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Posted on 10/4/2023 17:15 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Oct 4, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).
St. Peter’s Basilica has extended its usual hours of daily Eucharistic adoration this month as the Synod on Synodality assembly meets at the Vatican.
The Vatican announced on Oct. 4 that the basilica will hold an additional hour of adoration in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays to offer the synod delegates and the faithful the chance to pray during the XVI Ordinary Synod of Bishops Oct. 4–29.
St. Peter’s Basilica will also host weekly candlelight rosary processions at 9 p.m. each Saturday in the month of October, a month traditionally dedicated to the prayer of the rosary, as it did in May.
Rosary procession in St. Peter’s Square on the eve of Pentecost pic.twitter.com/t08Vp6APjb— Courtney Mares (@catholicourtney) May 27, 2023
Cardinal Mario Grech, the general secretary of the synod, will preside over the month’s first candlelight rosary procession on Oct. 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary. Synod delegates have been invited to take part in the processions, which will include prayers for the synod assembly.
According to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Eucharistic Holy Hours and Masses scheduled for the synod delegates in St. Peter’s Basilica are open to the general public. The synod Masses will take place in the basilica on Oct. 9, 13, 18, and 23 at 8:45 a.m.
Any Catholics who wish to attend Masses, adoration, or confession in St. Peter’s Basilica can skip the line to enter the basilica using the new prayer entrance.
St. Peter’s Basilica usually offers continuous Eucharistic adoration in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament from Monday to Saturday from about 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., as well as 10 daily Masses on most weekdays.
Posted on 10/4/2023 12:50 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
CNA Staff, Oct 4, 2023 / 08:50 am (CNA).
Just days before the Synod on Synodality kicked off its first round of meetings at the Vatican, a letter from Cardinal Joseph Zen was leaked to media, voicing serious concerns to cardinals and bishops worldwide about the gathering in Rome, and advocating for changes to the synod process as well as spirited discussions of the gathering’s topics.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNA, was dated Sept. 21 — the feast of the Apostle St. Matthew — accuses synod organizers of manipulation and pursuing an agenda rather than allowing for authentic ecclesiastical discourse. News of the letter’s existence was published by The Pillar Wednesday.
The framing of synodality
Zen examines the theological framing of synodality by drawing on a recent document by the International Theological Commission, “Synodality in the life and mission of the Church,” underscoring that synodality, at its core, refers to the “communion and participation of all the members of the Church in the mission of evangelization.”
The cardinal expresses reservations about the scant reference to this critical Vatican-approved document in the preparatory materials for the synod, implying a potential deviation from foundational ecclesiastical principles.
One such principle is “the collegial ministry of bishops,” Zen writes, which is based on the theological foundations of the Second Vatican Council.
“I am confounded by the fact that, on the one hand, I am told that synodality is a constitutive element of the Church, but, on the other hand, I am told that this is what God expects from us for this century (as a novelty?).”
The cardinal, who co-signed the dubia ahead of the synod, adds: “How can God have forgotten to make his Church live out this constitutive element in the 20 centuries of her existence?”
Zen shares “even greater confusion and worry” about “the suggestion being made that finally the day has come to overturn the pyramid, that is, with the hierarchy surmounted by the laypeople.”
Pope Francis used the image of an inverted pyramid in a major speech in 2015, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops in 2015. Describing the role of the apostle Peter as the “rock” atop which the Church is founded, the Holy Father said: “But in this Church, as in an inverted pyramid, the top is located beneath the base.”
The German Synodal Way lesson
Central to the cardinal’s critique is the German Synodal Way, whose participants have voted in favor of documents calling for the priestly ordination of women, same-sex blessings, and changes to Church teaching on homosexual acts, prompting accusations of heresy and fears of schism.
German organizers have rejected all interventions, instead pushing to install a permanent German Synodal Council to oversee the Church in Germany and implement controversial changes.
Nonetheless, Zen notes, the pope “never ordered that this process in Germany” had to stop, and that his speech to the German bishops during their 2022 ad limina visit — typically published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano — remained undisclosed.
Instead, the German bishops announced in March they were moving forward with their plans.
Given the carefully planned and executed developments in Germany, Zen’s letter warns of attempts to depart from the traditional ecclesiastical order, suggesting any apparent democratic reorientation is coupled with proposed revolutionary changes in Church constitution and moral teachings on sexuality.
Zen also notes the precipitous decline in the number of Catholic faithful in Germany since the start of the Synodal Way, stating: “The Church in Germany is dying.” He parallels this collapse with the decline of Catholicism in the Netherlands.
Avoiding Anglican strife
Drawing another parallel, Zen writes: “I think it is not out of place to mention here the great schism that is threatening the Anglican Communion.”
The Anglican Communion is a worldwide fellowship of 85 million Christians, united by historical ties to the Church of England — and currently facing profound internal divisions over issues such as same-sex marriage and the ordination of people identifying as LGBTQ+ to the clergy.
Zen notes that this has led to some Anglicans calling on their head, the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, to repent. Otherwise, they will “no longer accept his leadership,” the letter adds.
Zen refers to the Anglican development as a stark reminder of the divisive paths the Catholic Church could tread if led astray by misinterpretations — or worse, manipulation — of synodality in the pursuit of a questionable agenda.
An agenda and foregone conclusions?
Within this context, the cardinal’s letter accuses the Synod Secretariat — the Vatican office responsible for organizing the Synod on Synodality — of questionable conduct.
“The Synod Secretariat is very efficient at the art of manipulation,” Zen writes, adding: “Often they claim not to have any agenda. This is truly an offense to our intelligence. Anybody can see which conclusions they are aiming at.”
