(Vatican Radio) The work of the Synod of Bishops on the Family continued behind closed doors on Thursday as participants shared ideas and experiences within their small language groups. The results of discussions within those 13 small groups will be presented at a General Congregation in the main Synod Hall on Friday morning, marking the end of the first stage focused on the challenges facing families in different parts of the world today.
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, heads the bishops conference of England and Wales and is serving as moderator of one of the English language groups. Philippa Hitchen talked to him about his hopes for the outcome of this three week meeting.
Listen to the full interview:
Cardinal Nichols says he hopes, above all, that the Synod will maintain a positive view of the family. He recalls the Pope’s words at the preparatory prayer vigil on Saturday when he talked about the family as a light and said if we begin to see it as a problem, then we risk losing sight of our proper reference point…
The cardinal says that the consultations carried out among families in England Wales highlighted “the passionate love people have for their families”. Whatever problems they face, he says, the family remains “the most important thing in their lives”. If that is true within families themselves, he adds, “that’s what we have to learn in the Synod”.
Asked about the changes in methodology and greater emphasis on small group work, Cardinal Nichols says the changes are important because they recognize that “this is part two” of the Synod process and not a re-run of last October’s meeting. Having a text to work on and “more time to get to know each other”, with fuller participation of the women and married couples, is “really taking a forward step,” he adds.
Responding to critics’ suggestion that the Synod process is unlikely to come up with any real developments in Church teaching on the family, the cardinal recalls St Augustine’s words that the Church is “always ancient and always new”.
We don’t want to lose “the precious teaching of the Church,” he insists, but at the same time we want a fresh appreciation “of the joy that people have and find and make in their families”. That focus must come to the fore both in the Synod and on the world stage, he believes, so that governments and cultures can “look again at how they appreciate the family as the fundamental building block of society.”
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