Countdown to the 2015 Family Synod
With less than two months before the 2015 Synod on the Family opens, there is some good news. Although the U.S. Bishops chose to make him an alternate and not a delegate to synod on the family, Pope Francis has tapped Archbishop Blase Cupich to be there. Pope Francis has also chosen Bishop George Murry, a Jesuit and an African American, from the Diocese of Youngstown Ohio.
Synod delegates are chosen by their bishops’ conference, but Pope Francis also chooses a number of delegates.
From the U.S., the following bishops will attend.
- Louisville: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, USCCB president
- Galveston-Houston: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, USCCB vice president
- Los Angeles: Archbishop Jose Gomez
- Philadelphia: Archbishop Charles Chaput
- Chicago: Archbishop Blase Cupich
- Youngstown: Bishop George Murry
Also in attendance will be:
- Washington D.C.: Cardinal Donald Wuerl
- New York: Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Metropolitan William Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh will also attend.
The lay auditors and experts have not yet been announced. Last year, Jeffrey and Alice Heinzen of Wisconsin attended.
How they are aligning
While Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishops Gomez and Chaput will hold the line on Church teaching and pastoral practice, we will see greater flexibility from the more moderate Archbishop Kurtz. Archbishop Cupich and Bishop Murry promise even greater alignment with Pope Francis’s vision emphasizing the Pope’s social justice approach to Church teaching.
There are a total of 40 African bishops attending the synod and most do not want Western values to influence their country or the Church. In June, heads from 45 bishops’s conferences met and agreed to stand strong on traditional family values.
Kenya’s representatives, Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi and Bishop James Wainaina Kungu of Muranga hold tightly to current Church doctrine on homosexuality.
Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Ghana has appealed to Pope Francis to take a firm stand against homosexuality and communion for the divorced and remarried. Cardinal Robert Sarah wants African values unversalized and has urged synod delegates to “speak with one voice.” Still, Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana has suggested he would favor new practices for those divorced and remarried.
Bishop Gervais Bashimiyubusa, president of the bishops’ conference of Burundi wants no change on the Church’s teaching on on contraception and Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Lubango, Angol is urging African bishops to speak with one voice on these matters.
Archbishop José María Arancedo of Argentina and Cardinal Mario Poli have alluded to “an opening on the issue of the divorced and remarried.” Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Chile supports civil unions for same-sex couples. But others are more conservative. Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Ecuador, an Opus Dei member, has been a leading voice against progressive reproductive health measures and same-sex unions in his country and Mexico’s delegates will tend to oppose softening the Church’s teachings on marriage.
Bishop Heiner Koch, Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode are supporters of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s philosophy for the synod and will represent Germany.
Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp has been appointed by Francis as a delegate. In December, Bonny urged the Church to accept gay relationships as part of the “diversity of forms.”
Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc of Vietnam seemed to take a more flexible stand on divorce and remarriage last year.
Archbishop Georges Pontier of France has aligned himself with Pope Francis and wants the Church to take a more open position on some of the issues related to marriage.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has signaled he is open to new measures for divorced and remarried Catholics as he urges Catholics to move away from the idea that the synod is a battleground. In March he criticized 500 priests from England and Wales who signed a letter calling for synod leaders to stand firmly opposed to any changes to current Catholic teaching on marriage and family.
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, one of the delegates to the synod, met with representatives from Faith in Marriage Equality (an ecumenical group) and We Are Church (a Roman Catholic church reform group) organizations at his residence in June. He continues to exhibit more openness to the issue of gay marriage that found majority support in his country.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki has stated that the Polish contingent will oppose any softening of the lines proposed by the German bishops. Archbishop Henryk Hoser stands opposed to any Kasper reforms.
Who won’t be there
Cardinal Raymond Burke will not be at the 2015 synod. He did attend the 2014 Extraordinary Synod exerting influence prior to the opening by co-authoring the book “Remaining in the Truth of Christ” which was sent to synod delegates. The book was reportedly intercepted by Cardinal Lorenzo Balidserri. Not unexpectedly, Burke was a very vocal, sharp critic of the miderm document and one of the influencers who made sure any welcoming language for homosexuals found in the mid-term document was slashed. He continues to make efforts to influence the 2015 Ordinary synod via the media, but he will not join the synod as a delegate during this round.
https://synodonfamily.wordpress.com/ (Catholic News Service)