400 South Adams Ave. Rayne, La 70578

Day: October 20, 2015

Family Synod: Press Briefing Day 13

(Vatican Radio) Tuesday 20 Oct. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa cautioned against using “politically correct language” at the daily press briefing for the Synod on the Family on Tuesday. Napier was a guest together with Cardinals Lluis Martinez Sistach of Spain and Alberto Suarez Inda of Mexico.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, explained that the interventions in the plenary sessions of all the Synod auditors were now available. Tomorrow the press will be briefed on the reports that come from the working groups – or “circoli minores” – of the Synod. The bishops will meet in plenary for the report back session on Tuesday evening.
Each of the three gave an introductory address before taking questions from the press.
Click below to listen to the report by Fr. Russell Pollitt SJ

Sistach said that he has experienced a real sense of synodality in the past two weeks. He said that his small group was very much focused on looking at marriage preparation. They bishops in his group also spent time examine the process of annulment in the light of the Motu Proprio, issued by Pope Francis earlier this year, so that they could make sure annulments are done expediently.
Inda said he believed that the Synod was important and would have an impact on the whole world. He said that the family was the “cell of life” in the Church. The Cardinal said that it was the role of bishops to be merciful judges in their dioceses. The bishops have to “listen like mothers” and practice discernment in specific situations. He also thanked the bishops of the United States of America for their welcome to South American migrants. Many migrants found hospitality in parishes in the USA. He said that the US bishops provide services to assist migrants.
Inda criticized American foreign policy which divided many families. He said that the bishops of Mexico and the USA need to work together to support marriages that have been divided because of migration. Many people migrate, not because they choose to, but because they have to, in order to survive. This leads to difficulties – like infidelity in marriage when the spouses do not see each other for extended periods.
Napier spoke specifically about what the African bishops thought. The African bishops have a great sense of optimism, first because it is God that is leading them and second because of the way that Pope Francis is leading the Church. He thanked lay people who were praying for the delegates of the Synod. Napier also affirmed people living in good marriages because “they help us to see where we need to go as a Synod.”
He said that the Synod was being guided by the title “The Mission and Vocation of the Family in the Church and in the World” and that he thought that some issues needed to be dealt with in another forum, especially issues related to discipline, that had been brought up in the Synod. Napier stressed that in Africa there was a different view of marriage.  “Marriage is not between two individuals but two families.” He went on to explain that, unlike the West, cohabitation is often part of the actual preparation process for marriage which is sanctioned by the families. He also spoke about how the Church must support child-headed households in Africa. A number of young girls are left with the responsibility of heading households because of the HIV pandemic.
Inda explained that drugs and guns were a huge problem and caused much harm to many families in Mexico. He said that for the bishops doctrine is of utmost importance, “but doctrine is not just theories, it must be rooted in reality.”
Sistach said that Christians get married in order to be joy-filled. He said that the work of the Synod is to aid people to be truly happy in their marriages.
Speaking on the process of the Synod Cardinal Napier said that the African bishops were happy. He said that there had been some problems – hence the private letter written to the Pope last week by some cardinals – but that these were resolved when the Holy Father “registered our concerns.”
When asked about the annulment process all three prelates said that the Motu Proprio gave them the tools they needed assist people. The major difference was that they do not need to go to a second court of appeal which was often the cause of delays. They said, however, that the shortened process challenged bishops to ensure they had proper personnel in place and that the process was followed faithfully. If a case is complicated it must then go through the longer process so that the Church can ensure things are done correctly. Cardinal Sistach humorously said that a way of dealing with the Motu Proprio would be the creation of a new religious order!
At the end of the briefing Cardinal Napier was asked about the change or use of “new language” by the Church. This has been a consistent topic at the Synod – that the Church finds new ways of talking that is more sensitive and inclusive. Napier said that it must be remembered that this was a pastoral synod, looking at how the Church can be servant and minister. He cautioned against the use of “politically correct” language and said that the Church has to be prophetic too.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope: God seeks us out and his love for us is boundless

