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Fr. James Martin, SJ: Five Things the Synod Just Did

19. okt. 2014

Fr. James Martin, SJ, America Magazine, skriver i et facebook opslag bl.a.:

What does the final report of the Synod on the Family mean for the church?

Essentially, the “relatio” (or report) published today, at the close of the Synod, will serve as a starting point for future discussion.  It was also presented with great transparency, including even sections that did not win the necessary votes for complete approval.   

Before we look at five things the synod did, it’s important to understand the unique “form” of this unusual final document.  Pope Francis asked to have all of the paragraphs presented in the “final” report, even those that failed to win the majority needed for full passage (a two-thirds majority).  Two of those three dealt with LGBT Catholics, and one addressed divorced and remarried Catholics.  What’s more, the Pope asked that the voting results be shown alongside all the paragraphs, which were voted on separately.  Gerard O'Connell called this a break with 49 years of tradition.  

In other words, if the final document was published only the fully approved texts, those three paragraphs would not appear.  

Why did the Pope choose to do this?

Several sources in Rome told me that they believe that this was an extremely canny move by Pope Francis, who by insisting on not only retaining those paragraphs but also showing the vote tallies, ensures two things.  First, that those topics—LGBT issues and the reception of Communion for divorce and remarried Catholics—will be discussed at the next session of the Synod.  Second, that the church will know that these votes, both of which he himself has addressed, were very close. This may give encouragement to those in favor of greater openness on these issues to rally support and fight more vigorously next time.  (Conversely, it may strengthen the resolve of those opposed to greater openness.)

Some sources said that the reason that the three paragraphs on those hot-button issues did not pass was not that the “traditionalists” did not like them, but because they did not go far enough for the “progressives.”  (Such labels are never the best, but here let us use them for those who, on those two topics, prefer more and less change in church practice.)


All in all, the last two weeks have proven a very Jesuit “way of proceeding,” as St. Ignatius Loyola would say.  It’s what we call “discernment,” which includes prayer, as well as much discussion, some division and even some debates. 

But in the end one person makes the decisions, and in this case it’s the Pope.  At one point during his concluding speech to the bishops he said, playfully, “I am here and I’m the pope!” 

Or as we say in the Jesuits, when it comes to the superior it’s: “You discern, we discern, but I decide.”  

Hele opslaget kan læses her:

Wikipedia: James Martin 

America Magazine: James Martin