Archbishop Schnurr on Synod: Take a deep breath and don’t get too excited
Responding to confusion and concern over reports from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Archbishop of Cincinnati Dennis M. Schnurr has released the following letter, explaining the relatio post disceptationem, the summary document recently released by the Vatican.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The summary document issued after the first two weeks of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome seems to have caused confusion and concern among some Catholics. Media reports have spoken of “a shift in tone on gays and divorce.” It’s important to understand what is actually happening.
As I write this, the Synod is still in progress. Clearly the document in question, technically known as a relatio post disceptationem, is not anything close to a final text. Nor is the relatio in any sense official Church teaching. Pope Francis most likely will issue a teaching document some months after the Ordinary Synod on the Family next year.
What is it, then? It is a summary of the many comments by the Synod Fathers during the first half of the Synod. Pope Francis had asked they speak their minds fearless and clearly during these sessions, and they obviously did so. During the second half, these same bishops are examining and commenting on the document in ten small groups broken down by language. Many suggestions will be made for changes in the wording.
Some reports have characterized the relatio as calling for more inclusion in the Church. In reality, the Church has always been inclusive. The very term “Catholic” means universal, and that does not only refer to the geographic scope of the Church. We are a Church of sinners in which everyone is welcome. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear on that. It calls for solicitude to the divorced and remarried “so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church” (no. 1651) and “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” toward gays (no. 2358).
Father Robert Barron recently had some good advice to all who are following the Synod, whether with alarm or joy: Take a deep breath and don’t get too excited, especially based on secular media reports. The Synod is a work in progress, and its work will not reach full completion until the Ordinary Synod in 2015.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati