The periodical’s Editor-in-Chief, Fr. Spadaro talks about the Synod’s failure to reach a two-thirds majority vote on the issue of remarried divorcees: the decision was “anomalous in a way because it is as if 74 out of 183 fathers didn’t want the discussion to be recorded, pretending it had never even taken place”
The Synod’s failure to achieve a two-thirds majority on paragraph 52 of the Relatio Synodi – the passage about remarried divorcees in the Synod’s concluding document – was an “anomalous” decision in a way because “it is as if 74 out of 183 fathers didn’t want the discussion to be recorded, pretending it had never even taken place.” This is according to Fr. Antonio Spadaro, Editor-in-Chief of Jesuit periodical La Civiltà Cattolica, who wrote a long article summarising the outcome of the recent Synod on the Family which he participated in.
“Some of the individuals the Holy Father nominated as members of the Synod were people who had expressed diverging opinions on the issues dealt with during the assembly and they were chosen so that the debate could be exactly that, a debate,” Spadaro writes. “Different Church models emerged during the Synod, as well as different – and sometimes opposite – cultural frameworks, based on the country or continent of origin of each Synod father.” The atmosphere of the Synod was truly “conciliar”, La Civiltà Cattolica informs. The calm and frank nature of the talks did not make them in any way soft. On the contrary, it injected a sense of “freedom” into the discussions, that was not at all chaotic. “Chaos” and “freedom” are two terms that must never be confused; it is a crime not to experience full adult maturity with courage.
Pope Francis himself confirmed that there was no foul play in the Synod proceedings and that no one could expect unanimous agreement on everything, this would have brought about a calm, moderate but false balance.” In relation to this, Fr. Spadaro mentioned the climate of the “Council of Jerusalem” as it is called. The Acts of the Apostles do not hide the fact that there was “a great debate” during this council.
“It was this kind of face to face debate that the Holy Father asked Synod fathers not to be afraid of, aware that every contribution to the discussions was for the good of the Church, families and the suprema lex, the salus animarum,” La Civiltà Cattolica writes. Naturally, this does not imply calling fundamental truths such as the Sacrament of Marriage – indissolubility, unity, faithfulness, openness to procreation, in other words life – into question.
Regarding the Vatican’s failure to gain a two-thirds majority to back the paragraph on remarried divorcees and the reference to the two positions that emerged, certifying that the issue was indeed discussed during the Synod and after he called the decision “anomalous”, Spadaro recalled that the discussion was given due recognition in the final Message of the Synod. The Message, which was approved by a majority of Synod fathers (158 out of 174), even gave a theological explanation regarding the decision to discuss this topic: “The gathering that weaves together all threads that create communion with God and one’s neighbour, is the Sunday Eucharist, when the family sits down at the Lord’s Table … This is why we reflected on the pastoral accompaniment of remarried divorcees and their access to the sacraments in the first part of our Synodal journey.”
With his decision to have everything published, even the number of votes in favour and against each paragraph, “Francis made the whole process transparent, leaving it up to the faithful to interpret and form a judgement on the facts, even those which are hardest to interpret.” “Thanks to the Pope’s decision, all disputed points remain quaestiones disputandae, but inspired by the Synod discussions as a whole. So the process remains open and requires the involvement of the people of God, for an entire year.”
“At the end of the Extraordinary Synod, we believe it is necessary for the entire Church to reflect not just on specific questions, but thanks to these, also on the ecclesiological model it embodies. This allows us to understand the Church’s mission in the world and its relationship with history.”
Finally, Fr. Spadaro presents Francis’ image of a “field hospital after a battle” as a way of interpreting and approaching the Church: “There are so many people who are wounded and are asking us for support, who ask us for the very thing they asked Jesus for: closeness.” This image is the opposite of a besieged fortress. The abovementioned image is not just a nice and simple poetic metaphor. It gives us an understanding of the mission of the Church and also the meaning of the sacraments of salvation.”
Today’s battlefield is sprinkled with challenges to do with the family: “falling birth rates and an ageing population have reversed relations between young people and the elderly; contraception allows the split between sexuality and generativity; assisted reproductive technology breaks the link between producing offspring and being a parent; re-formed families lead to parental ties and roles with complex relational geographies; the question of common-law couples and the social institutionalisation of their relationship; gay people ask themselves why they cannot live their lives like any other practicing Catholic, despite being in a stable relationship. But the real problem, the real fatal blow to mankind today, is actually the fact that people are increasingly unable to come out of their shells and forge bonds of faithfulness with other people, even if they love the person in question. It is this individualistic humanity the Church sees before it. And the Church’s priority must be to open its doors, not close them, offering the light that shines within it. It must go out to meet those who may think they do not need a message of salvation even though these people have often been wounded by life and are afraid of it.”
If the Church really is a mother and treats its children mercifully can there be a sacramental economy that takes into consideration irretrievable situations that permanently exclude the possibility of accessing the sacrament of reconciliation?” This is the question some Synod fathers asked themselves.