Cardinal: In synod process, Church is listening to God, not ‘polls’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church can only teach the faithful if it is an institution that listens, but that does not mean it should take to heart every opinion uttered, according to the head of the Church’s synod.

The Church “is not interested in surveyed polls,” said Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops. “The Church is always and only listening to the voice of God.”

Presentation of working synod document

The cardinal presented the working document for the second assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality at a Vatican news conference on July 9.

He explained that God speaks in many ways: through sacred Scripture, for example, “but also through the sense of faith of the People of God, the voice of pastors and the charism of theologians,” through which God’s truth continues to be revealed.

The time between the two synodal assemblies, in which the Secretariat of the Synod again sought input from local churches in light of the findings from last year’s synodal assembly, “has been always and only in order to seek, with the certainly perfectible tools we have at our disposal, what God wants to say to the Church in this hour of its journey,” he said.

Cardinal Grech noted that 108 of 114 bishops’ conferences submitted responses to questions from the synod secretariat to form the working document.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general of the synod, speaks during a news conference at the Vatican July 9, 2024, to present the working document for the second assembly of ongoing the Synod of Bishops. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Joy and challenges in the synodal process

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general of the synod, told the news conference that reports from the bishops’ conferences “unanimously testify, without hiding the struggles and difficulties of synodal conversion, also a feeling of joy and gratitude” for the synodal process.

He said that local churches carried out the second consultation after the synod’s first universal phase “with greater freedom and creativity in the way they took ownership of the process.”

Yet the cardinal noted that the reports do contain a sense of “weariness and fatigue of a path of conversion” which is “not immediate.”

The demand for more immediate action was reflected in questions put to the cardinals at the news conference, several of which focused on the issue of expanding the diaconate to include women.

Ongoing reflection on women deacons

In March, Cardinal Grech announced that Pope Francis had decided to establish 10 study groups dedicated to hot-button topics raised during the 2021-24 synod process and they are expected to explore the question of the women deacons.

Asked whether the topic of women deacons was still being considered after Pope Francis rejected the possibility of their ordination in a CBS interview aired May 20, Cardinal Grech said that “according to the information that we have today, it is a no, but at the same time the Holy Father has said that reflection, deeper theological study, should continue.”

“To me, this is not a contradiction,” he added.

Father Riccardo Battocchio, a theologian and special secretary to the synodal assembly, said that the document’s language on the role of women “is not about changing the structure of the Catholic Church” but to ensure women may participate in decision-making by reconsidering “how a bishop or bishops come to make decisions.”

This post Cardinal: In synod process, Church is listening to God, not ‘polls’ appeared on Our Sunday Visitor.

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