should be welcomed with respect and sensitivity."


The following paragraph, approved by the bishops 159-21, states that "it is totally unacceptable" that the church "suffer pressures in this matter and that international bodies condition financial aid to poor countries on the introduction of laws that establish the 'marriage' between persons of the same sex."


The two paragraphs without two-thirds majority regarding church practices towards divorced and remarried persons -- one garnered a 104-74 vote, the other a 112-64 vote -- essentially summarized discussions between the prelates about allowing such persons to take Communion.


The first of the two paragraphs said the prelates had "reflected on the possibility that the divorced and remarried have access to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist."


"Any access to the sacraments should be preceded by a penitential journey under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop," stated that paragraph. "The question is still being considered in-depth, taking the distinction between the objective situation of sin, and extenuating circumstances."


Reflecting on the process of the synod, Francis said Saturday it was like a "journey."


"Like every walk there were moments running fast, as if to win time and reach the goal as quickly as possible; other moments of tiredness, as if to say that's enough; other moments of enthusiasm and ardor," he said.


"There were moments of profound consolation, listening to the testimony of true pastors that wisely bring in the heart the joys and the cries of the faithful," the pope continued.


But calling it "a journey of men," the pope said "there were also moments of desolation, of tension and of temptations, of which you could mention some possibilities."


Listing those temptations, the pope began with "the temptation of the hostile rigorist."


Such a person, he said, has "the desire to close inside the script (the letter) and not be surprised by God, from the God of surprises (the Spirit); inside the law, inside the certainty of what we know and not of what we still have to learn and reach for."


"From the time of Jesus, it is the temptation of the zealots, of the scrupulous ... considered -- today -- 'traditionalists' and even 'intellectualists,'" he said.


The pope then warned against "the temptation of destructive do-gooding, which in the name of a false mercy bands wounds and cures them without first medicating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and roots."


"It is the temptation of 'do-gooders'  ... considered 'progressives' and 'liberals,'" he said.


Three other temptations mentioned by the pope:


"To transform the stone into bread to break a long fast, heavy and painful, and also to transform the bread into stone and throw it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick, namely to turn it into 'unbearable burdens;'"

"To come down from the cross, to please the people, and not to stay to fulfill the will of the father; to bow to worldly spirit rather than purify it and bend it to the Spirit of God;"

"To neglect the 'deposit of faith,' considering us not preservers but owners and masters or, to the other part, the temptation to ignore the realty, using a meticulous language and a language of polishing for to say many things and to not say anything! They call them "Byzantineisms," I think, these things."

Continuing, the pope said the bishops with the pontiff "have the task and the duty to preserve and serve" the church " not like masters but like servants."


"The pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but the supreme servant -- the servus servorum Dei [the servant of the servants of God]; the guarantor of obedience and conformity of the church to the will of God, the Gospel of Christ, and the tradition of the church," he said.


Concluding, the pope referenced the upcoming 2015 synod and said the bishops "now still have a year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families face."


[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email Seven lessons from the Vatican's wild and crazy synod on the family.


Seven lessons from the Vatican's wild and crazy synod on the family.

David Gibson  Religion News Service  |  Oct. 21, 2014

Synod on the Family



ANALYSIS Pope Francis and senior Catholic leaders wrapped up their two-week Vatican summit on the challenges of modern family life on Sunday without reaching a consensus on a number of hot-button topics. So where does that leave Francis' papacy? And the church?

Here are seven takeaways:


1. Hard-liners won the battle


A midpoint status report on the debate among some 190 cardinals and bishops was described as a "pastoral earthquake" because of its unprecedented (for Catholic churchmen) language of welcome of and appreciation for gay people, as well as divorced and remarried Catholics and cohabiting couples.


The media tsunami over that apparent breakthrough panicked conservatives, who waged an intense public and private campaign to make sure none of that language -- apparently favored by Francis himself -- made it into the synod's final report. They succeeded, and even the few watered-down paragraphs on gays and remarried Catholics did not reach the two-thirds threshold needed for formal passage.




