Over at Aleteia there is an interesting post about last week’s International Conference of family and life movements held in Rome (January 22-24). With the theme, “The Vocation and the Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World”, the conference opened with an address by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod. His comments regarding last October’s extraordinary synod, as well as the papal approval of both the midterm and final Relatios, are worth noting:
Cardinal Baldisseri called the 300 conference participants, representing 80 different organizations, to enter into the synod process by reflecting on the preparatory document, called the Lineamenta. The document contains the final report from last October’s preparatory assembly (the Extraordinary Synod of 2014), together with 46 questions intended to facilitate its reception and examine the themes treated in it.
The Secretary General of the Synod called participants to consider carefully how devoted Catholic families can help those who are not living the “fullness of Christian marriage.” The mission of the organizations assembled, he suggested, could be deepened by evangelization efforts to those in irregular marital situations. Caring for wounded families, he said, demands a search for courageous pastoral choices.
Why did the final Relatio published in the Lineamenta include the paragraphs on homosexuality, extra-marital cohabitation and Communion for the divorced-and-remarried that failed to gain the approval of the Synod Fathers in October. (Paragraphs 52,53,55 in the Italian; the English has a slightly different numbering system.)
“It was the Pope’s decision to include the points that did not receive the two-thirds majority,” Cardinal Baldisseri responded. “The Pope said: ‘These three points received an absolute majority. They were therefore not rejected with a ‘no,’ as they received more than 50 percent approval. They are therefore issues that still need to be developed. We as a Church want a consensus. These texts can be modified, that’s clear. Once there has been further reflection, they can be modified.”
The Cardinal also informed us that the 46 questions published in the Lineamenta were the work of both the General Secretariat and the 15 members of the Council of the Secretariat. Responses are due April 15th.
Asked if the Pope had reviewed the questions before they were published, the Cardinal replied: “The documents were all seen and approved by the Pope, with the approval of his presence. Even the documents during the [Extraordinary] Synod, such as the Relatio ante disceptatationem [the preliminary report], the Relatio post disceptationem [interim report], and the Relatio synodi [final report] were seen by him before they were published.”
He added, wryly: “This point is important not only because of his authority, but also it puts the Secretary General at ease.”
Brian Williams is a convert who entered the Catholic Church in 2006. He is a graduate of Long Beach State University with a BA in History. Brian blogs on life, liturgy and the pursuit of holiness at liturgyguy.com. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and five children.