Italy’s synodal journey promises a societal focus

An Italian cardinal says Italy’s “synodal journey” will be focusing on ways to resolve societal issues.

Unlike the controversial issues the German bishops are grappling with in the “Synodal Way” taking place in Germany, Italy’s synodal journey begins with a different place, says Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti (pictured).

“Ours is not a synod; it is a synodal journey that starts from conditions that are very different from those in Germany,” says Bassetti.

Italian bishops’ conference president says their German counterparts oversee a Synodal Way that is pressing for changes on marriage, ordination, clerical celibacy, and sexual ethics.

Italy’s bishops hope to focus on how the Church can address societal issues, such as joblessness and family breakdown.

“The German synod dealt with some very particular problems, and I believe that the basic problems of our people are quite different,” the cardinal says.

“The celibacy of priests, those of the priesthood of women, are not the fundamental problems that are gripping the Church and humanity at this moment.”

Bassetti listed several more pressing problems in Italy requiring the bishops’ attention, including “loneliness, the education of children, the hardships of those who don’t make it to the end of the month because they don’t have a job, [and] the problems of emotional immaturity that lead families to break up.”

The cardinal and Italy’s 200-plus bishops’ general assembly last week adopted the theme: “Announce the Gospel in a time of rebirth: To start a synodal journey.”

One of the assembly’s main discussion points considered the pandemic’s economic repercussions.

The bishops approved a grant of 60 million euros (around $73 million) allocated to dioceses to be used before the end of February 2022.

The bishops also passed resolutions on local patron saints to be sent to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship for confirmation.

These include a resolution to make Our Lady of Graces in Ponte of Porretta, near the northern Italian city of Bologna, the patron saint of Italian basketball.

Bassetti also responded to questions about Italy’s “anti-homophobia bill.” The proposed law, known as the Zan bill, was approved in the lower house of parliament last year and is due to be considered by the upper house.

He reaffirmed the bishops’ “defence of the person against all violence and discrimination.”

“This is a point that must underlie the very broad protection of the plurality of opinions and the freedom to express them without fear of sanction mechanisms that could generate intolerance.

“There are certainly issues on which there are different visions, and on gender, we have a biblical vision: male and female he created them,” he said.


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