Today, the small group discussions ended just after noon and the relators of the 13 language groups are presenting their reports to the plenary assembly along with each group’s agreed-upon amendments.
According to Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Holy See Press Office, those reports will be published tomorrow.
French Group “A”: S.E. Msgr. Laurent ULRICH
French Group “B”: Rev.do P. DUMORTIER, SI François-Xavier
French Group “C”: S.E. Msgr. Paul-André DUROCHER
English Group “A”: S.E. Msgr. Joseph Edward KURTZ
German Group: S.E. Msgr. Heiner KOCH
Drafting Committee for final document
Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, head of the global Jesuit order
Cardinal Erdo will present the final document to the synod for a paragraph by paragraph vote. A two-thirds majority among those voting is required for the approval of the text. The approved text will be handed to Pope Francis and will be made public shortly thereafter.
Here are a few women to follow:
Sr. Maureen Kelleher (English group “D”)
I ask our Church leaders to recognise how many women who feel called to be in service of the Kingdom of God but cannot find a place in our Church. Gifted though some may be, they cannot bring their talents to the tables of decision making and pastoral planning. They must go elsewhere to be of service in building the Kingdom of God. In 1974, at the Synod on Evangelisation, one of our sisters, Margaret Mary, was one of two nuns appointed from the Union of Superiors General. Today, forty years later, we are three.
Sr. Carmen Sammut (French group “C”)
One area where such interdisciplinary teams made up of couples as well as religious would bring a change is in the formation of ordained ministers.
Lucetta Scaraffia (Italian group “B”)
The Church needs to listen to women … as only in reciprocal listening does true discernment function. Women are great experts in the family: leaving abstract theories behind, we can turn in particular to women to understand what must be done, and how we can lay the foundations for a new family open to respect for all its members, no longer based on the exploitation on the capacity for sacrifice of the woman, but instead ensuring emotional nourishment and solidarity for all. Instead, both in the text and in the contributions very little is said about women, about us. As if mothers, daughters, grandmothers, wives – the heart of families – were not a part of the Church, of the Church who encompasses the world, who thinks, who decides. As if it were possible to continue, even in relation to the family, pretending that women do not exist. As if it were possible to continue to forget the new outlook, the previously unheard-of and revolutionary relationship that Jesus had with women”.
Families throughout the world are very diverse, but in all of them the women play the most important and decisive role in guaranteeing that their solidity and duration. And when we speak about families, we should not speak always and only about marriage. There is a growing number of families composed of a single mother and her children. It is almost always women who stay by their children’s side, even when they are ill, disabled or afflicted by violence. These women and mothers have seldom followed courses in theology, and often they are not even married, but they offer an admirable example of Christian behaviour. If you, Synod Fathers, do not pay attention to them, if you do not listen to them, you risk making them feel even more disgraced as their family is so different to the one you focus on. Indeed, you talk too readily of an abstract family, a perfect family that does not exist, a family that has nothing to do with the real families Jesus encountered or spoke about. Such a perfect family would almost seem not to be in need of His mercy or His Word: ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’.
Maria Harries (English group “D”)
“For most of them [marginalised Aboriginal people], the idea of the family as it is represented by our Church teaching is alien. For some, the matrilineal system means that they have many mothers. The child is reared in a kinship group, not by a mother and father. Women play a dynamic role in their kinship world and they expect them to be visible. In the words of one of the aboriginal leaders, ‘By not having women visible on the Altar and in the life of the Church, we are concealing our mothers, our sisters and our daughters from view’. In welcoming the Gospel, they ask not to be recolonised by our Church as they have been by our nation’s forebears. The challenge for our Church is to formally and institutionally incorporate cross-cultural dialogue and adopt systems with indigenous Australians that honour and do not violate their culture”.
All sexual abuse is connected to the abuse of power. … The horrific evidence of abuse of children in families and institutions and our failure to respond adequately to this has left the Church in Australia and of course elsewhere in very deep pain. … In the words of Pope Francis, as we all pray for and ‘receive the grace of shame’, we need local and collective ways of meeting all these victims and their families and each other in our garden of agony and to listen deeply, very deeply. From our failings and the accompanying pain, we have the opportunity to learn collectively and perhaps even doctrinally, and to re-engage with and accompany the thousands of families whom we have lost.
Sharron Cole (English Group “C”)
When Jesus was asked “what is the greatest commandment?”, he replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Have we as a Church failed to practise this charity? The experience of many lay people has been of being judged, of being labelled as “intrinsically disordered” and of being rejected by their Christian community. There are those who have walked away never to return and the others who are just waiting, hoping to again be fully in communion with the Church. They say that this failure to love enough is the reason. The Catechism says “The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy”. Charity demands beneficence, friendship and communion. When we as Church are not merciful and in communion with our own, is this not a failure of the virtue of charity?
The exercise of charity and mercy requires deep insight into the reality of a person’s life. That reality is best understood by those who live it. However many lay people believe the Church does not understand the realities of their lives. Lay people are not trusted to make good decisions in conscience and they often feel subjected to exacting rules which take no account of context or of stages of spiritual development.
It will take not more catechesis but rather listening with deep empathy to restore the credibility of the Church in matters of sexual ethics. The time is now for this synod to propose that the Church re-examine its teaching on marriage and sexuality, and its understanding of responsible parenthood, in a dialogue of laity and bishops together.
Archbishop Durocher (French group “C”)
Of course it will be useful to see if any part of Archbishop Durocher’s intervention makes it into the final document. Here is the original report of his intervention.
The synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life. Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making authority within church structures and new opportunities in ministry.,
“I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.”
The working document, which is guiding the first three weeks of the synod’s discussions, proposed giving women greater responsibility in the church, particularly through involving them in “the decision-making process, their participation — not simply in a formal way — in the governing of some institutions; and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers.”
He reminded the synod fathers that in the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” in 1981, St. John Paul II basically told the church that “we have to make a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no more degradation of women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I said, ‘Well, here we are 30 years later and we’re still facing these kinds of numbers.'”
In his presentation the archbishop also noted that Pope Benedict XVI had talked about the question of new ministries for women in the church. “It’s a just question to ask. Shouldn’t we be opening up new venues for ministry of women in the church?” he said.
In addition to the possibility of allowing for women deacons, he said he also proposed that women be hired for “decision-making jobs” that could be opened to women in the Roman Curia, diocesan chanceries and large-scale church initiatives and events.
Another thing, he said, “would be to look at the possibility of allowing married couples — men and women, who have been properly trained and accompanied — to speak during Sunday homilies so that they can testify, give witness to the relationship between God’s word and their own marriage life and their own life as families.”
Will women be heard?
In an interview with Joshua McElwee of National Catholic Reporter, Sr. Maureen Kelleher said she faced “condescension so heavy, you could cut it with a knife.”
“I see a high level of non-acceptance of us as holding up half the sky,” she said, referring to some bishops’ difficulty in working with women.
Whether her experience was the exception or the rule, remains to be seen. We can look at the evidence, the final document that will be completed on October 24, to judge if women were able to influence it in any significant way.
Support Archbishop’s Durocher’s proposal to begin discussions on women deacons and women’s leadership.