International Theological Commission document proposes lived synodality

Vatican City, May 18, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- A newly released document from the Vatican’s theological advisory commission seeks to explain and advance “synodality,” a concept of particular importance to Pope Francis.
The document “Synodality in Life and Mission of the Church,” approved March 2 by the International Theological Commission aims at “pointing out the theological roots of synodality, and to push for a reform that shapes the Church in view of synodality,” one of the theologians who drafted the document told CNA.
Msgr. Piero Coda, rector of Italy’s Sophia University, was a member of the sub-commission of the International Theological Commission that drafted the document.
Approved by a large majority by the Commission and after that by the pope, the document was published on the International Theological Commission’s website at the beginning of May.
The International Theological Commission is a body linked to the Congregation for the Catholic Education, the Vatican’s “ministry of education,” which oversees curricula and studies at Catholic schools and universities.
The commission is composed of 30 members, and divided into three subcommission of 10 people.

Msgr. Coda told CNA that “the issue of synodality is ancient as the Church is, so much that St. John Chrysostom, one of the fathers of the Church, stressed that “synod” is the name of the Church, that is that the Church is ‘syn-odos’, walking together.”
The concept of synodality is generally understood to represent a process of discernment, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, involving bishops, priests, religious, and lay Catholics, each according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation.  

The new document proposes to give new impetus to  the concept of synodality through structural reforms, including requiring that every diocese establish a diocesan pastoral council composed of priests, religious, and laity. The document also raises the possibility of establishing new procedures for the convocation of the Synod of Bishops, in order to more frequently involve broader Catholic representation in episcopal deliberations
After the Second Vatican Council, Blessed Pope Paul VI established the Synod of Bishops, and a greater awareness of the concept of synodality made its way in the Catholic Church.

However, “the notion of synodality, though ancient, has had little attention in Western theological Western discourse. Theological discourse has mostly focused on a series of necessary issues, like that of the primacy of the Pontiff,” Coda said
Msgr. Coda said that “synodality was among the three topics proposed for the publication of [a new] document. The set of three topics was: religious freedom in the current international context; the relation between faith and Sacraments, with a special attention to marriage; and synodality.”
Synodality immediately garnered consensus, and the document was quickly drafted.
Regarding the document’s suggestion to modify the processes of the Synod of Bishops, Msgr. Coda said that “there is no practical suggestion, an eventual new procedure must be invented.”
However, he added, “the document raises the issue of a major involvement of the local Churches.”
Msgr. Coda explained that “currently, the Synod of Bishops gathers a representation of Bishops from many different episcopal conferences, but the topics discussed at the synod are not always previously discussed with the local Churches.”
So, the document proposes “that the bishop will be able to hear from the People of God about possible topics of discussion, before synod assemblies.”
According to Msgr. Coda, Pope Francis already adopted a new kind of procedure in that direction when he convoked the pre-Synod of Youth to prepare the 2018 Synod on Youth.
The document also proposes that the establishment of diocesan pastoral councils is made mandatory, which means that the proposed reforms are not only theological, but also structural, explained Msgr. Coda.
“A reform that has no impact on institutions and structures and is merely theological is no more than noise,” the monsignor underscored.
Msgr. Coda noted that “the establishment of presbyterial and pastoral councils was promoted in the Second Vatican Council’s discussion, in order to advance an ecclesiology of communion,” and that this request now needs to be carried forward.
He said that the Diocese of Rome’s 1993 diocesan synod established that in “the Church of Rome, the diocesan councils are not only hoped for, but they are mandatory. I do not now how this has been actually put into effect, but this provision is cited in the Diocesan Synod’s final book.”
The example of the Church of Rome is important because, Msgr. Coda said, “since the beginning, Rome had this central role as the chair of Peter and Paul. It has always been a prototype for all the Churches. Even the College of Cardinals is born out of the synodality lived in the Church of Rome.”
Msgr. Coda said that the theological commission’s document is “not revolutionary, but a normal development” in theological discourse. “A theologically rooted stance on synodality was missing [from the ITC’s work], but there are no ruptures with the past. The document enters the discussion with a certain authoritativeness, and works as a stimulus to propose this reality within the local churches.”
The issue of synodality is crucial for ecumenical dialogue, and not by chance it was discussed  recently in the Orthodox -Catholic International Theological Commission, and has been mentioned several recent ecumenical documents.
However, Msgr. Coda added, theological discussion has “helped us to understand that synodality and primacy are interdependent."

