The bishops conference of England and Wales has issued a statement saying that Pope Francis did not intend public distribution of the answers to the questionnaire on marriage and family life sent out by the Vatican in lead up to the ordinary and extraordinary synods to be held on the family.
“As the consultation was instigated by and is clearly very dear to the heart of Pope Francis,” the statement reads, “I am sure that you and the majority of the Catholic faithful would agree that it would not be appropriate therefore for this Bishops’ Conference to take any steps in respect of the consultation process which might betray the trust of, or go against the expressed wishes of, the Holy Father.”
The statement was composed by CBCEW’s general secretary, Msgr. Marcus Stock, in response to a letter by the Church reform group “A Call to Action” (ACTA) which calls for the responses to be made public.
He explains that Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who “has been the Holy Father’s chief collaborator in developing the framework and the process of the consultation,” had sent a written request that the summary, based on the responses made by various dioceses, not be made public.
He added that of the 85 Episcopal Conferences who had responded to the consultation by February 2014, only four have published the summary which they sent to the Holy See.
The Vatican sent bishops worldwide 38 questions to prepare the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, convoked by Pope Francis for October of 2014, whose theme is “The Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.”
There are three types of synods: ordinary general assemblies, extraordinary general assemblies and special assemblies.
There have only been two extraordinary synods held since Vatican II. One in 1969 on the theme of cooperation between the Holy See and episcopal conferences, and the second in 1985, held to discuss the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of the second Vatican Council.
The extraordinary synod will be held from October 5-19, 2014, and according to the Vatican it will hear reports from bishops.
An ordinary general assembly was already scheduled for 2015 and it will “seek working guidelines in the pastoral care of the person and the family.” (D.A.S.)