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Synod on the Family acts as curtain-raiser

Only the beginning: Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, during the morning session on the final day of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. Photo: Paul Haring

Only the beginning: Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, during the morning session on the final day of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. Photo: Paul Haring

By Paul Dobbyn

BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge has addressed several controversial issues discussed during the recent Extraordinary Synod of the Family, including reception of Holy Communion for the divorced, in an interview on Sky TV.

The archbishop, interviewed on the channel’s Keneally and Cameron Show on October 17, agreed with host, former NSW premier Kristina Keneally, that the synod’s working document raised some questions on this and other issues including homosexuality.

“The question we have to grapple with, and it’s like juggling, is to say, on the one hand, marriage is indissoluble and can’t be dissolved,” he said.

“On the other hand, we really need to meet people where they are and care for them and journey with them.

“The question is, pastorally, how do we do those two things together and this is one of the great conundrums which the Catholic Church is facing at this time in history.”

Archbishop Coleridge said similar statements could be made in relation to the ordination of women and the morality of homosexual acts.

“Again the Church finds itself juggling and having to live in tension and that’s not something that Catholics are always comfortable with but it’s certainly where we are and where the synod has positioned us at this time,” he said.

Archbishop Coleridge’s statements were made shortly before the synod’s conclusion in Rome.

Following the conclusion, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Denis Hart, who attended the synod held in Rome from October 5 to 19, spoke of preparations in the lead up to next year’s Ordinary Synod on the Family.

Archbishop Hart also referred to the Pope’s concluding statement on October 18.

“Pope Francis has reminded us that we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many challenges that families must confront, and to give answers to the many discouragements that surround families,” he said.

“The Australian Bishops will continue to pray for families everywhere, in particular reflecting on how we can accompany and lead those in difficult situations, such as single women bringing up children and those who have divorced and remarried, towards participation in Church life.”

Over the coming months, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will review the ‘lineamenta’ (guidelines), presented to each episcopal conference following the conclusion of the extraordinary synod.

“As Pope Francis has explained, the Church now has one year to work on the ‘Synodal Relatio’, which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed during this extraordinary synod,”  he said.

Archbishop Coleridge in his October 17 Sky TV interview described the synod as “a journey”.

“One of the things Pope Francis has done is he has changed synods from an event to a process, and this particular meeting looks to another meeting (the Ordinary Synod of the Family) at the same time next year,” he said.

“It is at that meeting next year, the ‘full Monty’ synod as it were, that will really deliver a decisive work.”

Word on Fire Catholic Ministries founder, Fr Robert Barron, said on a website post “the interim report on the synod represents a very early stage of the sausage-making process and, unsurprisingly, it isn’t pretty”.

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