Pope Francis’ October 17, 2015 address at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Synod of Bishops

October 17, 2015

Paul VI Audience Hall – Vatican City

Your Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

As the XIV Ordinary General Assembly is underway, it is a joy for me to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops and to praise and honor the Lord for the Synod of Bishops. From the Second Vatican Council up to the current Synod on the Family, we have gradually learned of the necessity and beauty of “walking together.”

On this happy occasion I would like to extend a cordial greeting to His Eminence Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops along with the Undersecretary, His Excellency Archbishop Fabio Fabene, the Officials, the Consultors and other collaborators in the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. Together with them, I greet and thank the Synod Fathers and other participants in this Synod gathered here this morning in this hall.

At this time we also want to remember those who, over the course of the last 50 years, have worked in the service of the Synod, starting from the successive General Secretaries: Cardinals Władysław Rubin, Jozef Tomko, Jan Pieter Schotte and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic. I take this opportunity to express my deepest, heartfelt gratitude to those – both living and deceased – who made such generous and competent contributions to the activities of the Synod of Bishops.

From the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome I intended to enhance the Synod, which is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council. For Blessed Paul VI, the Synod of Bishops was meant to keep alive the image of the Ecumenical Council and to reflect the conciliar spirit and method. The same Pontiff desired that the synodal organism “over time would be greatly improved.” Twenty years later, St. John Paul II would echo those sentiments when he stated that “perhaps this tool can be further improved. Perhaps the collegial pastoral responsibility can find even find a fuller expression in the Synod.” Finally, in 2006, Benedict XVI approved some changes to the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, especially in light of the provisions of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, promulgated in meantime.

We must continue on this path. The world in which we live and that we are called to love and serve even with its contradictions, demands from the Church the Church the strengthening of synergies in all areas of her mission. And it is precisely on this way of synodality where we find the pathway that God expects from the Church of the third millennium.

In a certain sense, what the Lord asks of us is already contained in the word “synod.”  Walking together – Laity, Pastors, the Bishop of Rome – is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice. After reiterating that the People of God is comprised of all the baptized who are called to “be a spiritual edifice and a holy priesthood,” the Second Vatican Council proclaims that “the whole body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief and manifests this reality in the supernatural sense of faith of the whole people, when ‘from the bishops to the last of the lay faithful’ show their total agreement in matters of faith and morals.”

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium I stressed that “the people of God is holy because this anointing makes [the people] infallible “in matters of belief”, adding that “each baptized person, no matter what their function is in the Church and whatever educational level of faith, is an active subject of evangelization and it would be inappropriate to think of a framework of evangelization carried out by qualified actors in which the rest of the faithful People were only recipients of their actions.  The sensus fidei prevents rigid separation between “Ecclesia” (Church) and the Church teaching, and learning (Ecclesia docens discens), since even the Flock has an “instinct” to discern the new ways that the Lord is revealing to the Church.

It was this conviction that guided me when I desired that God’s people would be consulted in the preparation of the two-phased synod on the family. Certainly, a consultation like this would never be able to hear the entire sensus fidei (sense of the faith). But how would we ever be able to speak about the family without engaging families, listening to their joys and their hopes, their sorrows and their anguish? Through the answers to the two questionnaires sent to the particular Churches, we had the opportunity to at least hear some of the people on those issues that closely affect them and about which they have much to say.

A synodal church is a listening church, knowing that listening “is more than feeling.” It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. Faithful people, the College of Bishops, the Bishop of Rome: we are one in listening to others; and all are listening to the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:17), to know what the Spirit “is saying to the Churches” (Rev 2:7).

The Synod of Bishops is the convergence point of this dynamic of listening conducted at all levels of church life. The synodal process starts by listening to the people, who “even participate in the prophetic office of Christ”, according to a principle dear to the Church of the first millennium: “Quod omnes tangit ab omnibus tractari debet” [what concerns all needs to be debated by all]. The path of the Synod continues by listening to the pastors. Through the Synod Fathers, the bishops act as true stewards, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church, who must be able to carefully distinguish from that which flows from frequently changing public opinion.

On the eve of the Synod of last year I stated: “First of all, let us ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of listening for the Synod Fathers, so that with the Spirit, we might be able to hear the cry of the people and listen to the people until we breathe the will to which God calls us.”

Finally, the synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called upon to pronounce as “pastor and teacher of all Christians,” not based on his personal convictions but as a supreme witness of “totius fides Ecclesiae” (the whole faith of the Church), of the guarantor  of obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and to the Tradition of the Church.

The fact that the Synod always act, cum Petro et sub Petro – therefore not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro – this is not a restriction of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. In fact the Pope, by the will of the Lord, is “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops as much as of the multitude of the faithful.” To this is connected the concept of “ierarchica communio” (hierarchical communio) used by Vatican II: the Bishops being united with the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) and at the same time hierarchically subjected to him as head of the college (sub Petro).

As a constitutive dimension of the Church, synodality gives us the more appropriate interpretive framework to understand the hierarchical ministry. If we understand as St. John Chrysostom did, that “church and synod are synonymous,” since the Church means nothing other than the common journey of the Flock of God along the paths of history towards the encounter of Christ Lord, then we understand that within the Church, no one can be raised up higher than the others. On the contrary, in the Church, it is necessary that each person be “lowered ” in order to serve his or her brothers and sisters along the way.

Jesus founded the Church by placing at its head the Apostolic College, in which the apostle Peter is the “rock” (cfr. Mt 16:18), the one who will confirm his brothers in the faith (cfr. Lk 22: 32). But in this church, as in an inverted pyramid, the summit is located below the base. For those who exercise this authority are called “ministers” because, according to the original meaning of the word, they are the least of all. It is in serving the people of God that each Bishop becomes for that portion of the flock entrusted to him, vicarius Christi, (vicar of that Jesus who at the Last Supper stooped to wash the feet of the Apostles (cfr. Jn 13: 1-15 ). And in a similar manner, the Successor of Peter is none other than the servus servorum Dei (Servant of the servants of God).

Let us never forget this! For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday, today and always, the only authority is the authority of the service, the only power is the power of the cross, in the words of the Master: “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their leaders oppress them. It shall not be so among you: but whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave” (Mt 20:25-27). “It shall not be so among you:” in this expression we touch the heart of the mystery of the Church and receive the necessary light to understand hierarchical service.

In a Synodal Church, the Synod of Bishops is only the most obvious manifestation of a dynamism of communion that inspires all ecclesial decisions.  The first level of exercise of synodality is realized in the particular (local) Churches. After having recalled the noble institution of the diocesan Synod, in which priests and laity are called to collaborate with the Bishop for the good of the whole ecclesial community, the Code of Canon Law devotes ample space to those that are usually called “bodies of communion” in the local Church: the Council of Priests, the College of Consultors, the Chapter of Canons and the Pastoral Council. Only to the extent that these organizations are connected with those on the ground, and begin with the people and their everyday problems, can a Synodal Church begin to take shape: even when they may proceed with fatigue, they must be understood as occasions of listening and sharing.

The second level is that of Ecclesiastical Provinces and Regions, of Particular (local Councils) and in a special way, Episcopal Conferences. We must reflect on realizing even more through these bodies – the intermediary aspects of collegiality – perhaps by integrating and updating some aspects of early church order. The hope of the Council that such bodies would help increase the spirit of episcopal collegiality has not yet been fully realized. As I have said, “In a Church Synod it is not appropriate for the Pope to replace the local Episcopates in the discernment of all the problems that lie ahead in their territories. In this sense, I feel the need to proceed in a healthy “decentralization.”

The last level is that of the universal Church. Here the Synod of Bishops, representing the Catholic episcopate, becomes an expression of episcopal collegiality inside a church that is synodal. It manifests the affective collegiality, which may well become in some circumstances “effective,” joining the Bishops among themselves and with the Pope in the solicitude for the People God.

The commitment to build a Synodal Church to which all are called – each with his or her role entrusted to them by the Lord is loaded with ecumenical implications. For this reason, talking recently to a delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, I reiterated the conviction that “careful consideration of how to articulate in the Church’s life the principle of collegiality and the service of the one who presides offers a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches.”

I am convinced that in a synodal Church, the exercise of the Petrine primacy will receive greater light. The Pope is not, by himself, above the Church; but inside it as one baptized among the baptized, and within the College of Bishops as Bishop among Bishops; as one called at the same time as Successor of Peter – to lead the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches.

While I reiterate the need and urgency to think of ” a conversion of the papacy,” I gladly repeat the words of my predecessor Pope John Paul II: “As Bishop of Rome I know well […] that the full and visible communion of all the communities in which, by virtue of God’s faithfulness, his Spirit dwells, is the ardent desire of Christ. I am convinced that you have in this regard a special responsibility, above all in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the majority of the Christian Communities and in heeding the request made of me to find a form of exercise of the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation.”

Our gaze extends also to humanity. A synodal church is like a banner lifted up among the nations (cfr. Is 11:12) in a world that even though invites participation, solidarity and transparency in public administration – often hands over the destiny of entire populations into the greedy hands of restricted groups of the powerful. As a Church that “walks together” with men and women, sharing the hardships of history, let us cultivate the dream that the rediscovery of the inviolable dignity of peoples and the exercise of authority, even now will be able to help civil society to be founded on justice and fraternity, generating a more beautiful and worthy world for mankind and for the generations that will come after us.

