SYNOD ON SYNODALITY, vía Aica.org •
The prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Victor Fernandez, highlighted the relevance of the synodal assembly, the role of the laity with voice and vote, and what to expect and what not to expect. —
The Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Víctor Fernández, highlighted the importance of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which begins with a time of prayer and which he considered a “relevant” event for the Church. He made this statement via Facebook social network.
The Argentinean cardinal, for years archbishop of La Plata (in the shadow of the Shrine), indicated the place that some lay people will have, with voice and vote, in the synodal assembly, and raised what can be expected and what cannot be expected from this Synod presided over by Pope Francis.
After recalling that the assembly “will not even end with a final document”, he asked to dedicate these days “a moment to pray, to implore the Holy Spirit to invade this Synod, to guide and illuminate every step and every moment”.
The Synod that begins
Friends, the Synod of the Church will actually begin tomorrow, with participants chosen from all over the world. I say it begins tomorrow because in the afternoon all the participants will travel to a retreat house to begin a time of prayer. Therefore, we can say that the Consistory that will create cardinals is secondary to this event, which is much more relevant for the Church.
The participation of lay people
Although it is a Synod of Bishops, nevertheless, a significant number of lay men and women will have a vote. This is noteworthy because in other Synods lay people participated, but had no influence on the final decisions. Now, with their vote, several dozen lay women and men can change the outcome of a vote. Let us think that sometimes something does not go ahead because of a difference of a few votes.
What we can expect
If this were something merely human, we could make calculations and say that one decision or another will be made. But since the Holy Spirit has a great part to play here, we cannot know what course it will take. If only two or three people were involved, it could be something manipulated, but hundreds of people from very distant places and with very different ways of thinking will participate. Moreover, these are people who will be in prayer for three days. It is to be expected that the Holy Spirit will do something.
The problem is that this year’s Synod does not propose to deal with four or five discussion issues. That may happen next year, but not now. This year it is a more general reflection, but no less interesting for that: what kind of Church do we want, what does today’s world need from us, what is the Church that the Lord wants today to enlighten the world in which we live.
But this will not be interesting for the press. As interesting and useful as it may seem to us, it will not be something that will fill the headlines of the media and networks. To the world, it may sound like a failure or an irrelevant meeting. It will not be so for us if we remain docile to the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis knows this and always says that it is not a matter of conquering ground but of generating new processes that will bear fruit eventually.
What we should not expect
While we must remain open to what God wants to do, I do not think that this month we will discuss issues such as celibacy, the ordination of women or things like that, because each of these issues would require a lot of prior study, regional discussions, and then for each of these issues would require at least an entire Synod or two. So, with respect to these much debated issues, there could only be a request to study them, but no conclusions. It simply would not be considered seriously. In fact, this year the Synod will not even end with a final document.
For the love of the Church, my friends, let us take a moment to pray during these days, asking the Holy Spirit to invade this Synod, to guide and enlighten every step and every moment. Thank you.
Original: Spanish. Translation: Marcela Fernández, Toronto, Canada