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Day: October 19, 2015

Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 12

(Vatican Radio) Monday 19 Oct. Archbishops Enrico Solmi of Italy, Mark Coleridge of Australia and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Beatitude Fouad Twal, answered questions from the media at the daily press briefing on the Synod of the Family. Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, explained that the delegates were meeting in small groups on Monday and Tuesday so there will be no report until Wednesday of the discussions that were underway. The three prelates answered a number of questions – mainly focussed on the admission of the divorced and civilly remarried to Communion.
Click below to listen to the report by Fr. Russell Pollitt SJ

“Discernment is always messy and uncertain,” said Archbishop Coleridge. He went on to say that despite the mess and the challenges the Synod faces, he is confident that deep down something is moving. Coleridge said that he thought Pope Francis’ address at the celebration of 50 years of the institution of the Synod on Saturday was a key moment and that he hoped what the Pope said would be taken forward.
Archbishop Solmi said that climate at the Synod was one of listening and expressing things openly which included different opinions and nuances. He said that a fundamental aspect of the Synod was to try and look at the family through the eyes of God. Solmi said that he really thinks the Synod understands a sense of Catholicism – the universal Church meeting and sharing their lived experiences from all over the world.
All three prelates spoke of the importance of being in touch with human experience. Coleridge said that often bishops can indulge in “Church-speak” that is truly beautiful but abstract and doesn’t touch people in their reality. He underlined that this was a pastoral synod. We need theology but we also need to be deeply in touch with human experience, he added.
Beatitude Twal, speaking on the admission of the divorced and civilly married to Communion, said that this is a very serious and complicated discussion. He said that in no way can we generalise, sometimes there may be no sin but “a lack of order” and so we have to look at these issues very closely. Coleridge said that if a second marriage is good, stable and the children were well cared for, then we need to see if there is some pastoral solution that can be used. He added that there are many people who are alienated from the Church and so it’s important that we go to them and reach out.
Solmi said that people may be living in a situation that is not God’s will for them. He said that there may be sin but we need to remember that we are dealing with the reality of peoples lives and that accompanying them means listening and embarking upon a path of discernment.
The prelates were asked how they are dealing with three vexed questions which seem to be central to the narrative around the Synod: the admission of the divorce and civilly remarried to communion, homosexuality and cohabitation. Twal said that he did not believe these were central. He said that these were not the items of the Synod but amongst items being discussed at the Synod. He mentioned other issues like war and poverty. He said that even with much goodwill on the part of the Synod delegates, they are aware of their limits and that they cannot solve all the issues before them. He said that in his part of the world he does not have the same problems as the West.
Coleridge said that there will be no substantial change in Church teaching on these issues. He said that, hopefully, there will be a movement to a new, genuine, pastoral approach to things. He said the approach requires new language, a language that listens. He said that although the Church may understand a certain language – like “love the sinner but not the sin” or “intrinsically disordered” – this no longer communicates with the people of our times. It would be helpful to find others words to express truths that are more positive. He asked if there was another way, for example, that the Church could express “indissolubility” more positively.
The bishops said that they were working hard, and feeling tired, trying to put together a report that could be presented to the Pope. They said that they would give their recommendations to him but that, in the end, the Holy Father will decide on the way forward.  
(from Vatican Radio)…

Card Tagle: I listen to the stories of refugees and ask “where is humanity?”

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Luis Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, says political and economic decisions regarding the fate of refugees and migrants must not be made without taking into account our common humanity. Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni from a refugee camp in the Greek town of  Idomeni close to the border with Macedonia, Cardinal Tagle said: “ I listen to the stories  and I ask myself: ‘where is humanity? Why are human beings making it difficult to other human beings just to move out of an unpleasant situation to look for a better future?’” Listen to Cardinal Tagle’s interview with Linda Bordoni:

