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“The Synod is just the beginning of the learning process.”

“The Synod is just the beginning of the learning process.”

The Universal Synod of Bishops on the theme of conciliarity was a “transformative experience.” This was said at the press conference on Friday by one of the Synod’s spiritual directors, Father Timothy Radcliffe. From this inner transformation of the Church, “more practical things will develop over time.” Radcliffe also recommended that his church present a positive image of the secular priest. Public criticism of “clericalism” upsets many clergy.

Gudrun Cellar – Vatican City

Vatican Information Director Paolo Ruffini said that about 1,250 suggestions for changes to the final document had been received for the final synod session and would be incorporated into the document in an overnight session. On Saturday afternoon, the Synod Fathers and Mothers will vote on the document clause by clause, although abstention is not stipulated in the regulations. Each paragraph requires a two-thirds majority of yes votes from the members present. Then, on Saturday evening, the Vatican wants to publish the paper and present it at a press conference.

The Synod’s spiritual director, Mother Maria Ignazia Angelini, spoke of a very important event that was “almost revolutionary” in terms of its inclusion of the diverse ecclesiastical presence and its ability to listen and grow from differences and reality. It will be interesting to see how the path of Church transformation set by the Synod continues, so that it no longer remains a self-referential experience.

Father Timothy Radcliffe OP

Father Timothy Radcliffe OP

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For his part, the second spiritual director of the synod, Father Timothy Radcliffe, spoke of a profound transformative experience. The Synod was – literally – “not a bullshit shop”, but rather a “shared life experience” and therefore transformative. The former master of the Dominican order was convinced that “this change in the way we deal with each other” would “develop more practical matters over time.”

There is no Synod of Bishops? Even the Synod of Bishops is particularly strong

Radcliffe rejected various criticisms that the Synod of Bishops was no longer a Synod of Bishops because of the participation of lay voters. This is precisely why it is the Synod of Bishops, said the former teacher of the Dominican Order, who participated in three previous councils. The now approaching church meeting did not show the bishop as an isolated figure, as he was before, but rather “immersed in the conversation of his people, listening, speaking and learning,” the 78-year-old monk said. It reveals more clearly than any previous synod what it means to be a bishop.

“We are learning how to make decisions with each other; we are at the beginning of the learning process.”

Like a number of other Synod members before him, the Dominicans rejected the idea that the Council would suddenly bring about changes in the Church on this or that question of reform. “We’re learning how to make decisions with each other, and we’re at the beginning of the learning process,” Radcliffe said. This path is very important “because we are seeing communications breakdowns” in the wars in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in many parts of Africa, as well as in Great Britain and the United States, where there has been extreme polarization of society. “I hope that the Synod will be beneficial and healing not only for the Church, but also for humanity,” said the former teacher of the Dominican Order.

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Develop a positive image of the lay priest

Radcliffe recommended that his church urgently develop a positive image of the parish priest. Criticism of “writing” was omnipresent in the synod, “and many priests found this troubling because it affected an important part of their identity.” The church would do well to develop a “helping vision.” Only then will many priests, who are skeptical and wait and watch the synodal learning process of the Church, happily accept the conciliarity. One cannot ask diocesan priests to do so “if they feel that their vocation is being criticized.” Pope Francis only condemned the clergy in radical terms at the synod on Wednesday.

“Some are afraid of the synod process,” Radcliffe continued, “because they don’t understand it.” Those who do not see the council through the eyes of faith, but rather through the lens of political debate, fear tension and division. But in the council, it was exactly the opposite, with regard to reducing tension and division.

Brother Alois Loesser, former President of Taizé, stressed the nature of the Synod against the current world with its various fears and anxieties. The temptation to close in on ideologies is great, but in the Church one can swim against the tide and cross boundaries. This is evident in the young people in Taizé who want to be more understanding and respectful towards different expressions of faith, says Brother Alois. He concluded that in the Church we must live the beauty of diversity more clearly.

(Vatican News – A)

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