(Translation by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, English language media attaché, Holy See Press Office)

 

Auditors speak out, the Pope says “listen and learn” and the Union of Superior Generals did request that five of their seats go to women religious

October 17, 2015
by Deb Rose-Milavec
Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis urged bishops to “listen” and “learn’ from Catholics and their families.  He urged them to respect the “sensus fidei” because “the flock has a ‘nose’ for discerning the new paths that the Lord is opening up to the church.”
He laid out the essentials for determining the final pastoral reforms emerging from the synod.
1.  Listen and learn from Catholics and their families.
2.  Listen to each other.
3.  Listen to the him.
Shifting the locus of authority from solely traditional sources to the lived experience of Catholics and their families, Pope Francis rejects a Church whose modus operandi is strict doctrinal control.  Instead he wants a Church rooted in pastoral care and the most effective way to get there is to listen and learn from Catholics themselves.
In an unusually straightforward manner, Pope Francis reminds them to listen to him. He cites his role as unifier, but he may also be signaling that he will use his authority to make the changes he believes is necessary for the Church if the bishops at the synod do not deliver real reform.
Benedictine Abbot Jeremias Schröder clarifies:  The Union of Superior Generals did ask to share their voting spots with women religious.
 
Abbot Schroder said he had hoped for a greater presence of women religious. He confirmed that a request was made by the men’s Union of Superior Generals to give half of their 10 places to representatives of the women’s religious orders. After a meeting with the secretariat of the synod, the women were given three places, although they did not have a vote like their male peers do.
“There is a small recognition that women religious must be present,” he said. “I had hoped that those nuns, who are involved in so many apostolates of the family, would be a much greater presence than it is currently.”

Who is shaping the small language group reports?
Last week, we sent you a list of the English and German speaking groups who are shaping the synod work.  Below is a listing of the French, Italian and Spanish groups as well. Knowing who is in the groups, who is moderating, who is summarizing and relaying the interventions is important as you read the small group reports from week oneweek two and as we head into the final week of discussions.
Finally, the auditors and experts have their say
 
On Friday, at the end of two weeks of interventions and discussions, the auditors and experts finally had their chance to speak on the synod floor.
At the Friday press briefing, Fr. Thomas Rosica, the English speaking assistant to the Holy See Press office said that laypeople play an important part in the discussions at their synod on the family.  “At the heart of the synod is human sexuality. And oftentimes it’s muted and we don’t know how to talk about it, because most of us in the room are male celibates,” he said, citing comments of unnamed bishops.
New Zealand auditor

Sharron Cole of New Zealand was one of those voices the bishops heard on Friday.  She was not afraid to point out Church failures and as such, it is worth reading her complete intervention.  She challenged the Church to stop judging, labelling and rejecting brother and sister Catholics.  She also challenged the Church’s stance on Humanae Vitae.
Holy Father, excellencies, fellow Catholics.
When Jesus was asked “what is the greatest commandment?”, he replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Have we as a Church failed to practise this charity? The experience of many lay people has been of being judged, of being labelled as “intrinsically disordered” and of being rejected by their Christian community. There are those who have walked away never to return and the others who are just waiting, hoping to again be fully in communion with the Church. They say that this failure to love enough is the reason. The Catechism says “The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy”. Charity demands beneficence, friendship and communion. When we as Church are not merciful and in communion with our own, is this not a failure of the virtue of charity?
The exercise of charity and mercy requires deep insight into the reality of a person’s life. That reality is best understood by those who live it. However many lay people believe the Church does not understand the realities of their lives. Lay people are not trusted to make good decisions in conscience and they often feel subjected to exacting rules which take no account of context or of stages of spiritual development.
The Church’s vision on conjugal love and responsible parenthood as expressed in Humanae Vitae has great beauty and depth. However its declaration that “sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive [is] so intrinsically wrong provoked massive dissent from the moment the encyclical was promulgated. Many Catholic married couples have made their own decision in conscience about how to exercise responsible parenthood which may mean the use of artificial contraception. For some, this has meant leaving the church. Others remain but often with a sense of unease.
 
As an ex board member of Natural Family Planning, I know that this method of contraception permitted by Humanae Vitae is an effective method for motivated couples. However for many couples, the method is simply not practicable -they may hold multiple low-wage jobs, have mental health problems, or struggle for diverse reasons. Every family has difficulties which might lead them for a period of time to use artificial contraception in the interests of responsible parenting. Marriage naturally leads to a desire for children which is a biological imperative and a great grace of the sacrament. In my experience, very few couples suppress this desire with its constraints tending to be the couple’s resources to cope, not selfishness.
 
The response of the Church to this unsatisfactory situation has been for better catechesis or to ignore the dissent. This “paralysed status quo” cannot continue. The matter must be discussed afresh because lay people will not be content to leave it to clergy alone. Too many in authority responded to clergy sexual abuse in a way which demonstrated that they lacked the expertise in sexuality and psychology to make good decisions, with the result they became complicit in perpetuating enormous harm, harm done to lay people.
 
It will take not more catechesis but rather listening with deep empathy to restore the credibility of the Church in matters of sexual ethics. The time is now for this synod to propose that the Church re-examine its teaching on marriage and sexuality, and its understanding of responsible parenthood, in a dialogue of laity and bishops together.
 
Malta auditor
 
Sr. Carmen Sammut of Malta also called for significant changes.
When the Instrumentum Laboris speaks of the Church it sometimes refers to the People of God, that is to all of us, and more often refers to the hierarchy. This is not without significance. If the image of Church is the People of God, then we, the laity, would be expected to bring our knowledge to the discernment processes of the Church, in view of decision-making, always in union with the Pope and our Bishops.
This would influence the way dioceses and parishes work. The diocesan budget would include the formation of women, men and youth to be leaders in the Church. On most of the issues raised here in the Synod, such as bio-technology, it would be useful to have teams of clergy and laity (from all walks of life and in their capacity as theologians, biblical scholars, scientists, sociologists, pastoral workers canon lawyers) bring their lived knowledge and scholarship and reflect together in the light of the Gospel. I see this as part of the Mission of the family in the Church.
One area where such interdisciplinary teams made up of couples as well as religious would bring a change is in the formation of ordained ministers.
Another particular area where much discernment is necessary is with respect to responsible parenthood. In our pastoral, health and education ministries we are called to listen to and accompany women who have children and know they do not have the financial and other resources to bring up another child.Natural family planning methods are not always useful for a couple’s growth in mutual love nor are they always possible, especially if the husband is not cooperative or regularly absent. My hope is that the Church engages in this discernment with couples and with scientists, so as to rethink how to put together her very essential teaching of openness to life, the prohibition of abortion and the plight of these couples.
I really dream of a Church where each one is called to give his or her part for the construction of the whole.

United States auditors
 
Sr. Maureen Kelleher made some powerful statements on Friday.
Holy Father, brothers and sisters

At Paragraph 72 we read “The Church must instill in families a sense of we in which no member is forgotten.  Everyone ought to be encouraged to develop their skills and accomplish their personal plan of life in service of the Kingdom of God.”

I am grateful for the social encyclicals of our church and her advocacy for immigrants and option for the poor.  I am grateful for my Catholic education for the nuns who taught me –Franciscans, Ursulines, Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary.  They challenged me to give a life of service for the building of the Kingdom of God.  As a Sister of the Sacred Heart of Mary since 1960 I serve now these past 31 years as a lawyer working for justice and the immigration needs of the migrant farm workers in south rural  Florida.

I call on the Church, my family to live up to the challenge to instill in our family the church a sense of WE  ..to encourage each person male or female to develop their skills to serve the Kingdom of God.  I ask our Church leaders to recognize how many women who feel called to be in service of the Kingdom of God cannot find a place in our Church.  Gifted though some may be many cannot bring their talents to the tables of decision making and pastoral planning.  They must go elsewhere to be of service in building the Kingdom of God.

In 1974 at the Synod on  Evangelization, one of our nuns, Sister Marguerite Marie was one of two nuns appointed from the Union of  Superiors General.
Today, 40 years later, we are 3!

I love my law practice with immigrants but find a high percent of my clients are victims of domestic violence sexual abuse, and  parents of sexually abused children.  I have yet to hear a homily in the wealthy or poor parishes in my area calling men to see their spouse as partner, as equal, and  to stop their practices of power, domination, and violence, and  to value the innocence of children.  I urge this silence to stop.  Also I urge that priests receive  better  pastoral formation to accompany these victims.  They need to  know an abusive home is no place to raise a child.

I close with a congratulations for all those cardinals inspired by the Holy Spirit who gave us  Pope Francis.  He is such a gift.  Now people of all different faiths and some with no faith who know I am a sister stop me to say I love your pope.

When Cathy and Tony Witzcak, the U.S. couple had a chance to speak they made some solid suggestions for ministry and for priest formation.
1.  The Church must offer quality programs, especially engaged 
and married couples, or it risks being dismissed as irrelevant in 
today’s world.

2.  We should not continually separate husband and wife for 
ministry in the parish, but rather let their sacrament shine by allowing 
them to work as a team.

3.  If a church is meant to be a family of families, then we should 
encourage our seminarians to be priests in love with their people, 
not merely priests in charge of a parish. Our faith is based on 
relationship with God, but it is learned and lived out in relationship 
with others. 

