“Sparks are flying”

I come early to the press conference at the Vatican Press Office to, I confess, eavesdrop a bit on the conversations of the other journalists.  Most don’t pay me too much attention. I am presuming they don’t know I am an English speaker.  Today I heard one journalist go up to another one and say very bluntly, “The sparks are flying”.  He agreed but didn’t elaborate.  He is probably one of a handful that knows I speak English and kind of looked my way after she said it.  All of them have their “inside track” that pumps them a steady stream of information and little juicy tidbits.  The journalists are a clannish and gossipy bunch but that is how they get their information or mis-information at times.

However, based on the panelists from today, all is well as they usually claim.  Right.  From their answers, I am sensing a concerted effort at diversion away from the “hot button” issues by trying to make the case that these are not the concerns of the majority of the world, just the west.  However, I would beg to differ with that take based in this intervention that you can read here.  I find the experience of this brother, who in reality is a layman as all non-ordained consecrated are considered lay, was elected by his order to come to the Synod.  As one of the member of orders, he has a vote.  His words in this intervention ring true.  I think that what we are experiencing in the west is gradually creeping into these other countries that some of the Synod Fathers see as bastions of true Catholicism that will never have “those kinds of problems”.  Granted, I agree that in many parts of the world there are very  huge problems that we have no idea how badly mangle families in those countries.  However, I may be coming to a bit of resentment that because we seem to be “minor” in the scheme of things, our issues are not to be dealt with.  I seem to remember the African bishops last year getting into a bit of a snite because they were treated a bit as nobodies.  

In my notes following, Bishop Mark Coleridge takes the majority of the time in speaking.  He seemed quite long-winded at times as compared to his colleagues.  He has been described to me as “one of the good guys” by another reporter.  I don’t think that is quite clear.  He does have some good things to say, but I sense he is not happy with the process of the Synod.  In his introductory remarks he seems to be pining for the good old days of the past Synods where everything was nice and tidy and all clear.  He doesn’t mention that in those Synods the speeches given were only those that had been pre-approved by the Synod office….read by the Pope in that.  No one was allowed to speak unless their speech was pre-approved.  There was no free time either for interventions.  These Synods were foregone conclusions from the start and provided very little in the way of usefulness for the Church.  They produced little that was “new and fresh” to quote PF.  In this Synod, these guys are getting a Jesuit lesson in discernment.  They now have to use their brains that God gave them and truly trust in that Holy Spirit they all nicely talk about but you wonder if they really believe works in the Church as they like to tell all of us.  The Holy Spirit does not just drop nice little tidy answers out of the sky as they have thought that only they were privy to.  Real life stories are biting them on the butt…or the Holy Spirit is peaking away at their silk clad behinds.  Coleridge talks of “something can come from the process of fermentation” but I sense they haven’t really read the story where Jesus says you can’t then put it in old wineskins.  It seems to me all of this talk of finding new language is just that…trying to put new wine into old wineskins.  Have these guys really read the Gospels??

Coleridge also mentions going to the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the establishment of the Synod this last Saturday out of a sense of duty.  Watching that video, I would say he wasn’t the only one.  I think PF completely caught them off guard with that speech.  He seems to like to do that.  Be sure to read it.  I posted a link yesterday for it.  It has been mentioned in several reports that he received a standing ovations.  Again, watching the body language I think many of them stood up just to follow along.  It would have been too obvious they were sitting.  It was not out of any respect for what PF had to say. The vision for the Church that he outlines is one that many of these men want nothing to do with because they might have to work harder at being pastors, collaborate and dialogue with the laity, with those smelly sheep.  They see themselves above all that.  They also see the decentralization he is talking abut as a loss of power and that is something that might make them dangerous.  The fact that Coleridge asked his small group this morning “What, if any, will Pope Francis’ speech have on the remainder of the Synod?”, tells me he IS worried it will have an affect.  He was feeling out his small group on what that might mean.  None of these guys ever want to be caught flat-footed.

