At the Synod, when the interim report came out, some said it was a disaster.
It was a total disaster.
The final report noted the need for “sensitivity to the positive aspects” of civil marriages and, “with obvious differences, cohabitation." The Church, it says, “needs to indicate the constructive elements in these situations.” The paragraph, number 41, passed the requisite two-thirds majority. Do you find it disturbing that this paragraph gained a two-thirds majority among the bishops?
The language is at best confused, and I’m afraid that some of the Synod Fathers may not have reflected sufficiently on the implications of that, or maybe because the language is confused, didn’t understand completely what was being said. But that is disturbing for me. And then the whole matter: that even though [certain] paragraphs were removed, and rightly so, although contrary to practice in the past the document was printed with those paragraphs included, and one had to go and look at the votation to see that certain paragraphs had been removed. It’s disturbing to me that even those sections which were voted to be removed still received a substantial number of votes.
Juridically, when those three paragraphs did not receive the two-thirds majority, were they to be removed from the document?
Absolutely. We couldn’t have any discussion on that text, but we voted paragraph by paragraph, and what’s the point of voting paragraph by paragraph except to either accept a paragraph of have it removed. This is just one more disturbing aspect about the way in which Synod of Bishops was conducted.
Do you see this agenda continuing through the coming year? They aren’t going to change course?
No, because the General Secretary has identified himself very strongly with the Kasper thesis, and he is not hesitant to say so and has gone around also giving talks in various places. He’s less outspoken than Cardinal Kasper but nevertheless it’s clear that he subscribes to that school. So no, this is going to go on and that’s why it’s important that we continue to speak up and to act as we are able to address the situation.
A question about language: in the interim document the word “accogliere” was repeatedly used, especially in the three paragraphs regarding homosexuality. As you know, “accogliere” can mean many things in Italian. Initially in English it was translated as “welcome.” Then, two days later, it was changed to "provided for," and then it was changed back. What is the proper understanding or rendering of “accogliere” if that word is to be used?
I’m not sure that “accogliere” is the correct term to use, because it can, I believe — and I’m no expert in Italian — it can be understood that they are welcomed as persons who are living in this way. We welcome them as children of God, as brothers and sisters of Christ, but we don’t welcome their lifestyle, so to speak, or the way in which they are living. And so if you have, for instance, two men or two women who are living together openly in a homosexual relationship, yes, you care for them, and perhaps “care for pastorally” is the better expression. You care for them but one has to be very careful in the Christian community that the impression is not given to the rest of the faithful that somehow their relationship is morally right and that the Church welcomes that relationship too. No, it doesn’t. That’s the delicate thing. I remember in our small discussion group that certain bishops had an objection to the word “welcome,” and I understood it just for that reason.
And so I think the language itself is not correct, and I think we need to find a different way. And again, I’m not an Italian but I don’t think “accogliere” is the right term.