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Day: October 6, 2015

Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 2

(Vatican Radio) Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. opened the daily press conference by explaining what had happened in the morning session. He said that the general secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri, had explained “certain processes of the methodology” and its new elements. Lombardi said that Pope Francis also thought it was important for him to make a contribution and so he too said a few words.
“The Holy Father thought it important to say that what we are doing here must be seen as a continuation of last year,” Lombardi said. Pope Francis said that the group work, which the Synod Fathers begins on Tuesday afternoon, is going to be very important. The Pope reminded the Fathers that “Catholic doctrine on marriage was not called into question in the previous sitting of the Synod” and that “the Synod is not about one single issue – Eucharist for the divorced and remarried – but many issues and we must take them all into account.”
Fr. Lombardi listed different themes which arose in the contributions made during the session. He highlighted a number of them which included the passing on of the faith inter-generationally, migration, domestic violence, war, poverty, and polygamy.
Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is the English-speaking Media Attaché of the Holy See, said the comments made by the Synod Fathers were brief. Each is only allowed to speak for three minutes which “helps foster clarity.” He said that some interventions suggested there had been an over-emphasis on the problems the family faces and that one of the Fathers suggested that we acknowledge the “beauty and joy” of family life. “Some of the interventions suggested we should be more inclusionary in our language, especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Gay persons are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbours and colleagues,” Rosica said.
“There was also a suggestion that the third form of penance, general absolution, be used widely in the Year of Mercy,” said Rosica. He pointed out and clarified that these were suggestions which “might be considered by the Fathers.”
At the end of the briefing, the panel was asked if the question of the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist was still open to discussion. Archbishop Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council of Social Communication, said that the issue was open. “It is open on a pastoral level but remember what the Pope said about doctrine,” he said. Asked if the reception of the Eucharist by divorced and remarried persons was a “doctrine or a discipline” Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, replied saying that different people may see this differently and that it was part of the work of the Synod to discuss this.
Archbishop Durocher went on to say that the bishops were all united in acknowledging that there is a gap between contemporary culture and church teaching. Archbishop Celli said that it was important for the church to find ways of entering into dialogue with the world. “We need to speak about what the Church teaches but must also avoid a ghetto mentality.”
Fr. Lombardi was asked if Pope Francis was going to participate in a small group. He said that the Pope did not normally attend small groups but that he was a Pope of surprises so “he may also surprise us!”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Keeping doors open at the Synod on the Family

(Vatican Radio) On Tuesday afternoon, participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family move into small language group discussions, following on from one and a half days of presentations at the General Congregations. Philippa Hitchen takes a look at some of the key issues that have emerged during this first phase of the three week encounter….

There’s no easy way to summarize the 72 interventions by Synod participants that took place over the past 24 hours. But I think it is possible, in broad brushstrokes, to distinguish two ways in which these Church leaders are reflecting on the challenges facing families today.
The first is a philosophical approach, starting with Scripture and doctrine to formulate solutions to perceived problems of secular culture threatening Catholic beliefs and traditions. If we open the door to that secular mentality, one bishop warned dramatically, then the wolves will come in.
A second approach, put forward by other bishops, is to start from the profound changes taking place in society and ask how the Church can use Scripture and tradition to remain relevant to peoples’ lives today. Not living in fear of a hostile and godless culture, but rather engaging with it, to offer the Good News of the Gospel to anyone and everyone searching for meaning in their lives.
From that perspective, the introductory presentation on Monday by Cardinal Peter Erdo can be seen as an exquisite and classical presentation of Church teaching on the family  – but, as Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, former head of the Canadian bishops conference, pointed out –  it is just one piece of the puzzle. Rather than the final word for the bishops, as some have tried to suggest, it’s simply a starting point, from which the small language groups now begin their discussions. It’s within this smaller, more interactive setting that every participant – lay men and women, plus the non-Catholic representatives – can share ways of upholding Church teachings while remaining in touch with real peoples’ lives. Or if you’d rather use words from Pope Francis’ vocabulary – how to be a Church with its doors wide open, not stuck in the sacristy but on the streets getting its hands dirty.
On the subject of vocabulary, there’s been lots of talk about the use of language that won’t alienate people who are thirsting to hear the word of God. Several participants warned strongly against a language of exclusion, especially when talking about people living in second marriages or in same-sex relationships. While we easily agree on sensitive, inclusive language to talk about victims of violence, the poor, or other marginalized people, we haven’t yet found consensus on a language to describe gay people as part of our own family, our own brothers and sisters.
Violence against women has been another hot topic raised by some synod fathers, one of whom quoted shocking statistics showing how one third of all women in the world are victims of domestic violence. He called for the Synod to stress in the strongest possible terms that Scripture (in particular St Paul’s letters) can never be used to justify male domination or violence against women. He also suggested the Church could show it means business by opening up greater roles for women in the Vatican and in local diocesan positions, or allowing lay men and women to preach the homily at Mass, underlining the unity between God’s word and their lived experiences.
If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming or straying from the strict confines of the Synod’s guiding document, well, one participant had a helpful image of how sometimes, in our cars, our Sat Nav systems come up against a road block and can’t find a way through. That’s when we have to trust technology to open up a path that might be quite different from the road we were expecting to take. Over to the small groups now, to continue the journey. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis: God wants his ministers to be merciful