"In the Church, an exercise of authority with no interaction makes no sense.”  Neither, he said, does theological or pastoral deliberation “without the seal of an apostolic confirmation given by the central authority.”

Analysis: With new appointments, Pope Francis puts his mark on the College of Cardinals

Vatican City, May 21, 2018 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ fifth consistory marks an important shift within the College of Cardinals: it is the first time in the five years of this pontificate that in a possible future conclave the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will surpass the number of cardinals created by his predecessors.
As of April, the College of Cardinals is composed this way: there are 48 voting cardinals created by Pope Francis, 48 by Benedict XVI and 19 created by John Paul II, for a total of 115 voting cardinals.
After the June 29 consistory, the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will be 59, and the total number of voting cardinals will be 125.

Only cardinals younger than 80 have the right to vote in a conclave. On June 8, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation of the Cause of Saints, will turn 80, and so at the moment of the consistory there will there will be 47 voting cardinals created by Benedict XVI.
That means that Pope Francis has made the decision to surpass the limit of 120 voting cardinals set by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II. He did so also at the last consistory, in June 28, 2017, when Pope Francis created 5 new cardinals, all of them below the age of 80, that raised the total number of voting cardinals to 121.
Some other figures are revealing.
Since the very first consistory, Pope Francis wanted to show a universal Church by tapping for a “red hat” bishops or archbishops from countries that had never before been represented by a cardinal.
This consistory is slightly different, as Pope Francis picked countries that have been already had cardinals. Japan, Pakistan, Madagascar, and Iraq are back in the sacred college, after a long absence. With their presence there are now 87 countries represented in the College of Cardinals.
Europe is now the most represented continent, and will still be: after the next consistory, there will be 53 European voting cardinals. Latin America has a new representative in the sacred college, so there will be 13 Latin American voting cardinals; Africa will climb to 16 cardinals and Asia to 17 cardinals. North America will have 17 cardinals and Central America 5, while Oceania will keep 4 red birettas.
The roster of the pope’s new cardinals do not include any bishops from North America. It is particularly surprising that Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles will not be created a cardinal, given that his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has already turned 82.
Even if it is Pope Francis’ unwritten rule to avoid creating cardinals in diocese that already have an elector, Los Angeles does not fit the bill.
The rationale could be that of representativeness: with 10 voting cardinals, the United States is second only to Italy as the most represented country in the College of Cardinals. This consideration might have weighed in Pope Francis’ decision.
Another point is also noteworthy: Pope Francis rarely makes cardinals in dioceses generally considered cardinalatial posts. So, Japan will be represented, but the cardinal will not be the Archbishop of Tokyo, as usual, but instead Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo of Osaka. Madagascar is not represented by the Archdiocese of Antananarivo, its capital city, but by Archbishop Desiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina.
The appointment of the second cardinal from Madagascar – the first was Jérôme Louis Rakotomalala, created by Paul VI in 1969 – shows a particular concern for the Church in Madagascar, and might also pave the way to a Pope Francis’ visit to the African country.
There are clues supporting that possibility.
Bishop Gilbert Aubry, Bishop of Reunion and president of the Indian Ocean Bishops’ Conference, which met Pope Francis for their ad limina visit Apr. 9, said May 10 in an interview with Antenne Reunion that a papal visit in Madagascar might be scheduled for 2019. It would be the second visit of a Pope to Madagascar, and would mark the 30th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1989 visit.
Giving a wider glance at the list, it is easy to see many of Pope Francis’ main concerns. His focus on the Middle East is borne out in the fact that Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of the Chaldeans is the first of the list, even before Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and one of the three cardinals from the Roman Curia among the new red hats.
The appointment of Patriarch Sako as a cardinal shows the Pope’s attention to Iraq, and to suffering Churches - the Pope also appointed as a cardinal Syria’s nuncio, Mario Zenari, in the 2016 consistory.

