The Synod and its work of discernment

Although the Synod of Bishops on the family has sparked frank discussions about the direction of the church, the American archbishop who represents U.S. Catholics at the event said Friday it is “doing what it’s supposed to do.”

In an interview with NCR, U.S. bishops’ conference president Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said the synod is starting a process of discernment among the church’s prelates.

“It’s not debate,” said Kurtz, who heads the Louisville, Ky., archdiocese. “It’s discernment.”

Likening the process to a family discussion, he continued: “I really do believe that when a family comes together, a family comes together to discern.”

“I hope we don’t always define that as debate,” Kurtz said. “Now, sad would that family be if they didn’t have the freedom to express those differences so that they could come together in truth and charity.”

The synod, one of two called by Pope Francis for 2014 and 2015 on family life issues, is being held Oct. 5-19 and includes about 190 prelates from around the world.

Kurtz is one of four Americans in the group, joined by Cardinals Raymond Burke, Timothy Dolan and Donald Wuerl.

The synod made global headlines Monday when it released a working document summarizing its first week of discussions, known as a relatio post disceptationem, which called on the church to listen more and to apply mercy much more widely.

This week, the prelates met in 10 working groups, divided by language, to discuss that document and to submit possible revisions.

Those revisions were submitted Thursday morning and are to be used in drafting a final document for the synod for submission to Pope Francis by Sunday.

On Friday, Kurtz said his group focused on conveying a message of openness from the church to people.

Kurtz said when he was a parish priest visiting the houses of his parishioners, he “would seek to acknowledge the good that I saw.” Continue reading


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