Cardinal Vincent Nichols says there is no negativity at the synod and that even if there are occasional differences of opinion, that’s normal in a family. The archbishop of Westminster expressed this while speaking at today’s synod briefing in the Vatican press office, with the director of the press office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, along with Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez of Bogota, Columbia, and Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
The Oct. 4-25 synod is being held on the topic, “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World,” and the bishops continue to be divided into small groups for discussions on the Instrumentum Laboris, or working document.
For me, Cardinal Nichols said, this synodal experience has some similarities and differences from others. What is similar, he said, is, “It’s very hard work and we get very tired,” noting that according to his count, they have listened to over 200 individual contributions.
One of the differences this time, he highlighted, is the interplay between the plenary sessions and the small groups, which he said has given the process more energy and creativity.
“The group of which I am a member,” he shared, “is moving rapidly toward friendship between us actually, not just working colleagues, but a growing appreciation and friendship.”
The archbishop of Westminster also noted how this morning, reports from the 13 small discussion groups are available. “It strikes me that they are creative,” he said, “that there are some common lines.”
He pointed out that the Instrumentum Laboris has complicated the process by combing two sources into one document. “So it is, in part, the document from the end of the Extraordinary Synod, which had its own logic and flow of thought. And then into that, there has been inserted contributions which came in from the consultations between the two synods.”
“And that combination of two sources has led most groups today to say that the Instrumentum Laboris, in this part two especially, needs some restructuring and it needs a much stronger theological theme to guide the unfolding of the whole of this part two,” he continued.
In these reports, just made available this morning, he said, “I believe are some very creative suggestions about what that theological framework may be, not one but maybe four or five, and each rich in their own way.”
During the question session, Cardinal Nichols stated, “There is no negativity in the synod.” He said, “There is no sense of a stalemate, but rather a real willingness to explore, in depth, these difficult issues, and that will continue.”
He said that there is lots of energy because, as one cardinal stated, we are a familiy and in a family, it is normal to have some differences of opinion.