Prelates admit to confusion at family synod

Some of the prelates at the synod on the family have expressed confusion over what is expected of them in their deliberations.

The 13 small groups that had been meeting last week released their reports on Friday.

The four English-speaking groups are chaired by Australian Cardinal George Pell, British Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Irish Archbishop Eamon Martin, and Canadian Cardinal Thomas Collins.

Each of the English-speaking groups expressed confusion about not knowing exactly what their work will be used for.

They are in the dark as to whether they are meant to create a document for public distribution or just to give advice to Pope Francis.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher wrote that “so far there’s been more muddle than method”.

But he added “that may in time yield another kind of focus and even fruit”.

Philippines Cardinal Luis AntionioTagle said a new method of discussion was being tried at this synod, and that “definitely it has caused . . . a bit of confusion”.

“But it’s good to be confused once in a while,” said the cardinal, laughing.

“If things are always clear, then we might not be in real life anymore.”

During the first week of synod discussions, the small groups were focussing on the first of three parts of the synod’s working document.

Among the English circles, the most negative take on the working document came from Cardinal Collins’ group.

That group said that in the working document they “found much of the text to be flawed or inadequate, especially in its theology, clarity, trust in the power of grace, its use of Scripture and its tendency to see the world through overwhelmingly Western eyes”.

The group also wrote that the synod might consider adopting a certain style of St Paul, whom they said “would often write a prologue of praise to people whose sins he would then critique”.

“This was a common style in his epistles, and effective,” they stated.

New Zealand’s Dr John Kleinsman blogged that the “challenge going forward for all synod participants, as I see it, is to remember that what is in the working document reflects the gathered feedback of the People of God and to be faithful to that content”.


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