(Vatican Radio) Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. opened the daily press conference by explaining what had happened in the morning session. He said that the general secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri, had explained “certain processes of the methodology” and its new elements. Lombardi said that Pope Francis also thought it was important for him to make a contribution and so he too said a few words.
“The Holy Father thought it important to say that what we are doing here must be seen as a continuation of last year,” Lombardi said. Pope Francis said that the group work, which the Synod Fathers begins on Tuesday afternoon, is going to be very important. The Pope reminded the Fathers that “Catholic doctrine on marriage was not called into question in the previous sitting of the Synod” and that “the Synod is not about one single issue – Eucharist for the divorced and remarried – but many issues and we must take them all into account.”
Fr. Lombardi listed different themes which arose in the contributions made during the session. He highlighted a number of them which included the passing on of the faith inter-generationally, migration, domestic violence, war, poverty, and polygamy.
Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is the English-speaking Media Attaché of the Holy See, said the comments made by the Synod Fathers were brief. Each is only allowed to speak for three minutes which “helps foster clarity.” He said that some interventions suggested there had been an over-emphasis on the problems the family faces and that one of the Fathers suggested that we acknowledge the “beauty and joy” of family life. “Some of the interventions suggested we should be more inclusionary in our language, especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Gay persons are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbours and colleagues,” Rosica said.
“There was also a suggestion that the third form of penance, general absolution, be used widely in the Year of Mercy,” said Rosica. He pointed out and clarified that these were suggestions which “might be considered by the Fathers.”
At the end of the briefing, the panel was asked if the question of the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist was still open to discussion. Archbishop Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council of Social Communication, said that the issue was open. “It is open on a pastoral level but remember what the Pope said about doctrine,” he said. Asked if the reception of the Eucharist by divorced and remarried persons was a “doctrine or a discipline” Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, replied saying that different people may see this differently and that it was part of the work of the Synod to discuss this.
Archbishop Durocher went on to say that the bishops were all united in acknowledging that there is a gap between contemporary culture and church teaching. Archbishop Celli said that it was important for the church to find ways of entering into dialogue with the world. “We need to speak about what the Church teaches but must also avoid a ghetto mentality.”
Fr. Lombardi was asked if Pope Francis was going to participate in a small group. He said that the Pope did not normally attend small groups but that he was a Pope of surprises so “he may also surprise us!”