I leave on Wednesday in the very early morning.  I am not sure how tomorrow will shake out in terms of time for me.  I need to pack, figuring out how to pack in about 10 books I bought.  You may not see the notes of tomorrow’s press conference until Thursday after I overcome any jet lag….and have a good soak in my hot tub!  I will try to keep you all informed as best I can on the goings on.  Here are some more article links:

http://americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/cardinal-wuerl-calls-out-popes-opponents

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/has-synod-turned-corner

And in case you missed this guy’s diatribe:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/opinion/sunday/the-plot-to-change-catholicism.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-regionhttp:/www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/opinion/sunday/the-plot-to-change-catholicism.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-regionhttp:/www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/opinion/sunday/the-plot-to-change-catholicism.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

Below are my notes from today’s press conference.

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Synod 2015
Press Conference
October 19, 2015

Please note: although the words and responses of the various entities seem verbatim, they are a “summary” of what I heard them say. Do not assume everything here is exactly as it was said. I do my best to take accurate notes but these news conferences are very fast paced. I have transcribed full text of any English speaking panelist or journalist. from the video.
Panelists:
Fr. Lombardi, Vatican Spokesperson
Beat. F Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Bp. M Coleridge, Brisbane, Aus
Bp. E Solmi, Parman, IT

Lombardi:
You have asked for an official translation of the Pope’s speech at the 5oth Anniversary Celebration for the Synod on Saturday. It is available on the Vatican Radio site. This morning no other common interventions occurred. The only ones were from late last Friday. So we will go to the introductions.

Twal:
The mission of you journalists is to satisfy the need for information on the Synod. We are in the third week. We are a bit tired. The small working groups are tired. We have a collective attitude though. I have invited some of the Synod Fathers to come to Jerusalem. I feel welcomed here in the Synod. There are different attitudes due to diverse attitudes. We can’t agree on all of the challenges. All of the Synod Fathers want what is good for the family. There has been no aspect of the family not touched upon.

Coleridge:
It has been seriously hard work. I was on one earlier Synod, in 2008: the Synod on the Word of God. Things seemed to be much clearer and calmer and better organized in one sense than this Synod with the new format. I can say that looking back over the first two weeks it’s been very much a work in progress. Because in the first week, the task itself was not clear. Because the task was not clear, neither was the method. However, as we moved along through the second week, the task has been clear and so too has the method and we have moved more briskly through the working document. I think it’s fair to say that there has been wide-spread unease about the working document, whether or not it is strong enough to serve as a basis or a frame for the entire work of the Synod. It is a difficult document both in structure and content and certainly its translation to English. But, none the less, it’s the document we’ve been give. As the Patriarch (Twal..rr) said, I think there has been a certain weakness and as we begin the third week, I have a strong sense from this morning’s small group discussion that we wonder how we’re going to get through to Sunday morning, how we’re going to finalize a document. I have the deepest sympathy for those who have to write it. I have to hack through the modi (the suggestions made for changes coming from the small group discussions….rr) as one of the “relators” (reporters for the small group who summarizes its discussions and turns them into the final document writing committee..rr). Others have to take all that material and produce a wwll-honed, and I hope, polished document. Then we have to vote on it paragraph by paragraph. Again earlier Synods, when we had propositions, it all seemed clearer and simpler. But one other thought that struck me was that once you set your boat upon the tide of discernment, then it’s always going to be a bit messy and uncertain. That’s what I think we’re on about is the path of discernment because Pope Francis has moved the Synod from event to process, from late 2013 up until this very day. It’s a messy process. It’s had its challenges, its moments of confusion. I think there is a confidence deep down that something can emerge from the process of fermentation. I don’t think we are ever going to get consensus on some of those “hot button” issues, but was that ever a realistic possibility? I doubt it. The one thing that is certain about next Sunday is we won’t have finished the task. This journey will continue. One of the great surprises of the Synod, to me, has been the pope’s speech on Saturday. I went there more out of a sense of duty than anything fearing what I dare call a “Latin talk fest”, which it was spectacularly. Just as we were all wilting, up popped the Pope and delivered a most remarkable speech in my view. It was nothing if not substantial, even programmatic. That has certainly given me fresh energy. Yesterday, I was asked what was the most memorable moment of the Synod journey for me so far. I would have to say it was that speech. My question as we worked through the document this morning was what, if any, affect that speech would have on what is remaining of the Synod’s work? I’ll leave it there. It has been a fascinating journey to this point It remains uncertain to where it will take us through the week, but it has been a thoroughly challenging process of discernment and not just of discernment of a single issues. One of my observations would be that marriage and the family are, in fact, not one issue obviously. There are all kinds of issues gathered under that rubric of marriage and the family. The sheer range of issues has been one of the reasons why this work has proved so challenging.

