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James Martin, S.J.October 20, 2014
Pope Francis and Fr. Rosica, with Cardinal Donald Wuerl in the background.

A guest post from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, the English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office at the Vatican, and served as English-language spokesperson at the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome. 

Thanks to all of you who took such interest in the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops and provided media coverage in different ways: print, electronic, television and radio.  I did my best to try to respond to your many requests over the past three weeks. I appreciated very much the sensitivity and understanding you demonstrated in your coverage.  I would simply like to remind you of some things I wrote over the past month regarding the Synod of Bishops.

1) This was a unique experience of a Synod in that it was extraordinary - a preparatory synod - for the major one that will take place next October also on the theme of the family.  Therefore the process begun last fall with the questionnaire, followed by the past two weeks of Synod, continuing through the World Meeting of Families next September in Philadelphia and culminating in the 2015 Synod, offers the church many opportunities for deepening the reflections and thoughts that were shared over the past months. This Synod and its documents are works in progress.  We have only just begun the process of synod: walking together.

2) One of the great gifts of the Second Vatican Council was the establishment of the Synod of Bishops 49 years ago.  After 4 years of intense debate, hard work and newly formed friendships, solidarities and rich collaboration, the Fathers (participants) in Vatican II expressed their strong desire to then-Pope Paul VI (now Blessed Paul VI) to found the Synod of Bishops that would allow the teachings, spirit and dynamism of the Council to continue.  In the normal course of history, the Synodal structure grew tired and lost some of its original dynamism.  Pope Francis, building on the foundation of his predecessors, desired to reawaken the Synodal structure and allow it to deepen its roots in the Conciliar experience and spread its wings to lead the Church forward on her journey.  Using the rich imagery of Pope Francis, I would like to think that the recent Extraordinary Synod was a golden opportunity to take the Synodal structure out of the Intensive Care Unit (some thought it was Palliative Care) of the great Field Hospital of the Church and return it to the General patient wing of the Field Hospital we call Church!

3) The lenses through which we can best understand what just took place in Rome are the masterful texts of Pope Francis: his homily at the opening mass of the Synod on October 5, his opening address to the Synodal Assembly on Monday October 6, his amazing concluding address to the Synod on Saturday October 18 and the very moving homily at the Synod's concluding mass on Sunday, October 19, 2014. 

4) Rather than be overly concerned with the smaller picture of normal, synodal intrigues, details and minutiae that are part and parcel of any gathering when human beings (especially Church people!) come together, I encourage you to take the wide angle view of what has just transpired at the Vatican, and what will continue to take place around the world as the Synod Fathers and participants bring home their documents, stories, hopes, dreams, frustrations and desires for the Church and for the world.

5) The Synodal adventure and drama continues and offers to the entire world a great story.  It is a work in progress. Thank you for helping us to tell the story, and even better, to become part of it.  What has taken place here in Rome these past weeks not only relates to Catholic Christians, but to all men and women of good will who seek to leave the world a better place, and who recognize that the future of humanity passes through the family, in all that family means for us today.

Allow me conclude by quoting from Pope Francis' homily at yesterday's mass of Beatification for Pope Paul VI, the author of the Synod of Bishops:

"On this day of the Beatification of Pope Paul VI, I think of the words with which he established the Synod of Bishops: “by carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods… to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society” (Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo)."

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William Rydberg
9 years 4 months ago
This piece is fair comment if one were a secular observer, but from someone so close to the happenings? Fr Rosica has a reputation as an Ecumenicist, recently doing some fine work on the subject of Ecumenism that appeared on Canada's Salt and Light Television recently (I think he is or was CEO or perhaps Chair of that Network in the past or may still be?). Therefore, I will use the following (rhetorical) question which can easily be applied to the above noted Subject, (need I mention Saint John-Paul's "Familiaris Consortia") in the following and leave it at that: [What would be people's reaction among the Muslim and Orthodox Jewish faithful be if it were announced that more than 80% of Muslims and Jews disagree with their religious teaching on food eating and were found to regularly eat some forbidden foods?] Surely their (Muslim & Orthodox Jewish Media) would say a lot more than what's being said above (what does "deepening reflections" mean?). In my humble opinion the words found above may be found to be very political by some readers given the fact that this is America Magazine. I don't think that ordinary catholics are being listened to, that catholic Audience is largely Salt and Light viewers (old and young and in between who perhaps go to Mass more than once a week and still take their Catechism as having authority). I don't want to sound too negative because in the final analysis I found his work very helpful because some Salt and Light news production pieces during the deliberations focussed on the big-picture happenings were really top notch and I almost felt at times as if I had my own personal window on the happenings. I am certain that those productions by Salt and Light were as good as they were largely due to Fr Rosica's participation. But then again, I have gotten used to expecting more from Fr Rosica CSB...

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