(Vatican Radio) The Church needs leaders that are listening to their people, speaking honestly, seeking consensus and discerning new ways of supporting family life. Those were the guidelines that emerged from a press conference held at the conclusion of the morning session by four of the key players in this Synod of Bishops. They were Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, French Cardinal André Vingt-Troi, Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte and Mexican Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes. Philippa Hitchen takes a closer look.....
Cardinal Erdo, who gave the introductory presentation to the Synod’s opening session, stressed changes in the working method of the meeting to better reflect a Church that is listening to the needs of its people. In a departure from tradition, his presentation to the gathering of 253 Synod participants was given in Italian, rather than Latin, and already included some of the ideas circulated by the bishops in response to the questionnaire on the family sent out to dioceses around the world last year.
Archbishop Forte, special secretary for the Synod, stressed the continuation of the work started by Pope Paul VI in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, to include the voice of all baptised people in the key discussions of the day. He said the bishops are still learning how to do that and he urged all the Synod participants to heed to Pope Francis’ words and to speak honestly and freely, without prejudice or preconceived answers.
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, one of three Synod presidents, reminded journalists the meeting is not like a parliamentary debate, with a majority seeking to overrule the minority opinions, but rather a gathering of Church leaders, seeking consensus on key issues that can help the Church grow and support people in their specific, local circumstances. The debate among cardinals prior to the Synod over divorced and remarried Catholics, he said, was not a conflict but rather an important part of the theological discussion process.
Finally Archbishop Aguiar Retes, president of the bishops conferences of Latin American and the Caribbean, stressed the need for a constant pastoral discernment, grounded in the reality of families in their different parts of the world. This Synod, he recalled, is part of a two year process during which the Church leaders must not look for overnight solutions, but rather consult carefully with their people to find practical answers to pressing needs of families around the globe today.