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says God’s love for us is without limits whereas human beings often lack this generosity and have a tendency to weigh up situations. His words came during his homily at Mass on Tuesday (20th October) celebrated in the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Pope’s homily was a reflection on God’s boundless love to us, saying he doesn’t stand still but instead goes out to search for each one of us. He compared God’s abundant love for us to that of humans who, he noted, often lack this generosity and are too accustomed to weighing up and rationing when we decide to donate something that belongs to us. Our salvation, he explained, lies in this friendship between us and Him. 
“Just as God gives us friendship in this case and all of us our salvation.  He gives and what will he give us when we carry out a good deed: Will he give us a good measure, crammed to the top, filled to the brim, overflowing… but all this makes us think about abundance and this word “abundance” is repeated three times in this reading.  God gives in abundance up to the point as Paul wrote in his final summing up: “But however much sin increased, grace was always greater.” It abounds everything.  And this is God’s love for us, without limits.  All of Himself.”
Pope Francis goes on to explain that God’s heart is not closed but always open and his love is boundless just like that of the father in the gospel who every day scans the horizon to see if his son has returned to him.  And when we arrive, just like that son, he embraces and kisses us and celebrates our return.
“God is not a petty God, He doesn’t know pettiness. He gives everything.  God is not somebody who stays still:  He is watching and waiting for us to convert. God is a God who goes out, He goes out to search, for each one of us. But is this true? Every day He searches, he is searching for us. As he already has done and already said, in the Parable of the lost sheep or the lost coin:  He is searching.  He is always doing this.”
The Pope reminded his listeners that there is more rejoicing in heaven for a single sinner who converts than for 100 people who remain good.  At the same time, it is not easy for us humans to understand God’s love.  It is thanks to a grace that we understand it, said the Pope, recalling an 84 year old religious sister that he knew in his diocese who he said still goes out to visit ill people in hospital and speaks to them with a smile about God’s love. Pope Francis said this sister had received the grace to understand the mystery of God’s boundless love, a grace that so many do not receive. 
“It’s true, we always tend to weigh up the situation or things with the measurements that we have and our measurements are small. For this reason, we’d do well to ask the Holy Spirit for this grace, pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to draw closer, at least a little bit, in order to understand this love and have the desire to be embraced and kissed with that boundless love.” 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Listen to women, say auditors to Synod Fathers

