Synod in Rome enters its second week with a call for controversy

Cardinal Hollerich: "We are not afraid of tensions, they are part of the process" - Dominican Radcliffe: Needs an open exchange of opinions - working groups reconstituted

The World Synod in the Vatican started its second week of deliberations with substantive impulses and an invitation to open debates. The content coordinator of the meeting, Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, took up Pope Francis' wish that the Catholic Church should not exclude anyone to introduce the second of a total of work modules during the four-week meeting on Monday.

In front of the more than 300 members of the assembly, the so-called “general relator” of the Synod said: “Everyone is invited to be part of the church.” Jesus extended fellowship with his Father to all people. "Are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to do this with groups that might irritate us because their way of being seems to threaten our identity?" Hollerich asked, adding: "If we act like Jesus, "We will bear witness to God's love for the world. If we don't do that, we will look like an identitarian club." This must also have an impact on cooperation with other Christian faith communities.

Hollerich explained: "How can we live our faith deeply in our own culture without excluding people from other cultures? How can we work together with women and men of other faith traditions for justice, peace and integral ecology?"

The second module of the synod meeting has the theme: “A community that radiates.” It contains possible points of conflict regarding the question of how open the church community and its sacraments should be to people with different lifestyles. To this end, the working paper "Instrumentum laboris", developed on the basis of previous discussions in the World Synod that began two years ago, presents numerous questions for the Synod Assembly to discuss. The opening session of the module, unlike the debates in the small groups, was broadcast live by the Vatican media.

Radcliffe: Need an open exchange of views

As the second speaker on Monday morning, Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe gave ideas on the content. He appealed to the synod members to take the “very personal and harsh disagreement between Paul and Peter” as an example. About 2,000 years ago, the two founding figures of the church argued over the question of whether the message of Jesus Christ was intended only for the people of Israel or for all peoples. The latter point of view, that of Paul, prevailed at the so-called Council of the Apostles in the first century.

"The Holy See is founded on this passionate, angry but real encounter," Radcliffe explained, criticizing today's Vatican culture of conflict driven by intrigue: "The people Paul didn't like were the secret spies who gossiped and worked secretly , who whispered in the corridors and hid who they were with a devious smile."

Radcliffe spoke out in favor of an open exchange of views and advocated a church that excludes no one. He explained, "So many people feel excluded or marginalized in our church because we have imposed abstract labels on them." He cited divorced and remarried people as well as homosexuals as examples. The Dominican advocated that people with different viewpoints in the church should perhaps approach each other with anger, but without hatred. He called on the synod members to take off “disguises and masks” “so that we can step into the light.”

Working groups newly formed

Another exchange in the more than 30 working groups, the so-called “Circuli Minores”, was planned for Monday afternoon at round tables in the synod hall. The small groups of ten to twelve people were reassembled for the second module of the synod discussions as planned by the synod secretariat. The groups were formed according to both linguistic and thematic preferences previously stated by the synod members, explained Cardinal Hollerich. The “Instrumentum laboris” provides five worksheets with topics and questions for what is now the second work module. The various small groups would each deal with one of these, explained Hollerich.

It is important to start from concrete experiences - "from our own personal experiences and, above all, from the collective experiences of the people of God who spoke in the listening phase," explained the cardinal, with a view to the local church and continental phases preceding the current Synod of Bishops of the multi-year global synod process.

In keeping with this, several participants in the Synod of Bishops also reported on their experiences in the plenary session on Monday, including social worker Sonia Gomes de Oliveira, who is a member of the National Council of Laity of Brazil. The Malaysian priest Clarence Davedassan and the Catholic laywoman Siu Wai Vanessa Cheng from Hong Kong provided a look at Asia. Metropolitan Job (Getcha), who is taking part in the synod meeting as one of the ecumenical guests invited by the Pope, reported on synodality in the Orthodox Church.

Church meeting until the end of October

The meeting of the World Synod in the Vatican began on October 4th and ends with a solemn service on October 29th. It is the first synod of bishops in the history of the Catholic Church in which non-ordained men and women also participate with voting rights. A second and final round of consultations is planned for October 2024. From Austria, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and the bishops' conference chairman and Salzburg Archbishop Franz Lackner will take part as voting members.

The beginning of the second week of deliberations was overshadowed by the news about the escalation of violence in the Holy Land and by reports of several corona infections among the synod participants. At a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Monday morning, the synod members prayed for peace in the current conflicts.



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