(Vatican Radio) The mid-term report, issued by bishops at the Synod is a “work in progress” and not a definitive document of Church teaching on family life. That was the message underlined by two Synod Fathers joining the head of the Holy See press office, Fr Federico Lombardi and his assistants, at the daily briefing for journalists on Tuesday. Those guests were South African Cardinal Wilfred Napier, representing one of the English speaking language groups, and Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni, head of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as Philippa Hitchen reports….
The half-way report, presented at the Synod’s General Congregation on Monday morning, reflects the rich and often heated debate that has taken place inside the Synod Hall over the past week. But clearly not all the bishops attending the two week meeting are happy with its style or its content. Some believe Church teachings are confused and presented out of context. Others are concerned with the way the media has presented it more as a definitive statement than a working document, that still needs to be reworked and voted on at the end of this week. And even that isn’t the end of the story, because the final statement from this Synod will then be revisited over the coming year and form the basis for the broader gathering that Pope Francis has called for in October 2015.
Cardinal Napier told journalists he was part of a group of bishops that has expressed concern over the report. He believes part of the problem lies in the expectations for change that are accompanying this Synod process:
“Firstly I think the subject is so interesting and people want to know what was going on and perhaps read more into the document than was intended. Secondly, are the expectations perhaps of the Synod a little unrealistic and is the misinterpretation reflecting what people would like to happen, rather than what is happening or what is going to happen?”
Cardinal Filoni, on the other hand, said expectations are rightly high that the Church is placing the needs of the family at the centre of its attention. Over recent decades he said, lay people and especially families have moved from the object of evangelisation to become credible witnesses of the Church’s message to all people in all different life circumstances. The challenge facing bishops, he said, is to encourage both those living up to the Church’s teaching on the family, as well as those parents or children living in more problematic situations.
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