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Rome & the World: 2-session synod • lay ‘vicar general rep’ in Germany

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 10/17/22

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Monday 17 October 2022
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1. Synod in two sessions will encourage participation
2. Rome silent on German diocese’s appointment of lay ‘vicar general representative’
3. The Church in Asia thinks about its future
4. For Francis, there are no just wars
5. Patriarch Kirill criticizes the West

1Synod in two sessions will encourage participation

The Vatican media’s Editorial Director, Andrea Tornielli, comments on Pope Francis’ surprise announcement during Sunday’s Angelus address to extend the Synod on Synodality by a year. After the first session, planned in Rome for October 2023, a second one will be held in October 2024. “The dream is to transform the ordinary life of the Church through the participation and involvement of everyone, to renew its life and help Christian communities be ever more faithful to the Gospel and therefore ever more missionary,” writes Tornielli. After the diocesan, national, and continental stages, “such a great opportunity must not be missed by using the same old ways of doing or looking at things,” whether progressive or traditionalist, as they both “end up focusing only on single issues rooted in past and self-referential ideological battles,” explains the Italian journalist. This synodal process marks a continuity with Vatican II, but it is not without risks. In his homily on October 11, during the Mass celebrating the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said “let us ask ourselves if we, in the Church, start with God and his loving gaze upon us. We are always tempted to start from ourselves rather than from God, to put our own agendas before the Gospel, to let ourselves be caught up in the winds of worldliness in order to chase after the fashions of the moment or to turn our back on the time that Providence has granted us, in order to retrace our steps.” The key to understanding the Synod is “starting from the loving gaze of God with the joy that flows from feeling loved, welcomed, and accompanied by Him,” assesses Tornielli. “The Church exists to proclaim the Gospel. And the Church’s structures, always subject to reform, exist only for this aim,” he insists. The process, which began in 2021 at the local Church level, has led to 112 episcopal conferences, out of 114, to “carry out extended discernment on what has emerged from listening to the people of God.” This is only the beginning, but it is marked by hope, concludes the Italian Vatican journalist.

Vatican News, English

2Rome silent on German diocese’s appointment of lay ‘vicar general representative’

A lay woman serving as a “representative of the vicar general” in a German diocese has said that the Vatican has not responded to her appointment six months after she took up the post, reports American media outlet The Pillar. When Stephanie Reith was appointed to this position in April, the diocese had explained that its Bishop, Peter Kohlgraf, had issued a decree in the official gazette setting out the legal basis for the new office. The diocese said that as the representative of the vicar general, Reith would “be able to represent him in all matters internally and externally” and “independently carry out the vicar general’s tasks in his place,” while naturally not performing sacramental or liturgical duties that are reserved for clerics. According to the Code of Canon Law, bishops must appoint a vicar general to assist them in the governance of their dioceses and they must be priests, over 30-years-old, and experts in canon law or theology. The diocese’s website underlines though that while there is “a kind of dual leadership” consisting of the vicar general, Auxiliary Bishop Udo Markus Bentz, and his representative, “nothing is taken away from the office of the vicar general.” In an interview with German Catholic news agency KNA, Reith said she was not surprised by the lack of reaction in Rome to the new arrangement. “I want to use the framework provided by canon law to the full, and to develop it to the best of my ability,” Reith told KNA, while explaining that by working with the vicar general they want to show that “reform is possible, within the system.” The Diocese of Mainz’s decision seems to fit with the ideas promoted by the “synodal way” in Germany, which is seeking, among other things, to include more lay people in the Church’s governance. However, the German diocese is not the first to try this type of structure, as the Swiss Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg, last year announced that he would be naming lay people to serve in place of episcopal vicars in his diocese. 

The Pillar, English

3. The Church in Asia thinks about its future

Asian bishops are reflecting on the future of the Church on this complex continent as the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences celebrates its 50th anniversary in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Crux, English

4. For Francis, there are no just wars

Pope Francis has once again spoken out against the idea of a just war in a book to be published in Italy on Tuesday. 

Katholisch.de, German

5. Patriarch Kirill criticizes the West 

The Patriarch of Moscow compared Russian civilization with Western civilization and considers the latter “unviable,” reports the Russian agency Interfax

Interfax, English 

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