By Russell Pollitt, SJ
The Synod Fathers and auditors did a 6 kilometer pilgrimage today from Monte Mario to St Peter’s. At St Peter’s, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, presided at Mass. The Holy Father was also present.
Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, O.F.M., from Peru said that the Synod was an experience of great cooperation and that the Church’s understanding of synodality has been developed. He said that synodality is a keyword and that in these days it has been a true gift of the Holy Spirit. He said that he Church must work on this and practice it more so that it grows. He said that the bishops are all called to enhance cooperation in the Church. The Archbishop said that the bishops speak in communion with the Pope, in service of the people of God.
Cardinal Arlindo Gomes Furtado from Cape Verde said that the experience of the Synod was one of communion. He said that the model is one that impressed him, he intends using it in his diocese. He said that the method of the Synod has helped participants progress in joy and communion and it is a way forward that the Church must pursue.
An auditor from Brazil, Mr Lucas Barboza Galhardo, said that there was great openness and joy at the Synod. He said that he feels that young people have been heard and he believes that the process should be continued after the Synod.
All those present at the press briefing spoke about the sexual abuse of minors.
Mr Galhardo said that as young people, it is very difficult because they have heard the testimonies of victims, their peers, which are terrible stories. He said that this is not the Church he knows, the Church that he experienced as a young boy or the one he believes in. He said that this is not the Church that he has experienced at the Synod, a Church that is journeying together. He said that young people (his friends) refer to abuse as if this is all the Church is in the world. He went on to say that it is hard to defend the Church in the situation of abuse and that the church of abuse is not the Church of Jesus Christ, “that is another church,” he said.
Archbishop Vidarte said that what happened is painful because damage was not only done to the bodies of children but also to their souls. The Archbishop said that it is good to remember that this is not the entire Church but done by some in the Church. The Church, he said, needs to be reborn and move away from this situation.
Cardinal Furtado said that this is a huge scandal in the Church but that it is also a problem for all of society. He said that all, the Church and society, must cooperate with the latest in science to eradicate this problem. We cannot accept this in the Church, he said, but we must also help society rid itself of this problem.
Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti from Italy said abuse has hurt the whole body of Christ; the whole Church has suffered because of what has happened. He said that the Church needs to take responsibility for this which includes cooperating with civil authorities and the judiciary.
The Cardinal went on to say that prevention is key and that seminaries need to use all the instruments of the human sciences to assess candidates for priesthood and religious life. It is not enough to report on what has happened, the Church must now adopt all possible means to prevent this. He said that the Italian bishops will be meeting in November for a full day to discuss this issue in depth.