Columbia auditors

Luis and María Angélica Rojas have been married for 23 years and have two children. They’re members of the Focolare Movement, a Catholic lay effort.  In an interview, they spoke about their convictions and their interventions in the synod hall emphasizing the need for more lay participation and less clericalism.

1.  The Church has been very absent in the matter of marriage preparation, accepting young couples that weren’t prepared for the challenge.

2.  The Church has also recognized that we have to welcome with mercy those who have failed. With mercy and truth. We can’t keep them out.

3.  The couple emphasized the role of laity.  “We’re all Church,” said María Angélica. “Often, we say that it’s the priests, the hierarchy, that is responsible, but we, the laity, are also part of the Church, and together, we’re responsible. We can’t leave the formation of communities and families solely in their hands,” she said.In a meeting in Rome last January for a meeting of movements that focus their pastoral work on the family, “excessive clericalism,” was one of the issues discussed.”This is a very important step that we feel the synod is welcoming,” María Angélica added. “Many bishops are asking, ‘How do we do this?’ Many are raising their voice, sharing their experience of having welcomed the laity into their parishes.”

A view of the process at the Synod
Last Wednesday, Sr. Maureen Kelleher, one of the women religious chosen to participate as an auditor at the synod,  described her days in the synod hall.
We work 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and reconvene 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm, 
6 days a week. In the plenary sessions a participant with voice gives 
a timed 3-minute presentation with his recommendations. Then the next person is called on; however, there is no discussion between presentations. 
The Pope stays through all these sessions and mingles during the 
coffee break. Some days we work in small groups and I get to speak.
I think the process is working well, and I recommend it for our US Congressional hearings…especially the adherence to 3 minutes. 
No votes have been taken yet so it is too early to see the strength of 
any idea. The Pope has stressed this is not legislative body but a 
consultative one, and asked us not to give the press our synopsis 
of the discussions. Certainly the final writing committee will face a 
daunting job.
 
Who’s who in the small language groups
French Group “A”
                                                                                                                              LACROIX Gerald Cyprien, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card            Moderator
ULRICH Laurent, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons                         Relator
ATANGA, S.l. Joseph, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BANSHIMlYUBUSA Gervais, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BRUNIN Jean-Luc, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
COUDRA Y, S.L Henri, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
DJOMO LOLA Nicolas, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
GARMOU Ramzi, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
GUILA VOGUI Raphael Balla, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
JAMES lean-Paul, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
KLEDA Samuel, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
LOVEY, C.R.B. lean-Marie, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
NGASSONGO Urbain, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
PONTIER Georges, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
SAMA loseph, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
SIMARD Noöl, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
TAURAN Jean-Louis, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card
YOUNAN Ignace YoussifIII, Sua Beatitudine Rev.ma
Experts (2)
CUNHA Duarte Nuno QUEIROZ DE BARROS DA, Rev.mo Mons.
MONETA Paolo, Prof.
Auditors (2)
KENNE SOB in KOLA Aicha Marianne, Sig.ra
KOLA Irenee, Sig.

French Group B

SARAH Robert, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card                              Moderator
DUMORTIER, S.l. Francois-Xavier, Rev, P                            Relator
BACKIS Audrys Juozas, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
BESSI DOGBO Ignace, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BONNY Johan Jozef, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BUI V AN DOC Paul, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
DANNEELS Godfried, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card
GHABROYAN Gregoire Pierre XX, Sua Beatitudine Rev.ma
HOSER, S.A.C. Henryk, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
JANSON, P.F.J. Herve, Fr.
LAXAGUE Pedro Maria, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
MAMBERTI Dominique, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
MONSENGWO PASINYA Laurent, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
OUEDRAOGO Philippe Nakellentuba, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
PEAN, C.S.C. Yves-Marie, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
RAI, O.M.M. Bechara Boutros, Sua Beatitudine Em.ma Card.
SCOLA Angelo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
TEMBO NLANDU, C.LC.M. Philibert, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
YAPAUPA Cyr-Nestor, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.

Experts (2)
DJOGBEDE Leopold, Sig.
RUYSSEN, S.L Georges Henri, Rev. P.
Auditors(4)
SALLOUM Georges Fayez, Sig.
SALLOUM Souheila Rizk, Sig.ra
NYlRABUKEYE Therese, Sig.ra
Fraternal Delegates (1)
IOSIF, Sua Eminenza
French Groups “C”
 
PIAT, C.S.Sp. Maurice, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons             Moderator
DUROCHER Paul-Andre, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons          Relator 
ANDARI Antoine Nabil, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BACOUNI Georges, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
CADORE, O.P. Bruno, Rev. P.
DEMBELE Jonas, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
HOUNDEKON Eugene Cyrille, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
KAMBANDA Antoine, Sua Eee.za Rev.ma Mons.
LONGA Jaeques Danka, Sua Eee.za Rev.ma Mons.
MANGKHANEKHOUN Louis-Marie Ling, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
NDIAYE Benjamin, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
OUELLET, P.S.S. Mare, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
SAKO Louis Raphael I, Sua Beatitudine Rev.ma
SEDRAK Ibrahim Isaae, Sua Beatitudine Rev.ma
TAKAMI, P.S.S. Joseph Mitsuaki, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
TSARAHAZANA Desire. Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
VESCO, O.P. Jean-Paul, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
Experts (2)
MUSONI, S.D.B. Aimable, Rev. P.
SEQUERT Pierangelo, Rev.do
Auditors(3)

MIGNONAT Christian, Sig
MIGNONAT Nathalie, Sig.ra
SAMMUT, S.M.N.D.A. Carmen, Rev.da Suora

Fraternal Delegates(l)
STEPHANOS, Sua Eminenza

Italian Group “A”

MONTENEGRO Francesco, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card      Moderato                ARROBA CONDE, C.M.F. Manuel Jesüs, Rev. P              Relator
BASSETTI Gualtiero, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
CAFFARRA Carlo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card. FR
CELLI Claudio Maria, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
COCCOPALMERIO Francesco, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
FISICHELLA Salvatore, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
GADECKI Stanislaw, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
KOCSIS Fülöp, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
MADEGA LEBOUAKEHAN Mathieu, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
PINTO Pio Vito, Sua Ecc.za Mons.
RYLKO Stanislaw, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
SANDRI Leonardo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
SHEVCHUK Sviatoslav, Sua Beatitudine Rev.ma
SPADARO, S.L Antonio, Rev. P.
STURLA BERHOUET, S.D.B. Daniel Fernando, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
UROSA SA VINO Jorge Liberato, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
VOKAL Jan, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.

ZEKIYAN Levon Boghos, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons
ZORE, O.F.M. Stane, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.

Experts (3)
DE SIMONE in MIANO Giuseppina, Prof.ssa
GRONCHI Maurizio, Rev.do
MIANO Francesco, Prof.
Auditors (2)
CALABRESE Patrizia, Sig.ra
PALONI Massimo, Sig.
Fraternal Delegates (l)
ANDON , Sua Ecc.za

Italian Group “B”
 
MENICHELLI Edoardo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card        Moderator
PIACENZA Mauro, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card               Relator
ALDEGANI, C.S.L Mario, Rev. P.
BABJAK, S.L Jan, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BERTELLO Giuseppe, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
EIJK Willem Jacobus, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
FRÄTILÄ Mihai Cätälin, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
GHERGHEL Petru, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
JOVCEV Gheorghi Ivanov, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
MOKRZYCKI Mieczyslaw, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
PAGLIA Vincenzo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.rna Mons.
PAPAMANOLIS Fragkiskos, Sua Ecc.za Rev.rna Mons.
PEZZI, F.S.C.B. Paolo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
RAVASI Gianfranco, Sua Ern.za Rev.ma Card.
SCARABATTOLI Saulo, Rev.mo Mons.
SEMERARO Marcello, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
STANKEVICS Zbignevs, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
SUAREZ INDA Alberto, Sua Ern.za Rev.ma Card.
TWAL Fouad, Sua Beatitudine Rev.ma
VEGLIO Antonio Maria, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
VUKSIC Torno, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
Experts (3)
BONFRATE Giuseppe, Rev.do
ESPOSITO, O.P., Bruno, Rev. P.
MASCIARELLI Micheie Giulio, Rev.mo Mons.
Auditors (2)
GIACOBBE Giovanni, Prof.
SCARAFFIA Lucia, Prof.essoressa
Fraternal Delegates (1 )
YOUSTINOS BOULOS Mar, Sua Eminenza
Italian Group “C” 
 
BAGNASCO Angelo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card                  Moderator
BRAMBILLA Franeo Giulio, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons      Relator
AMATO, S.D.B. Angelo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
CABRERA HERRERA, O.F.M. Luis Gerardo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
CALCAGNO Domenico, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
CLEMENTE MACARIO DO NASCIMENTO Manuel J., Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
FILONI Femando, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.

FUENTES MARTIN Jaime Rafael, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons
GRECH Mario, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
PAROLIN Pietro, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
ROSA Roberto, Rev.mo Mons.
SCHERER Odilo Pedro, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card
SGRECCIA Elio, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
SOLMI Enrico, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
SPITERIS, O.F.M. Cap. Ioannis, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
STELLA Beniamino, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
TASCA, O.F.M. Conv. Marco, Rev. P.
TETTAMANZI Dionigi, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
VERSALDI Giuseppe, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
WATROBA Jan Franciszek, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
ZIMOWSKI Zygmunt, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.