Cardinal Tagle explains that he is in Idomeni together with a Caritas Internationalis team that has met up with the local Caritas Hellas that has been working in Greece since the beginning of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe assisting hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty. He says it a transit camp for refugees who have landed on different Greek islands and then are transported to Athens, and from Athens brought to the camp by bus where they get some food, some medical assistance, they are able to take a shower – “and they wait”. “In groups of fifties they are brought close to the border and they walk to another camp in Macedonia where they wait for… I don’t know… for a few hours or for some days to get to a train to the next border” he says. Cardinal Tagle says that being here and witnessing the situation one cannot but ask oneself “what has caused this human misery?” And even if you don’t fully understand the causes – he says – the situation speaks of the horror of the experiences of these people. “They look weary, they look tired, they look confused, they’re uncertain and you see them lining up for food and they only thing that they have is the little bag hanging on their shoulder, their clothing, their families, their babies… they have each other”. Cardinal Tagle says he thinks that most of the people who make the dangerous journeys are well aware of the fact that they are putting their lives and the lives of their children in danger, but – he says – staying in their home countries is a much greater danger for their families. “It is always for our families, always for our children” the refugees and migrants say. He says the people who make the journey do so in the hands of traffickers paying thousands of euros. Cardinal Tagle says: “I listen to the stories and I ask myself: ‘where is humanity? Why are human beings making it difficult to other human beings just to move out of an unpleasant situation to look for a better future?’” And – he says – “as I ask that question I know that these people are very much victimized not only in their home of origin, but also by people who they meet in transit”. He describes the transit camp as a most unpleasant place, but a place in which you see a lot of humanity: “the volunteers, those who are selflessly feeding and accompanying the refugees night and day, explaining things to them and comforting them!” And of course, there are the families themselves. “You see the parents caring for the children, and the children smiling so innocently, not knowing what’s happening and finding solace in the arms of their parents – it breaks your heart!” he says. And after the camp, continuing in their journey, they come across more fences and barriers. What can we do? Cardinal Tagle says he thinks the Pope’s appeal to the United Nations for determined international political will to address climate change must also apply to this question. “You see how common love for our common humanity is very much needed in politics, in international, local and regional politics” he says. “Fiscal legislation and economic policies are not enough if there is no deep sense of humanity” Tagle explains, and he expresses his hope that humanity can enter into political decision-making. The Cardinal says that at the Synod of Bishops on the Family the predicament of the refugees and migrants is being addressed. He notes that some people are trying to make it appear to wider world that the Synod is focused on just a couple of questions such as divorce.  He points out that while all of those are important issues to be addressed “I hope the sharing of the bishops from the Middle East, from many parts of Africa and Asia, and even the bishops from European countries who are seeing the consequences of the refugee problems, I hope they can be given a voice”. These refugees are fleeing their countries for their families. “So conflicts, poverty and human smuggling are not exterior to the families, they hit the family at its core” he says. Cardinal Tagle agrees the situation is becoming more and more urgent as winter sets in and says: “we hope the eyes of the world will save the family and see the ill consequences of failed politics, of failed approaches to peace, the use of arms and the lack of respect for people who differ from us in terms of culture and religions”.  “It’s the innocence of the family, he says, that is really destroyed”. He tells of the moving image of a father gathered in prayer with his daughter in the camp and of how lovely it is to see that in a place such as this “that pristine, pure love is preserved. Cardinal Tagle concludes: “We hope the whole world will work for peace, equality and humanity for the sake of these families”. For more information on the work of Caritas Hellas and Cardinal Tagle’s visit to Idomeni camp click here .
  (from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis: love of money is idolatry

