Following last week’s consistory of cardinals, Pope Francis has written an open letter to families around the world asking for prayers and promising to include their voices in October’s synod on marriage and family life. There are also new details about what exactly happened during that consistory of 150 cardinals, as well as developments on how the Synod will take shape.
The letter was published Tuesday by Pope Francis as a means of further explaining the upcoming synod, as the pope hoped to “come into your homes.” National Catholic Reporter quotes the letter as saying, in part:
” ‘This important meeting will involve all the People of God — bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular churches of the entire world — all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer”…
“Saying the synod is ‘dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church,’ the pope asks to ‘pray intensely’ for its success.”
Pope Francis concluded the letter with a blessing for “every family” without distinction.
Around the same time, the pope had been meeting with cardinals for closed-door discussions on family life which included comments from the pope, a two-hour address by German Cardinal Walter Kasper, and follow-up from 43 other cardinals. Discussion was said to include the matter of divorced and remarried Catholics, marriage preparations, and John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” according to reports from the National Catholic Reporter. It seems LGBT people and their relationships were not discussed, an ambiguous sign as there were neither condemnations nor positive discourse that had been public.
Elsewhere, the synod’s general secretary, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri spoke about the overall impression he had of responses coming in from the Vatican’s questionnaire released last fall. About 80% of national bishops’ conferences and 60% of Vatican congregations had submitted their responses, as well as 700 responses from Catholic organizations globally. According to the Catholic Herald, the cardinal said in an interview:
“[T]he responses show ‘much suffering, especially by those who feel excluded or abandoned by the Church because they find themselves in a state of life that does not correspond to the Church’s doctrine and discipline’…
“By urging bishops around the world to conduct the broadest consultation possible given the brief amount of time allotted, synod officials ‘sparked a spontaneous reaction that may seem surprising, but is actually proof of how necessary it is to go out of our offices’ to where people really live, he said.
“The results compiled by the bishops’ conferences, he said, show ‘the urgency of recognising the lived reality of the people and of beginning a pastoral dialogue with those who have distanced themselves from the Church for various reasons’.”
Finally, the names of the synod’s three presidents were announced during the consistory: Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, Cardinal Raymundo Assis of Aparecida. They will rotate chairing the synod in October, and at least one, Cardinal Vingt-Trois, has a murky record on marriage equality after warning of the violence which might erupt if France passed equal marriage rights in 2013.
You can read Bondings 2.0‘s past coverage of survey results by typing ‘Synod’ in the Search box to the right. We will be updating you, as more reports come in.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry