Cardinal Nichols has said that with patience and “friendly dialogue” at the synod, the necessary positive language about the family can be further brought into the Church, in order to welcome its people, rather than to alienate with words that, at times, seem to condemn.
The archbishop of Westminster shared these reflections with ZENIT during a press conference held this afternoon with Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, to give impressions of the second day of the synod.
During the remarks by Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is assisting the Vatican communications team for the English-speaking press, it was underscored that “although no changes to doctrine whatsoever were discussed,” there was, however, “a stress placed on changing language.”
As the discussions continued, the spokesman explained this must happen in various areas so that people feel welcomed, rather than rejected, particularly when they hear certain negative terms, like “living in sin.”
When asked how such a shift in language can be achieved, Cardinal Nichols told ZENIT, “As you can tell with the 70 speeches, there are lots of ideas being put forth, and lots of concerns.”
“I think Pope Francis’ words at the beginning were very, very important, when he said to us, very directly ‘I want you to speak with enthusiasm and to listen with humility.” So he’s saying to us, ‘Be patient.’
“Now were there any positive suggestions,” he continued, “I would say: Yes, there were.”
He elaborated, “I remember one synod father saying we have to approach the social reality of the marriage in a friendly dialogue, which I think is mentioned in the summary. There is a lot, if you will, ‘out there’ which is friendly toward us. Issues like equality, protection of life, the dignity of children.”
He added that with bishops from various continents sharing, they are learning from each other.
“For me one of the most interesting things is how can this synod … provoke in society a more thoughtful discussion on the importance of the family in society.”
On the atmosphere in the synod, he expressed, “It is a very light atmosphere,” one with active dialogue where people feel free to speak.
He clarified that the synod environment is not tense or academic, but friendly, where reflections are given from their perspective as priests, often as parish priests, and as members of families.