Solmi:
I am the bishop of parmesan cheese and prosciutto! I am president of the Italian Episcopal Conference’s commission on youth. I was appointed to the Synod by the Italian Episcopal Conference. I have understood the sense of “catholic” in working with the Synod, of the different situations and opinions coming from all over the world. It is less “western” than I apparently understood. Representatives of all families from the world are in it. Their values and specific interests are less interesting to the western world. I have lived experience with the lived experience of families having worked 20 years in pastoral care. The Synod studies the desires of families not just on specific issues but on welcoming all families into the Church. A climate is pursued in active listening and frank opinions and nuanced opinions. There are big issues of the family and marriage. The Holy Father asked us to look into family with the eyes of God and with the possibility to do good for the family. The Holy Father will draw conclusions form our work.

Questions:
1. This question is for all three panelists. Thursday morning in the General Session, a Synod Father told the story of a child of divorced and remarried parents who shared her Eucharist with her parents. It was a story that apparently many Synod Fathers were moved by and following it have changed their opinions. I want to know whether they have been personally moved regarding divorce and remarriage and the reception of Eucharist. Also, what are some take-home measures you have encountered in the Synod?

Twal:
Yes, I was moved by the story of this gesture. It is a real tragedy for all of us. We haven’t taken up discussion yet in our small group on this and other painful issues. Take-home measures for me: many questions spring to mind.

Coleridge:
To tell you the truth, I don’t remember this intervention but that may well be because as one of the “relators” I was out of the room hacking my way through a mountain of “modi”. So, I don’t, and I would have remembered it. I don’t doubt I would have been deeply touched by the story. Some of the most affecting moments of the Synod interventions, many of them, have been these sorts of anecdotes. What a story like that tells us the need for us to be in touch with the reality of human experiences. I think at times—and I’ve said this publicly—that we bishops can indulge in a kind of “church speak” that can be rather abstract. In itself it can be true and beautiful and seem wondrous to us but the feeling you have at times is that it doesn’t quite put down roots in human experience. I myself intervened in the free discussion through the week just to say that a married couple who had been at the Synod last year said to me that this was primarily a Synod about sexuality but you wouldn’t know that necessarily from the working document or from the interventions in which sexuality was mentioned obviously. But it tended to be rather muted and abstract which may have had something to do with the composition of the Synod assembly. I find myself reminding myself, and perhaps others, in certain situations that this is a pastoral Synod. It needs theology and all that goes with being genuinely pastoral but it has to be primarily a pastoral Synod that is deeply, deeply in touch with real human experience like that one, particularly in areas of marriage and the family. In human lives and in the life of the Church it’s where the rubber hits the road. I don’t think I was in the aula (the main Synod hall…rr). I was out the back working hard. I wish I’d been in the aula to hear it. Had I been it would have touched me deeply. Would it have made me shift ground on the question of communion for those civilly married who have been divorced? I’m not sure. I would need to have been there and read my own heart afterwards.