Zen draws upon biblical examples to highlight that change should be reflective of a larger divine schema rather than arbitrary alterations. He emphasizes a continuous, harmonious development of doctrine, in the vein of St. John Henry Newman, rather than any insidious shift in narrative, particularly on sexual morality.
Zen writes that the organizers, while emphasizing the need to “listen to all,” are focusing on one group in particular: “Little by little they make us understand that among these ‘all’ there are especially those whom we have ‘excluded.’ Finally, we understand that what they mean are people who opt for a sexual morality different from that of Catholic tradition.”
A synod radically changed
On the decision to add selected lay participants with a right to vote, the cardinal writes: “If I were one of the members of the synod, I would place a strong protest, because this decision radically changes the nature of the synod, which Pope Paul VI had intended as an instrument of episcopal collegiality, even if, in the spirit of synodality, lay observers were admitted with the possibility to speak out.”
“To give the vote to laypeople could appear to mean that respect is shown for the sensus fidelium, but are they sure that these laypeople who have been invited are fideles? That these laypeople at least still go to church? As a matter of fact, these laypeople have not been elected by the Christian people,” Zen writes.
The cardinal assures the cardinals and bishops: “I do not suggest a protest, but at least a sweet lament with a request: that at least the votes of the bishops and the votes of the laypeople be counted separately.”
The prelate also takes issue with the overall timing of the synod. “There has been no explanation at all for the addition (halfway through) of another synodal session for 2024,” Zen writes. He wonders whether “the organizers, not sure to be able to reach during this session their goals, are opting for more time to maneuver. But, if what the Holy Spirit has wanted to say is clarified through the voting of the bishops, what is the need of another session?”
The need for robust dialogue
The cardinal also accuses the organizers of trying to avoid honest, spirited discussions, stating it’s through such open, robust dialogue — much like during Vatican II — that the Holy Spirit truly operates.
“It seems to me that at Vatican II, before reaching an almost unanimous conclusion, they devoted a lot of time to spirited discussions. It was there that the Holy Spirit worked. To avoid discussions is to avoid the truth.”
The letter calls upon bishops to not merely obey procedural directives unquestioningly, urging them to have accumulated prayers well in advance of the synod, emulating St. John XXIII’s spiritual preparations before Vatican II.
“I am aware that in the Synod on the Family, the Holy Father rejected suggestions presented by several cardinals and bishops precisely regarding the procedure. If you, however, respectfully present a petition supported by numerous signatories, perhaps this will be accepted. In any case, you will have done your duty. To accept an unreasonable procedure is to condemn the synod to failure.”
The 91-year-old cardinal closes with another appeal to his brother bishops and cardinals for prayer — and a petition to change synod procedures. “This letter that I am writing I intend as confidential, but it will not be easy to keep it out of the hands of the mass media. Old as I am, I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. I will be happy to have done what I feel is my duty to do.”
Posted on 10/4/2023 10:03 AM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
CNA Staff, Oct 4, 2023 / 06:03 am (CNA).
Pope Francis on Wednesday released a new document on the environment that he has described as the “second part” of his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si', and which warns of “grave consequences” if humanity continues to ignore the threat of climate change.
The apostolic exhortation, titled Laudate Deum (“Praise God”), is meant to address what Francis in the document calls the “global social issue” of climate change. The pope said that in the eight years since Laudato Si’ was published, “our responses have not been adequate” to address ongoing ecological concerns.
“Climate change is one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community,” the pope wrote in the document, arguing that its effects are borne by the world’s “most vulnerable people” and that the climate issue is “no longer a secondary or ideological question.”
Francis wrote that the effects of climate change “are here and increasingly evident,” and warned of increasing heat waves and the possible melting of the polar ice caps, which he said would lead to “immensely grave consequences for everyone.”
“No one can ignore the fact that in recent years we have witnessed extreme weather phenomena, frequent periods of unusual heat, drought, and other cries of protest on the part of the earth that are only a few palpable expressions of a silent disease that affects everyone,” the pope said.
Warns of ‘resistance’ to climate science
Environmentalism has long been a favorite topic of Francis. Laudato Si’ was heralded at the time of its publication as a revolutionary papal document for its emphasis on Catholic ecological responsibility.
Then-U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops President Bishop Joseph Kurtz called the encyclical “our marching orders for advocacy.” The document launched the Laudato Si’ Movement, which bills itself as a “broad range of Catholic organizations and grassroots members from all over the world” walking “on a journey of ecological conversion.”
In the earlier document Francis conceded that the Church “does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics,” but in the exhortation this week the Holy Father took a more forceful line, criticizing those who “have chosen to deride [the] facts” about climate science and stating bluntly that it is “no longer possible to doubt the human — ‘anthropic’ — origin of climate change.”
“It is not possible to conceal the correlation of these global climate phenomena and the accelerated increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly since the mid-20th century,” Francis wrote. “The overwhelming majority of scientists specializing in the climate support this correlation, and only a very small percentage of them seek to deny the evidence.”
Francis said in the document that what he described as a “technocratic paradigm” has “destroyed” the mutually beneficial relationship with the environment that humans have at times enjoyed. Humanity’s “power and the progress we are producing are turning against us,” the pope argued.
Francis noted that climate mitigation efforts over the years have been met with both “progress and failures,” though the pope expressed hope that next month’s 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference could “allow for a decisive acceleration of energy transition, with effective commitments subject to ongoing monitoring.”
He argued, however, that longtime global diplomatic arrangements have failed to meet the challenges of the climate emergency.
“It continues to be regrettable that global crises are being squandered when they could be the occasions to bring about beneficial changes,” he wrote. The world, he argued, should look toward “the development of a new procedure for decision-making” to solve global problems.
The pope pointed to what he described as the “spiritual motivations” of climate action, noting that the Book of Genesis records that, upon his creation of the universe, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”
“‘Praise God’ is the title of this letter,” Francis wrote at the encyclical’s conclusion. “For when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies.”