Patriarch Sako recently said that he invited the pope to visit Iraq, during a visit with Francis in February. A papal visit to Iraq has been studied for years, and is considered likely to happen, once security issues can be solved.
Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, will also get the red hat: Pope Francis learned of the difficult situation of Pakistan speaking with Pakistani bishops in their ad limina visit March 15, and the red birretta likely aims to give more attention to a small Catholic community who is also targeted by the blasphemy laws.
The Roman Curia got three red hats: beyond the appointment of Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope appointed as cardinals Archbishops Giovanni Angelo Becciu and Konrad Krajewski.
This latter is the Papal Almoner, and he will apparently keep his post. It seems the pope wants to give to the office of the Papal Almoner the highest rank, emphasizing the work with poor. During recent years, the Papal Almoner has been promoter of many initiatives for poor, including a laundromat (“The Pope Francis laundry”) and a dormitory for the homeless.
The red hat given to Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, deputy to the Secretariat of State, might anticipate Archbishop Becciu’s appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, to replace Cardinal Amato, who will soon retire.
This would means, as a side effect, that there could be a further reshuffle within the Secretariat of State, with a new deputy, after the pope appointed Msgr. Joseph Murphy as new head of protocol March 22.

Archbishop Becciu is also one of the three new Italian cardinals.

Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the Pope’s vicar for the diocese of Rome, will be a cardinal. This appointment negates rumors that Pope Francis did not want his vicar in Rome, who oversees the leadership of the Diocese of Rome, to be a cardinal. Actually, the pope’s vicar is supposed to be a cardinal, according to a consistorial decree issued by Pope Paul IV in the 16th century.
With this appointment, the Diocese of Rome could have even more impact in a future conclave, considering that Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Archbishop De Donatis predecessor as Pope’s vicar of Rome, is 78, and so he still has the right to vote in a conclave.
As the Pope already did with the bishops of Ancona, Perugia and Agrigento, a red birretta will go to another Italian archbishop from a traditionally non-cardinatial diocese: Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, the city still rebuilding after a huge earthquake in 2009.
It is noteworthy that Archbishops of Turin and Patriarch of Venice still have not gotten the red birretta, though their archdioceses have been traditionally led by cardinals. The Patriarch of Venice, as a patriarch, can wear red vestments,however, although he is not a cardinal.
The pope did not include in the list the new Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini. However, Archbishop Delpini’s predecessor at the helm of the world biggest diocese, Cardinal Angelo Scola, is still below 80.
Pope Francis also awarded with a red hat to Bishop Antonio Marto, of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal. He is the first cardinal from the diocese of the apparitions, and he is created cardinal one year after Pope Francis was in Fatima for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions and for the canonization of the two visionaries.
Perhaps the pope wanted to show his deep personal devotion to the Fatima message.
The list of new cardinals includes only one representative from Latin America, Archbishop Pedro Barretto from Huancayo, Peru. The pope and Archbishop Barreto met in the 80s. Archbishop Barreto is vice president of the Peruvian bishops’ conference and represents the Latin American bishops’ conference (CELAM) within REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network. His appointment is likely intended to give more weight to preparations for the 2019 Special Synod for Pan-Amazonian Region.


Pope announces June 29 consistory to create 14 new cardinals

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 05:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There will be a consistory June 29 to create 14 new cardinals, each of whom express the “universality” of the Church, Pope Francis announced Sunday after his Regina Coeli address.

“Their provenance expresses the universality of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people on earth,” he said May 20, noting that the new cardinals from the Diocese of Rome also show “the inseparable link between the see of Peter and the particular Churches spread throughout the world.”

“Let us pray for the new cardinals, so that by confirming their adherence to Christ, the Most Merciful and faithful High Priest (see Hebrews 2:17), they will help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of the whole faithful People of God,” the pope said.

Among the newly appointed cardinals is His Beatitude Louis Raphael Sako I, the patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean Catholic Church and the archbishop of Baghdad.

Those from the Diocese of Rome and the Holy See who have been named are: Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Kondrad Krajewski, papal almoner; and Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, Rome’s vicar general and archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

From around the world are: Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan; Bishop Antonio do Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal; Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru; Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Tamatave, Madagascar; Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of Aquila, Italy; and Archbishop Thomas Aquino Mango Maeda of Osaka, Japan.

Pope Francis made particular note of three who will be receiving red hats – Archbishop Emeritus Sergio Obeso Rivera of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico; Prelate Emeritus Toribio Ticono Porco of Corocoro, Bolivia; and Claretian Fr. Aquilina Bocos Merino – who he said “have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church.”

The day of the consistory, the June 29 Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica alongside the new metropolitan archbishops named during the previous year, who traditionally receive the pallium from the pope on that day.

Most of the newly appointed cardinals are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. The archbishop emeriti Obeso Rivera and Ticono Porco, and Fr. Aquilina Bocos Merino, are over the age of 80.