Patriarch Fouad Twal says the Synod has not been a series of “for’s” and “against’s” for issues, as it is too complex, but rather a collegial path in which everyone is working to best serve the family.
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem expressed this during today’s Synod briefing. He was speaking along with Italian Archbishop Enrico Solmi, Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge and Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office. Fr. Lombardi informed the press present that the report will not be released until Wednesday, given that discussions are underway as delegates are meeting in small groups today and tomorrow.
Archbishop Solmi, who lightheartedly began by saying, “I am the Archbishop of Parma, the Bishop of Parmesan cheese and prosciutto, but not only!,” said the Synod has been a place of authentic listening and speaking frankly. He also spoke about the need to accompany faithful, to be able to walk side-by-side and discern.
Patriarch Twal reiterated that we all come from different contexts and therefore, the challenges are not the same. It’s normal, he suggested, that we are not all in agreement on everything. Even if that’s the case, he said, in this Synod, we agree about certain things, namely “Mercy without forgetting the doctrine,” and that, “We are all for the family.”
The Patriarch also noted how the Synod beautifully displays collegiality, saying the Synod unites us. He noted how in his circle, they not only considered problems regarding those divorced and remarried, but also immigrant families and victims of violence.
Moreover, Patriarch Twal stressed that many challenges in the West don’t exist in other parts of the world, and in some zones there are totally different problems. “Governments must help. We are conscious of our limits. We cannot, on our own, remedy all family problems,” he noted.
The prelates were asked how they are dealing with the issues of the admission of the divorced and remarried to communion, homosexuality and cohabitation.
Patriarch Twal responded that the issues may be among the discussions, but they are not central. Archbishop Coleridge echoed the sentiment saying there will be no substantial change in Church teaching on these issues. He added that he didn’t remember a single intervention where it was explicitly said that civilly remarried should be readmitted to Holy Communion.
However, the Australian prelate did express his hope for a new pastoral approach to them, one which requires new language. Even if the Church uses a certain language and has good theological basis to do so–such as “intrinsically disordered” or “love the sinner”–, he noted people of our times do not understand the reasoning and therefore, it does not communicate to them.
“Can we find a way of saying the same thing that is in fact positive, less alienating, less excluding?” he asked. To find words which still express these truths, Archbishop Coleridge suggested, would be helpful.
As the prelates work to put together the report to present to the Pope in this final week, Archbishop Coleridge said they are tired and working very hard.The prelates agreed that they will put forward their recommendations and then ultimately the Pope will decide what is needed.
However, as Archbishop Coleridge cautioned from the beginning, they will not have finished the task by next Sunday, given the sheer range of challenging issues they are examining. While asserting it is unlikely to reach consensus on “some of these hot-button issues” by the Synod’s close, Archbishop Coleridge noted that to think that were ever possible, was unrealistic and therefore, the journey and discussions will continue.