In an unexpected speech at the synod on Tuesday, Pope Francis has stated that this gathering is in continuity with 2014 synod, which he said never called into question the Church’s teaching on marriage.
He also emphasized that the official documents of the 2014 synod are his two speeches, and its final report.
The full text of the Holy Father’s intervention has not made public, but Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, reported about it in his Oct. 6 press briefing.
Pope Francis’ speech came after Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, had taken the floor to give a long explanation about the synod’s new methodology, as there had been on Monday several synod fathers asking for explanations about the new process, which had alarmed not a few of them.
According to Fr. Lombardi, Cardinal Baldisseri explained the synod’s new method, presented the 10 member commission the Pope appointed in order to assist in drafting the synod’s final report, and underscored that the procedure was approved by the Pope Sept. 7, during one of the sessions of the Council of the Synod.
After Cardinal Baldisseri’s intervention, the Pope wanted to take the floor, Fr. Lombardi recounted.
According to Fr. Lombardi, the Pope wanted “essentially to clarify two issues.”
The first is that “this synod must be lived in continuity with last year’s extraordinary synod.” The Pope then stressed – ‘with these very words,’ Fr. Lombardi said – that “from the extraordinary session of the synod, three are the official documents: the Pope’s inaugural speech, the Pope’s final speech, and the final report.”
The final report was controversial because it also included the midterm report paragraphs that had not gained the supermajority of two thirds – that is, they did not reach a consensus. Customarily, the propositions that do not reach a consensus have been removed from the final documents of synods.
However, the Pope underscored – Fr. Lombardi recounted – that “the Council of the Synod looked into the 2014 synod’s final report in the time between the extraordinary and the ordinary synod, and that the report has been integrated with other contributions,” and that the Synod’s working document is a result of this effort taken between the 2014 and 2015 synods.
“The Pope said the working document has been approved by the Synod’s Council in meetings in which the Pope himself took part,” Fr. Lombardi stressed.
Then Pope Francis wanted to clarify a second issue: that “Catholic teaching on marriage has not been put into question by the previous synod, and that synod fathers should not be conditioned to circumscribe the Synod to only the issue of access to Communion for the divorced-and-remarried,” said Fr. Lombardi.
While it is not unusual for the Pope to take the floor during a synod – Benedict XVI having done so in those held in 2008 and 2012 – it is however the first time the Pope’s speeches at the synod are considered the official documents of the synod itself.
These contents will then be the guidelines of the upcoming discussions at this year’s synod. The synod fathers are now divided into small groups by language, to discuss particular issues, having been so divided the afternoon of Oct. 6.
In these first two days, 72 synod fathers took the floor. Fr. Lombardi said there were 10 interventions from Latin America, 7 from North America, 26 from Europe, 12 from Africa, 8 from Asia and Oceania, and 6 from the Middle East. Italian and English have been the most used languages.
By Andrea Gagliarducci