Francis since 2015 has been active in warning about the potential devastation posed by climate change. In 2021, he launched the Catholic Church’s seven-year “Laudato Si’ action plan,” which he described as the Church’s part in “a new ecological approach that can transform our way of dwelling in the world.”
The pope later that year joined religious leaders in calling upon the global community to “achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible” to head off potentially devastating temperature rises.
Laudate Deum’s publication date — Oct. 4 — is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, from whom Francis drew his pontifical name at the start of his papacy in 2013. It is also the start date of the first monthlong assembly in Rome of the ongoing Synod on Synodality.
Posted on 10/4/2023 08:15 AM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Oct 4, 2023 / 04:15 am (CNA).
Pope Francis opened the Synod on Synodality’s three-week assembly on Wednesday with a call to remember that the Church exists to bring Jesus to the world and should face today’s challenges with a gaze fixed on God rather than “political calculations or ideological battles.”
Speaking in St. Peter’s Square for the synod’s opening Mass on Oct. 4, Pope Francis underlined that “the primary task of the synod” is to “refocus our gaze on God, to be a Church that looks mercifully at humanity.”
“We do not want to make ourselves attractive in the eyes of the world, but to reach out to it with the consolation of the Gospel, to bear witness to God’s infinite love in a better way and to everyone,” he said.
The pope presided over Mass on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, concelebrated by nearly 500 priests, bishops, and cardinals, including 20 of the Catholic Church’s newest cardinals.
Recalling the Lord’s words to St. Francis, “Go, rebuild my Church,” Pope Francis said that the synod serves as a reminder that “our Mother the Church is always in need of purification, of being ‘repaired,’ for we are a people made up of forgiven sinners … always in need of returning to the source that is Jesus and putting ourselves back on the paths of the Spirit to reach everyone with his Gospel.”
Pope Francis highlighted a question raised by Pope Benedict XVI at the 2012 Synod of Bishops as the “fundamental question” facing the synod: “‘The question for us is this: God has spoken, he has truly broken the great silence, he has shown himself, but how can we communicate this reality to the people of today, so that it becomes salvation?’”
Francis repeated that the synod is not “a political gathering” or a “polarized parliament” but “a place of grace and communion.”
“Dear brother cardinals, brother bishops, sisters and brothers, we are at the opening of the General Assembly of the Synod. Here we do not need a purely natural vision, made up of human strategies, political calculations, or ideological battles. We are not here to carry out a parliamentary meeting or a plan of reformation. No. We are here to walk together with the gaze of Jesus, who blesses the Father and welcomes those who are weary and oppressed,” he said.
The 9 a.m. Mass began under bright sunshine and a soft breeze with a procession through St. Peter’s Square of the delegates in the XVI Ordinary Synod of Bishops, which for the first time includes laymen and women as full voting members.
The synod delegates will meet in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall Oct. 4-29 to advise the pope on the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.” The three-week assembly is the first of the two-part Synod on Synodality that will conclude in 2024.
The Vatican choir led the crowd in the solemn “Laudes Regiæ” hymn, singing “Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands” in Latin with the Litany of the Saints.
At the opening Mass for the Synod of Synodality, lay delegates and bishops process in to the solemn hymn, “Laudes Regiae,” singing “Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands.” pic.twitter.com/bnhwAMqRQ8— Courtney Mares (@catholicourtney) October 4, 2023
The Prayer of the Faithful included a prayer that the Lord will “grant those participating in the work of the synod hearts open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a readiness to listen to their brothers and sisters, and concern for the needs of the Church in today’s world.”
In his homily, Pope Francis outlined his vision for a synodal Church, saying Jesus wants “a Church that is united and fraternal … that listens and dialogues … that blesses and encourages, that helps those who seek the Lord, that lovingly stirs up the indifferent, that opens paths in order to draw people into the beauty of faith … that has God at its center and, therefore, is not divided internally and is never harsh externally.”
He urged people to imitate St. Francis, who lived at a time of “great struggles and divisions … between the institutional Church and heretical currents,” but did not criticize or “lash out” at anyone, choosing instead to take up “only the weapons of the Gospel, which are humility and unity, prayer and charity.”
The pope warned of three dangerous temptations facing the Church today: “of being a rigid Church … which arms itself against the world and looks backwards, of being a lukewarm Church, which surrenders to the fashions of the world, and of being a tired Church, turned in on itself.”
“Jesus’ blessing gaze invites us to be a Church that does not face today’s challenges and problems with a divisive and contentious spirit but, on the contrary, turns its eyes to God who is communion and, with awe and humility, blesses and adores him, recognizing him as its only Lord. We belong to him and — let us remember — we exist only to bring him to the world,” Pope Francis said.
Following the Mass, the synod delegates will take part in the First General Congregation of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, where Pope Francis, Cardinal Mario Grech, and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich will give opening speeches.
Posted on 10/3/2023 19:44 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Oct 3, 2023 / 15:44 pm (CNA).
Just days before the start of the first monthlong assembly of the Synod on Synodality, Pope Francis convened a consistory to create 21 new cardinals — eight of whom are also delegates in the October synodal gathering at the Vatican.
Following a Mass to create the cardinals on Sept. 30, one of the new “red hats” and a synod member, Cardinal Robert Francis Prevost, said: “Being a synodal Church that knows how to listen to everyone is the way not only to live the faith personally but also to grow in true Christian fraternity.”
Reading a letter of thanksgiving, the prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops said Pope Francis has “reminded us that it is necessary to learn to listen like the saints, like St. Francis of Assisi who listened to the voice of God, the voice of the poor, the voice of the sick, the voice of nature.”