(Vatican Radio) Jesus does not condemn wealth, but the attachment to wealth that divides families and causes wars: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks to the faithful at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta.
Let not religion become an “insurance agency”
Reflecting on the readings of the day that had just been proclaimed at Mass on Monday morning in the Santa Marta chapel, Pope Francis bluntly reminded the gathered faithful that we cannot serve two masters: either one serves God, or one serves wealth. Jesus, “is not against wealth as such,” but he warns against staking one’s safety in money – something he said risks, “turning religion into an insurance agency.” In addition, attachment to money is divisive, as illustrated by the Gospel tale of the “the two brothers arguing over the inheritance”:
“Let us consider how many families we know, whose members have fought, who are fighting, who don’t [even] say ‘Hello!’ to each other, who hate each other – all for an inheritance. This is just one of the cases: the love of family, love of children, siblings, parents – none of these is the most important thing – no, it’s money – and this destroys – even wars, wars that we see today: yes, sure there is an ideal [over which people fight], but behind that, there is money; money for arms dealers, the money of those who profit from the war. This, then, is [just] one family, but all of us, I’m sure,  know at least one family so divided. Jesus is clear: ‘Be careful and stay away from all kinds of greed: it is dangerous.’ Greed: for, it gives us a security that is not true and it brings you to pray – yes, you can pray, go to church – but also have a heart that is attached [to material wealth], and that always ends badly.”
A wealthy entrepreneur who does not share the wealth with his workers
Jesus tells the parable of a rich man, “A good entrepreneur,” whose “fields had yielded an abundant harvest,” and who was, “full of riches,” and, “instead of thinking: ‘But I will share this with my workers, with my employees, that they also might have a little more for their families,’ thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, seeing that I have nowhere to put my crops? Ah, so I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones.’ More and more: the thirst that comes from attachment to riches never ends. If you have your heart attached to wealth – when you have so much – you want more. This is the god of the person who is attached to riches.”
Give alms, giving even of what one needs for oneself, with love
Pope Francis went on to say that the road, which leads to salvation, is that of the Beatitudes. “The first is poverty of spirit,” which is not attached to riches that, if one has them, are to be placed in the service of others, “to share, to help many people to make their way.” The sign that tells us we have not fallen into “this sin of idolatry” is almsgiving, giving to those in need – and not giving merely of our abundance, but giving until it costs me “some privation” perhaps because “it is necessary for me. The Holy Father said, “That’s a good sign: it means it that one’s love for God is greater than one’s attachment to wealth.” So there are three questions that we can ask ourselves:
“First question: ‘Do I give?’. Second: ‘How much do I give?’ Third question: ‘How do I give?’ Do I give as Jesus gives, with the caress of love, or as one who pays a tax? How do I give? ‘But father, what do you mean by that?’ When you help someone, do you look that person in the eye? Do you touch that person’s hand? Theirs is Christ’s own flesh, that person is your brother, your sister. At that moment you are like the Father who does not leave the birds of the air to go without food. With what love the Father gives! Let us ask God for the grace to be free of this idolatry, the attachment to wealth: let us ask the grace to look at Him, so rich in His love and so rich in generosity, in His mercy; and let us ask the grace to help others with the exercise of almsgiving, but as He does it. ‘But, Father, He has not let Himself be deprived of anything! Jesus Christ, being equal to God, deprived Himself of this: He lowered Himself, He made Himself nothing – [yes,] He too deprived Himself of something.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Synod Bishops building bridges between truth and mercy

(Vatican Radio) The Synod of Bishops on the family moves into its third and final week on Monday with participants meeting in small language groups to discuss further changes they’d like to see in the concluding document.
Over the first two weeks the Church leaders have been seeking to resolve tensions between two different visions of family life and ministry, one focused more on the traditional teaching of the Church and the other searching for new ways of engaging with people in relationships or situations that do not conform to Catholic doctrine.
To find out about how the Church leaders are hoping to reconcile these two visions, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the bishop of Northampton in central England, Peter Doyle…..

Bishop Peter says he came out to Rome conscious of that ”gap that has to be bridged” but he adds that some of the small groups are moving in that direction through seeing Jesus as both truth as well as compassion and mercy.
He expresses concern that some bishops sense “a little fear” of reconciling what he describes as “a Church upholding the eternal truth of faith” and “a Church offering healing and mercy to those who have failed to live up to that teaching”. He says those who are wanting to explore “what is God’s will for us are in no way trying to undermine the traditional teaching of the Church”, but adds it’s essential to find a way of responding to those in difficult situations…
Bishop Peter says that in preparation for the Synod he was in contact with supporters of sides of the debate. Regarding the concerns of Catholics from the LGBT community in the UK, he says he’s concerned that the Synod “doesn’t seem to have faced up to those issues”, but rather to have pushed them “into a siding” because the bishops do not know how to respond. He says we cannot “leave people in limbo” yet the biblical understanding of male and female does “not leave room at the moment for same-sex relationships”.
While hoping there may be some further discussion of this topic, Bishop Doyle suggests that issues around homosexuality might merit a Synod of their own, accompanied by further exploration of the theological understanding of anthropology.
In England and Wales, Bishop Peter says, Church leaders are learning to be much more open and recognise people in different situations. “Perhaps we can encourage people to face up to these issues in open dialouge”, he adds
(from Vatican Radio)…

