Pope's former mouthpiece, Father Spadaro wants to rewrite the Bible on gender

Synodality becomes the practice of the Church

Father Antonio Spadaro: "Today the Church is a place of great differences, and we are talking about a community that crosses spatial and cultural barriers"

A section of the Synod concluded a few days ago (which will end next year), a stage that was important for the Universal Church. Let's take stock with Father Antonio Spadaro, Jesuit and elected Undersecretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education, former Director of the magazine "Civiltà Cattolica".

The final document talks about changes to the Code of Canon Law. Does it mean that synodality becomes a regular practice of the Church?

That's exactly how it is. Synodality is not the topic of a meeting, but represents the very form of the Church. A Church that is increasingly complex internally: if it once had references in the Pastors who were nevertheless formed and had a common mentality, and often also a common language - Latin or Italian - because many had studied in Rome , now instead the Church is a place of great differences, and we are talking about a community that crosses spatial and cultural barriers. The Church lives in the tightropes of the North and South of the world, in the tensions between conservatives and progressives, in contexts of wealth and poverty. It is necessary, therefore, for the Church to walk together. Ultimately, this is the image that has remained with me the most from the end of the Synod, the image of a large ship, a transatlantic I would say, capable of sailing the oceans, where everyone works so that it can move forward with all the differences. However, the greater the diversity, the greater the need to share the journey, to reflect together, to make common decisions, to listen. One of the things that, for example, characterized this Synod was not only the expression of each one, but also the listening that each one dedicated to the others and also within the group tables. So now I understand what Pope Francis told me for the first time in my interview for «La Civiltà Cattolica» in 2013: there he spoke to me about a more synodal Church. So we are talking about an idea that Francis had clear from the beginning of his pontificate, in August 2013. I fully understand his words only now. So the answer is yes, synodality must become the practice of the Church, also having suitable structures, suitable moments, necessary to be able to move forward.

The option for the poor is confirmed. What does this mean for a Synodal Church?

It is clearly said in the final document that the preferential option for the poor is implicit in faith. Poor Jesus made friends with the poor, he walked with the poor, he shared their life, the table with the poor, he denounced the causes of poverty. Therefore for the Church the option for the poor is not a sociological-political option, or rather it is not only this, but it is above all a theological option, that is, it has a fundamental value. And clearly the poor have many faces: they are those who need the necessities to live, but there are also migrants, refugees, like the indigenous peoples to whom the Pope has given much attention, those who suffer violence and abuse, the elderly abandoned. So the beauty of the Synod is that it managed to describe the faces of poverty which are multiple, including spiritual poverty. The Church's commitment must be to get to the causes of poverty and exclusion. Therefore it is not enough to dab or work in spots to identify small situations to improve, but it is necessary to understand what the root causes that lead to poverty are. Clearly, there are many challenges to face, but today there is a need to better understand the social doctrine of the Church, which is perhaps too little known a resource in which to invest again.

The aspect outlined by the Synod is that of a Church "from every tribe, language, people and nation". No one is a stranger in the Church, is that right?

The words that Francis said at World Youth Day in Lisbon and which he then repeated in Marseille resonate with me, namely "todos, todos, todos" - "everyone, everyone, everyone", that is, the Church is everyone's home , hospitality is the fundamental basis, no one - for any reason - must feel like a foreigner. It is clear that it is interesting to see also within the Synod the very visible presence of people from all continents and from all situations, especially the most difficult and crisis ones. So truly people from every tribe, language, people and nation. And it is interesting how the perspective experienced by these people was one of peace, of solidarity in pain, at a time when the fractures in the world are strong. The fact of being seated at the same table with the Catholic Archbishop of Moscow and the Major Archbishop of Kiev made a great impression on me, as did the fact of having learned about the Hamas attacks in Israel from a participant in the Synod who is Israeli but from an Arab family. So there were not only tribes, peoples and nations, but also all the conflicts and tensions that this world is experiencing.

The process has begun regarding women within the Church... will we soon reach the diaconate?

We cannot know this, given that the process must actually unfold in a second appointment next year. We will certainly have a very challenging year ahead of us. One thing that is certain is that the theme of women emerged with great force within the Synod, carried forward by the women present at the Synod itself, but not only by them. Therefore, certainly, the theme of the presence of women in the Church, of their specific role, even at the highest decision-making levels, is a question that arises with great urgency and with great clarity.

The LGBTQ community expected more courage...

Yes, it's true: some felt a little disappointed by the conclusion of the Synod on the issue concerning homosexual people. Looking carefully, the objective of the summary document was to show and make people understand what the current situation is, also bringing together the comparison and diversity of opinions and sensitivities that exist within the Church, and therefore we have experimented this difference in positions. However, it should be noted that the summary document clearly declared, and therefore approved with the vast majority of votes, that the Synod understood that some aspects, such as, precisely, those relating to gender issues and sexual orientation, are controversial not only in society, but also in the Church and pose new questions, and therefore also admits that the anthropological categories that the Church has developed to date are not sufficient to grasp the complexity of the elements that emerge precisely from experience or even from reflection on human experience, and therefore asks for the time necessary for this reflection. The document also required frank discussion, giving voice to the people directly involved, those who live this experience. This path must be started in view of next year, of the next synod session. Therefore I would say that the Synod has provided, with the final summary document, a solid basis shared by the vast majority of the Synod fathers, to start this reflection.



The first book of the Bible could not be clearer: 

And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them Et creavit Deus hominem ad imaginem suam : ad imaginem Dei creavit illum, masculum et feminam creavit eos.  [Genesis 1:27]