In the morning there were quite extensive speeches in the Synod hall: from Francis, Baldisseri, Erdö. We were able to follow them only in the Sala Stampa, where they were broadcast but not translated. We also could get them in writing but only in Italian. Deborah describes what we heard in her blog.
The Prelude to the Synod was marked by the Pope. He mentioned in his opening speech our God who always surprises, who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep. The church should not be a museum to view but a living source for all. We need a wholesome examination of pastoral practices.
After him Cardinal Erdö, the Relator of the Synod, took some trouble to defend the traditional way of our church. (Tradition, means different things to different people.) It took him 7300 words to explain that the current teaching and the current practice cannot be changed.
After that Christian had an interview for the Bavarian television broadcasting.
At noon there is a press briefing every day. I was able to join the first one: Father Lombardi had invited Cardinal Erdö, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois and Archbishop Bruno Forte. Erdö was nice and friendly but quite hard and stony concerning the church law and teaching. There will be no change in the doctrine – just in the kind of pastoral care. So do not expect change! – It seemed to us that the harsh criticism he experienced for his interim report at the 2014 Synod had changed his mind completely.
But there were some interesting questions: an Irish journalist cited Mary McAleese’s statement at the LGBT Forum, If I wanted expertise on the family, I honestly cannot say that the first thing that would come into my mind would be to call together 300 celibate males who, as far as we know, have never raised a child. Was I dreaming or did I see them blush? And then they offered a rather weak defense. Cardinal Vingt-Trois from Paris said that there all are born and raised in a family, and Archbishop Forte said, they all have a lot of experience coming from the confessional. So they know the difficult situations of families from the confessions!! What experts they are!!
Deborah says: It was kind of „the king has no clothes“moment, and one had to feel a bit sorry for the fellows.
Another interesting moment was given by the question of an African journalist: Homosexuality and re-married couples are Western problems. We in Africa have others like Polygamy. That reminded me of a situation years ago in Africa, when an African bishop told us: There are no homosexuals in Africa.
My personal summary of the briefing is the following: they are trying to calm the fundamentalists, to lull them, to declare again and again that they are all within the doctrinal teaching and so on. They say they only want to change the kind of pastoral care. But they are not stupid. They know that the changing of the practice leads directly to the changing of the theory (the doctrine). And my experience is that the kind of pastoral care had already changed in the past years. Therefore it is now important to adapt the doctrine.
We will see what happens.
In the evening there was a press conference of the German Synod members. Christian was invited and Deborah too. Gudrun Sailer from Radio Vatican asked if the panel thought the Synod process should be modernized since only 2/3rds voted (male celebates) and 1/3 which includes women do not vote. Cardinal Marx and Bischof Bode suggested the process could and should be changed and that women should have greater decision making roles at the synod and in the church (see Deborahs blog).
It is now clear that all the German delegates will be in the same discussion group. We are not sure what that will indicate. Will the different meanings (Kaspar, Marx, Müller…) be neutralized, is it because the renewal opinions should not be brought into other groups – or do they want to have the whole discussion here in the German group, should the German group handle it all out?
I enjoy it very much that at the end of the day we sit together and exchange our opinions about the happenings of the day. So many thoughts and feelings wide our individual one’s. What a gift.