The Synod: walking together

Vatican City, 19 October 2015 (VIS) – On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops, the Holy Father addressed the Synod Fathers in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. An introduction was given by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, and the president of the Episcopal Conference of Austria and cardinal archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schonborn pronounced a commemorative discourse. Below are extensive extracts from the Holy Father’s discourse, in which he reiterated that the very name “Synod” – “walking together” – indicates what the Lord asks of us. “From Vatican Council II to the current Synod Assembly on the family, we have experienced in an increasingly intense way the beauty of ‘walking together’. … We must continue on this road. The world in which we live, and which we are called upon to love and serve even in its contradictions, demands of the Church a strengthening of synergies in all areas of her mission. The path of synodality is the path that God expects from the Church in the third millennium. … In the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ I underlined how ‘the People of God is holy thanks to this anointing, which makes it infallible in credendo’, adding that ‘all the baptised, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelisation, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelisation to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients’. … It was this conviction that guided me in my wish that the People of God be consulted in the preparation of the dual Synod on the family. … How would it be possible to speak of the family without speaking with families, listening to their joys and hopes, their sorrows and their troubles?”. “A Synodal Church is a Church who listens, aware that listening is more than hearing. It is a process of mutual listening in which each person has something to learn. The faithful, the Episcopal College, the bishop of Rome: each one listening to the others, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’. … Synodality, as a constitutive dimension of the Church, offers us the best interpretative framework for understanding her hierarchical ministry … in which no-one may be ‘higher’ than the others. On the contrary, within the Church it is necessary to stoop to put oneself in service to one’s brothers along the way. Jesus constituted the Church, placing at the summit the apostolic College, in which the apostle Peter is the ‘rock’, he who must ‘confirm’ his brothers in the faith. But in this Church, as in an upturned pyramid, the summit is below the base. Therefore, those who exercise authority are called ‘ministers’: because in accordance with the original meaning of the word, they are the least of all”. “In an synodal Church, the Synod of Bishops is only the most evident manifestation of a dynamism of communion that inspires all ecclesial dimensions. The first level of the exercise of synodality occurs in the particular Churches. … The Code of Canon Law reserves ample space to those who are usually referred to as the ‘organs of communion’ of the particular Church: the presbyteral Council, the College of Consultors, the Chapter of Canons and the pastoral Council. These instruments, that at times proceed wearily, must be accorded their due value as offering opportunities for listening and sharing. … The second level is that of the Ecclesiastical Provinces or Regions, the Particular Councils and, in special way, the Episcopal Conferences. … In a synodal Church, as I have already stated, ‘it is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound decentralisation’. … The final level is that of the universal Church. Here the Synod of Bishops, representing the entire Catholic episcopate, becomes an expression of episcopal collegiality within an entirely synodal Church”. “I am convinced that, in a synodal Church, more light could also be cast on the exercise of the Petrine primacy. The Pope is not alone and above the Church, but rather within her, baptised among the baptised, and within the episcopal College as a bishop among bishops, called upon at the same time, as the Successor of the apostle Peter, to guide the Church of Rome who presides in love among all the Churches. While I repeat the need and urgency to think of a ‘conversion of the papacy’ … I am convinced that I have, in this respect, a particular responsibility, above all in ascertaining the ecumenical aspiration of the majority of Christian communities and in listening to the request that is presented to me to find a way of exercising this primacy that, while not renouncing in any way the essence of its mission, is open to a new situation”. “Our gaze also extends to humanity. A synodal Church is like a standard borne among the nations in a world that, while invoking participation, solidarity and transparency in public administration, frequently leaves the destiny of entire populations in the rapacious hands of small powerful groups. As a Church who ‘walks together’ with mankind, participating in the labours of history, we cultivate the dream that the rediscovery of the inviolable dignity of peoples and the function of the service of authority may also help in the edification of civil society in justice and fraternity, giving rise to a world that is more beautiful and worthier of humanity for the generations to follow us”….