Pope Francis is known as a man with a deep compassion for people, especially those who are disadvantaged or suffering. He has constantly sought to be with people who are on the margins. After convoking two synods in consecutive years on the subject of the family, he has now released a document entitled, “The Joy of Love”.
The document is marked by Pope Francis’ awareness that human life has an incompleteness, a brokenness. He sees families more as works in progress than settled realities. He says, “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love”. He knows well that families are imperfect and that they experience many sufferings as well as many joys.
He understands that family life is rich and complex. He speaks of the many and varied situations of families. He calls the family a “multifaceted gem”. He is aware that families are shaped by diverse cultural situations. There is not just one model for the way families operate.
In the course of the document he touches on a wide range of issues that affect family life: from migration to lack of housing; from lack of respect for elders to the special situation of persons with disability; from pornography to sexual abuse; from violence against women to the impact of biotechnology in the field of procreation. Continue reading
The final Mass at St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. Photography by Fiona Basile.
“The Synod journey is far from over; in some ways an important new phase is only beginning. But we are much better equipped … this doesn’t mean we have a detailed road-map; but Abrahamic journeys never do. They require instead a listening of another and deeper kind.”
27 October 2015, by Archbishop Coleridge.
Into St Peter’s we marched yesterday to close the Synod that had opened three weeks ago. It seemed like three months. When I made it to my place and sat down, I felt a fatigue come over me – probably the let-down after the intensity and sheer hard work of the Synod journey. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder, thinking it was either my guardian angel or an MC telling me I was in the wrong place. But no: it was the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See who’d been sitting in the front row in all his finery and then saw me take my place. He needed to speak with me. Under Pope Francis, it seems, diplomatic formalities aren’t what they used to be. No one stays in their proper place any more. All these surprises can be exhausting. Continue reading
Archbishop Coleridge in Paul VI Hall. Photo by Fiona Basile.
A few of my blog posts were brought up in this interview with Noel Debien – from ABC Radio in Australia. We were able to speak about many Synod moments in the 30-minute interview. I enjoyed speaking with Noel before the final Mass of the Synod.
I told Noel: “There has been a genuine step forward on a long and complex journey to try to deal with people in a way the respects the truth … but at the same time accompany people. Don’t just hurl doctrine in their general direction. If there was any word that came to dominate the language of the Synod, it was accompaniment. In other words, you have to walk with people.
The Pope packing up his things at Synod’s end after he’d given another stirring talk. Cardinal Pell can also be seen. A bit like Where’s Wally?
“When Francis finished, the entire assembly gave him a standing ovation. This was heartfelt rather than some corny showbiz stunt. We felt we’d heard the voice of Peter.”
When we returned to the Synod Hall yesterday afternoon for voting, there was another touch of high farce – an unscripted skit to finish this Synod of surprises. After we’d recited the Adsumus prayer (used daily at Vatican II), the president of the day welcomed us back and then passed the microphone to the Secretary General, as he normally did.
Cardinal Baldisseri began by reminding us that we had to remember the change from “ora legale” to “ora solare” – in other words, turn you clocks back. Glad he mentioned that; I would certainly have turned up an hour late for the closing Mass this morning. It was one of Cardinal Baldisseri’s finest moments. Continue reading
Dancing at the close of the week.
“We were reminded again and again of the presence of the Holy Spirit amongst us. Of this presence, there was no doubt in my mind.”
25 October 2015, by
It has been a welcome end to an intense three weeks as well as a poignant one. All of us are grateful for the time we have been privileged to share: a time of rich discussions, intense debate and the congenial settling of most differences. It is poignant as we farewell people that we would like to see again, whilst knowing this is unlikely. In our temporary ‘home’ at CIAM we shared in a cultural programme in which even the nuns participated in the dancing and singing. Continue reading
Here’s one of the commemorative gifts we were given – a rather lovely image in metal of the Holy Family.
“There’d been some rabble-rousing discussion before the session about the method we’d follow. It’d been decided that we would read the entire document through in the morning and then vote on each of its 94 paragraphs in the afternoon.”
The end is nigh. Upon entering the Synod Hall and until we began the prayer, I sensed a mood of restlessness tinged with frivolity as we looked to start the last day. There was a lot of movement, much chattering, a fair bit of laughter. At last we were to see the definitive version of the final document. This makes for Synodal excitement.
Mind you, the excitement was tempered by a chorus of coughing, with God knows how many bishops stricken (as I am) by some sort of cold. At one stage I felt like standing up and conducting the orchestra; there was so much coughing we could’ve attempted Beethoven’s Fifth. All we would’ve needed was the odd sneeze or loud nose blow. They came later. Continue reading
Bishop of Darwin, Eugene Hurley, representing ACBC at the Synod. Photo by Fiona Basile.
