At Friday’s press conference, Cardinal Hollerich and Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, stressed the importance of listening and discernment.
“Precisely because no one in the Church has the exclusive right to the truth, consulting with God’s people requires discernment,” Grech said.
“Not everything that is said is the voice of the Spirit: you have to catch in the sound of the voices, the voice of the Spirit,” he added. “Therein resides the function of discernment, which is already operative in the process of listening, when the community converges on a point.”
Asked by a reporter whether the voices of Catholic priests and lay people who love the Latin Mass would be listened to in this process, the head of the Synod of Bishops, Grech, said the listening process means not only for bishops to listen to the but “also the bishop must be listened to”.
“Because sometimes there is a risk that it will be a monologue, one way or the other,” he said.
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“Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church today. This is the task, the goal of this synodal process. Thus the Church learns to put this synodal style into practice. But no one should feel left out, no one should suffer because their voice is not heard,” he said.
A hand-picked team of experts
The document for the continental phase of the synod, which can also be considered the first Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, will be drafted by a team of “experts,” Cardinal Grech said.
The 20 people who drafted the document include Catholic priests, university professors and a nun. A professor from the African continent has not yet confirmed her participation.
Selected experts include Fr. David McCallum, SJ, executive director of the US-based Discerning Leadership Program; Father Ormund Rush, Associate Professor of Religion and Theology at the Catholic University of Australia; Monsignor Philippe Bordeyne, President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome; and Austen Ivereigh, biographer of Pope Francis and coordinator of the British project “The Road to a Synodal Church”.
Members of the synod’s regular council will also provide suggestions for amendments and give the document its final approval.
During the question and answer portion of the press conference, Cardinal Hollerich was asked about comments he made during an interview earlier this year, in which it seemed to involve he disagreed with Church teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts and wanted him to change.
The cardinal was asked if he wanted the synod on synodality to bring about a change in the teaching of the Church on this issue.
“I don’t have a personal agenda for this synod,” replied the cardinal and bishop of Luxembourg.
“I fully believe in the tradition of the Church, and what I think is important in this process is not to change doctrine,” he said.
He added that he thinks it is important to listen to people, including parents, and to have “a change of attitude,” so that everyone can feel at home in the Church.
“This welcome,” Hollerich said, “doesn’t mean there can’t be discussions… But if we close the door, we drive people to despair, and that’s something we don’t want. not.”
He said his mission in the synod, from the pope, is “to listen and serve,” and he expressed a desire to be personally changed, to experience conversion, through the synodal process.
The cardinal also dismissed a question asking whether he feared political interests would hijack the synod.
“I’m not afraid, he says, because I believe in God, prayer, meditation and listening to people give me hope and strength. You have to walk and when you walk in the desert like in the Book of Exodus, there are temptations, but with the help of God, you can go through these temptations.
Cardinal Grech also responded to the question, commenting that “the synod will be hijacked by one, the Holy Spirit, if I may use that term.”
Hollerich said the synod’s job “is not to create a ‘shock’ for the Church,” as one reporter had asked, “but to listen to what the People of God are saying.”
“It is a very complex thing that cannot be reduced to simple positions, and I think the synod model is a model based on ecclesial consensus,” he said.