Synod frank talk producing few breakthroughs

The English-speaking world's most quoted Vatican expert has suggested that while there have been many frank statements on heartfelt issues, no identifiable consensus has yet emerged at the Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome.

CLICK HEREThe National Catholic Reporter's John Allen yesterday spoke in his daily column of the utterance of an unidentifable Western European cardinal, who told the bishops that he understood all the positions expressed on a number of tough questions, and cautioned bishops not to go home "feeling as if they have not been heard."

"Tough questions" discussed include celibacy, and communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

On Tuesday night, a bishop asked the synod to express appreciation for the practice of celibacy in the Western church, which he described as especially difficult to maintain in a "pan-sexual culture," and as a valuable witness in a "hedonistic world." He also said there are married deacons who are today getting divorced, a problem that would also extend to married priests. An Eastern-rite bishop warned that the priest shortage should not induce the church to abandon celibacy in the West.

On Wednesday morning, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney issued another ringing defense of celibacy.

"To loosen this tradition now would be a serious error, which would provoke confusion in the mission areas and would not strengthen spiritual vitality in the First World," Pell said.

"It would be a departure from the practice of the Lord Himself, bring significant practical disadvantages to the work of the church, e.g., financial, and weaken the sign value of the priesthood; it would weaken, too, the witness to loving sacrifice, and to the reality of the Last Things, and the rewards of Heaven," Pell said.

In other business, Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France, the special secretary for the synod, gave an overview of what he saw as important themes to date.

Minnerath pointed to two "contradictions" that have emerged: first, the church's identity as a eucharistic community, yet its inability to provide the Eucharist because of priest shortages; second, the church's requirements of Sunday Mass attendance and regular confession, yet its inability to provide those sacraments to many faithful, again because of shortages of clergy.

Despite frank talk, few breakthroughs expected from synod (National Catholic Reporter 12/10/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Synod of Bishops
Synodus Episcoporum Bulletin

Pell call to preserve celibacy rule (CathNews 12/10/05)
Irish archbishop says Liturgy of Word can heal (CathNews 11/10/05)
Hobart Archbishop insists on credit for hardworking priests (CathNews 10/10/05)
Opus Dei head argues against giant masses (CathNews 7/10/05)
Oceania bishops plead case for married clergy (CathNews 7/10/05)
Kiwi bishop challenges Synod to review communion ban for divorced (CathNews 6/10/05)
Pope talks to Synod about collegiality (CathNews 5/10/05)
Pope opens Synod with Eucharist link to peaceful, just society (CathNews 4/10/05)
Aussie Synod expert stresses Eucharist values before rules (CathNews 29/9/05)
Two Australians on auditors list for October Synod (CathNews 27/9/05)
Synod tipped to stress Sunday Mass obligation (CathNews 28/9/05)
Pope names four mainland Chinese bishops to October synod (CathNews 9/9/05)
Synod threat to youth masses (CathNews 25/7/05)

Fourteenth General Congregation (Vatican Information Service 12/10/05)
Fifteenth General Congregation (Vatican Information Service 12/10/05)
Synod's solidarity with Pakistan quake victims (AsiaNews.it 12/10/05)
Top church law expert says Catholics have right to receive Eucharist
Synod members offer local snapshots of Eucharist in church life
Church's hope lies in young people, say Synod participants (Catholic News Agency 12/10/05)
Bishops Synod addresses liturgical norms, Eucharistic unity and reverence (Catholic News Agency 12/10/05)
Life-giving practice of priestly celibacy must be preserved, says Cardinal Pell (Catholic News Agency 12/10/05)
Sandro Magister: The Synod: The Eucharist Determines the State of the Church's Health (L'Espresso 12/10/05)
Ukrainian prelate clarifies call for Synod on Eastern churches (Catholic World News 12/10/05)
Synod solidarity messages to Guatemala, Pakistan after natural disasters (Catholic World News 12/10/05)
Synod: excerpts from thirteenth and fourteenth sessions (Independent Catholic News 12/10/05)
Synod Of Bishops (Vatican Radio English Features 12/10/05, audio - requires Real Player)

13 Oct 2005