Experts (2)

MAJORANO, C.SS.R. Sabatino, Rev. P
BERTOLINI Giacomo, Prof.

Auditors (2)
GARAS BISHAY Garas Boulos, Rev.do
MATASSONI Marco, Sig.
ZECCHINI Marialucia, Sig.ra
Spanish Group “A”  
RODRIGUEZ MARADIAGA, S.D.B. Oscar A., Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card. Moderator
LACUNZA MAESTROJUA.N, O.A.R. Jose Luis, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card. Relator
AGUIAR RETES Carlos, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
ALVAREZ-OSSORIO, 88.CC. Javier, Rev. P.
ARREGUI YARZA Antonio, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BARRERA MORALES Constantino, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BIALASIK WAWROWSKA, S.V.D. Krzysztof Janusz, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.

CABELLO ALMADA Miguel Angel, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
CASTRIANI, C.S.Sp. Sergio Eduardo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
CHIMOIO, O.F.M. Cap. Francisco, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
DIAZ ALONSO, S.F. Jesus, Rev. P.
EZZATI ANDRELLO, S.D.B. Ricardo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
FERNANDEZ Victor Manuel, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
GONZALEZ AMADOR Marcelo Arturo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
HERNANDEZ CANTARERO Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons. Pedro Joaquin                MARTlNEZ SISTACH Lluis, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
OSORO SIERRA Carlos, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
PETRINI Joäo Carlos, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
POLI Mario Aurelio, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
RIVERA CARRERA Norberto, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
SALAS ANTELIZ Pablo Emiro, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
SUMBELELO Emilio, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
URBINA ORTEGA Oscar, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
VALENZUELA NlJNEZ Rodolfo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.

Experts (2)
AUGE BENET, C.M.F. Matias, Rev. P.
CLAVELL Lluis, Rev.mo Mons.

Auditors(5)

BOTIA de DlAz Isabel, Sig.ra
DIAZ VICTORIA Humberto, Sig.
GALINDO LOPEZ Andres Salvador, Sig.
RUBIO DE GALINDO Gertrudiz Clara, Sig.ra
MAZZINI Maria Marcela, Prof.ssa
Fraternal Delegates (l)
ALTMANN Walter, Rev. Dott.
Spanish Group “B”
 
ROBLES ORTEGA Francisco, SuaEm.za Rev.ma Card                       Moderator
PORRAS CARDOZO BaItazar Enrique, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons      Relator
AGUILAR MARTINEZ Rodrigo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
ARANCEDO Jose Maria, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
AVIZ Joäo BRAZ DE, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
BASTRES FLORENCE, S.D.B. Bemardo Miguel, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
BLAZQUEZ PEREZ Ricardo, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
CABREJOS VIDARTE, O.F.M. Hector Miguel, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
DA ROCHA Sergio, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
FERNANDES DIAS Antonino Eugenio, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
GARZA TREVRNO Alonso Gerardo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
GONZALEZ NIEVES, O.F.M. Roberto Octavio, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.ICETA GAVICAGOGEASCOA Mario, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
LYRIO ROCHA Geraldo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
MATOGO OYANA, C.M.F. Juan, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
MlRANDA GUARDIOLA Alfonso Gerardo, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
PADRON SANCHEZ Diego Rafael, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
PENA RODRIGUEZ Gregorio Nicanor, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons
PRNEIRO GARCIA-CALDERON Salvador, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
SAEZ GARCIA, O.C.D. Braulio, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
SALAZAR GOMEZ Ruben, Sua Em.za Rev.ma Card.
SOLE FA, C.M. Luis, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.
ULLOA ROJAS Jose Francisco, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons
VIV AS ROBELO Cesar Bosco, Sua Ecc.za Rev.ma Mons.

Experts (2)
GRANADOS, D.C.J.M. Jose, Rev. P.
MOSER, O.F.M. Antonio, Fr.
Auditors (6)
GAY MONTALVO Eugenio, Sig.
ROSELL TORRUS DE GAY MONTALVO Maria Monserrat, Sig.ra
PORRAS F ALLAS Berta Maria, Rev.da Suora
ROJAS Maria Angelica, Sig.ra
ROJAS MARTINEZ Luis Haydn, Sig.
TEJADA ZEBALLOS Edgar Humberto, Dott.
English Group “A”
 
Cardinal George Pell – Moderator
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz – Relator
Cardinal George Alencherry
Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr
Rev. Michael Brehl, CSSR
Bishop Silvio Siripong Charatsri
Archbishop Blaise Cupich
Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao
Bishop Charles Edward Drennan
Cardinal Oswald Gracias
Bishop Peter Kang U-IL
Bishop John Baptist lee Keh-Mien
Cardinal Soane Patitia Paini Mafi
Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa, SMM
Bishop Tarcisius J.M. Ngalalekumtwa
Bishop Renatus Leonard Nkwande
Bishop Joseph Shipandeni Shikongo
Archbishop Richard William
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Bishop James Maria Wainaina Kungu
Experts
Fr. Philippe Bordeyne
Dr. John Grabowski
Auditors
Ishwarlal Bajaj
Penelope Bajaj
Agnes Offiong Erogunaye
Maria Gomes
Jadwiga Pulikowska
Jacek Pulikowski
Fraternal Delegates
Eminence Hilarion
Fr. Dr. Roy A. Medley
English Group “B”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols – Moderator
Archbishop Diarmiud Martin – Relator
Bishop Francis Alleyne, OSB
Bishop Anton Bal
Archbishop Stephen Brislin
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong
Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao Do Rosario Ferrao
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Bishop George Frendo, OP
Bishop Daniel Eugene Hurley
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz
Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi, OMI
Bishop Xavier Johnsai Munyongani
Archbishop John Baptist Odama
Bishop Harold Anthony Perera
Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan
Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, CM
Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamarian, MCCJ
Bishop Camillus Raymond Umoh
Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau
Experts
Dr. John Kleinsman
Auditors
Brenda Kim Nayoung
Buysile Patronella Nkosi
Meshack Jabulani Nkosi
Anthony Paul Witczak
Catherine Wally Witczak
Fraternal Delegates
Eminence Anba Bishoy
Rev. Ndanganeni Petrus Psaswana
English Group “C”
 
Archbishop Eamon Martin – Moderator
Archbishop Mark Benedict Coleridge – Relator
Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, SDB
Bishop Charles Allieu Matthew Campbell
Bishop Tsegaye Keneni Derara
Cardinal John Atcherley Dew
Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera
Archbishop Dominic Jala, SDB
Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung
Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, MCCJ
Bishop Zolile Peter Mpambani, SCI
Bishop George Murry, SJ
Bishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso
Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, SI
Bishop Tomash Bernard Peta
Abbot Jeremias Schroder, OSB
Bishop Andrews Thazhath
Bishop Romulo G. Valles
Cardinal Donal William Wuerl
Experts
Prof. Pia Matthews
Auditors
Jacob Mundaplakal Abraham
Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea
Sharron Cole
Moira, McQueen
Maria Socorro Ocampo Villafania
Nelson Silvestre Villafania
Fraternal Delegates
Rev. Tim Macquiban
Rev. Timothy Thornton
English Group “D”
 
Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins – Moderator
Archbishop Charles Chaput – Relator
Bishop Joseph Arshad
Bishop Anthony Fallah Borwah
Bishop Kurt R. Burnette
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle
Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez
Bishop Borys Gudziak
Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt
Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi, CSC
Bishop Hlib Borys Sviatoslav Lonchyna
Cardinal John Njue
Bishop Jose S. Palma
Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle
Bishop Benjamin Phiri
Bishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatimodjo
Bishop Antoine Tarabay, OLM
Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal
Bishop Lucas Van Looy, SDB
Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa
Experts
Fr. peter Paul Saldanha
Auditors
Ketty Abaroa De Reende
Dr. Pedro Jussieu De Rezende
Maria Harrie
Sr. Maureen Kelleher
Wisam Marqus Odeesho
Salim Suhaila Toma
Fraternal Delegates
Fr. Robert K. Welsh
German Group 
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, OP – Moderator
Archbishop Heiner Koch – Relator
Bishop Franz-Josepf Hermann Bode
Bishop Benno Elbs
Cardinal Walter Kasper
Cardinal Kurt Koch
Fr. Gregoire Laham, BS
Cardinal Reinhard Marx
Cardinal Gerhard Muller
Bishop Ladislav Nemet, SVD
Bishop Teemu Sippo, SCI
Bishop Antun SKVORCEVIC
Bishop Andras Veres
Bishop Stanislav Zvolensky
Experts
Rev. Michael Sievernich, SI
Auditors
Prof. Aloys Johan Buch
Petra Buch
Fraternal Delegates
Eminence Andrej
Rev. Thomas Schirrmacher
Say YES to women deacons!

Support Archbishop’s Durocher’s proposal to begin discussions on women deacons and women’s leadership.

Please do your part and sign our petition!
The numbers are climbing (almost 6,000) and we want to deliver at least ten-thousand signatures to the synod bishops asking them to take up Archbishop Durocher’s proposal!

