Pope Francis will write an apostolic exhortation as a follow up to the Synod on the Family and “it should not take too long [to arrive],” the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, told the Italian news agency ANSA.
He said the papal document “will be based on the conclusions of the synod, as is the tradition.” He told this to reporters at the Gregorian University today, after delivering a lecture there for the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Vatican II document on the relation of the Catholic Church to non-Christian religions.
The cardinal recalled that the synod fathers in their final document, which they approved on Oct. 24, had requested that the pope write a document on the family.
The request came at the end of paragraph 94 with these words:
Concluding this Report we humbly ask the Holy Father that he evaluate the opportunity of offering a document on the family, so that in it the domestic church may reflect always more clearly Christ, the light of the world.
Asked when the document might appear, Cardinal Parolin responded, “This I don’t know, but I don’t think it will take too long. After all, it’s best to strike while the iron’s hot.”
Earlier in the week, the Father General of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolàs, S.J., who attended the synod and is close to the pope, confirmed that there would indeed be an apostolic exhortation.
In an interview with Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian daily, he said:
Yes, there will be an Apostolic Exhortation of the Pope. I do not believe it will come out late - after one year - as happened in other synods and with other popes. A year is too much. Experts in management tell me that if eight months pass by without saying anything then people return to the starting point and it’s necessary to re-do the whole process. I believe that Francis will be more rapid in preparing it.
Father Nicolàs noted, “The church has always been weak when it comes to follow-up,” but, “the fruit of the synod cannot just be a document, however good.”
He said, “the fruit [of the synod] is practical: what is done, what happens in the pastoral situation, in the parishes when people start asking. It’s there that one sees [the follow up].”
“For me,” Father Nicolàs said, “the ideal follow-up would consist of particular synods: each bishop when he returns home holds a synod with his people, both priests and laity, to discuss how to realize here the possibilities [opened by the synod on the family].”