[Senior Religious correspondent for Italian daily] La Stampa
October 9, 2014
The decision to not publish the texts of the speeches of those participating in the Synod on the Family is certainly not having a positive effect on clarity of information, and is contributing to a situation that is, so to speak, mystifying. The general public, including both Catholics and non-Catholics., are not being informed in a clear and thorough way. All we can say is that after the first three days, in which more than one hundred speeches have been made, a picture of what is going on appears anything but clear.
John Thavis, an American expert on Vatican matters, someone who certainly cannot be thought of as anti-papal or taking positions against the Church, comments on this nebulous atmosphere well when he underscores the insufficiency of the daily briefing held by representatives of the Vatican Press Office, in which, writes Thavis, “We are given a list of some of the themes discussed by the bishops. They carefully avoid giving us any details contained in the speeches, and there is no information about the reaction to the speeches in the Aula. There are no names, there is no information as to who said what. “ Thavis offers a few “not very clear and fragmentary” examples of his impression of what can be gleaned so far from the Synod. To read his whole commentary click here.
If the decision to cover a Synod with a cloak of vagueness (we underscore that this is the first time in a several decades long history) came from the fear that the participants would be able to do or say whatever with an eye for their love for being on stage, then let me say that this would betray an attitude of profound lack of confidence in the pastors of souls who are responsible for millions of Catholics in the whole world. If the Pope and his collaborators do not have faith in them, how are the ordinary faithful supposed to?
There are at least two Synods. One, which we have already mentioned, is the official one referred to in the daily briefing, the information from which is useless in giving us a picture of what is going on in the daily meetings and to understand the positions taken and the dynamics of the participants. Then there is that information that is based on observations within the Aula itself, information that is more or less direct and pilot operated. “What is coming from the news reporters is misleading”, is a comment gathered from this source. “The opinion of three or four is reported as saying..” says nothing about the general picture of the speeches. One example of this type of “direct” information, direct in the sense as we explained above, something that was out there before the Synod began its work, is that some sort of “change” was in the air.
That information about “change” came from what was proposed by Cardinal Kasper. And here it is necessary to note how a non-Italian bishop deplored in a very frank way and in no uncertain terms the very serious “pastoral damage” that was done by someone who engaged in an obsessive propagandizing of his own ideas to the whole world. This bishop was referring to Cardinal Kasper’s active dissemination of his personal views relating to the question of giving Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried.
One bishop from Asia said that Jesus was clear about this matter, but that what he said was 2000 years ago. The African bishops in general showed a great attachment to doctrine and to the current pastoral practice and showed a great deal of “good sense”.
The great majority of the speeches showed agreement on certain points. The Church’s doctrine on marriage is unchangeable, and so it is clearly unthinkable to touch it without provoking devastating consequences. It is essential, however, to know how to explain this doctrine well and in depth, and above all to use language that is attentive to not making people feel offended. But the truth of the constant teaching of the Church (on marriage) can never be set aside.
This sounds like, or can be interpreted as such, as a repudiation of Kasper’s theorem. But then why does the “external” image of what is going on at the Synod seem so different? Those who always take a dim view of things talk about an intentional plan to create a certain public opinion and to extend this message to all bishops, priests, convents, and pastoral workers, to orient them into a particular direction: the direction those in charge want. [Source, in Italian. Rorate translation.]