Who’s Who is the Small Language Groups

Who’s Who is the Small Language Groups
October 10, 2015
by Deb Rose-Milavec
Who is shaping the small language group reports?
The Holy See Press office released the Circuli Minores membership list on paper just before I left for Greece on October 9th, but it did not seem to be published online.  So below is the list are all the participants in the English speaking and German speaking groups.   The French, Italian and Spanish groups will be listed in the next post.
The first week’s small language group reports are out.  While you read over the texts, it is good to be aware of who is in the group, who is moderating and who is relating the information for the report.
It also makes sense to remember that not all voices are treated equally in these groups. Beyond voting rights, there are a variety of personalities, often accompanied by privileged status who have a disproportionate influence on the direction of the discussion and the composition of the reports.  It is probably unavoidable, as well as obvious to most (Pope Francis warned about the hermeneutic of conspiracy), but it is still good to remember as these reports are shaped each week.
English Group “A”
 
Cardinal George Pell – Moderator
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz – Relator
Cardinal George Alencherry
Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr
Rev. Michael Brehl, CSSR
Bishop Silvio Siripong Charatsri
Archbishop Blaise Cupich
Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao
Bishop Charles Edward Drennan
Cardinal Oswald Gracias
Bishop Peter Kang U-IL
Bishop John Baptist lee Keh-Mien
Cardinal Soane Patitia Paini Mafi
Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa, SMM
Bishop Tarcisius J.M. Ngalalekumtwa
Bishop Renatus Leonard Nkwande
Bishop Joseph Shipandeni Shikongo
Archbishop Richard William
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Bishop James Maria Wainaina Kungu
Experts
Fr. Philippe Bordeyne
Dr. John Grabowski
Auditors
Ishwarlal Bajaj
Penelope Bajaj
Agnes Offiong Erogunaye
Maria Gomes
Jadwiga Pulikowska
Jacek Pulikowski
Fraternal Delegates
Eminence Hilarion
Fr. Dr. Roy A. Medley
English Group “B”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols – Moderator
Archbishop Diarmiud Martin – Relator
Bishop Francis Alleyne, OSB
Bishop Anton Bal
Archbishop Stephen Brislin
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong
Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao Do Rosario Ferrao
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Bishop George Frendo, OP
Bishop Daniel Eugene Hurley
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz
Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi, OMI
Bishop Xavier Johnsai Munyongani
Archbishop John Baptist Odama
Bishop Harold Anthony Perera
Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan
Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, CM
Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamarian, MCCJ
Bishop Camillus Raymond Umoh
Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau
Experts
Dr. John Kleinsman
Auditors
Brenda Kim Nayoung
Buysile Patronella Nkosi
Meshack Jabulani Nkosi
Anthony Paul Witczak
Catherine Wally Witczak
Fraternal Delegates
Eminence Anba Bishoy
Rev. Ndanganeni Petrus Psaswana
English Group “C”
 
Archbishop Eamon Martin – Moderator
Archbishop Mark Benedict Coleridge – Relator
Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, SDB
Bishop Charles Allieu Matthew Campbell
Bishop Tsegaye Keneni Derara
Cardinal John Atcherley Dew
Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera
Archbishop Dominic Jala, SDB
Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung
Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, MCCJ
Bishop Zolile Peter Mpambani, SCI
Bishop George Murry, SJ
Bishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso
Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, SI
Bishop Tomash Bernard Peta
Abbot Jeremias Schroder, OSB
Bishop Andrews Thazhath
Bishop Romulo G. Valles
Cardinal Donal William Wuerl
Experts
Prof. Pia Matthews
Auditors
Jacob Mundaplakal Abraham
Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea
Sharron Cole
Moira, McQueen
Maria Socorro Ocampo Villafania
Nelson Silvestre Villafania
Fraternal Delegates
Rev. Tim Macquiban
Rev. Timothy Thornton
English Group “D”
 
Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins – Moderator
Archbishop Charles Chaput – Relator
Bishop Joseph Arshad
Bishop Anthony Fallah Borwah
Bishop Kurt R. Burnette
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle
Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez
Bishop Borys Gudziak
Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt
Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi, CSC
Bishop Hlib Borys Sviatoslav Lonchyna
Cardinal John Njue
Bishop Jose S. Palma
Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle
Bishop Benjamin Phiri
Bishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatimodjo
Bishop Antoine Tarabay, OLM
Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal
Bishop Lucas Van Looy, SDB
Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa
Experts
Fr. peter Paul Saldanha
Auditors
Ketty Abaroa De Reende
Dr. Pedro Jussieu De Rezende
Maria Harrie
Sr. Maureen Kelleher
Wisam Marqus Odeesho
Salim Suhaila Toma
Fraternal Delegates
Fr. Robert K. Welsh
German Group 
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, OP – Moderator
Archbishop Heiner Koch – Relator
Bishop Franz-Josepf Hermann Bode
Bishop Benno Elbs
Cardinal Walter Kasper
Cardinal Kurt Koch
Fr. Gregoire Laham, BS
Cardinal Reinhard Marx
Cardinal Gerhard Muller
Bishop Ladislav Nemet, SVD
Bishop Teemu Sippo, SCI
Bishop Antun SKVORCEVIC
Bishop Andras Veres
Bishop Stanislav Zvolensky
Experts
Rev. Michael Sievernich, SI
Auditors
Prof. Aloys Johan Buch
Petra Buch
Fraternal Delegates
Eminence Andrej
Rev. Thomas Schirrmacher
Say YES to women deacons!

Support Archbishop’s Durocher’s proposal to begin discussions on women deacons and women’s leadership.

Please do your part and sign our petition!
The numbers are climbing (almost 6,000) and we want to deliver at least ten-thousand signatures to the synod bishops asking them to take up Archbishop Durocher’s proposal!

 

Heartbreaking stories, an Archbishop admits growing pains and the sweet sound of women deacons

October 8, 2015
Report from Rome
by Deb Rose-Milavec
Heartbreaking stories
Today, tears fell as Patriarch Ignace Youssif Younan

(second from left) poured out the stories of families fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East and the desperation he feels as he watches their suffering.

“In Middle East we have a decrease of families and I would say we are concerned and alarmed for our communities due to these terrible problems happening to our divided and torn families, especially in Iraq and Syria…We deplore that our families cannot remain in their country where Christianity developed.”
When asked how the problems of migration are playing out he further clarified, “What is happening is a forced migration due to the situation. Obviously, these people would like to get out of this hell.  They are persecuted.  We have hundreds of people who are taken hostage by terrorists in the Islamic state…This situation has been dragging on for so much time.”
Another reporter asked about the videos of beheadings and if there were efforts underway on the synod floor to express solidarity with the families. Patriarch Younan responded with such sadness.
It is true that the tragedy that the Christians live in the Middle East 
is hard to describe.  We cannot just dismiss it as current affairs.  We 
try to do our best to have the voices of the people be heard but, 
truly, we feel that we have been forgotten or betrayed by the western countries, the United States and the European states which only 
follow policies of economic expediency.
 
Please don’t forget what happened in Iraq. These are tragedies 
that are experienced by our people.  We are really shaken by 
what happens in these communities.  We are trying to make the 
voices of these people be heard — a cry — an alarm.
A Courageous Question and an Archbishop Admits Growing Pains
Much has been written today about Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckley’s (Ghana) response to the suggestion that the African bishops are blocking discussions at the synod. He denied it.

But a more sharply focused, life-or-death question came from Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry when he asked, “Many African bishops have spoken vocally against marriage for lesbian and gay couples.  Many fewer have spoken as vocally against criminalization laws against gay and lesbian people, though many Catholic leaders see this type of criminalization as a violation of Church teaching on human rights and destructive of family relationships.  Do you think that the African bishops, or indeed any bishops, would support a statement from the synod condemning the criminalization of lesbian and gay people?”

The air went out of the room.
But the Archbishop gave a very promising answer making it clear that the Pope’s words make a big difference in African countries who struggle with the question of homosexuality and still criminalize people who are homosexuals.
“When the Pope said, ‘Who am I to condemn,’ it had huge repercussions in our country,” admitted Archbishop Palmer-Buckley.
He went on, “I agree with the Holy Father that people who are different from us are sons and daughters of God and we have to open the doors to them.  In Ghana we do this. Yes, they are human and they have human rights.  We know, all sons and daughters of God have dignity.”
He also pointed a finger at governments who are sanctioning them for their unjust practices against LGBT people saying, “We know that some governments in Europe said we would not get their money if we did not change our culture . . . we found it sad that some governments try to violate our sovereignty.”
And then he pointed the finger back at Africa saying, “We are doing what we can.  It takes time for individual voices to be heard.  We are dealing with something that is culturally different and difficult to understand.  They have been living with this [our culture] for a millennia and we can’t change it overnight.  Give the countries time to deal with the issues from their own cultural perspectives.  The rights of all the sons and daughters as children of God should be respected.  We have not attained it.  Be patient with Africa.  We are growing.”
It was a heartening response that will hopefully spread across those areas where prejudice and persecution of another sort reigns.
There were also questions about the under-representation of African countries at the synod. Archbishop Palmer-Buckley suggested it was the fault of the African bishops themselves and that they need to push for more equitable representation in synod bodies.
The sweet sound of women deacons
When asked if the synod was discussing the roles of women in the Church,

Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli of Italy admitted the discussion of women’s roles in the Church came up.  He said, “This issue was raised.  You may know the synod are the place where decisions are taken and the possibility of having women deacons was raised.  But we must also consider theological aspects.”

