As the synod drew to a close, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, has expressed his belief that this Synod of Bishops will provide pastoral approaches to welcome Catholics back to the church.
In an interview with ZENIT before the final session, Cardinal Nichols admitted that while there were disagreements, there was no division at this Synod of Bishops on the Family.
In addition to sharing whether he is satisfied with the Synod and its message, as well as if the voices of the world’s bishops were heard, he also called for better pastoral skills to help those in difficult situations, especially through a phrase very close to the heart of the Holy Father: accompaniment.
ZENIT: In terms of what your expectation for the Synod and how you feel it’s finished, are you satisfied?
I think the message that we’ve agreed on this morning is very attractive and very positive. It really does, I think, present the invitation of the Gospel, within the reality of today’s world. I think that’s well done. Yes,
I think the whole course of the whole Synod has been conducted in a great spirit, a great spirit, of openness which we comes with disagreement but doesn’t in any way move, as some people want to suggest, toward division. There’s no division.
It’s been a very vigorous debate that we still have to finish this afternoon with our consideration of the final report.
ZENIT: Turning to the message, how would you describe it?
I think it’s lyrical. It’s attractive because it has a poetic, almost lyrical quality about it. I think many people find it appealing.
ZENIT: Do you think that majority of the prelates and bishops here feel their voice has been proportionally recognized?
My impression is exactly that. Yes, that obviously these highly sensitive issues of family and marriage and particular are issues on which the Church ponders constantly. There are bound to be different emphasis, but I think everybody’s been heard, and I think that we know that. The work goes on, because the synod is really one step in next year’s synod and in increasing discussion of all these matters in the Church.
ZENIT: In terms of some concrete ways, concrete pastoral approaches, that can help welcome back those who are divorced or remarried?
I think one of the strongest themes is Pope Francis’ phrase… the need to strengthen the skills that pastors and their assistants, those who work particularly in the field of marriage, the ability they have, the “art of accompaniment” that’s his phrase, and I think that’s a real challenge and go that goes right across the range of issues that we’ve talked about and that are mentioned in the message. So there’s that sense of wanting to reinvigorate the pastoral care that the Church can lovingly give to people, in very difficult situations.