Vatican City, October 2015 (VIS) – The role of the woman in the family, in society and in the Church, cultural differences, concerns regarding ethics in medicine, the situation of persecuted Christian families and the testimonies of those engaged in family catechesis were main themes of the interventions by auditors in the Synod Hall during the general congregations of Thursday 15 and Friday 16 October, published today. The national president of the Catholic Women Organisation in Nigeria, Agnes Offiong Erogunaye, reminded the Synod Fathers that African women are known for taking care of their families with or without the contributions of their spouses, and the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria indicates the strength and role of “a typical woman and mother determined to keep her family together in the face of helplessness and calamity”. She added, “From my experience with women in this difficult moment, I can boldly say that although the man is the head of the family, the woman is however the heart of the family, and when the heart stops beating the family dies because the foundation is shaken and the stability destroyed. In Nigeria, Catholic women are not just homebuilders. They are a strong force to be reckoned with when it comes to spirituality and economy, and growth in the Church”. Sister Maureen Kelleher from the United States of America quoted the paragraph in the Instrumentum laboris that states, “The Church must instil 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”. She called upon the Church, “my family”, to “live up to the challenge to instil 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”. She added, “I ask our Church leaders to recognise how many women who feel called to be in service of the Kingdom of God but cannot find a place in our Church. Gifted though some may be, they 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 Evangelisation, one of our sisters, Margaret Mary, was one of two nuns appointed from the Union of Superiors General. Today, forty years later, we are three”. “The Church needs to listen to women … as only in reciprocal listening does true discernment function”, emphasised Lucetta Scaraffia, professor of Modern History at the University of Rome. “Women are great experts in the family: leaving abstract theories behind, we can turn in particular to women to understand what must be done, and how we can lay the foundations for a new family open to respect for all its members, no longer based on the exploitation on the capacity for sacrifice of the woman, but instead ensuring emotional nourishment and solidarity for all. Instead, both in the text and in the contributions very little is said about women, about us. As if mothers, daughters, grandmothers, wives – the heart of families – were not a part of the Church, of the Church who encompasses the world, who thinks, who decides. As if it were possible to continue, even in relation to the family, pretending that women do not exist. As if it were possible to continue to forget the new outlook, the previously unheard-of and revolutionary relationship that Jesus had with women”. “Families throughout the world are very diverse, but in all of them the women play the most important and decisive role in guaranteeing that their solidity and duration. And when we speak about families, we should not speak always and only about marriage. There is a growing number of families composed of a single mother and her children. It is almost always women who stay by their children’s side, even when they are ill, disabled or afflicted by violence. These women and mothers have seldom followed courses in theology, and often they are not even married, but they offer an admirable example of Christian behaviour. If you, Synod Fathers, do not pay attention to them, if you do not listen to them, you risk making them feel even more disgraced as their family is so different to the one you focus on. Indeed, you talk too readily of an abstract family, a perfect family that does not exist, a family that has nothing to do with the real families Jesus encountered or spoke about. Such a perfect family would almost seem not to be in need of His mercy or His Word: ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’”. The issue of mixed marriages also attracted attention, as mentioned by Rev. Fr. Garas Boulos Garas Bishay, pastor of St. Mary of Peace in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, who expressed his concern for a socio-cultural phenomenon widespread in tourist areas such as that of his parish: “mixed marriages between Christian girls and women from Russia and Europe, with Muslim boys and men (indeed, Islamic Shariah only allows Muslim men to marry women of other religions and never the contrary). Certainly this phenomenon, along with the mass demographic shift and a growing number of refugees and migrants who tend to settle in Europe, does not only affect countries with an Islamic majority or tourist areas, but will inevitably also affect the West and is therefore worthy of study and serious consideration. These are families with mixed morals and a dual cultural and religious affiliation. … It should not be forgotten that Islamic law permits polygamy and the Koran obliges the parents to the provide an Islamic education for the children. There is a profoundly different cultural and religious anthropology that may easily give rise to serious crises within the couple, even leading to irreparable fractures and grave consequences for the children”. Maria Harries, Chair of Catholic Social Services in Australia, also spoke about cultural diversity, providing the example of the very marginalised Aboriginal people, which comprise many language groups and family traditions. “For most of them, the idea of the family as it is represented by our Church teaching is alien. For some, the matrilineal system means that they have many mothers. The child is reared in a kinship group, not by a mother and father. Women play a dynamic role in their kinship world and they expect them to be visible. In the words of one of the aboriginal leaders, ‘By not having women visible on the Altar and in the life of the Church, we are concealing our mothers, our sisters and our daughters from view’. In welcoming the Gospel, they ask not to be recolonised by our Church as they have been by our nation’s forebears. The challenge for our Church is to formally and institutionally incorporate cross-cultural dialogue and adopt systems with indigenous Australians that honour and do not violate their culture”. Harries, who has worked for forty years with people who have experienced sexual abuse in the family and for the last twenty with those who have been abused by members of the clergy, affirmed that “all sexual abuse is connected to the abuse of power. … The horrific evidence of abuse of children in families and institutions and our failure to respond adequately to this has left the Church in Australia and of course elsewhere in very deep pain. … In the words of Pope Francis, as we all pray for and ‘receive the grace of shame’, we need local and collective ways of meeting all these victims and their families and each other in our garden of agony and to listen deeply, very deeply. From our failings and the accompanying pain, we have the opportunity to learn collectively and perhaps even doctrinally, and to re-engage with and accompany the thousands of families whom we have lost”. Brenda Kim Nayoug spoke of what is referred to in South Korea as the “Sampo generation”, or rather, the generation that chooses to forego courtship, marriage and childbirth. “Many of the young generation have given up these three things because of their social pressures and economic problems. There are so many young people who are suffering due to unemployment, they unfortunately postpone their marriage, and forget that marriage is a calling given by God. Dear Fathers”, she exclaimed, “married life is a long journey. There might be lots of possibilities to get lost or to be wounded on their journey of life, therefore the Church should open up and truly accompany us at the various stages of our married life, so that we do not give up but instead find for ourselves the beauty of the Christian family”. A recurrent theme in the interventions was that of married sexuality and ethics in medicine. The Peruvian paediatrican Edgar Humberto Tejada Zeballos remarked that “there are couples who believe that having a child is a right, without considering that children are a gift from God, and resort to measures that aside from violating morality, cost innocent lives, such as in vitro fertilisation, in which many embryos are eliminated, burned, frozen or sold. They also consider practices such as surrogacy and other means that … denying morality, cause the sacrifice of a great number of embryos without mercy or use them in experiments. Holy Father, I believe that in the working document, in paragraphs 140 and 141 these threats to life and to the family could be mentioned clearly, to transmit this knowledge to many Christians who commit these immoral acts out of ignorance”. Massimo and Patrizia Paloni, a married couple from Rome and members of the Neocatechumenal Way, are the parents of twelve children and are currently in mission in Holland to announce the Gospel to the “existential peripheries of Europe”. They expressed their gratitude to Paul VI for the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which helped them understand that “responsible parenthood is not about deciding the number of children, but rather about being aware of the greatness of the vocation to collaborate with God in the creation of sons and daughters for eternity”, adding that “every day around us we see suffering, separations, abortions, and lonely people without hope. The world is awaiting the witness of the Christian family, and we are convinced that the salvation of humanity is through the Christian family. … The Christian community saves the family, and the family saves the Church”. Sister Berta Maria Porras Fallas of Costa Rica insisted on the need for formation for “vocational realisation”, and proposed three priorities in youth pastoral ministry. “First, love in discernment, with the themes of formation for discernment and discerning the mission. Secondly, loving as a couple, man and woman, with the analysis of current issues. And finally, loving as sexual giving, with the theme of human sexuality as a gift, conjugal love and daring to love”. Finally, the Marqus-Odeesho couple, on behalf of families in Iraq, told how the Christians of Nineveh have found themselves having to leave their homes, jobs, memories, possessions and schools overnight. “The new experience was very harsh”, they said. “Only the words of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew – ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ – condole us and relieve our wounds; thus we started to hear testimonies of some displaced families giving their experience, saying that despite the suffering and harshness of displacement, getting closer to the Church helped them lot and they started to feel that their faith was strengthening and maturing, and they began sharing in spiritual activities. … Today the challenges continue through events such as kidnapping, bombing, robbery and terror. But in spite of this situation there are still many families who are committed to their land and their Church, giving testimony to their faith without realising that this persecution will bring a lot of good to the Church of Christ, as it did for the early Church, in spreading the good news”….