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has warned against having a hard heart that is closed to God’s mercy.
Speaking on Tuesday morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta before joining the Synod Fathers gathered in the Vatican Synod Hall, the Pope urged the faithful not to put one’s own convictions or a list of commandments before the Lord’s mercy.
Drawing inspiration from the first reading of the Book of Jonah, the Pope pointed out that Jonah is initially resistant to God’s will, but eventually learns that he must obey the Lord. 
Remarking on the fact that the city of Nineveh converts thanks to Jonah’s preaching, Pope Francis said “it really was a miracle, because in this case he abandons his stubbornness, his rigidity,  to obey the will of God, and he did what the Lord commanded him.”
And afterwards, the Pope said, after the conversion of Nineveh, Jonah “who was not a man who was docile to the Spirit of God, was angry”. The Pope said he even rebuked the Lord.
So, Pope Francis observed, the story of Jonah and Nineveh unfolds in three chapters:  the first “is Jonah’s resistance to the mission the Lord entrusts him with”; the second “is his obedience” and the ensuing miracle; in the third chapter, “there is resistance to God’s mercy”.
The Pope went on to say that Jesus too was misunderstood because of his mercy.
He recalled that Jesus lived with the Doctors of the Law who did not understand why he did not let the adulteress be stoned, they did not understand why he dined with publicans and sinners, “they did not understand. They did not understand mercy”.
Pope Francis said that the Psalm that we prayed today tells us to “wait for the Lord because with the Lord there is mercy, and redemption.”
“Where the Lord is – Francis concluded – there is mercy”. And, he added, as Ambrose said: “Where his ministers are there is rigidity. The rigidity that defies mission, which challenges mercy “:
“As we approach the Year of Mercy, let us pray the Lord to help us understand his heart, to understand what ‘mercy’ means, what it means when He says: ‘I want mercy, not sacrifice!’” he said.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Cardinal Arinze: “The family comes from God”

(Vatican Radio) Following  Sunday’s  opening Mass for the Ordinary General Synod on the Family, Cardinal Francis Arinze reflected on the significance of the readings for the three week assembly of bishops.
Cardinal Arinze, who is Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, was present at the 5 Oct Mass at the Vatican with Pope Francis to open the Synod.
Listen to Vatican Radio’s interview with Cardinal Arinze:

“The readings were as if they were prepared for the Synod,” he said and noted that the family is a gift from God. Quoting from the Book of Genesis, he noted that uniting Eve with Adam means that God is the source of the family.
This unity is underscored by Christ’s admonition that “what God has put together, let nobody separate.” Cardinal Arinze added, this is “very clear.”
The Ordinary Synod runs from  4-25 October  and focuses on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Intellectual property rights must serve justice, common good

(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, on Monday addressed representatives of the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO is a global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. In his remarks, Archbishop Tomasi, noted the “vastly different” situation of intellectual property in the contemporary world, in contrast to the situation in which IP was born. “Over the past few decades, the centre of wealth creation has been shifting from tangible assets or physical capital to intangible assets or intellectual capital or, as the OECD calls it, knowledge based capital.” Archbishop Tomasi reminded his audience that protection of intellectual property is essential to incentivizing innovation and spreading the benefits of those innovations. Yet, he said, “while we recognise the value of intellectual property protection, the scope of those rights must always be measured in relation to greater principles of justice in service of the common good.” He warned, “the fruits of scientific progress, rather than being placed at the service of the entire human community, are distributed in such a way that inequalities are actually increased.” Archbishop Tomasi insisted, “The law of profit alone cannot be applied to that which is essential for the fight against hunger, disease, and poverty,” citing Pope St John Paul II. Concluding his statement, Archbishop Tomasi assured the participants that they could “count on the constructive spirit and support of the Holy See during these Assemblies.” Below, please find the full text of Archbishop Tomasi’s remarks to the World Intellectual Property Organization: Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva 55th  Series of Meetings of the WIPO Assemblies Geneva, 5 October 2015 Mr. President, The Delegation of the Holy See would like to congratulate you on your election to chair the General Assembly. We welcome the two new vice-chairs as well and thank the outgoing chair and vice-chair for all their hard work over the past year. My Delegation is confident that under your leadership we will be able to reach a positive outcome during this session, as we did in the previous ones. Allow me also to express our appreciation to the Director General and the Secretariat for the preparation of these Assemblies and for the substantial outcomes achieved by WIPO in recent years, in particular in relation to work concerning global IP services. The steady growth of applications and the expansion of membership cannot be achieved without proper responses to the evolving demands from the real world. The context in which intellectual property (IP) operates in the contemporary world is vastly different from the one in which IP was born. The new context has changed the position of IP both in the economy and in society. Over the past few decades, the centre of wealth creation has been shifting from tangible assets or physical capital to intangible assets or intellectual capital or, as the OECD calls it, knowledge based capital. We live in a global knowledge economy and the key to future progress is to excel at turning what we discover and learn into marketable new products and technologies. As clearly shown by the Global Intellectual Property Reports, innovation adaptation and the use of these new technologies are the primary drivers of growth within international economies. Through both private and public investments, we continue to see incredible scientific advancement in the understanding and use of biological resources, the applications of which hold great social value and potential to improve the lives of people, particularly in the medical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural fields. To continue incentivizing such innovations and to spread the benefits of these innovations widely, just legal frameworks for intellectual property protection play an essential role. Yet, while we recognise the value of intellectual property protection, the scope of those rights must always be measured in relation to greater principles of justice in service of the common good. However, nowadays, the fruits of scientific progress, rather than being placed at the service of the entire human community, are distributed in such a way that inequalities are actually increased. The law of profit alone cannot be applied to that which is essential for the fight against hunger, disease, and poverty.[i] WIPO is also making a significant contribution to IP information sharing and dissemination through its work related to global IP infrastructure. The contribution to society from the invention to be patented does not consist only of the invention as such, but also of the provision of technical information related to that invention. The global patent system needs continued improvement towards increased transparency and efficiency. International enterprises can be caught unaware of existing patent rights in various markets, while inventors and researchers need access to a fully articulated and comprehensive database of patent claims. A comprehensive database would lower search costs for inventors and examination offices. While WIPO needs to follow the principles and objectives set in the Organization’s Convention, this has to be done in a manner that continues responding to the ever-changing realities of the international community. This means that the Organization has to continue to work at the service of the real world, which is formed by innovators, creators, and especially the users of the IP system and IP information. The Secretariat and the Member States should revive the normative work in a functional and responsible manner that could be accepted across the system and through which we can fulfill our responsibility as a member of the global community. The present-day Intellectual Property Rights system is built on long-standing and traditional concepts of protection and designed for an era before the technological revolution. Classic copyrights cannot be sustained in this modern digital world and the “one-size-fits-all” approach of patent rules is no longer viable for the cross-industry complexities of the new technology development. The Organization is called to face major challenges and offer a place for bridging the gap between the prevalent trade-oriented approach and the broader implications of intellectual property regulation. In this sense, the renewal of the mandate for the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) could represent a strong signal. Mr. President, In conclusion, let us assure you that you can count on the constructive spirit and support of the Holy See during these Assemblies. Thank you Mr. President. Endnotes [i] John Paul II, Address to ‘Jubilee 2000 Debt Campaign’, 23 September 1999. (from Vatican Radio)…