“The beauty of the universality of the Church that will be manifested in the unfolding of the synod will be a very important sign, which will be able to speak of the mission that all of us baptized have received, in communion with the successor of Peter and in the profession of the same faith,” the 68-year-old U.S.-born cardinal said.
Six cardinals who are participating in this month’s synodal assembly — and five who are not — told CNA their ideas of, and expectations for, the Synod on Synodality.
Participating in the October assembly:
Cardinal Luis José Rueda Aparicio, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia
The synod is “a beautiful moment, a magnificent moment, a kairós, a time of salvation that can generate some fears in some environments, but I say ‘We must not fear.’ The Lord has told us ‘I am with you every day,’ and if we assume that promise of the Lord as a reality, as the Lord’s faithfulness accompanying us in life, he will accompany us,” he said.
Rueda recalled that the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the synod and asked the laity around the world, as well as in Latin America, and “especially those who follow EWTN and ACI Prensa [CNA’s Spanish-language news partner], to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us and that we will be sensitive, deep, and willing enough to do the will of God, allowing ourselves to be guided by that work of the Spirit that always positively surprises us.”
Cardinal Stephen Chow Sau-yan, SJ, 64, archbishop of Hong Kong, China
“I’m hoping that different voices can be heard. And so I’m happy that … laypeople, men and women, religious are represented as full voting members. That will make the synod a lot richer. I hope we will relearn to listen and to listen deeply.”
Cardinal Ángel Sixto Rossi, SJ, 65, archbishop of Córdoba, Argentina
Rossi said his hope for the synod is “to be able to listen to each other, to be able to dialogue and to be able to discern what the challenges of the Church and the world are. I believe that everything has to be directed at the person, putting the human being at the center. We have forgotten the human being and many times we have to put the person back at the center and from there see how to help make each other a little happier.”
Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, 59, archbishop of South Sudan
“My hope is very wide,” Mulla said. “I know that the Synod on Synodality … it is a way of participating, it is a way of communion, it is a way of mission together — in very simple terms — we should hope that this synod will bring a lot of things that will help us understand our faith in modern times. And we would like to say that the synod may be a way of solving the many problems, the many challenges, that the universal Church is facing in each local state and [universally].”
Cardinal Grzegorz Ryś, 59, archbishop of Łódź, Poland
“There are many [expectations],” Ryś said. “The first one is that we will really be open [to] a synodal Church. The synod is not for writing down documents. A synod is to experience the way of life really given by Christ to us. So, when we become the community of people who share the responsibility, who are open to the different gifts of everyone, we will be ready to go out with the mission. And even before, we will be an important sign for society. Then of course, it’s always great to be in a community coming from the different local Churches just to listen and listen and listen and listen to how they experience the most important things in Christianity. This is always a great lesson.”
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, 61, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith
“People who are afraid of strange or misplaced doctrinal advances, and people who, on the other hand, expect great changes, are going to be really disappointed” in the October synod assembly, Fernández said after the consistory on Sept. 30.
The Synod on Synodality, he said, “is not conceived in this vein. At least not this year. Afterwards, we will see what emerges, and next year we will see what happens, but for this synod, this year, we cannot expect too much.”
What can be expected is a “deepening of our self-awareness, of what we are as Church, what the Lord is asking of us, and what the world of today expects as well, and how we can better reach people with the same message we have always had,” he said.
Not participating in the October assembly:
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, 58, patriarch of Jerusalem
About his expectations for the Synod on Synodality, Pizzaballa said: “I am not expecting anything specific and precise. What we need to be helped — and everyone in their own context, in different contexts because the Church is plural — is … to have some criteria of the understanding of reality in order to understand how to deal with this reality. But the answer cannot be the same in the Middle East, in Italy, New York, and South Africa…” About his hope for the synod, the cardinal responded: “My hope is Jesus Christ and the risen Lord. All the other things come after.”
Cardinal Christophe Pierre, 77, apostolic nuncio to the United States
“The pope, when he launched the synod … made a beautiful homily — for me it’s the light: ‘walking together.’ Why do we need to walk together? Because we live in a world which is threatened by individualism, the fragmentation of society. We have to rediscover togetherness,” Pierre told a small group of journalists Sept. 29.
“And in order to work together in a divided world we need to adopt a new method,” he continued. “Synodality is a method of the Church. We are not here to invent a different Church. Some people are afraid of that — that’s why there is some skepticism, some opposition, some fear. Okay, I understand, you know, that in front of new things you may be afraid. But at the end of the process, we have to start, and this is why the pope wants it. He invites us to learn the way, in the Church, to work together, to dialogue, and to dialogue always in prayer, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, in order to discern what we have to do. This is what the synod is about. So I am not afraid, I am very happy. If the Church is not synodal, it will disappear.”
Cardinal Diego Rafael Padrón Sánchez, 84, archbishop emeritus of Cumaná, Venezuela
Padrón said he expects “a lot” from the Synod on Synodality, and the fact that laity will also participate in the October assembly, he added, “is a contribution that in history will mean a lot, because it will be a very great message for the population, society, and the entire world.”
Cardinal Stephen Brislin, 67, archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa
Brislin was asked to expand on a comment he made to Vatican News in July, when he said the fact that the consistory was scheduled to take place right before the synod was “a wonderful opportunity for the Church, as we embark and battle and struggle with quite a number of new issues that we haven’t really faced as Church before.”
Brislin said Sept. 28: “I think one of the biggest battles that we all face as a Church and as people who believe in God is the fact that so many people seem to be falling away from the Church, so many people seem to be losing their faith. And to me one of the biggest struggles is how do we actually reach out to people. Because we’re offering life to people, God is offering life to people through us. How can we convey that to people in ways in which they understand?”
Cardinal José Cobo Cano, 58, archbishop of Madrid, Spain
The synod “is a process that is guided by the Holy Spirit, but not remotely controlled, but counting on us. I think it is the image of a father who trusts his children, gives his trust to his children and his children grow up, and the father feels very happy because the children have taken up what the father has done for them,” Cobo said. The Holy Spirit “does not remotely control them,” but “accompanies them and guides them … that is the Spirit and that is what he is going to do in the synod, what he has done in the Church throughout its life. He is always accompanying. And when the Church wants to listen to him, he lets himself be heard.”
Almudena Martínez-Bordiú, Courtney Mares, and Colm Flynn contributed to this report.
Posted on 10/3/2023 18:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Oct 3, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).
The Vatican on Monday publicly released responses to 10 “dubia” submitted by Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka regarding “the administration of the Eucharist to divorced couples living in a new union.”
Originally submitted by the archbishop emeritus of Prague on July 13 on behalf of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s response — signed both by Pope Francis and new prefect Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández — had been issued to the Czech cardinal on Sept. 25.
At the heart of Duka’s dubia and the Vatican’s response was the practical application of Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation issued after the 2015 Synod on the Family. The questions submitted focus on pastoral guidance for the reception of Communion by those sacramentally married but “divorced and remarried” to another person other than their spouse.
Read the text of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s response below, translated by CNA’s Matthew Santucci:
Response to a series of questions, proposed by His Eminence Cardinal Dominik Duka, OP, regarding the administration of the Eucharist to divorced couples living in a new union.
On July 13, 2023, a request was received by this department from His Eminence Cardinal Dominik Duka, OP, archbishop emeritus of Prague, on behalf of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, who asks a series of questions regarding the administration of the Eucharist to divorced people living in a new union.
Although some of the questions are not drafted clearly enough and, therefore, may be a harbinger of some inaccuracies, this dicastery intends to respond to help resolve the doubts raised by them.
Is it possible for a diocese in a union of the bishops’ conference to make decisions completely autonomously, referring to the facts cited in questions 2 and 3?
The apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, a document of the ordinary pontifical magisterium, towards which all are called to offer the homage of intelligence and will, states that “priests have the duty to accompany [the divorced and remarried] in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop.” In this sense, it is possible, indeed it is desirable, that the ordinary of a diocese establishes some criteria which, in line with the teaching of the Church, can help priests in the accompaniment and discernment of divorced people living in a new union.
Can Pope Francis’ response to the question from the pastoral section of the diocese of Buenos Aires, given that the text was published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, be considered an affirmation of the ordinary magisterium of the Church?
As indicated in the rescript accompanying the two documents on the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, these are published “velut magisterium authenticum,” that is, as authentic magisterium (teaching).
Is it a decision of the ordinary magisterium of the Church based on the document Amoris Laetitiae?
As the Holy Father recalls in his letters to the delegate of the pastoral region of Buenos Aires, Amoris Laetitia was the result of the work and prayer of the whole Church, with the mediation of two synods and the pope. This document is based on the magisterium of previous popes, who already recognized the possibility for divorced people in new unions to access the Eucharist, as long as they assume “the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples,” as it was proposed by John Paul II or to “commit (themselves) to living their relationship ... as friends” as proposed by Benedict XVI. Francis maintains the proposal of full continence for the divorced and remarried in a new union, but admits that there may be difficulties in practicing it and therefore allows in certain cases, after adequate discernment, the administration of the sacrament of reconciliation even when it is not possible in being faithful to the continence proposed by the Church.
Is it Amoris Laetitiae’s intention to institutionalize this solution through a permit or an official decision for individual couples?
Point 1 of the document “basic criteria for the application of chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia” expressly states: “It is not appropriate to speak of ‘permissions’ to access the sacraments, but rather of a process of discernment accompanied by a pastor. It is a ‘personal and pastoral’ discernment” (AL, 300). It is therefore a question of pastoral accompaniment as an exercise of the “via caritatis,” which is nothing other than an invitation to follow the path “of Jesus: of mercy and reinstatement.” Amoris Laetitia opens the possibility of accessing the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist when, in a particular case, there are limitations that attenuate responsibility and culpability (guilt). On the other hand, this process of accompaniment does not necessarily end with the sacraments, but can be oriented towards other forms of integration in the life of the Church: a greater presence in the community, participation in prayer or reflection groups, or involvement in various ecclesial services.
Who should be the evaluator of the situation given the couples in question, any confessor, local parish priest, vicar forane, episcopal vicar, or penitentiary?
It is about starting an itinerary of pastoral accompaniment for the discernment of each individual person. Amoris Laetitia underlines that all priests have the responsibility to accompany interested people on the journey of discernment. It is the priest who welcomes the person, listens to him carefully and shows him the maternal face of the Church, accepting his right intention and his good purpose to place his whole life in the light of the Gospel and to practice charity. But it is each person, individually, who is called to put himself before God and expose his conscience to him, with both his possibilities and limits. This conscience, accompanied by a priest and enlightened by the guidelines of the Church, is called to be formed to evaluate and give a sufficient judgment to discern the possibility of accessing the sacraments.
Would it be appropriate for these to be dealt with by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal?
In cases where it is possible to establish a declaration of nullity, the appeal to the ecclesiastical tribunal will be part of the discernment process. The Holy Father wanted to simplify these processes through the motu proprio Mitis Iudex. The problem arises in more complex situations in which it is not possible to obtain a declaration of nullity. In these cases, a process of discernment may also be possible which stimulates or renews the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, also in the sacraments.
Can this principle be applied to both parties of a civilly divorced marriage, or distinguish the degree of fault and proceed accordingly?
