Church challenged to enlarge the space of its tent

enlarge the space of your tent

The working document for the Continental stage of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality was released Friday NZ time.

Entitled “Enlarge the space of your tent,” the document was compiled from Synod submissions from throughout the world: bishops’ conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches, religious orders, Vatican dicasteries and other Catholic organisations.

Cardinal John Dew says this stage in the Synod process is a deeper contemplation of the issues raised in the various national local phases and summarised into the working document. Countries and regions all over the world, including New Zealand, will be considering it for further examination.

“National and diocesan groups will now be invited to take part in this reflection and discernment of the working document,” Dew says.

The work of reflecting on ‘Enlarge the space of your tent’ needs to take place between now and 5 December, so that the New Zealand response can be ready by 22 December.

The Oceania region’s bishops’ conferences will be having a joint meeting in Fiji in February 2023.

Oceania involves the countries and territories covered by the bishops’ conferences of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands and the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific.

When launching this, the next stage of the Synod on Synodality, Vatican prelates acknowledged the first reports from the faithful are calling for inclusion – for women, for LGBTQ individuals and for the poor.

“Let us just look to each person as a person loved by God and called into being by God,” said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich on Thursday.

“Christ died for this person on the cross. If I am not able to give the space to the table to this person, than I am against Christ.”

“Who is invited to the tent? All the people, created and loved by God,” Hollerich said. “Our behaviour is sometimes a bit more fragmented, and our love is not as big as the love of God.”

The Church must “establish new balances, otherwise, the tent will collapse,” he added.

The Catholic LGBTQ advocacy network New Ways Ministry praised the openness of the “Document for the Continental Phase”.

They lauded it as “evidence that we are in a new moment of conversation about LGBTQ issues in the Catholic Church”.

Others fear the document may be stretching the Catholic tent too far.

Early last month Cardinal Gerhard Müller, described the synod as part of a “hostile takeover of the Church” more intent on transforming it into a political party than about spreading the gospel.

Cardinal Mario Grech, (pictured middle) however, who is the general secretary of the Vatican’s Synod office, said the “Document for the Continental Phase” does not represent any decisions made by church leaders.

It is a channel for the many points of view that emerged at the parish level as they were summarised by national bishops’ conferences, he clarified.


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