You get the news here first!! The following is my third article submitted to the Missoulian…Reyanna
Third Missoulian Article
October 14, 2015
Obtaining credentialing from the Vatican Press Office to write about the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome, I also have other privileges besides attending daily press conferences. One was attending a General Audience with the Pope in Vatican Square. That was today. I was seated quite close to the stage where the Francis gives his weekly address. I hung around after the official audience was over. I knew that the pope spends time greeting those who have special seating in this area like the many recently married couples he greets and blesses who come dressed in their wedding finery. As he began to move along the row of people along a barricade less than 12 feet from me, I saw reactions of people to his greeting since security personnel were escorting them away as soon as he passed. Almost every one of them had looks of deep emotion, many overcome by their experience. Women and men alike often had tears flowing down their cheeks. National Geographic recently published an extensive article on Francis and the “new” Vatican. Nat Geo had a reporter embedded in the Vatican 6 months. The photographer said he often was shooting pictures literally right over the shoulder of the pope. He said he had never seen people react as they do to this man, not to presidents or famous rock stars. Francis is definitely a “pope of the people”. He relates to the lives of everyday folks like you and me. He speaks our language. As a young man, he lived a life like ours, hanging out with friends, studying, dancing Tango. He witnessed very ugly sides of life as cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires. As a “callerjo”, as he says, or “street priest”, he walked the incredibly congested, dirty, disease ridden “villas miserias” or slums of the city. People everywhere he goes “get” this man. They understand his mission of mercy, his message of an openness to the lives of everyday people, the message of the Church as “Mama’s House”, where all are welcome just as they are and not condemned for what they have done or not done. There is one problem: I don’t think the majority of the bishops of the Catholic Church “get” this man. Resistance to him is there, very vocal but hard to quantitate. It also comes from the Curia, the working apparatus of the Church that is to be there for service to the Church. Instead, it has become a bloated bureaucracy of power. Francis wants to change that. After “mercy”, “service” is the next most frequent word on his lips.
The Synod of Bishops is a key way Francis sees of decentralizing the power of the curia. He wants this body more involved in the decision making of the Church. Currently convened in Rome, over the first week I have been covering it, I am sensing Francis has an uphill struggle getting these men to work “collegially” with him. From the “Synod Fathers” or prelates attending news conferences, aside from an occasional honest and bold statement, I hear everything about the Synod is wonderful, we are all working nicely together and great things are happening. Right. This week it was reported 13 cardinals signed a letter, giving it to the pope on the first full working day of the Synod, October 5th, questioning the Synod, its methods and procedures and the committee appointed by Francis to draft the final document outlining the work of this Synod, all focusing on marriage and the family. The letter was “leaked” by a journalist who has made no bones he does not like Francis. He pines for the days of Benedict XVI. Reports are he was given the letter to publish to expressly discredit the Pope. At Monday’s news conference, the Vatican spokesperson announced two cardinals who reportedly signed this letter are saying they didn’t sign it. By Tuesday morning, 2 more said the same. A further two are doing some “fancy footwork” regarding statements they made about Francis and the Synod elsewhere.
The Synod meets for another week. It began discussion today on the very “hot button” issues, such as access to the Eucharist for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, currently forbidden. It’s an issue many see in need of change. Next week should be crucial. There should be interesting reports of what the “Synod Fathers” have discussed reported in the daily news conferences. Then there will be the “Spinoid”, as one journalist calls it: what gets leaked and reported by the media.