by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

At today’s (23 Oct.) Vatican Press Conference, three Synod Fathers spoke, representing India (Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Episcopal Conference of India); Oceania (Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga and President of the Episcopal Conference of Tonga); and North America (Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, California).

As things wind down in the Vatican, a more relaxed atmosphere and good sense of humor were on display inside the "Sala Stampa." Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office, made some light-hearted introductions of the three guest speakers. He noted that Cardinal Mafi (born in 1961) was the youngest Cardinal at the Synod; and that while Archbishop Gomez has indeed referred to himself as "the Bishop of Hollywood," we shouldn't forget that Cardinal Gracias is "the Bishop of Bollywood." Now permit me to deal with the serious stuff mentioned at the Press Conference.

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

If Communion for the divorced/remarried is seen as a sacrilege in Poland, for example, how can it be a meritorious act in Germany?

Wednesday is often referred to as a "hump day" because it's the middle of the work-week and everyone is looking forward to the weekend for some much-deserved rest and relaxation. However, Wednesday, October 21, was not quite the "hump day" of the Synod's final week because there is obviously a great deal of work left for the Synod Fathers to do even this coming Saturday before the Closing Mass of the Synod to be held on Sunday at St. Peter's Basilica.

Now that the work of the small language groups ("circuli minori") is finished, the enormous input (over 500 so-called "modi"  or amendments) of those various groups must be collated, while the ten-member Commission, appointed by Pope Francis, gears up for writing the "Final Synod Document," known in Latin as the "Relatio Synodi" or "Relatio Finalis."

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

Jesus Himself once issued a caution, which the Pope and other Synod Fathers would do well to heed: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Officialdom in any institution sometimes puts too much stock and takes too much pride in promoting a cool, calm and collected exterior when in fact there is chaos, controversy and conflict going on the inside. In this day and age, dominated by social media and technology like the Internet and smart phones, the Church can hardly afford to play rhetorical games or engage in window-dressing. Ultimately, as Our Lord teaches in the Gospel, what is done in secret will be revealed in the broadest daylight. 

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

Let us begin by defining our terms, distinguishing between "ecumenical" dialogue" (or "ecumenism") and "inter-religious" dialogue. The word "ecumenism" comes from the Greek word "oikoumene," meaning "universal." Ecumenism refers to a dialogue among Christians. Inter-religious dialogue occurs between Christians and members of non-Christian religions.

Authentic dialogue is an open, frank and honest conversation about the real divergences and commonalities that exist between one religion and another, between one Christian tradition and another. It does not mean that religious leaders gather around a "bargaining table" like politicians to haggle over doctrinal matters in search of forced compromised positions that undermine each religion or denomination's original beliefs.

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

-- The Meat and Potatoes of the Ordinary Synod

Due to the large number of the interventions of small language groups (in Latin: "circuli minores") at the Synod on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, it is necessary here to summarize their content (essentially without comment) before we can later discuss appropriately any particular points raised in the reports given by those various groups. Herewith is a summary of just 20 salient points based on what was said in Italian, English, French and Spanish during the "Press Briefing" of the Sala Stampa held on Thursday afternoon. 

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

It's not so much the Pope's role to redefine his own position in the Church, as it is to live it out with the fullness of genuine, Christian humility and joy in the daily recognition that he is "the Servant of the servants of God" ("Servus servorum Dei") – that most beautiful title of any pope, first used by Pope St. Gregory the Great.

Pope Blessed Pius IX was considered rather a liberal at the beginning of his pontificate to being an arch-conservative toward the end of his reign. He went from being quite popular at the outset of his Petrine ministry to being so unpopular by the end that the Romans were clamoring to throw his corpse into the Tiber. Luckily, they did not succeed, and we can still visit his tomb in the Vatican grottos!

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

At the Sala Stampa Briefing on Monday, October 12, ‎a few presenters, speaking in Italian, English, French and Spanish, related in summary fashion some essential points mentioned in the small group discussions held at the Synod this past Saturday and Monday morning.

The focus of those small groups was the third part of the working document of the Synod known as the "Instrumentum Laboris," a document that has been keenly scrutinized and greatly criticized by numerous Synod Fathers. Their principal complaint is that the "Instrumentum Laboris" contains several problematic paragraphs that lay side by side contrasting points of view concerning the Church's teachings, for example, on artificial contraception, divorce and remarriage,and other irregular moral situations.

Allow this column to serve as a reflection on the points mentioned in the Briefing presentations that I think deserves particular attention from a theological standpoint. 

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