Vatican Synod: Tensions, disagreements and walkouts

Vatican synod

Tensions have erupted within Pope Francis’ Vatican Synod on the future of the Catholic Church with reports of disagreements and delegates storming out of the room.

The roughly 450 bishops and lay delegates involved in the October 4-29 Synod of Bishops have faced a series of disagreements.

Principally, the participation of the laity and questions about the role of women’s ministries and the response to LGBTQ Catholics have raised temperatures.

For synod organisers — and, indeed, the pope himself — disagreement was all part of the plan.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, one of the synod’s principal organisers, had warned of potential tensions.

“Tensions are a part of the process, as long as we consider ourselves to be sisters and brothers, walking together,” Hollerich said.

In the second and third weeks of the assembly, the differences in opinions on various matters became evident.

Pope Francis had requested that members refrain from discussing the proceedings publicly.

The official guidelines for the meeting tasked small groups with identifying areas of agreement and disagreement and pinpointing topics that needed further study and theological reflection.

Laity more familiar with synodality

Both bishops and lay members noted that the laity appeared to be more familiar with synodality.

“Synodality is ingrained in the nature of the people of God,” said Cardinal Mario Grech who runs the Vatican synod office.

“In the laity, I felt we are not bringing something new. To the contrary, we were harping a chord in their heart, and they were ready to sing and to dance to this music.”

While expanding the synod’s scope to include lay members aimed to integrate the entire church, some delegates found the emphasis on listening and active face-to-face interaction tiresome.

Unlike past synods, where participants could sit in a more relaxed setting, this synod required active engagement and eye-to-eye discussions.

Reports of incidents such as bishops walking out because of disagreements or clashes between articulate speakers and those less experienced added to the growing tension.


National Catholic Reporter

CathNews New Zealand

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