Here is Rome, I am also sending synod participants letters with hand written notes asking them to make interventions on the synod floor to support Archbishop Durocher’s proposal for women deacons.
Please do your part and sign our petition!
The numbers are climbing and we want to deliver thousands of signatures to the synod bishops asking them to take up Archbishop Durocher’s proposal!

A Little Sugar, a Lot of Doubt and Spinning Straw into Gold

October 7, 2015

Report from Rome

by Deb Rose-Milavec

Archbishop Charles Chaput (U.S.A), Archbishop Laurent Ulrich (France), and Archbishop Salvador José Miguel Piñeiro García Calderón (Peru) treated us to a love-fest today at the 1pm briefing.  Possibly a reasonable defense against a hungry press, we were plied with tales of good will and harmony among the small language groups (circuli minori) despite the differences across cultures and philosophies. 

Everything is going along swimmingly.

Like the stunning silence from the seven person panel yesterday on the news that Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher took his allotted three minutes to talk about the need for women in decision-making and women deacons, there was a sense today that the wagons were circling, that conflicts and strong-arming tactics in small groups didn’t exist, and that even a penetrating question by seasoned journalist could be deflected with little effort.  

A little sugar, a lot of doubt

After all the sugar and the assurances, a few important take aways emerged that may prove to be defense strategies against Francis-inspired change.  

1.  Reporting on the responses of his small group, which has members from Pakistan, England, Kenya, Uganda, the U.S., etc., Archbishop Chaput questioned the diversity represented in the Instrumentum Laboris suggesting that it did not speak to the concerns of all Catholics, but was heavily skewed toward Western concerns.  

Not a new charge by any means, this laudatory effort to expose cultural biases, especially in a document that purports to address the universal Church, would be equally problematic if it exploits the concerns of participants from Africa or other regions in order to deflect thorny cultural issues at home such as the treatment and pastoral care of divorced and remarried or LGBT Catholics.  

2.  When asked if there was a concern that changes in language reflecting renewed pastoral practices could be used by politicians in ways not intended, Archbishop Chaput responded saying that because the synod documents were in Italian and that the translations were sometimes quite poor, his group would be going through the documents “word by word” to make sure the language “will not reflect words that can be misused.”  He also suggested that some may not even know what they are voting for in the final document because of the language barrier and poor translations. Archbishop Ulrich followed suit saying, “We think there are some false friends in translations.”

3.  When asked about Pope Francis’s comments regarding the “hermeneutics of conspiracy,” a phrase used to call out prelates who are accusing him of conspiring to get his way, Archbishop Chaput admitted that there are lobby groups in the synod hall, that they shouldn’t work against each other, but that it was natural and human, especially since they were there to “arrive at the truth.”

Small Language Group Moderators and Relators  

The small language groups chose their moderators and relators.  Here is the list.  A list of the people who are in each group has been promised.

Moderators

French Group “A”: Card. Gérald Cyprien LACROIX

French Group “B”: Card. Robert SARAH

French Group “C”: S.E. Msgr. PIAT, C.S.Sp. Maurice

English Group “A”: Card. George PELL

English Group “B”: Card. NICHOLS Vincent Gerard

English Group “C”: S.E. Msgr. Martin Eamon

English Group “D”: Card. Thomas Christopher COLLINS

Italian Group “A”: Card. Francis MONTENEGRO

Italian Group “B”: Card. Edward MENICHELLI

Italian Group “C”: Card. Angelo Bagnasco

Spanish Group “A”: Card. Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB Óscar Andrés

Spanish Group “B”: Card. ROBLES ORTEGA Francisco

German Group: Card. SCHÖNBORN, O.P. Christoph

Relators

French Group “A”: S.E. Msgr. Laurent ULRICH

French Group “B”: Rev.do P. DUMORTIER, SI François-Xavier

French Group “C”: S.E. Msgr. Paul-André DUROCHER

English Group “A”: S.E. Msgr. Joseph Edward KURTZ

English Group “B”: S.E. Mgr. Diarmuid MARTIN

English Group “C”: S.E. Msgr. Mark Benedict Coleridge

English Group “D”: S.E. Msgr. CHAPUT, O.F.M. Capt. Charles Joseph

Italian Group “A”: P. Rev.do ARROBA CONDE, CMF Manuel Jesús

Italian Group “B”: Card. Mauro Piacenza

Italian Group “C”: S.E. Msgr. Franco Giulio Brambilla

Spanish Group “A”: Card. LACUNZA Maestrojuan, OAR José Luis

Spanish Group “B”: S.E. Msgr. PORRAS CARDOZO Baltazar Enrique

German Group: S.E. Msgr. Heiner KOCH

Witnessing to some truths

Gudrun Sailer’s report on the German press meeting of Tuesday is out and even though the truths expressed are self-evident, they too rarely addressed by those who have the power to change them. 

Cardinal Marx and Bishop Bode believe we need an amended synod process.

Cardinal Marx believes the laity should be much more involved with Bishop Bode remarking, “If I want to perceive reality, I need to hear the voices of women.”  He also noted that although 17 couples have been invited, “The ratio of men and women in such a meeting is certainly not something that corresponds to reality.” 

Abbott Jeremias Schroder said that having a brother (who is not ordained) Superior General gain the right to vote at the synod was a “ray of light” but that the Superior Generals felt women religious who were Superior Generals should also have a vote. They discussed giving up half their voting seats to women religious Superior Generals, but then decided against it. 

Their sense of justice came through and we can only wonder what might have been if they had let their intended witness play out.   

Spinning straw into gold:  Kate McElwee and Uta Stievers deliver the goods

A group of more than 50 women have been spinning straw into gold.  They have worked diligently to turn the invisible stories of diverse women, their experiences and theological analyses, into a golden opportunity for prelates to learn from women and to take advantage of their valuable insights as they shape the synod document on the family.

Kate McElwee and Uta Stievers delivered “Catholic Women Speak” to the synod hall today.  Tina Beattie, editors like Sr. Diana Culbertson from the FutureChurch board and many others who contributed essays or helped edit the book are thrilled that the book has finally been “birthed” and put in the hands of the bishops at the synod.  

Join our efforts to petition synod participants to support Archbishop Durocher’s proposal to discuss restoring women deacons in the Church

To read and sign the petition go to: http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/ask-the

-synod-on-the-family-to-consider-greater-roles-for-women-in-the-church

Read FutureChurch’s press release.

  

The Francis strategy for change; a synod process loosed; and Durocher’s stunning proposal for women

October 6, 2015
Report from Rome
by Deb Rose-Milavec

There are days when you are sure God is having her way. Today was one such day at the synod.

The tone of the voices rising from the great marble synod hall could not have been more different from the tones heard yesterday. 

Yesterday, stern warnings fell all around and weighed heavy on hopes for a more generous, just and compassionate Church.  Today, elation and even laughter filled the air as we heard that participants talked about all that the Church could be if it dared to risk being one with the God of surprises; the God that is the living, loving source. 

A Francis stragegy for change:  Small groups will have a critical role in shaping the final document

Seven persons spoke during the daily press briefing about the activities of the morning, but it was Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, Archbishop Claudio M Celli and Fr. Thomas Rosica who really conveyed the sense of hope heard in the synod hall.  

According to Rosica, Pope Francis had made the unusual move of intervening in the morning to stress the importance of small group input for fashioning the final document.  All would begin with the Instrumentum Laboris but, because so many participants are new, the document’s final form was likely to change a great deal, a Francis signal that the process was wide open. He also stressed the synod was not a one-issue forum.  

Interventions for justice and inclusivity 

Seventy two Synod participants gave three-minute interventions today.  Rosica summarized them and below are some of the most promising from his list.

  • Exclusionary language is to be avoided. The Church should not pity gay persons, but recognize them for who they are: our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, colleagues, friends, etc.
     
  • The domination of men over women must be eliminated.  For many women and children, home can be a dangerous place, but our Churches can also be dangerous places.
  • We need to welcome the huge numbers of unbaptized and ask, “Are we the masters or the servants of the Eucharistic table?”  We need a Eucharist that “is not a prize for the perfect, but nourishment for the weak.”   
  •  
  • The Instrumentum Laboris is too focused on the brokenness and not the joys of the family.  We need a new anthropology where human nature is seen as good and beautiful and not fallen and broken.
     
  • The family should teach the Church.  
  •  
  • On issues like divorce and remarriage, polygamy, and other cultural challenges, there is no universal solution.  Instead there should be discussions and solutions at the regional and continental level. 
  •  
  • The Church should use form three of the general absolution as a clear signal for Catholics to “come home.” 

The Synod discussions are not closed

Both Archbishop Celli and Archbishop Durocher stressed the fact that the synod was wide open to input.  Durocher shared his view of the natural tensions between bishops.

       One of the things that strikes me as I listen to the bishops, is their 

awareness of the growing gulf between the culture of marriage 

and the teaching of Jesus.  Some fear we are losing our way so they 

react by emphasizing Church teaching. Others fear we will lose 

touch with people who live in the culture and that we will no longer 

have an impact in the culture. The teaching of Jesus is a gift for the 

world.  So how on the one hand do you hold onto the truth but also 

dialogue with the world to provoke interaction?   

That is why this [synod process] is an important exercise.  We need 

to bring together those who fear losing the teaching and those who 

want to find a way to enter into dialogue with this world.  