Solmi:
I was present in the hall and listened. Coming to Rome I knew it was important to listen and bring back home the results of listening. That child showed as a genuine life. It really enriched us on the basis of my belief. Similar situations sprang to my mind. A mother of 3, one was adopted with serious difficulties, meets with mothers who are divorced and remarried. She told them you can’t have Eucharist but I want to be in communion with you. Jesus is the apex of the Church. He is present in the Church in different ways.

2. Regarding the divorced and remarried. If civil remarriage after a divorce is adultery and sin the only possible pathway is penitence and reconciliation, with the idea of sinning no more. If the second marriage is not considered sin what is the aim of the pathway of reconciliation?

Twal:
I think this is slippery ground and we can’t over generalize. We need to use a case by case approach with the local bishop. If there is not a case by case approach, there will be a lack of order.

Coleridge:
In the case of the divorced and remarried we are otherwise dealing with sin. There’s no news in saying that. So that’s just taken for granted. And the Church has traditionally spoken of the second unions as adulterous and I understand why. I understand the teaching and what lies behind it, including the biblical background. But at the same time not every case is the same. That’s where a pastoral approach needs to take into account the difference between situation to situation. For instance, just to say that every second marriage, second union, whatever you want to call it, is adulterous is perhaps too sweeping. For instance, a second marriage that is enduring, stable, and loving and where there are children who are cared for is not the same as a couple skulking off to a hotel for a wicked weekend. So, the rubric “adultery” in one sense it’s important but in another sense doesn’t say enough. I think what a pastoral approach requires is that we actually enter into what the Synod is calling a genuine pastoral dialogue or discernment with these couples. The start of that is for people like me to actually listen to their story, not just swamp them with doctrine or church teaching. That is just crucial obviously as the overall framework of any kind of dialogue or discernment. I have been saying to myself through the Synod one of the things I will have to do more of as a bishop when I go home is actually sit down with a lot of these people who are in irregular unions and listen to their stories. That is the beginning of a process of dialogue. What really worries me as a pastor is a lot of these people don’t come to me or the church. They are seriously alienated and seriously excluded. So, the question is not what do we do when they come to us but how can I or we go to them and begin that process of dialogue that starts with a kind of listening. Pope Francis said on the weekend that a synodal church is in the first place a listening church. I think it’s been one of the deep, enduring themes to emerge from this Synod, that we need to listen in new ways. At times I’ve been concerned in the way that it’s an all or nothing approach that has tended to dominate both in the discussions before the Synod and even at this Synod from time to time. That in other words it’s either if we can’t admit them to communion—that’s the “all”—then we can’t do anything with them. My sense is that between all or nothing there’s a vast territory that calls us to a new kind of pastoral creativity. I think we have to be very careful of avoiding all or nothing, black and white approaches. Pastoral approaches don’t do all or nothing, black and whit. We have to address the reality of human experience and we have to do that with the Church’s teaching very clearly in mind as the over-arching horizon but at the same time attending to the truth of human experience and not allow terms like “adultery” simply to serve as a convenient and apparently clear blanket term. Clear it might be but the question is does it deal with the reality of human experience and this life or that life?

Solmi:
I must add in the situation we are faced with, are situations aligned with the will of God in the Gospel? We have two people living a life as baptized living in a situation with certain phases. A new family is established with children. A pathway can be requested started with a willingness to listen. It is a discernment pathway. We must walk side by side and talk with them. Can they discern a sense of guilt to a pathway of reconciliation and conversion with the person’s desire to move ahead and ask for mercy and pardon. The welcome of God with his grace and mercy come through the mediation of the Church but God can do it in his own way.

3. Saturday at the 50th Anniversary of the Synod, Pope Francis projected himself into the future. He referred to a reversed pyramid as the model of the Church. On Saturday he also spoke of his vision of authority and power. Was it an historic and revolutionary statement?

