Monday 14 September 2015

A scrappy collection of troubling words

Please excuse the scrappiness of this post. I just wanted to gather together a few things that have been said by Pope Francis, or have been reported as having been said by him. I have capitalised the words which struck me as troublesome. I don't want to state it more strongly than that.

First, Rorate Caeli, on the surprise meeting with the Pope which the beleaguered Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate found themselves attending in June 2014:


† … the reference is exact and obviously is that of the Spiritual Exercises, in which Saint Ignatius says, in the 13th rule of true sentiment in the Church Militant: "To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it."

Next, from the site of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, at the start of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod:

“I ask you,” [the Pope] said, “to speak with frankness and listen with humility.” He concluded, saying, “Do so with tranquility and peace, for the Synod always takes cum Petro et sub Petro – with Peter and under Peter – and THE PRESENCE OF THE POPE IS THE GUARANTEE FOR ALL AND THE SAFEGUARD OF THE FAITH”

Another extract from Rorate Caeli, quoting the Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus:

… the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, WHO, BY FORCE OF HIS PASTORAL OFFICE IS WITH PETER THE GREATEST GUARANTOR OF CATHOLIC UNITY IN FAITH AND IN DISCIPLINE.

Again, Rorate Caeli, about an article in L’Osservatore Romano, explaining the background to the issuing of the Motu Proprio on annulments:
But how will the bishops or eparchs, most of all in large dioceses, be able to guarantee, at least in part and as a sign, their role as shepherds and judges? What is important is that the spirit of collegiality and communion among bishops under obedience to the Pontiff, begins to permeate the hearts and minds of the shepherds. The faithful are waiting with eagerness and love for such a metànoia and will nonetheless be patient in the Lord when faced with the good faith of their shepherds. The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects this sign of humble obedience (on the part of the Churches’ shepherds) TO THE SPIRIT WHO SPEAKS TO THEM THROUGH FRANCIS.

[By the way: please see the Italian original** of this passage at the end of my post. With some trepidation, I am going to suggest another translation of the words in italics:

“What is important is that the bishops’ spirit of collegiality and communion with what has been arranged by the Pontiff begins to permeate the hearts and minds of the shepherds.”

There is no mention of “under obedience to” in the Italian text. - DB]

Incidentally, I dare say many of you will already be following Ed Peters’s Canon Law blog. If not, I urge you to do so. Here is a taster on the subject of the Motu Proprio.


Ma come potranno i vescovi, o gli eparchi, soprattutto nelle grandi diocesi, assicurare, almeno in parte e come segno, questo loro compito di pastori giudici? Ciò che importa è che lo spirito di collegialità e comunione dei vescovi con quanto disposto dal Pontefice inizi a permeare il cuore e la mente dei pastori. I fedeli attendono con ansia e amore tale metànoia e saranno comunque pazienti nel Signore davanti alla buona fede dei loro pastori. L’anno del giubileo della misericordia attende questo segno di umile obbedienza da parte dei pastori delle Chiese allo Spirito che parla loro attraverso Francesco.

Friday 11 September 2015

Will this be a Synod at all?

So, there is to be no general discussion at the October 2015 Synod. I thought general discussion by those attending was an inherent part of a Synod. Will this in fact be a Synod at all?

The small discussion groups will in effect be mini-synods. There will be no mid-proceedings report following these group discussions, and no subsequent general discussion. There will simply be a final address by Pope Francis. He alone will have received the results of the mini-synods. None of the bishops attending will know the outcome of any group’s discussion except that of his own, apart from what he can glean in personal conversations. None of them will know how accurately the Pope’s address represents the group discussions.

The question is: will fists be thumped onto desks in sufficient numbers, or with sufficient force, to prompt a hasty change of plan and the concession of a general discussion? In such an event the bishops will surely have to be given all the group reports, as raw data, and will each have to be granted the time to wade through them. Considering the reception of the mid-term report at the 2014 Synod, raw data would inspire more confidence. But it all depends on those fists on desks.

Fr Z
Monday Vatican