Below is a ZENIT translation of the French Relatio Texts, of Groups A and B.
Relatio – Circulus Gallicus “A”
Moderator: H. E. Cardinal Robert SARAH
Reporter: H. E. Monsignor Francois-Xavier DUMORTIER, S.J.
I would like to present this report in five parts:
– some general considerations
– in regard to Part II
– in regard to Part III – Some reflections in conclusion.
1. Some General Considerations
I think I can say, on behalf of all those who took part in this Circle, that the very open, simple and fraternal character of the meetings was much appreciated, lived in simplicity with a very strong sense of our responsibility, and in mutual trust. This made possible intense work, as we were not limited to writing amendments but we suggested a new formulation in several key places of the text.
I think I must also express the emotion and confusion caused by the diffusion of a document that we regarded as a simple – though very useful – working document, hence provisional. What we have experienced, namely the counter-productive dimension of this diffusion, now makes us feel the duty to evaluate, with care, the causes and consequences of an event that, in sowing perplexities and questions, has not helped reflection.
We have been exposed to the plurality and diversity of ecclesial situations. All the local Churches are not equally concerned in the same way or touched by the problems raised. Furthermore, conscious of this reality, we hope that a certain autonomy will be given to the local Churches in the search for answers to their pastoral concerns.
Finally, we realized in our works the importance of real vigilance and rigor in the use of the words we use – such as the terms couple, marriage, individual or person.
2. In regard to the first part of the Report.
It seemed to us important to consider the lights and shadows of conjugal and family realities in the context of our societies and of the present-day world following Christ’s look on men: the challenges to be addressed and lived can then be lived according to the tradition of the Church, with an attitude of acceptance, of understanding and of compassion. This led us to insist, beyond poverty, on the dehumanizing misery that is one of the major causes of the precariousness and destruction of families, on the “fringes of misery that surround many large metropolises … the situations of violence and of war and their consequences.” We also wished to affirm that affective life develops, is structured and is realized in a privileged way in the framework of family life. In this connection, we thought it important to make evident the positive elements of family situations, the values, the generosity of which we are witnesses, what builds instead of what destroys … that is, everything that stimulates the Church in her duty to express a word of truth and of hope for our contemporaries and of interpellating certain international organizations to help them accept the proper conception of man, of marriage and of society.
3. In regard to the second part of the Report.
The examination of this text awakened questions that led us to choose a rewriting of this part and to propose it as such, if that can help, in the elaboration of a forthcoming text on the path of reflection in which the Church is engaged. Our text is resolutely Christo-centric: it puts Christ at the center, His person and His word, one’s belonging to Christ and the personal experience of Christ denouncing hardness of heart and incarnating the divine pedagogy of patience and mercy even in His Passion, His Death and His Resurrection. It is, in fact, in attachment to Christ and in belonging to Christ after Baptism, that the Sacrament of Marriage is founded.
Verification of the failures of love and imperfect unions that are multiplying calls for special pastoral care that is able to respect persons, to encourage efforts of repentance and to offer the fraternal support of the Christian community to which they belong. Such a verification must not make one forget families that live Christian marriage with coherence and fidelity, and that render this witness through their joys but also despite trials such as poverty, unemployment, sickness, mourning, sterility and difficulties in the education of children.
4. In regard to the third part of the Report.
On the question of remarried divorced persons and the Sacraments of Reconciliation and of the Eucharist, our text states that it is important “not to change the doctrine of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and the non-admission of remarried divorced persons to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, but to apply this constant doctrine of the Church to the different and painful situations of our time, with a renewed look of compassion and mercy on persons.” We regard as a priority that the examination of doubtful marriages be facilitated and that the procedures for declarations of matrimonial nullity be accelerated. It is important also to have a language that is positive and purposeful and to consider distinctively persons who live in different situations.
Concerning the reception of homosexual persons, it seems clear to us that the Church, in the image of Christ the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18), has always wanted to receive persons who knock on the door, opens her door to all, who are to be received with respect, compassion and in recognition of each one’s dignity. To support a person pastorally does mean to endorse a form of sexuality or a way of life.