Coleridge:
I think the language of revolution—historic it may well be, but time will tell—I’m not sure the speech of the pope on Saturday was revolutionary in the sense that I would understand revolutionary It was certainly…it has its dramatic aspect. The thing that struck me most about it was the language. He said synodality within the whole Church. In other word it’s not just about we’re celebrating a Synod of bishops. What he was talking about was the synodality of the whole Church and not just synodality from time to time but as a permanent characteristic of the whole Church. Within that context the pope said “episcopal collegiality”. So that the vision of the Church and it’s radically tied to the ecclesiology the vision of the Church of Vatican II. In one sense, there was nothing original in what the pope was saying. As usual, he had a rather fresh expression and a down to earth way of putting it. As I understand it, it’s really the vision of the Church that was given to us at the Second Vatican Council. The whole Church is on a journey together. It’s not a journey that happens now and then and the pope is part of that journey. He’s one of the bishops. As he said the pope is not above the Church. How often has Pope Francis said “Look, this is not a court I’m not a monarch”. As one who worked in, shall we say, the papal court, I think the way in which he has refashioned the protocols of the papacy has been quite spectacular. I think it has been a very good thing. The pope is very much part of the episcopal college. He is Peter and, again, he made that point clearly. But the process of discernment that synodality involves comes to its fullness when Peter makes the final call. It’s like the Synod. Everyone knows that the only bishop of the Synod with a deliberative vote happens to be the Bishop of Rome. The rest of us are consultative. I think it was an intentionally programmatic speech by the Pope. I think it does provide us with a refreshed framework not only for the work of the Synod, but for the journey beyond this Synod, but for the journey beyond the Synod that lies ahead to become a more deeply, comprehensively synodal Church. I must say having listened to the pope’s words, another thought I’ve had about what happens when I go home is that it may well be time for a national synod in my own country. It’s been something that’s fermenting in my own mind for some time. It seemed to come to a point of clarity, of crystallization listening to the Holy Father on Saturday. This was a speech that was not just a ceremonially “bon mot”. I think it’s one of the most important moments in the journey of these three weeks and I think it will have its impact and should have its impact far beyond the three weeks of the Synod.

4. Gerald O’Connel of America Magazine. You come from very different situations and you are, Archbishop Coleridge, in one the hot seats sorting out the amendments, the modifications. My question is, from our point, and from many media’s point of view, everybody is looking at how you will respond on the three vexed questions of communion and the divorced, homosexuality, cohabitation. What I’d like to know is what are the indicators by which each of you would judge the success of this Synod?

Twal:
I don’t believe this is the one you meant. (??) It is one of the points. Only today we raised in the small groups the Synod is on the family, to help them overcome challenges. We feel the shortcomings of not solving all the problems. We hope that politicians and society will help us as we are aware of our limits. These issues that you raised are just one of the items. We are so happy when 25% come to Church. We don’t think we will see many more come to Church if there are changes on these issues. These are not so important to us. To us all the other problems in the Middle East are more important.

Coleridge:
One of the things that has been blindingly clear from the small groups that I’m part of is exactly as the Patriarch said. What are burning issues in some parts of the world like Australia, the issues you mentioned, are simply not hot button issues in other parts of the world People sometimes say the Catholic Church is monolithic. You only have to sit in on this small group for half an hour to know that it’s like herding cats at best. One of the questions that I have been grappling with—it’s not just me, I know for a lot of other bishops , it’s true—is the whole relationship of the local and universal that imposes itself when you are in these small groups listening to voices from Africa, from Asia, from Eastern Europe. These are such vastly different cultural environments. I state the obvious when I say marriage and the family are very differently modulated from culture to culture. Now, all of that having been said what would I hope as criteria of success: first, the indications are that there would be no substantial change on Church teaching on those three issues that you mention. And I say this on the basis of the most recent discussion in the small group this morning and Friday afternoon. There is no groundswell for the change of Church teaching. So, my expectation, whatever I hope, is that the teaching of the Church in these areas will remain intact. But, I have—here I move from expectation to hope—my hope is that we will move towards, without actually accomplishing it at this Synod, a genuine renewal of the pastoral approach Now, at the heart of this I think there has to be a whole new language. Here I think of what’s been said of Vatican II. It was primarily a language event. It was something then that was far more than something cosmetic. I have in mind what the Bible says, that words create worlds. In other words, a new language that can open new doors that we might not even see at the moment and can create new possibilities. But, I’m equally convinced as the Synod unfolded that the new language will have to require a new listening. If I could see anything above the doorway of my own home for words for the Synod, success in these three weeks and beyond, it would be that this genuinely pastoral Synod would lead the whole Church to a new listening for the sake of a new language that would open up new doors and new possibilities.

