The senior cardinal of Great Britain, Vincent Nichols, has told the Telegraph that he believes the statement released by the recent Synod of Roman clergy did not go far enough to welcome all different sorts of families into the church.
Cardinal Nichols stated that he was also disappointed that the much-watered down statement failed to pass by the required 2/3rds margin when it was put to a vote, but only because it was not progressive enough.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, the Cardinal said he had been disappointed with the text which was put to a vote.
He said: “I didn’t think it went far enough, there were three key words as far as I was concerned … ‘respect’, ‘welcome’ and ‘value’.
“I was looking for those words and they weren’t there and so I didn’t think that was a good paragraph.”
He added: “I didn’t think it was a good text because it didn’t include those words strongly enough so I wasn’t satisfied with it.”
But he insisted he was not concerned about the vote and opposition from traditionalists to the more welcoming tone.
“Why should I be worried when people express openly, clearly and courteously, with great care what they think?” he said.
“That’s how we live together, that’s how the Church works.
Cardinal Nichols went on to say he expects additional forward progress to be made within the next year.
Canadian Archbishop Durocher of Gatineau situated just across the Ottawa River from Ottawa, writes about the Synod:
Translated from the French:
The final report has finally been published. The media have focussed public attention on two issues: allowing divorced and remarried persons to take the sacraments, and how to welcome homosexuals. I must therefore speak about these issues.
Of these two issues, the first had been raised well prior to this synod by Cardinal Kasper, before a gathering of the world`s cardinals last February. Rejected publicly by some cardinals at the end of the summer, his position was the focus of many interventions during this synod, and much energy was devoted to it. A paragraph outlining the two approaches discussed (maintaining the current discipline or accepting change) as well as a related paragraph, did not receive the consent of two-thirds of the members, even though a large majority supported it. This means that, in fact, the two positions WERE discussed, passionately. Pope Francis decided that the entire text be
published in the final report, including the paragraphs which had not been supported by the two-thirds majority. It is therefore likely that this discussion has not ended, and that the issue will be raised again at next year’s conference of the world’s bishops, part of the 2015 General Synod.
As for the issue of the pastoral care of homosexuals, one paragraph proposed simply to reiterate current church teaching – that there was no question of equivalency between marriage and homosexual relationships; and an affirmation of the dignity of the person and the rejection of any discrimination against homosexual persons. This paragraph was also supported by the majority, but not by the required two-thirds of participants. Why did some bishops not support this text which, after all, merely reiterated current teaching? It seems to me that many wanted more open and more positive language. Not finding such, they voted against the proposed paragraph. But this paragraph was also published, and further reflection must continue.
Let us now put these two issues aside for the moment. The theme of this synod was not “Communion for the divorced and remarried and the pastoral care of homosexuals”. It was instead “Pastoral challenges for family life in the context of the new evangelism”. What do the other 58 paragraphs of the final report say about this issue? What came out of the work of this synod? Was there anything new?
My response: absolutely! There was at least one new approach – the text affirms a very distinct approach to pastoral care, one that stresses the good in persons rather than their shortcomings; an approach which speaks less about sin to be avoided and more about grace to be sought; an approach with less emphasis on the brokenness of our societies and more about the “stumbling blocks” which inhibit the proclamation of the Gospel. This is not a question of being naïve or foolish, but instead to trust in the spirit of Jesus Christ already found in the heart of all humanity, even those who believe themselves to be far from God.
This approach is not new – many pastoral care workers already follow it. But this is the first time, as far as I know, that this kind of document has had such an outcome. Even more, it provides a blblical and doctrinal foundation for such an approach, and invites the Church to put it into practice.
This is what is new. And I rejoice in it. In one sense, we have done for family life what Vatican II did for liturgy and for ecumenism, that is, given a green light to an emerging pastoral trend in the Church, giving it a theological rationale, and invited the whole Church to embrace it.
I don’t know if the media will devote much attention to this news. But as for me, as a bishop, as well as for those leading parishes and religious communities, it is vitally important. And for this, I thank the Pope for having called us to work together on this great initiative of the Church.