The Big Finale:  Women

During a 90 minute press briefing no one on the seven person panel mentioned the proposal that Archbishop Durocher made on the synod floor regarding women deacons and expanding women’s roles, not even Archbishop Durocher himself. Omitting such an important story in a daily press briefing is difficult to understand. 

But thank goodness, Carol Glatz of Catholic News Service broke the story.  Here is the straight scoop.

Speaking to participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 6, Archbishop Durocher said he dedicated his three-minute intervention to the role of women in the church — one of the many themes highlighted in the synod’s working document.

… he said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female 

deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life.

Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions 

and decision-making authority within church structures and new 

opportunities in ministry.

Discussing a number of proposals he offered the synod fathers 

to think about, he said, “I think we should really start looking seriously 

at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate 

in the church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.”

He reminded the synod fathers that in the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” in 1981, St. John Paul II basically told the church that “we 

have to make a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no 

more degradation of women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I 

said, ‘ Well, here we are 30 years later and we’re still facing these kinds of numbers.'”

He said he recommended one thing they could do to address this problem was, “as a synod, clearly state that you cannot justify the domination of men over women — certainly not violence — through biblical interpretation,” particularly incorrect interpretations of St. Paul’s call for women to be submissive to their husbands.

Read the whole article by Glatz.  She also also interviewed the Archbishop later in the day.    

This is a stunning event and a stunning proposal.  FutureChurch, always working to expand the roles and ministry of women, is launching a petition to support Archbishop Durocher’s proposal during the synod and to make as many people aware of it as possible.  

To read and sign the petition go to: http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/ask-the-synod-on-the-family-to-consider-greater-roles-for-women-in-the-church

Read FutureChurch’s press release.

Synod Watch: Shields, Bridges and Some Pretty Good Questions

Shields, Bridges and Some Pretty Good Questions
October 5, 2015
Report from Rome
by Deb Rose-Milavec
 
Shields and Bridges
Not unexpectedly, a bridge-builder and a wielder of shields stood next to each other as the synod kicked off today.
Pope Francis launched the day building bridges and confidence among synod participants for undertaking the messy process of dialogue and discernment that lies ahead.
     “In the Synod, the Spirit speaks by means of every person’s tongue,
      who lets himself be guided by the God who always surprises, the
      God who reveals himself to little ones, who hides from the knowing
      and intelligent; the God who created the law and the Sabbath for man
      and not vice versa; by the God, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for
      the one lost sheep; the God who is always greater than our logic and
      our calculations.”
Urging a wholesome re-examination of pastoral practices, he encouraged the participants to be, “a Church that interrogates herself with regard to her fidelity to the deposit of faith, which does not represent for the Church a museum to view, nor even something merely to safeguard, but is a living source from which the Church shall drink, to satisfy the thirst of, and illuminate, the deposit of life.”
This genuine invitation to exploration and discernment of all things new was dampened shortly thereafter by the Relator General, Cardinal Peter Erdo as he wielded a firm defense of all things traditional in his 7300 word report. Making a strong case for safeguarding current teaching, his delivery sounded more like the close of the discussion rather than an opening — as if all the outcomes had been pre-determined.

During the press briefing later in the day with Cardinal Erdo, Archbishop Bruno Forte and Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Cardinal Erdowas challenged several times regarding the finality he seemed to imply on the divorce and remarriage question.  One journalist noted that section three of his report did not appear to be a summary of the Instrumentum Laboris as Erdo stated, but, “a stance, a clear stance.”  Another asked if Erdo believed the Kasper proposal had lost all support. Erdo seemed to imply it was DOA at this point since there had already been much research on the Kasper model and many conferences on the topic since the 2014 Extraordinary Synod.

Listening to Cardinal Erdo, it would seem the deal is done and everyone should go home.
Of course, we still have Pope Francis.
This synod puts the prelates, especially those clinging to dogma, in a bind.  All three Cardinals repeated the mantra, “doctrine cannot change,” a kind of lullaby that seems to calm their nerves while admitting they are here to make some sort of change.
Some pretty good questions

The whole premise of a synod with male celibate clerics making decisions about families was raised twice today, once in the synod press briefing and once at an evening gathering of German prelates and press.

At the synod briefing, an Irish journalist cited Mary McAleese’s recent observation, “…If I wanted expertise on the family, I honestly cannot say that the first thing that would come into my mind would be to call together 300 celibate males who, as far we know, have never raised a child….”   He asked the for a response.
Clearly, they had some difficulty doing so.  One could almost hear the gulping in the air as Cardinal Vingt-Trois offered the rather weak defense, “We are all members of a family.  We have been born of a family.  We have lived in the social fabric of a family.  We do not live in a family life that is true, but that does not mean we don’t know what it means to be in a family.  I do not think it makes what we have to say irrelevant. Neither our limits or weaknesses make us refrain from the task.”

Archbishop Forte followed saying, “We are pastors. We all have a previous experience of service for the church.  We are close to the people through confession, daily life. These experiences are a proximity of people living in difficult situations.”
It was a kind of “the king has no clothes” moment, and one had to feel a bit sorry for the fellows. Nothing in their repertoire could help them credibly defend the indefensible process that we know as the synod on the family.
But later, the German prelates came clean on this question thanks to Gudrun Sailer from Radio Vatican.  She asked if the panel thought the synod process should be modernized since only 2/3rds voted (male celibates) and 1/3, which includes laity and women did not vote.
Both Cardinal Marx and Bishop Franz-Josef Hermann Bode suggested the

process could and should be changed and that women should have greater decision making roles at the synod and in the Church.

Abbot Jeremias Schroder OSB, Archabbot President of the Benedictine Congregation of Sant’Ottilia, who was also on the panel, talked about the obvious lack of balance created when women are not included in the voting. He observed that three women religious, Sr.Sr. Maureen Kelleher, Sr. Carmen Sammut, SMNDA and Sister Berta María Porras Fallas had been invited as auditors, but had no vote when male superior generals like himself and even a religious brother, Hervé Janson, PFJ, Prior General of the Little Brothers of Jesus, would have a vote.  At one point the Superior Generals discussed whether they should give over a number of voting seats to the women religious as a sign of solidarity.  They ultimately decided against it, but what a witness that would have been!
More on this story and others tomorrow.

Synod Watch: A Modified Synod Process, “Dangerous” Experiments and a Francis Drafting Team

October 4, 2015

Recently, Deacon Nick Donnelly, writing for the National Catholic Register, released “A Survivor’s Guide to the Synod.” Citing his iconic hero, Cardinal Raymond Burke, Donnelly fuses the “dangerous” pattern of bishops engaging in dialogue to the rise of clinical depression in Catholics who feel threatened by such dialogue.

“I am hearing directly and reading about Catholics becoming ill, disillusioned or driven to desperate measures by the chaos caused by the two synods. Friends tell me that the constant news of cardinals questioning, even brazenly contradicting, doctrines of the faith has resulted in relapses into clinical depression.”

I could only imagine Donnelly’s readers furiously flipping through his guide as Monsignor Krzystof Charamsa, a mid-level official in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared his love for another man and his hope that synod officials and the Church would find a way to put aside long-held, toxic notions of homosexuality.

As expected, Charamsa has been relieved of his duties, but the unshakable fortress that once surrounded the Church’s view of sexuality and marriage is crumbling and, as Donnelly and Cardinal Burke suspect, Pope Francis is at the heart of it — making a mess.

The next three weeks will continue to reveal the major fault lines between bishops on divorce and remarriage, same sex relationships and contraception, but it will also reveal the aspirations of Pope Francis and his strategy for making the Church more pastoral, more humble, more accepting — a field hospital for all – including those in the hierarchy who may not recognize their own need for such a Church.

A Modified Synod Process, “Dangerous” Experiments and a Francis Drafting Team

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, recently laid out the new format for the synod process. Instead of days, even weeks of large group presentations and discussions, the synod will be structured thematically with small language groups (Circuli Minores) meeting each week to delve deep into that week’s topics.

According to C. Baldisseri, Synod “Fathers requested the enhancement of the work in the Circuli Minores, where there is more active participation in the discussion, more direct and immediate connection between the Fathers in their own language, and in which the auditors and fraternal delegates can intervene.”

A move in the right direction, this “dangerous” experiment will give auditors and experts (with 30 women) more opportunity to shape the final synod document. Since their interventions and observations will be a matter of public record, it will be useful to see what weight they carry as the final document is developed.

The language groups will be expanded from last year to include German speakers, as well as English, French, Spanish and Italian. The fact that the Germans have been on record with some progressive ideas for reforming pastoral practices makes this an interesting development.

Finally, the makeup of the drafting committee is remarkable and includes a majority of clerics friendly to Francis’s reforms.

While Cardinal Peter Erdo, the Synod’s Relator General, recently declared that nothing will change in terms of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan signed an open appeal asking Pope Francis to avoid watering down Church teaching on sexuality, many others on the drafting committee have demonstrated pastoral, even progressive, leadership.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisserri was appointed by Pope Francis to structure a more robust Synod of Bishops and to shape the new processes intended to facilitate greater dialogue.