St. John Paul II had already stated that “the judgment of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience.” Therefore, it is a process of individual discernment in which “the divorced and remarried should ask themselves: how did they act towards their children when the conjugal union entered into crisis; whether or not they made attempts at reconciliation; what has become of the abandoned party; what consequences the new relationship has on the rest of the family and the community of the faithful; and what example is being set for young people who are preparing for marriage. A sincere reflection can strengthen trust in the mercy of God, which is not denied anyone.”
In the case of this single permission, is it to be understood that married life (the sexual aspect) must not be mentioned in the sacrament of reconciliation?
Even in the sacrament of marriage, the sexual life of the spouses is the subject of an examination of conscience to confirm that it is a true expression of love and that it helps growth in love. All aspects of life must be placed before God.
Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the entire issue to be explained better in the text of your competent dicastery?
Based on the words of the Holy Father in the letter of response to the delegate of the Buenos Aires pastoral region, in which it was stated that there are no other interpretations, it seems that the issue is sufficiently explained in the aforementioned document.
How to proceed to establish internal unity, but also to avoid disturbing the ordinary magisterium of the Church?
It would be appropriate for the episcopal conference to agree on some minimum criteria, to implement the proposals of Amoris Laetitia, which help priests in the processes of accompaniment and discernment regarding the possible access to the sacraments of some divorcees in a new union, without prejudice to the legitimate authority that each bishop has in his own diocese.
Ex Audientia Die: 25/9/2023
Posted on 10/3/2023 15:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Winona, Minn., Oct 3, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).
Editor’s note: This article was published at Word on Fire on Sept. 26, 2023, and originally appeared in The Courier, the newspaper of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota. It is reprinted here on CNA with permission.
I would like to begin with an apology, for I am going to be absent from our diocese for the next roughly five weeks. Last November, along with four other of my brother bishops, I was elected as a delegate to the international Synod on Synodality, which will take up the entire month of October. The pope has asked all of the delegates to be present for an ecumenical prayer service in Rome in late September and then for a three-day retreat to be conducted just prior to the opening of the synod — so five weeks in total. I will confess to having some mixed feelings about all this. I love Rome, and October is a beautiful month to be in the Eternal City, and I’m certainly excited about participating in a high-level discussion regarding some important matters in the life of the Church. But I don’t like the prospect of being away from the diocese for such a long stretch of time. That said, I’m leaving our local Church in good hands. Father Will Thompson, my vicar general, will keep a steady hand on the tiller, as will Father Mark McNea, my vicar for clergy, and through my faithful assistant Leandra Hubka, I will stay in close contact in case of any emergencies.
I was a delegate to the Synod on Young People five years ago, so I have a feel for what to expect at this monthlong meeting. We will work six days a week — Monday through Saturday — deliberating in plenary sessions and in small language groups. The workday will last from 8:30 in the morning until 7:30 in the evening, with a couple-hour break in the afternoon for a siesta in the Roman manner. There will be delegates from all over the world, this time including a large contingent of laypeople. Our discussions will be based on what they call an Instrumentum Laboris, or “working document,” which for this synod represents the culmination of two years of listening sessions with Catholics from across the globe. At the last synod I attended, we produced and voted on a final document expressive of our convictions. This won’t happen at the October synod, since there will be a follow-up session this time next year. Only when that has played out will, presumably, a final statement be prepared. If this synod is like the last one I attended, the pope will be personally present at practically every session, but he won’t say very much, since he will want all the delegates to feel free to express their opinions. The proceedings will close with a festive Mass in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Francis.
So that’s the form and structure of the synod, but what about the substance? As the pope and his representatives have stressed, over and again, the Synod on Synodality will be about involving the entire Church, the whole people of God, in the fulfillment of Christ’s commission to announce the Gospel to all nations. It will be about all of us — clergy and laity — walking together (“syn-hodos,” “on the way with” in Greek) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this measure, the synod will be very much in continuity with Vatican II’s universal call to holiness and the consistent postconciliar emphasis on a “new” evangelization. It will embody Pope Francis’ oft-stated desire for a Church that goes out from itself all the way to the margins in order to bring Christ to everyone. There is plenty of material in the Instrumentum Laboris along these lines, and I am eager to participate in conversations that will give rise to ever more effective strategies to accomplish the Church’s evangelical purpose. As I have often said, the Church should be deeply interested in sending great Catholic lawyers, physicians, business leaders, investors, educators, writers, and entertainers into the world as leaven.
If I might, I would also like to share a concern about the synod. Based upon the hundreds of interventions I read when I was monitoring the pre-synodal process in my pastoral region in California, upon the findings of the Continental stage, and upon the Instrumentum Laboris itself, I would say that the dominant concern of those who participated is to provide a greater sense of welcome to those who feel alienated from the life of the Church. The people they have in mind include especially women and those in the LGBT community. Now, addressing feelings of alienation and trying to make the Church as welcoming as possible is always a legitimate pastoral concern. Always.
But some have been suggesting that the synod ought to consider a change in the Church’s moral teaching and sacramental discipline in order to make alienated Catholics feel more included. And here I hesitate, precisely because feelings, however intense, do not in themselves constitute a theological argument. There are a variety of reasons — some good, some bad — why a person might feel unwelcome in the Church. If that alienation is the product of hatred or stupid prejudice, then the situation must be addressed immediately and directly. But if the estrangement is caused by a deep disconnect between what the Church legitimately demands and the manner in which someone is living, then the needful thing is for that person to change his attitude. The point is that we cannot adjudicate the matter by remaining at the level of feelings. We have to move to the level of real argument based on the Bible, the theological tradition, and the natural moral law. My very real hope is that the engagement of both the pastoral and properly theological dimensions of this issue of inclusivity will be a key work of the synod.
Could I ask you please to pray for me and for all of the delegates to the synod as we commence our work? And might I ask that your prayer take the form of a simple invocation of the Holy Spirit?
Posted on 10/2/2023 23:48 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Oct 2, 2023 / 19:48 pm (CNA).
On a day dominated by news of five cardinals publishing a set of “dubia” to Pope Francis and the Vatican in turn releasing the pope’s responses, another significant set of “responsa” (“responses”) to a leading prelate’s request for clarification on a controversial moral doctrine was also published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Vatican on Monday publicly released responses to 10 dubia submitted by Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka regarding “the administration of the Eucharist to divorced couples living in a new union.”
Originally submitted by the archbishop emeritus of Prague on July 13 on behalf of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, the DDF’s response — signed both by Pope Francis and new prefect Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández — had been issued to the Czech cardinal on Sept. 25.
At the heart of Duka’s dubia and the Vatican’s response was the practical application of Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation issued after the 2015 Synod on the Family, and in particular, its pastoral guidance for the reception of Communion by those sacramentally married but “divorced and remarried” to another person other than their spouse.
The presumptive ghostwriter of the pope’s 2015 exhortation and now head of Francis’ doctrine office, Fernández did not hesitate from weighing in authoritatively on the questions posed to him by the Czech prelate — a noticeable shift from the DDF’s previous engagement with questions on Amoris Laetitia, which included not answering previously submitted dubia.
On the question of admittance to the Eucharist for a Catholic divorced from his/her sacramentally married spouse but civilly remarried to another, Fernández wrote that while priests should provide pastoral accompaniment to the individual, “it is each person, individually, who is called to put himself before God and expose his conscience to him, with both its possibilities and its limits,” and evaluate their disposition to receive.
“This conscience, accompanied by a priest and enlightened by the guidelines of the Church, is called to be formed to evaluate and give a sufficient judgment to discern the possibility of accessing the sacraments.”
Amoris Laetitia’s guidance on this subject caused controversy upon its promulgation. Five dubia submitted in 2016 by four cardinals — including two of the five cardinals who sent the pope dubia earlier this summer, the American Cardinal Raymond Burke and the German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller — asked the pope to clarify if St. John Paul II’s teaching in Veritatis Splendor (“The Splendor of Truth”) “on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions” was still valid in the wake of Amoris Laetitia, and other related questions on conscience and circumstances. Pope Francis never responded.
Now in the present, Fernández wrote that, as the pope’s response to back-to-back synods on the family in 2014 and 2015, Amoris Laetitia “was the result of the work and prayer of the whole Church.”
Its guidance on Communion for the divorced and remarried was also based on the magisterium of Pope Francis’ two predecessors, the DDF prefect wrote, though whereas those two popes recognized that divorced-and-remarried Catholics could partake in the Eucharist if they were “committed … to abstain from the acts proper to spouses” (St. John Paul II) or if they were “to commit [themselves] to living their relationship … as friends” (Benedict XVI), Francis “admits that there may be difficulties in practicing [continence] and therefore allows in certain cases, after adequate discernment, the administration of the sacrament of reconciliation even when it is not possible in being faithful to the continence proposed by the Church.”
Amoris Laetitia also “opens the possibility of accessing the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist when, in a particular case, there are limitations that attenuate responsibility and culpability (guilt)” — though Fernández notes that “this process of accompaniment does not necessarily end with the sacraments” but could point to other, nonsacramental forms of communion and inclusion.
Drawing directly from Amoris Laetitia, the DDF’s response states that in the necessary process of discernment, “remarried divorcees should ask themselves how they behaved towards their children when the marital union entered into crisis; whether there have been attempts at reconciliation; how the partner’s situation is abandoned; what consequences the new relationship has on the rest of the family and the community of the faithful; what example it offers to young people who must prepare for marriage. A sincere reflection can strengthen trust in the mercy of God, which is not denied to anyone."
“A sincere reflection can strengthen trust in the mercy of God, which is not denied anyone,” reads that Vatican response, quoting Amoris Laetitia.
The responsa also affirmed that bishops should develop Amoris Laetitia-based criteria in their dioceses that “can help priests in the accompaniment and discernment of divorced people living in a new union,” and that bishops of the Buenos Aires’ pastoral region’s application of Amoris, which Francis called “the only interpretation,” should be taken as “authentic magisterium” and that no other comprehensive explanation would be forthcoming.
The responses avoided responding directly to whether acts committed in the sexual life of the couple consisting of at least one divorced and remarried Catholic should “be mentioned in the sacrament of reconciliation,” but the DDF prefect wrote that the couple’s sexual life should be “subject to an examination of conscience to confirm that it is a true expression of love and that it helps growth in love.”
“All aspects of life must be placed before God,” it stated.
Finally, in response to Duka’s question of how the Czech bishops could “proceed to establish internal unity” on the issue of pastoral guidance for the divorced and remarried, “but also to avoid disturbing the ordinary magisterium of the Church,” Fernández wrote that the bishops’ conference should “agree on some minimum criteria to implement the proposals of Amoris Laetitia” to help priests “in the process of accompaniment and discernment regarding the possible access to the sacraments of divorces in a new union, without prejudice to the legitimate authority that each bishop has in his own diocese.”
Posted on 10/2/2023 22:30 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
ACI Prensa Staff, Oct 2, 2023 / 18:30 pm (CNA).
Jesuit Father James Martin, who will attend the first session of the Synod on Synodality as a participant appointed by Pope Francis, said that “without a doubt, there are many chaste and celibate gay priests in the Church. It’s important that that be said.”
In an Oct. 1 interview with the Spanish newspaper El Periódico, Martin stressed that “it is crucial to point out that these priests lead a chaste and celibate life, like their heterosexual colleagues, and dedicate their lives to service in the Church. It’s probably always been this way.”
In his opinion, “it is impossible” to know their number “due to the stigma that still exists” for which “many have suffered in silence due to ridicule.”
