Pope Francis is weaving hope into the Synod process. Robert Mickens reports on his role in shaping the outcome.
Via a Vatican source, Mickens learned that Pope Francis will NOT be inviting Cardinal Raymond Burke back to the synod floor. While Burke did not have voting rights, per se, he did moderate one of the English speaking small groups (Group A) last year which gave him tremendous power to sway others to follow his lead. As a matter of fact, from the looks of the final recommendations from English Group A, it is hard to find any evidence that moderate Mons. John Atcherley Dew was relator for the same group.
And while Pope Francis is keeping more caustic voices like Raymond Burke at bay, he is also confirming his point men, Cardinals Walter Kasper (Germany) and Godfried Danneels (Belgium), to be there again.
Under Synod protocol, Pope Francis can make appointments, but it seems that Pope Francis is expanding his appointments from the typical fifteen percent to, according to Mickens, up to one-third of the Synod Fathers. He recently appointed Archbishop Blaise Cupich of Chicago and Bishop George Murry SJ of Youngstown.
There will be around 345 participants, including bishops, priests, curial heads, those elected from the Union of Superior Generals, experts and observers. Of those who can vote, there will be more than 260 bishops and priests with Pope Francis appointing more than 80.
To what extent will Pope Francis’s call for a more merciful, loving Church be upheld at the 2015 Family Synod? He is humble. He is savvy. And, after decades of bishops who conformed to the will of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis is wisely choosing those who will help lead the Church in a more pastoral direction.