Solmi:
Thinking of yardsticks to measure success is in three parts. First, stressed by my colleague, it is not cosmetic but affects the life of the Church placing family in its rightful place to send a strong message to society Second, the service role that families play. I think this must be considered the solemn message of the Synod. Third, synodality is important to have in the Church: the pastors and the family becoming a normal approach. These are the three goals for my church.

5. Saturday, the Holy Father stated a new way of taking decisions, placing a lot of responsibility on the Synod. What is this rich global decision? Also, how many are for and how many are against the divorced and remarried receiving communion?

Twal:
In the small group, I haven’t counted for and against on the issue of the divorced and remarried and communion. We must consider it on a case by case basis. People suffer their decisions. There are millions of families suffering due to their status as refugees and from violence way beyond those suffering because of divorce and remarriage. In our countries, we don’t even have civil marriage. There is only church wedding. It is up to the bishops to decide on a case by case basis.

Coleridge:
I have no idea as to how the numbers would fall. It’s a bit of a political question. There are politics in the Synod. You might be surprised to learn that there is something greater than Solomon. Now, I was asked by one of your journalistic colleagues the other day what I thought would be the breakdown in terms of percentage. I think I began by saying I have not ideas. He kept pushing me creatively and eventually had me saying, but I had no intention of saying, it might break at 65, w0. In fact, I had, and still have no idea. All I can say in the interventions in the aula itself there have been—I’m struggling to think—has there been a single voice—with all these 3-minute interventions, it’s like watching corn pop. There’s stuff going off in all directions and it’s hard to remember not only what someone said but whether he spoke or not. But I don’t remember a single intervention where it was expected, that this plea was explicitly made simply to admit the civilly remarried to Holy Communion. What I do remember is a handful of interventions that pleaded particularly for some exceptional gesture of mercy during the year of mercy, pleading to the pope, to use the power of the keys was one of the expressions that I do remember, in the year of mercy. So, that’s the aula in general. In the small group, we spent the whole of this morning. We decided Friday night to leave this question until we were fresher on Monday morning. We turned to the question this morning and I would say that in the small group—there were about 30 from all these different backgrounds—there again wasn’t simply a single voice saying we must readmit the civilly remarried to Holy Communion and there was little enthusiasm for the so-called penitential path. The question that was asked by a number of people in the group was, well, it’s a path to where or what? The feeling in general was that what the whole working document, the Instrumentum laboris, is very vague. In terms of numbers, I have no idea but my strong sense or my hunch is that the support for the readmission to Holy Communion for both the divorced and remarried is very, very modest indeed. The numbers might have even dwindled as the Synod’s unfolded. I think the interest, and certainly my interest, is in what other creative pastoral approaches might we be able to devise.

Twal:
Here is the common issue on which all agree: reconciliation and mercy.

Colridge:
Truth and mercy and what it entails. Everyone agrees on that.

Solmi:
In our small group we are approaching this question. But this is not the issue but synodality, walking together to work on it. We must walk together, provide conclusions to the Holy Father and he will decide.

