Cardinal Hollerich: World Synod needs protected space. Rather the Church needs to be protected from Synod.

Papal statement on media exclusion causes unrest

Cardinal Hollerich: World Synod needs protected space

On his return flight from Mongolia, the Pope said media professionals would not be allowed into the debates of the upcoming Synod of Bishops. This had caused unrest in the background. Cardinal Hollerich takes a stand.

The Luxembourg Cardinal and General Relator of the World Synod of Bishops to be held in October, Jean-Claude Hollerich, has defended a "protected space of non-public deliberations" for the world church assembly. Hollerich said (Monday afternoon) at a meeting with German-speaking media bishops and their staff from several European countries in Luxembourg that there were no prefabricated draft resolutions for the Synod; it must therefore develop the contents and further steps together. For this, he said, free debates were needed.

As General Relator, the Archbishop of Luxembourg is co-responsible for the preparation and implementation of the Synod of Bishops. Hollerich thus also explained Pope Francis' recent statement on his return flight from Mongolia, according to which media representatives were not allowed to attend the debates of the Synod of Bishops. This had caused unrest in the background.

As the Pope explained to journalists travelling with him on Monday, media independent of the Vatican will not be able to follow the plenary sessions of the approximately 420 Synod members and theological advisors in real time. Only the participants selected by the Pope will have access to the hall of the Vatican audience chamber. Journalists are to be informed daily via the Vatican communications office, Francis said.

Encouraging interim balance

The Archbishop of Luxembourg gave an encouraging interim assessment of the synodal process so far, which had begun worldwide at diocesan level in October 2021. The task is to find a "Catholic kind of synodality" in which the universal priesthood of the faithful is to be brought into harmony with ecclesial ministry, the collegiality of the bishops and the primacy of the Pope. Hollerich was convinced that differences and tensions could also lead to fruitfulness in a Church that remains on the way together in view of Christ.

The Cardinal explicitly pleaded for more inclusion and openness. The Church, he said, must align itself with the attitude of Christ, who met people with an open mind and personally. "How could we as a Church develop such strictness in many moral questions that excludes people, although Christ never acted that way?" asked Hollerich self-critically. The "non-discrimination as the highest commandment" often demanded by young people was therefore justified, he said. - The two-day meeting of the Media Bishops, chaired by Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of Erfurt, ended on Tuesday. The participants came from Germany, Slovenia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Austria.