Her take on the recently concluded synod and the work that still needs to be done
What was your overall experience of the Synod?
I felt really encouraged and energized by the Synod. I felt the feeling over there was one of our faithful pastors gathering together to think about how we can best both affirm Church teachings on these issues and meet people where there are an bring these messages to people at the margins.
The Interim Relatiowas issued last Monday and caused a firestorm. In fact, some have said that the Synod was being manipulated in order to put forward a teaching not in keeping with the Church’s Magisterium and Tradition. By the end of the Synod, the new Relatiowas published, and while it was a great improvement, on three key points it did not receive the two-thirds majority required for synodal consensus.Was it your impression that the Synod was being manipulated, despite the good work that was done?
I’m not sure that I would accept that characterization. I think the place to focus here is the end of the Synod, is on the message issued by the bishops, is on the remarkable speech of Pope Francis, and is on the final Relatio. I think what you saw there was the overwhelming majority of bishops supporting a renewed approach to reaching out to others, reaching out to people to bring them the affirmative work of the Church, the affirmative teachings of the Church. So again, underlining that everyone there is committed to Catholic teaching and the Gospel, and the question is how to reach people where there are right now. So again, I think that final report was very important. I think that what you saw in the numbers was a real, real sign of support for where we’re moving forward, and finally this is snapshot in a long, ongoing conversation that will continue until next year.
What work remains for the media and the laity over the next year, as the Church prepares for the Ordinary Synod to be held in October 2015?
I think that we should follow this model that we saw this week, in this respect: we saw a robust and vibrant conversation and shows the vibrancy of our Church and we need to contribute to that this year. Pope Francis was very clear about saying in his speech that we should not expect a kind of quietist, false peace. That would be worrying, right? A too tidy conversation would be worrying. This should be something that’s dynamic and that moves us forward, so the laity and the media should all participate in this conversation and bring what are our perspectives to bare on it, because that will advance the conversation. At the same time, I think that we have a responsibility to make sure that our conversation does not collapse inward. We need to assume good faith on the part of our interlocuters, we need to move past out divides, and we need to just avoid overheated language.
I agree that truth and mercy are not in opposition. In fact, mercy flows through the Church teaching and what you saw here, particularly in the final vote, was that bishops were overwhelmingly together. […] By the way, the untold story here is the steady leadership of Archbishop Kurtz, and he is my definition of a faithful pastor.
Would you say more about that?
Sure. I think throughout the Synod Archbishop Kurtz was confident in the Church’s teaching; he affirmed them. And at the same time, he talked about our need to accompany people to the fullness of the Gospel and to witness, to hold up faithful witnesses, to the joyfulness of Catholic teachings on the family. I think that this combination of commitment to Church teachings and understanding of what it means to be a pastor is what the bishops were bringing to this meeting and what Archbishop Kurtz was bringing in his steady leadership.