5. Some Reflections in Conclusion
Marriage and the family are veritably at the heart of the crucial issues of today: the self-understanding of the man of today and the present anthropological issues – the analysis of the socio-economic causes of the disintegration of the family – the reflection on the link between marriage, family and society – a biblical and theological deepening on what we reflected upon too rapidly … The important work done up to here now seems to require deeper reflection – especially anthropological and theological – which must be undertaken and led in the most appropriate way before next year’s Synod. We do not think that an ad hoc commission is appropriate. We think it is important that the questions are addressed in all their breadth and that the different Episcopal.
Relatio – Circulus Gallicus “B”
Moderator: H.E. Cardinal Christoph SCHOENBORN, O.P.
Reporter: H.E. Monsignor Andre LEONARD
Our work unfolded in a good atmosphere of frankness and mutual listening. Everyone appreciated this universal “chat,” where the voices of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, of Africa and North America resounded in very different tones, but in a generally symphonic way. The facts and issues were clarified thanks to the very diverse experiences within the same linguistic group.
We greeted with gratitude the presence of lay people, men and women, — primarily couples – who touched and edified us by their “witness” lived, sometimes better than our theological “lucubrations,” indispensable though they also are.
In our very first exchanges, in reaction to the innumerable interventions of the Synodal Fathers, our attention focused first on two main issues:
How to unite doctrine and discipline, the dogmatic approach and pastoral closeness? How to combine love of truth and pastoral charity in a way that will not shock either the youngest or the eldest son of the famous parable reported by Luke?How to take into account the great variety of pastoral situations across the world and how to send eventually the reflections to the National, Regional or Continental Episcopal Conferences in virtue of the principle of subsidiarity, while respecting catholicity and hence the universality of the Church, in a much as many of the essential problems are linked, at the same time, to fundamental traits of human nature?
While regretting globally a dense, incoherent, excessively verbose style and, therefore, generally rather boring – a style aggravated further by the translation into another language – we reacted especially by producing substantial changes on essential points, which are the following:
Through lack of an absolute majority (9 for, 5 against, 4 abstentions) the concept of “gradualness” in the ecumenical analogy developed by Lumen Gentium (paragraph 8: “subsistit in”) and in the Patristic expression “Seeds of the Word,” was put aside each time that these expressions risked, erroneously, to be understood as the legitimization a priori of irregular life situations, namely, sinful, even if we recognize that, a posteriori, many of these situations can be a path or a stage towards a better situation. In regard to the possibility of access to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, certain Fathers argued, in a perspective at once doctrinal and pastoral, in favour of the present discipline in virtue of its doctrinal foundation, constantly confirmed by the Magisterium of the Church. Other Fathers, inspired by the same doctrinal and pastoral concerns proposed to the Magisterium of the Church the adoption of another discipline, but with very precise conditions (cf. n. 47 of the Relatio Post Disceptationem). We asked that the practice of “spiritual Communion,” recommended traditionally to those who, for different reasons, cannot commune “sacramentally,” be studied and evaluated in its theological foundations and, if it is accredited by this examination, that it be promoted and diffused better among the faithful. We stressed forcefully that, even if the Church cannot legitimize all life situations, that the mercy of the Lord and of His Church should reach each one in his/her situation of life in order to lead us all on the path of truth, of conversion and of peace. We repeated our respect and our welcome to homosexual persons and denounced the unjust and at times violent discriminations that they have suffered and still suffer sometimes, including, alas, in the Church! However, this does not mean that the Church must legitimize homosexual practices and even less so, recognize them, as certain States do in a so-called homosexual “marriage.” On the contrary, we denounce all the manoeuvres of certain international organizations attempting to impose on poor countries, by way of financial blackmail, legislation instituting so-called homosexual “marriage.” Finally, we wished to present in a positive way and to update for today the prophetic inspiration that encouraged Blessed Paul VI when, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, he celebrated the beauty of the profound bond that unites, in conjugal life, the at once spiritual and carnal union of spouses, and openness to the gift of life.