Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Synod of Bishops on the Family completed its final working day on Saturday. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida and vice president of the Synod Assembly, and Brother Hervé Janson, prior general of the Little Brothers of Jesus, were present at the Synod’s last briefing, along with Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office.
The synodal committee charged with drafting the final report, handed over a 94-point final report to the Synod Fathers to be examined this afternoon, Father Lombardi said. He added that the approved text could be made public tonight. The committee, he explained, "did an absolutely amazing work with respect to the Instrumentum Laboris. The unanimously approved report carries "a rather significant message", which will be submitted to a vote.
Card Schönborn spoke on a number issues, in particular remarried divorced people and homosexuals. About the former, he said, “a lot was said; a lot was said carefully, but the key word is ‘discernment’.”
“I urge everyone to realise that there is no black or white, yes or no. It [each case] must be discerned. This is what Saint John Paul II said in Familiaris Consortio. For the love of truth, a pastor must exercise discernment because situations are different. As a good Jesuit, who went through the Exercises of Saint Ignatius, Pope Francis learnt to discern as a young man, which is try to understand the situation of this couple or that person.”
With respect to “the issue of homosexuality, this document looks at it from the perspective of the family when we find out about a brother, sister, uncle or relative who is homosexual. How should we deal with this situation? In a Christian way” is the answer. “This in a nutshell is what was said about homosexuality.”
“We have to keep in mind that in certain political and cultural regions, the theme is too delicate. This does not mean that in some [other] regions, like Europe and North America, the issue is not an issue for the Church. However, from the perspective of universal synodality, we must respect the diversity of political and cultural situations."
The archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Damasceno, and Brother Hervé Janson (the Synod’s only non-priest voting member) pointed out that an atmosphere of closeness and freedom prevailed in recent weeks, favouring the exchange of opinions and experiences. All this was facilitated by the new rules that gave more leeway to the circuli minores or work groups.
"With 13 linguistic groups, interventions in almost two weeks were non-stop,” said Cardinal Damasceno. “This gave everyone more room to participate; Synod Fathers were able to engage in a real exchange. The methodology allowed each one of us to deal with each part of the document."
For Card. Schönborn, the Synod’s "main message” is the theme of the Synod, namely that “the Catholic Church around the world, its 1.2 billion Catholics, discussed for two years the topic of marriage and the family, with all its positive and difficult aspects”. This is “a remarkable feat for our time, because this is the core of the message: a great yes to the family. For me, the outcome of this Synod is a big yes to the family. The family is not passé. It is not an old model but a fundamental model for human society."
"The emphasis was on the family,” said Brother Janson. “I think that, regardless of the type of family, the way in which these families live, basically they always have a contribution to make and are good for the Church. “Although I am not fully in agreement with the rules, the rules of the Church, however, have something that is good for the Church. Therefore, the Church must accept them with understanding. For me, this was a very important point to stress. Thus, as reiterated several times, the Church’s mercy is in the final document. You will see it when you read the document. To me, this is really something strong."