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Day: October 5, 2015

Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 1

(Vatican Radio) The first of the daily press conferences to report on the proceedings of the Synod of the Family took place at 1pm Rome time on Monday. The Synod began on Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica and the first session sat on Monday morning.
Fr. Russell Pollitt, S.J. reports 

Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, was accompanied by Cardinal Péter Erdö from Hungary – who is the synod rapporteur; Cardinal André Vingt-Trois from France – one of the president delegates; and Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte – who is special secretary to the Synod. In his remarks Fr. Lombardi said that each day there would be Synod Fathers present at the press conference as guests.
Fr. Lombardi explained the order of the morning’s session which began with prayer and the singing of the Veni Creator Spiritus. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, welcomed everyone before Pope Francis gave his opening address to the Synod Fathers. After the morning coffee break, Cardinal Péter Erdö gave the introductory address entitled “The Vocation of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.”
Cardinal Vingt-Trois said that his first impression of the Synod was that there is “a wide diversity of participants, geographically, which includes members form the Latin and Oriental Churches but all are hinged around the Pope.” He said that the Holy Father had reiterated what he had said before; he wants to tackle issues in an “open-minded way through prayer, meditation and dialogue.”
Cardinal Erdö explained that his introductory address had followed the structure of Instrumentum Laboris. “I tried to systematise all the data which was received from the Church around the world, including families and individuals who wrote to us, following the themes already in Instrumentum Laboris.”
Archbishop Forte, in his remarks, said that the aim of the Synod was to “propose the gospel of the family” but also to “echo the hopes and pains of families around the world today.” He emphasised the need for “openness to the Holy Spirit as well as prayer and humility before God.”
The prelates answered some questions after their short inputs. They were asked if they feel under pressure form the media. Archbishop Forte responded saying that last year some media had a “bi-polar interpretation” of what was happening at the Synod but that this was “not the perception inside the Synod.” He said “We are here to listen to the problems people have, we are more united than the media assumes. There are divergent views, which are ok, but this does not mean division. I feel we are on a marvellous spiritual pathway with God.”
Cardinal Vingt-Trois explained how, in Paris, people were invited to create “synod teams.” He said that these teams found there were divergent opinions among them and they “could be expressed without breaking communion.”
The prelates emphasised that the Synod was a pastoral one. “It will not lead to doctrinal changes, because it is about pastoral attention, pastoral care. We are about resonating pastorally,” Forte said.
Cardinal Erdö said that there was an active interest in the Synod because of the issues that were raised last year. He said that the Synod Fathers hope to develop the Church’s understanding of family by listening to each other and paying special attention to tradition. “Development is not unlimited; we have to look at tradition.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Synod on family life gets underway in the Vatican

The first working day of the Synod of Bishops on the Family was due to start at 9am on Monday, but like every good host, Pope Francis was in the hall, well ahead of time, welcoming the bishops, priests, religious and lay people as they took their seats for the opening prayer.
Philippa Hitchen reports…..

In his greeting to the gathered assembly, the Pope recalled that a synod is not a parliament or senate, where people do deals and make compromises, but rather a journeying together of the people of God, guided by the Holy Spirit. He appealed for courage, humility and prayer, so that participants may not be intimidated by worldly temptations, but at the same time that they may not turn the Church into a “museum of memories”, unable or unwilling to respond to the challenges facing so many families today.
Synod secretary general Cardinal Baldisseri outlined the previous steps on this journey, from the much talked about consistory of cardinals back in 2014, right up to the World Meeting of Families that concluded in Philadelphia last weekend. In between we’ve had a year of reflections on family life from the Pope at his weekly general audiences and a new document making it simpler and cheaper to obtain annulments for those whose marriages can be declared invalid – both important parts of the puzzle for those trying to predict how this highly charged meeting will pan out.
For the secular press inevitably, the focus of the past weekend has been on the ‘coming out’ of a Polish monsignor working at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, timed- as the head of the Holy See press office put it – to subject the Synod to “undue media pressure” on issues of celibacy and gay relationships. In a lengthy introductory presentation, Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo touched on – in his words – the “pastoral care of people with homosexual tendencies”, but he also outlined so many other issues, from violence, migration and unemployment to cohabitation, divorce or declining birth rates, often stemming from the individualism or fear of commitment often experienced by young people today.
In short, there’s a lot for synod participants to get their heads around over the next three weeks before a final document is drawn up and voted on. A couple of cardinals I chatted with over coffee this morning said despite the huge workload, the atmosphere was ‘serene’ with bishops convinced that differing perspectives can enrich the discussion, rather than being a source of irreconcilable division, as the media would so often have it. Other participants were a bit more realistic perhaps, describing a sense of tension and awareness of just how important this meeting may prove for the credibility of the Church over the coming years.
The only person in the room I spotted completely unaffected by the whole proceedings was a tiny baby snoozing quietly in the arms of his father, one of the 18 couples who’ll be sharing some very practical experiences of the joys, hopes, sorrows and anxieties of bringing up a family today. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis: full text of remarks at Synod opening