6. John Henry Westin, Lifesite News. I think many, a few Synod Fathers, have been providing insight into the inside of the Synod which we can’t even get here. The archbishop of Poland but I think particularly you, Archbishop Coleridge, have been particularly insightful. Most of us can see by your language, it’s very plan, very easy to understand, very much to the point. One of the interventions you made there was a particular interest. You spoke of the long-standing tradition of the Church to speak of a loving the sinner but hating the sin. If you could explain to us your take on that and how you came to your conclusion.

Coleridge:
I think it’s a marvelous distinction that’s served us very well for a very long time. But the fact of the matter that I have to deal with in the part of the world where I’m pastor is that the distinction no longer communicates. My point is a point of communication. Not that it’s false or that it hasn’t been brilliantly helpful in the past. We got to live in the real world—that’s why I mentioned language before. Here, I’m talking communication. You see particularly in the area of sexuality—my sexuality isn’t just what I do from time to time, in contemporary perception. My sexuality is part of my entire being. So you can’t just, as it were, condemn the acts that I perform without condemning me. Here again I’m dealing with shifts in the culture that create major problems in communication. I’m not saying it hasn’t served as well in the past. It has. It still has its own importance in many situations. When we’re here, we bishops are talking to each other. But the fact is that if I’m trying to speak the Gospel into the culture, then it’s a distinction people do not, particularly in the area of sexuality because of changed understandings of sexuality. We might not like to admit to the changes but we can’t stop them. It is within that context that we have to try to communicate another distinction upon which we have relied very heavily—and again I put this on the blog—that no longer communicates is the distinction between public and private. In other words, the truth in public and mercy in private, that the compassion of the confessional tempers the clarity of the pulpit. I think what we need now—and this is what I would like to see emerge from the Synod—are public in public enactments of mercy, not just doing mercy in private behind closed doors or in a confessional. It’s the sort of public enactment of mercy that we see in Pope Francis who, in a sense, is modeling, what I think the whole Church has to ponder. But when you’ve been used to centuries of thinking about mercy in private, truth in public, it’s not always easy to even imagine what the public enactment of mercy might look like and when you do see it, it can even be unsettling. The fact that these grand old distinctions no longer communicate, which is what I mean when I said that they no longer work, can in fact be unsettling, but again a pastoral approach is relentlessly geared to the facts. Otherwise we indulge in this discourse which is beautiful in itself, self-contained, but does not put down roots in the soil of human experience.

7. Helen Grady for the BBC. I wonder if you could throw some mercy at a non-theologian. We keep hearing talk about changing language but it strikes me that doctrine, which we are told isn’t going to change, is framed in language, is hard-wired, is kind of enshrined in language. Could you give an example of some problematic language that you think the Church might be able to change without changing doctrine?

Coleridge:
I think two classics come to mind immediately. One is “indissolubility” which says something that’s terribly important. But, the fact is the word tends to be canonical and negative in form. My question, and it might be a hard question to answer, is there some other way we can proclaim the truth that we’re talking about without lapsing into language that might at least seem “church speak”, “canonical speak” and “negative speak”? That’s one question that I have, that I’ve come to have at the Synod. The other one is the language of “intrinsically disordered”. Now, again, I understand perfectly the background of that language. If you understand the background, it kind of makes sense and it’s powerful. But, again, the fact of communication is that most people haven’t got a clue what the background is. If you say that act is disordered, again, I come back to what I said earlier, you’re saying that I’m intrinsically disordered. At that point, you have alienation and the sense of exclusion. So, my question would be—just for those two examples, and there could be many, many others—can we find a way of saying the same thing that is in fact positive, less alienating, less excluding and more accessible to many, if not most people.

Twal:
In general terms we well agree on mercy is forgotten, doctrine is not. All are in favor of peace in the family and reconciliation. Economics, political and social aspects affect the family. This is a crucial week for the Synod. The aspect of listening is interesting and focal for us. Language must become instrumental. Mercy must be reconverted. The word for mercy, misericordia, is negative for Italians. We must consider “sin” and what this means, imposed (?? Not sure what the translator said…rr). The Synod must continue to stimulate us to be thought-provoking.

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