Archbishop Bruno Forte’s pastoral leanings were called into question when he was famously accused by Cardinal Burke of singularly misconstruing the discussions of the bishops in the surprisingly open mid-term report. Despite conservatives calling foul, he has retained his role on the drafting committee.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias is a moderate who has spoken out against discrimination against LGBT people, called out priests who condemn homosexuals, and called for a Church that recognizes and value and dignity of gay people.

While Cardinal John Dew’s pastoral voice seemed to be drowned out by Cardinal Burke in their English language group last year, he has long been on record for his pastoral views towards Catholics who have been excluded and continues to seek a Church that invites all Catholics to the table.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl is a fan of Pope Francis and certainly represents a moderate U.S. voice.

Archbishop Victor Manual Fernández is well known as one of Pope Francis’ most trusted theological advisors who helped write Evangelii Gaudium.

Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ has been compared to his progressive predecessor, Fr. Pedro Arrupe.

Bishop Marcello Semeraro was appointed secretary to the G-9, announced the creation of two new congregations at the last Consistory, and according to conservative Catholic bloggers, opposes the Society of St. Pius X and has used a controversial, “Machiavellian” means of discouraging Catholics from attending services saying they incur excommunication.

Since this committee has been charged to guard against minority takeovers, it will be useful to see how they weave together the chaotic and conflicting opinions that are sure to emerge over the course of these three weeks.   

What to Expect Tomorrow
As the first session opens tomorrow:

  1. The President Delegate will greet Pope Francis
  2. Pope Francis will give an opening greeting
  3. The Secretary General and Relator will give their reports
  4. The Relator will set out the three themes for the three weeks
  5. A married couple will give their testimony
  6. Bishops will make interventions
  7. Small group sessions will ensueAltogether, over 315 people will attend the 2015 Synod in some capacity. Thirty women will participate as auditors or experts, but will not vote, a strange and deeply troubling aspect of this synod process.  In all, 270 Synod participants coming from five continents will vote on a final document.  Europe will still dominate with 54 from Africa, 64 from America, 36 from Asia, 107 from Europe and 9 from Oceania.

    As I witness the synod proceedings here is Rome, I am ever aware of the strange reality I am watching – a synod on the family that is largely determined by male celibate clerics. For the first time, a book of essays by Catholic women called “Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table” will be distributed to the synod participants thanks to the skill and work of Tina Beattie and a whole bunch of other women.  And the 30 women who will be part of the small language groups throughout have a greater chance than ever of making an impact with the new processes put in place this year. Still, I am ever mindful of how broken this model of a Church is.  In an institution where women are not included in real decision making roles, the Church is still wheezing, “breathing with only one lung” as it launches the final phase of this synod on the family.

When the Church Acts Like a Corporation

Slick words are often used when a corporation wants to make their decision to cut the labor force to seem palatable, even smart.  Descriptors that are meant to mollify like “downsizing,” “restructuring” and (a particularly smooth one) “right-sizing” come to mind.

First frame of cartoon by Pat Maurin
First frame of cartoon by Pat Maurin

As Pope Francis comes to the United States, I really hope he gets to meet some of the people who have suffered in the movement to “right-size” the Church in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other places across the United States.  This Pope is the kind of “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” person Matthew 10:16 describes and corporate models do not impress him.  He understands that the parish, like the family, is the basic organizing unit, the foundation for proclaiming and spreading the work of the Gospel.  Yet, too many bishops have defended and rationalized the corporate model and continue to merge or close parishes rather than #openordination or look for other creative ways (parish life coordinators, etc.) to keep parishes open.

Why?

After experiencing the slick, off-putting tactics of prelates who too often obstruct Catholics who are working to keep their parishes open; systematically dismantle their faith communities and, in the final blow, sell off the property — those who once trusted their leadership now point to the money that is exchanging hands and the coffers that are spilling over as proof these men value mammon over God, the Gospel and God’s people.

Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported that the Archdiocese of Boston sold the formerly closed Our Lady of Mount Carmel church for $3 million.

Gina Scalcione, 75, who lives across the street from Our Lady of Mount Carmel said, “I knew it was coming — they’re heartless. The big investors who are buying the property, they want every inch of everything in East Boston.”

Benito Tauro, age 82, a long time parishioner who joined the parish in 1952 points out the obvious damage, “I feel part of me has gone with the church, but what can I do?  It’s a shame what they did to us, and what they did to the religion.”

Parishioners fought the closing and occupied the church for years.  The archdiocese changed the locks on the doors and shut them out.   Rome upheld the archdiocese in the appeal process.  Now some twenty of these parishioners join others to pray in front of the statue of Padre Pio that Benito Tauro donated and erected just across the street.

It’s a shame what they did to us, and what they did to the religion.   ~ Benito Tauro

Maybe the saddest, but most important comment for Pope Francis to hear comes from Lorenzo Grasso, 63, who now joins the weekly prayer vigil.

“As far as I’m concerned, after this, if we do dissolve, I will either watch the Mass on TV, or not go anywhere.”

Grasso is like many Catholics who left when their parish merged or closed.  According to a 2003 study, 40% of parishes that merge or close report that a sizable number Catholics walk away and never return.

In this Francis era where he once urged priests to rent a garage to build the Church, our Pope should hear the stories of suffering told by Gina Scalcione, Benito Tauro and Lorenza Grasso when he arrives on our shores.  Their witness is critical if Church leaders are going to be encouraged to turn back from this corporate mentality, end their love affair with “right sizing”  and find pastoral, creative ways to keep faith communities and the Gospel alive.

Written by:  Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director

Related

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/09/02/boston-archdiocese-sells-closed-east-boston-church-for-million/ug3BcpRjq58j28hz7TgozK/story.html

https://www.futurechurch.org/sites/default/files/2003_natl_study_parish_reorg.pdf

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2014/08/20/decade-after-closing-new-life-condos-and-apartments-for-historic-catholic-parishes/A8x7TTxImzABAOv6hffDDJ/story.html

http://scituate.wickedlocal.com/article/20150610/NEWS/150619477

 

 

Women Need More than Absolution: They Need the Church to be on Their Side

Changing our rhetoric, ordaining married men, and welcoming women back to the diaconate would make the Church a place where more people would come for guidance before an irrevocable decision is made instead of a place to seek absolution after the fact.


In a perfect world there would be no abortion. The sorts of structures that perpetuate economic injustice, the oppression of women, the sexual entitlement of men, and poor education wouldn’t exist. But they do. And as long as they do, the Church needs a better response to the problem of abortion.

pope-francisjpg-78988a47f1d9b1c8In a step forward this week, Pope Francis paved the way for any priest anywhere in the world to use his “discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it” during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Depending upon how you read Canon Law, ordinarily such absolution could be reserved to bishops or other priests who have been granted special faculties.

It’s a move that has been welcomed by many who see it as a hand stretched out to Catholic women who have undergone an abortion, especially in an environment that often seems void of the kind of mercy that Pope Francis is modeling for our Church. Pope Francis also shifted toward a more pastoral tone when he sympathized with “women who have resorted to abortion,” saying, “I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision.”

And yet, I get the feeling that women – and their male counterparts – won’t be busting down church doors to get into the confessional. But perhaps there’s something deeper to explore. Perhaps there’s something more the Church can do.

Pope Francis has used the image of a “field hospital after battle” to describe what the Church can be for the 21st Century world. But what if the Church could provide ‘preventative care’ too? What if the Church could be there at the beginning of the battle that is modern life? What if the church could help people make different decisions instead of arriving on the field after the battle is done to point out all the mistakes — no matter how gently or lovingly it is done.

In his comments, Pope Francis says that women “resort” to having an abortion and that there is “pressure” leading them to make the decision. That kind of language makes me think that Pope Francis knows what so many of us understand: that these women and couples need more from the Church than absolution. Women, couples and families need to know that the Church is on their side.

Reframing the conversation, as Francis has begun to, would be a good start. But the Church needs to do more than tone down its rhetoric. The church needs to show in word and deed that it understands that there are political, economic, and cultural systems and structures at play making an abortion something to “resort” to. And more than that, the Church needs to demonstrate its commitment to overcoming those very structures and systems that put women and couples in their situation in the first place. It’s a tall order. But Pope Francis had laid the foundation to do just that. Let’s hope the bishops of the world take notice.

In addition to heated rhetoric, the continued insistence upon clerical celibacy and ordination for males alone hinders the ability of the Church to stand with and companion women and families on the 21st century “battlefield.” As the Extraordinary Synod on the Family seems to recognize, life – particularly the lives of women and families – in the 21st Century is not easy. And so they called for a renewal in the way we train ministers in the Church.

No amount of theoretical training on family life or women’s issues could ever replace the actual experience of raising a family or being a woman in today’s world. The Church doesn’t need ordained ministers with more training in family life or women’s issues. The Church needs families and women in ordained ministry.

And so the Church should begin having a conversation at the highest levels about returning to its earliest traditions of ordaining married priests and women deacons. There are married men and well-trained women who can respond to the call immediately if we would just open ordination to them.

Changing our rhetoric, ordaining married men, and welcoming women back to the diaconate would make the Church a place where more people would come for guidance before an irrevocable decision is made instead of a place to seek  absolution after the fact.

In a perfect world, families, couples and individuals wouldn’t face many of the difficult decisions that they do – including whether or not to have an abortion. But our world isn’t perfect. And until it is our Church needs to do better job of putting itself in a place to stand with people on the “battlefield” of life.

By: Russ Petrus, Program Director for FutureChurch