The priest, known for his pro-LGBTQ activism within the Catholic Church, said that those who prepared the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod on Synodality have told him that “half of the dioceses around the world have mentioned the need for greater welcoming and inclusion” of these persons.
“This is not limited to the West,” Martin added, “but is spread throughout the world. However, it’s not surprising either. As more people identify as LGBTQ, more families, parishes, and dioceses are affected. Therefore, there is a natural and growing interest in understanding how to provide pastoral care to the LGBTQ community.”
Asked if his goal is “mission impossible” because of the presence at the synod of very conservative Catholics, some of them high-ranking, Martin commented: “My goal is to listen to the Holy Spirit, and I think that should be everyone’s goal.”
‘I don’t know what to expect’
Regarding the possibility of tensions within the first session of the Synod on Synodality, Martin said “it’s probably inevitable, but we should not fear tensions” because, for example, “the first synod in the history of the Church was the Council of Jerusalem, which took place around the year 50 A.D. There was a lot of tension at that time, but the Holy Spirit was still able to act.”
Regarding the possibility that some of his postulates will be accepted in this first session of the Synod of Synodality, Martin said: “To be honest, I really don’t know what to expect. I think that at this first meeting we will focus on how to dialogue with each other and listen to each other.”
As for why he thought that some of the more conservative voices in the Church are in the American clergy, Martin replied: “Perhaps it’s because many people admired Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as is also the case with me. However, now Pope Francis has taken a different approach. Fundamentally speaking, there has been no change, but some people may be confused.”
“What I find truly disconcerting,” Martin continued, “is that in the United States, some of the same people who argued that a pope should never be criticized during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict, now do so every day under the pontificate of Francis.”
Asked how he views the criticism by some U.S. clergy of the German Synodal Way, the Jesuit priest replied: “I don’t see it as a fight. Both churches are responding to what they see as the needs of their people. It’s true that some German Church leaders may have a more progressive approach in some respects, but fundamentally there is no difference. After all, we all recite the same Creed on Sundays.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 10/2/2023 20:35 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
CNA Staff, Oct 2, 2023 / 16:35 pm (CNA).
The prelates, who also issued a “Notification to Christ’s Faithful,” hail from the diverse ecclesiastical landscapes of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller
The 94-year-old German-born cardinal, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, has engaged with Pope Francis in the past on the topic of Church doctrine; he was among the four cardinals who in 2016 issued a set of five dubia to Pope Francis regarding the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Those dubia sought to address several controversial passages in that document regarding divorced and remarried Catholics, with the prelates arguing that the document could be interpreted as “teach[ing] a change in the discipline of the Church” regarding marriage and the sacraments.
In August 2022, Brandmüller criticized Francis’ formation of an extraordinary consistory that month, arguing that the event had been organized in order to prevent full and open discussion among the cardinals participating in it.
Cardinal Raymond Burke
The 75-year-old Burke was born in Wisconsin and served as bishop of La Crosse from 1995–2004 and as archbishop of St. Louis from 2004–2008. From 2008 to 2014, he was prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He joined Brandmüller in writing the 2016 dubia; the two cardinals are the only remaining prelates of that group who are still alive. Burke in 2019 was critical of that year’s Synod on the Pan-Amazon Region, claiming that the meeting’s Instrumentum Laboris seemed “not only in dissonance with respect to the authentic teaching of the Church, but even contrary to it.”
Burke has further challenged Francis’ authority to eliminate the Latin rite in the Catholic Church. Earlier this year, he joined German Cardinal Gerhard Müller in rebuking the German Synodal Way, which has voted in favor of blessing same-sex unions and unions between divorced and “remarried” Catholics.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, SDB
The 91-year-old Zen, who previously served as the sixth bishop of Hong Kong from 2002–2009, has tangled with the Vatican by claiming that its secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, “manipulates the pope” on Church policy in communist China.
Zen had unsuccessfully sought a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome in late 2020, asking the Holy Father to appoint a new bishop to Hong Kong where the seat had been vacant since January 2019. In May 2021, Francis appointed Bishop Stephen Chow, who was elevated to a cardinal on Sept. 30, to serve in that role.
Pope Francis and Zen would finally meet in January of this year while the latter was in Rome for the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI. “It was wonderful. He was so very warm!” Zen told America magazine at the time.
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez
The 90-year-old Mexican prelate served previously as archbishop of Guadalajara from 1994–2011. He participated in the papal conclaves that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and then Pope Francis in 2013. He has been known for controversial statements regarding homosexuality and Protestants.
Sandoval Íñiguez was also among the two Mexican cardinals found guilty of “proselytism” for allegedly encouraging Catholics to vote for particular candidates, which is forbidden under Mexican law.
The Mexican Episcopal Conference responded that the prelates had merely “made personal pronouncements on the social reality of the country” rather than advocate for a particular candidate.
Cardinal Robert Sarah
Well-known globally for his seven-year stint as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Sarah, 78, has also served as the archbishop of Conakry from 1979–2001, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum under Pope Benedict XVI, and the secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples under Pope John Paul II.
The Guinea-born prelate had stressed his fidelity to Francis upon retiring from his prefect post in 2021, stating that he has “tried to be a loyal, obedient, and humble servant of the truth of the Gospel” and that he has “never opposed the pope.”
Earlier this summer, in an apparent reference to concerns over this month’s synod and its rumored consideration of female ordination, Sarah spoke at a conference in Mexico City.
“No council, no synod, no ecclesiastical authority has the power to invent a female priesthood,” Sarah said, “without seriously damaging the perennial physiognomy of the priest, his sacramental identity, within the renewed ecclesiological vision of the Church, mystery, communion, and mission.”
The cardinal in June urged Catholics to utilize Scripture, prayer, and other spiritual endeavors to serve as “witnesses to the truth in a world in crisis.”