“Pope Francis will be sitting poker-faced up the front, taking it all in and wondering what to do with all this. I don’t doubt for a moment that he already has some thoughts. He’s nothing if not a strategist.”
When we made it back into the Hall yesterday, the Secretary General said the Pope wanted to say a word. My ears pricked up. This Pope doesn’t take the microphone just for the sake of it. What’s going on here, I thought. Well, again he caught us on the hop. For some time there have been rumblings that we may have a couple of new Congregations in the Roman Curia, and the Pope took this opportunity to announce one of them – a Congregation for the Laity, Family and Life. Continue reading
Archbishop Coleridge discusses Synod business with brother bishops. Photo credit: By Fiona Basile.
“Some seem to think that decentralisation and unity are incompatible. Clearly Pope Francis doesn’t. The paradox, I think, is that ‘a healthy decentralisation’ could in fact strengthen the real unity of the Church.”
Yesterday was supposed to be a free day for all but 10 of the Synod members – those chosen by the Pope to draft the final document. They were hard at it all day and (I imagine) into the night. They have a colossal job.
But a few others – myself among them – were also tied up, trying to finish our assessment of the 520 proposed amendments to Part III of the working document. My little group resumed work at 9am, with Cardinal Lacunza saying he couldn’t stay beyond 10.30. So we agreed that we would finish by then. As it turned out, we finished by 10.25, with His Eminence making a very speedy exit for a big man. For me, what was left of the day was largely absorbed by talking to journalists – four of them. This was a bit tougher than it should’ve been because my voice had turned decidedly hoarse. But I managed to croak away. Continue reading
“The Synod … is a steady diet of soap opera and theology, and almost too much for any reporter to keep up with.”
David Gibson, RNS
Archbishop Mark Coleridge
I have enjoyed speaking with journalists when time permits at this Synod. One of those journalists is David Gibson, who writes for Religion News Service. David has provided a view on my blog. You can link to his piece here or read below:
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Barrels of ink, digital and real, have been spilled by journalists trying to convey the gravity of the high-stakes debate on church teaching in Rome this month, as the melodrama that a closed-door Vatican gathering of some 270 churchmen almost guarantees. Continue reading
Bishop Tarabay greeting Pope Francis during a break at the Synod on the Family.
I am currently in Rome, participating in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “the vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world” and I am pleased to share with you some aspects of this experience so far.
Last Wednesday, I had the chance to deliver my intervention at Synod. I spoke about the sanctity of marriage and the challenge of same-sex marriage, referring to points 130-132 of theInstrumentum Laboris. In my address, I underlined three main points being: the consequences of redefining marriage, the need to develop pastoral and spiritual plans for people with same sex attraction, and our call to work together as members of the mystical body of Christ to protect the family from all challenges especially that of a change to the definition of marriage. Continue reading
“We’ve come far but there’s still a long way to go in a short time.”
Here’s a photo of my “small” group taken (in front of a huge sculpture of JPII) just after we’d finished our final session. I’m on the far left, next to Fr Adolfo Nicolas, Superior General of the Jesuits. The group included 18 nationalities.
Yesterday we finished work in the small groups. Our group was a very mixed bag, as were all the groups more or less. But English being spoken so widely we had a real jumble of nationalities (18), and voices spoke from vastly different backgrounds, at times it seemed from different planets. It wasn’t always easy to weave a tapestry from this but – thanks in large part to the tact and patience, the tactics and hard work of the Moderator, Archbishop Eamon Martin – we came close enough to it.
Yesterday we finished work in the small groups. Our group was a very mixed bag, as were all the groups more or less. But English being spoken so widely we had a real jumble of nationalities (18), and voices spoke from vastly different backgrounds, at times it seemed from different planets. It wasn’t always easy to weave a tapestry from this but – thanks in large part to the tact and patience, the tactics and hard work of the Moderator, Archbishop Eamon Martin – we came close enough to it. Continue reading
My view across the Synod Hall
‘I have been surprised at how fearful some are of change – as if the Church will collapse if certain language is used or if pastoral responses are too forgiving. This Church isn’t collapsing.’
The work of the Synod is taking more shape as we finished the second week of relentless presentations and conversations, and much fantastic pasta and just a few glasses of wine.
People are generally very weary but there remains a sense of optimism and the persistence of courage on the part of many synod members who have brought with them such a strong sense of the pastoral and a wish to represent the needs of ordinary folk in families throughout our very disparate world. I recall an early plea to the synod to let ‘our pastoral imaginations’ flourish during this time. Wonderful language! Continue reading