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Monday morning – the morning of their first full day of sessions. Below, please find Vatican Radio’s full English translation of the Holy Father’s remarks.
Dear Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies, brothers and sisters,
The Church today takes up once again the dialogue begun with the announcement of the extraordinary Synod on the family, and certainly even long before that, to evaluate and reflect on the text of the Working Document (Lt. Instrumentum laboris ), elaborated on the basis of the [Extraordinary Assembly’s] final report ( Relatio Synodi ) and the responses of the Bishops’ Conferences and from the other organizations with the right to contribute.
The Synod, as we know, is a journey undertaken together in the spirit of collegiality and synodality, on which participants bravely adopt parrhesia , pastoral zeal and doctrinal wisdom, frankness, and always keep before our eyes the good of the Church, of families and the suprema lex , the Salus animarum .
I should mention that the Synod is neither a convention, nor a parlor, nor a parliament or senate, where people make deals and reach compromises. The Synod is rather an Ecclesial expression, i.e., the  Church that journeys together to read reality with the eyes of faith and with the heart of God; it is the 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.
The Synod moves necessarily within the bosom of the Church and of the holy people of God, to which we belong in the quality of shepherds – which is to say, as servants. The Synod also is a protected space in which the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Synod, the Spirit speaks by means of every person’s tongue, who let themselves 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.
Let us remember, however, that the Synod will be a space for the action of the Holy Spirit only if we participants vest ourselves with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and trusting prayer: with that apostolic courage, which refuses to be intimidated in the face of the temptations of the world – temptations that tend to extinguish the light of truth in the hearts of men, replacing it with small and temporary lights; nor even before the petrification of some hearts, which, despite good intentions, drive people away from God; apostolic courage to bring life and not to make of our Christian life a museum of memories; evangelical humility that knows how to empty itself of conventions and prejudices in order to listen to brother bishops and be filled with God – humility that leads neither to finger-pointing nor to judging others, but to hands outstretched to help people up without ever feeling oneself superior to them.
Confident prayer that trusts in God is the action of the heart when it opens to God, when our humors are silenced in order to listen to the gentle voice of God, which speaks in silence. Without listening to God, all our words are only words that are meet no need and serve no end. Without letting ourselves be guided the Spirit, all our decisions will be but decorations that, instead of exalting the Gospel, cover it and hide it.
Dear brothers, as I have said, the Synod is not a parliament in which to reach a consensus or a common accord there is recourse to negotiation, to deal-making, or to compromise: indeed, the only method of the Synod is to open up to the Holy Spirit with apostolic courage, with evangelical humility and confident, trusting prayer, that it might be He, who guides us, enlightens us and makes us put before our eyes, with our personal opinions, but with faith in God, fidelity to the Magisterium, the good of the Church and the Salus animarum .
In fine, I would like to thank: His Eminence Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod; His Excellency, Archbishop Fabio Fabene, Undersecretary; and with them I thank the Rapporteur, His Eminence Cardinal Peter Erdő and the Special Secretary, His Excellency Archbishop Bruno Forte; the Presidents-delegate, writers, consultors, translators and all those who worked with true fidelity and total dedication to the Church. Thank you so much!
I also thank all of you, dear Synod Fathers, fraternal delegates, auditors and assessors, for your active and fruitful participation.
I want to address a special thanks to the journalists present at this time and to those who follow us from afar. Thank you for your enthusiastic participation and for your admirable attention.
We begin our journey by invoking the help of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Thank you.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope: the Synod is guided by the action of the Holy Spirit

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday described the just opened Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family as an ecclesial expression that is guided by the action of the Holy Spirit.
Greeting participants at the Assembly just before work began on Monday morning, the Pope reminded them that a Synod of Bishops is not a conference, a parlor or a senate during which an agreement is reached.
It is, he said, a “walking together with the spirit of collegiality and synodality” never losing sight of the good of Church and of families.     
Noting that the Holy Spirit speaks in the language of all the people of God who never fails to surprise us, the Pope said participants must be armed with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and trusting oration so that the Synod may be a space of action of the Holy Spirit.
The only method to be used, Pope Francis concluded, is to open oneself to the Holy Spirit so that he may guide us and enlighten us.
A full Vatican Radio translation of the Pope’s words to the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family will be provided shortly.
(from Vatican Radio)…