2. Reformers may win the war


That could be a Pyrrhic victory, one that cost more than it was worth. If the controversial passages did not reach the two-thirds benchmark, they nonetheless won strong majorities. In addition, a growing number of reform-minded bishops say they voted against the contentious proposals because they did not go far enough in emphasizing the church's welcome, respect and value for gays and lesbians.


"I didn't think it was a good text because it didn't include those words strongly enough, so I wasn't satisfied with it," British Cardinal Vincent Nichols told The Telegraph.


Many other synod participants, including Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also made a point of using the language of welcome that had been rejected. Controversial efforts to alter church practice to allow remarried Catholics to receive Communion are also still in play, prominent church leaders said.


Francis himself also made it clear at the end of the meeting that he wants the church to be open to "new things," and he ordered that the "defeated" proposals still be included in the text. It is likely that over the next year or two, he will also appoint more like-minded cardinals and bishops who will push for changes.


3. Change is hard


Change is especially hard for the Roman Catholic church, which likes to present itself -- and its teachings -- as immutable. But history shows that doctrine has changed (or "developed," as theologians say), and many synod participants reiterated that teachings could, and should, be adapted for today's new family realities.


Still, finding the theological language to justify such shifts, and the pastoral mechanisms to carry them out, is difficult. The bishops meeting in Rome (those who weren't opposed to any changes) were all over the map when it came to specifics, and it may take time to settle on acceptable solutions, if there are any.


4. Catholicism is 'flirting with an Anglican moment'


That's a phrase New York Times columnist Ross Douthat used on Twitter in discussing the resistance of African bishops to what they saw as the synod's focus on Western concerns like divorce and homosexuality and efforts to adapt church teaching on those issues in ways that the African churches would not accept.


The Anglican Communion is the global network of 38 autonomous member churches with some 80 million members -- including the 2 million member Episcopal church, its U.S. branch. Anglicans have been divided almost to the point of breaking as African churches have rejected moves by Western members to open the sacraments to gays and lesbians.


That dynamic is also a risk for Rome, as African Catholicism is also growing in size and influence. Two key differences, however: About 16 percent of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics live in Africa, whereas well over half of all Anglicans are from Africa, and they have a far greater say in the future direction of Anglicanism. In addition, Catholic proposals to be more welcoming to gays are a far cry from the changes pursued by some Anglican churches.


5. Speech is free


Amid all the lobbying and armchair analysis, it's important to step back and realize that in the three decades before Francis was elected pope, bishops, priests and theologians could have been investigated, censured, silenced or fired for many of the ideas that were being openly discussed at the synod.


That is perhaps the real earthquake, and it's one that Francis himself wanted.


6. Talk is cheap


On the other hand, be careful what you pray for. Francis has long urged Catholics to say what they think without fear of reprisals. Opening the synod, he again reminded the participants that he had just one condition for their talks: "Speak clearly. Let no one say: 'This you cannot say.' "


And by all accounts, they did, with great passion inside the synod hall, but even more sharply in the press. The various interest groups seeking to influence the discussions were often much less diplomatic. As one cardinal put it to the Catholic news site Crux, at a certain point, open discussion becomes "chaos."


7. Francis is the "Pope of Process"


That's what Grant Gallicho of Commonweal magazine called the pontiff. Francis and his fellow Jesuits might prefer to characterize his method as "discernment."


Either way, it means that this synod was not the end, but the beginning. Nothing has been decided, and nothing is off the table. There will be another longer, and larger, synod next October, and between now and then, Francis says he wants everyone to continue to debate and discuss.


Which they are already doing.


In the first week of November, The Catholic University of America in Washington will present a lecture by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog and an outspoken opponent of the proposed reforms. Three days later, the campus will host another German theologian, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a leading proponent of reforms and Müller's chief sparring partner.


Pull up a chair. Discernment can be entertaining as well as enlightening.

address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]























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