The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, has cautioned journalists about a letter published Monday by the Italian publication L’Espresso, allegedly signed by 13 cardinals and sent to Pope Francis, criticizing the synod’s procedures and expressing concerns.
The director of the Holy See Press Office offered his word of caution by issuing a clarification regarding the publication.
“As we are aware,” the spokesman noted, “at least four of the Synod Fathers who were included in the list of signatories have denied their involvement,” namely Cardinals Angelo Scola, Andre Vingt-Trois, Mauro Piacenza and Peter Erdo.
“Cardinal Pell,” he continued, “has declared that a letter sent to the Pope was confidential and should have remained as such, and that neither the text published nor the signatories correspond to what was sent to the Pope.”
The Vatican spokesman added that, in terms of content, the difficulties described in the letter were already mentioned on Monday evening in the Synod Hall, as was already explained publicly, although not covered extensively or in detail.
“As we know, the General Secretary and the Pope responded clearly the following morning. Therefore, to provide this text and this list of signatories some days later constitutes a disruption that was not intended by the signatories (at least by the most authoritative). Therefore it would be inappropriate to allow it to have any influence,” he said.
That observations can be made regarding the methodology of the Synod, Fr. Lombardi stated, “is neither new nor surprising.” However, he noted that once the methodology is agreed upon, a commitment is made to put it into practice in the best way possible.
Pope Francis has made various changes to the methodology of the synod of bishops, including giving more time to the small group discussions.
“This [commitment to the methodology] is what is taking place,” Father Lombardi said. “There is very extensive collaboration in the task of allowing the Synod to make good progress on its path. It may be observed that some of the ‘signatories’ are elected Moderators of the Circuli Minori, and have been working intensively. The overall climate of the Assembly is without doubt positive.”
The Vatican spokesman also noted that Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier expressly asked to clarify comments published in an interview with “Crux,” saying they did not correspond to his opinion.
With regard to the selection of the 10 prelates who will prepare the final text of the synod, Crux reported that Cardinal Napier had concerns about the members of the commission and would “actually challenge ‘Pope Francis’ right to choose that.’”
Cardinal Napier has requested that this be corrected, explaining that, in fact, he affirmed the exact opposite: “… no-one challenges Pope Francis’ right to choose that.”
Fr. Lombardi made these comments during today’s synod briefing and issued the statement of clarification directly after that.