.It looks like Synod 2015 may be as interesting as Synod 2014. A Vatican preparatory document for next year’s second session of the Synod of Bishops on the family is seeking wide input from the faithful, posing 46 questions and asking that bishops conferences do not answer them with strictly “doctrinal” formulations.
Here is the part of Pope Francis’ speech I thought most powerful:
“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…
Here is the full speech:
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 Fab
VATICAN CITY — The screening of an anonymous YouTube clip about the decline of Christian populations in Europe and North America and the growth of the continents’ Muslim community launched heated debate and some serious objections at the Synod of Bishops Saturday evening.
A cardinal who works in the Vatican asked that the 7-and-a-half-minute video be shown to bishops at the synod, according to the Vatican press office.
The video, posted on YouTube in 2009, makes claims such as, “In just 39 years, France will be an Islamic republic.”
The clip ends by telling people, “The world is changing; it’s time to wake up.”
ROME — Given the setting of the Middle East, Christians are compelled to pursue dialogue with the vast Muslim majority; in fact, it would be virtually impossible to avoid.
Several participants at the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, however, seem eager to push that dialogue beyond a “tea and cookies” stage, where the point is merely being polite to one another, into blunt talk about religious freedom, democracy, and what one speaker described as “satanic plans by fundamental extremist groups” to extinguish Christianity in the region.
While it’s not clear what real impact either the local churches of the Middle East or Catholicism generally can have on those fronts, there appears to be a strong feeling in the synod that it’s time to lay things on the line.
One such call came from Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, a Greek-Melkite prelate in the United States.
“On one hand and in principle, the assertion of tolerance is clear in the Koran,” Bustros said. “On the other hand, and in fact, the laws of all the Arab countries, except for Lebanon where one is allowed to change religion, threaten death to all Muslims who convert to another religion.”
Mincing no words, Bustros added, “We ask here: where can tolerance be found?”
“The first principle of all societies is the equality of all citizens before the law,” Bustros said. “The respect for the conscience of each individual is the sign of the recognition of the dignity of the human being.”
Chaldean Archbishop Thomas Meram of Iran was equally candid.
“The Christian hears every day from loudspeakers, television, newspapers and magazines that he is an infidel, and he is treated as a second-class citizen,” Meram said. Continue reading
of stories from the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East