Some days are better than others here at the Synod.
Today was a very good day.
First of all, we collected over 9,300 signatures for our “Votes for Catholic Women” campaign in just over a week. Second, Kate McElwee and I delivered the petition with signatures, a document over 200 pages long, to the Synod of Bishops office.
What we learned is that the whole staff has moved from their normal offices to the Synod hall. But the person at the door was accommodating. He dialed an English speaking staff member and I had a chance to ask to explain what the petition was about and asked if we could give it directly to Cardinal Baldisseri or at least one of his staff.
The staff person was quite responsive (put me on hold three times trying to get an answer), but told me that because they were so busy trying to piece together the final draft of the synod document, they simply had no time.
I could only imagine the pressure they are under trying to write the final draft which was due to be in the hands of the synod participants in the morning.
He suggested that we leave the petition with the person at the door, and that he would make sure it would be given directly to Cardinal Baldisseri.
We will try to get an electronic copy into the hands of every prelate at the Synod, but also hand paper copies to a select group of prelates who might be able willing to share the petition with key figures (like Pope Francis) at the synod.
Cardinal Bo elevates Catholic Women Speak
Today we were joined by some very fine synod participants including Mr. Joseph Sapati Moeono-Kolio, auditor, member of Caritas Internationalis for Oceania, Samoa, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar, Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle of the Philippines; Archbishop Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou, of the Republic of the Congo, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., director of the journal “La Civiltà Cattolica”, Italy.
What stood out for me in these panelists was that we were in the presence of some very humble men including Cardinal Tagle and Cardinal Bo. They teased each other in a good natured way, laughed a lot and caused ripples of smiles throughout the room.
We learned that the final document was given to the synod participants. According to Paolo Ruffini, Cardinal Baldisseri and the relators spent some time explaining various aspects of the document.
Ruffini said it is a very different document from the Instrumentum Laboris, and that it is shorter the the IL but the final part contains many practical suggestions for implementation.
For me and I think many others in the room, Cardinal Tagle’s witness was powerful. He didn’t say anything that was new, but it was the way he said it, the way he wears his humble heart on his sleeve. It is transformative.
He said that every synod is unique – a space for the Holy Spirit to work and speak.
“I am learning a lot. They were teaching us.”
Here he stops, choked up with tears.
Of course, I began to cry as well taking in the beauty I was beholding in the Christ like man.
I’m crying now as I write this now, the truth of his words run deep.
Tagle continued, “If I were a twenty year old boy living in Iraq or Pakistan, how would I carry my self?”
Reflecting further he said, “I need to be humbled by that moment of unknowing.”
I need to enter into that pain and say, “I also do not know.”
This creates a moment of grace according to Tagle. “We then search with them.
Clear solutions and clear answers are not possible – for life is not clear.”
“This whole synod for me is a time of being taught; where my preconceived notions are being put to the test.”
A female reporter from the Associated Press asked a really insightful question.
She pointed out the that panelists had talked a lot about young men, but she asked, “What do you think the synod has to offer young women?”
And we received some surprisingly good responses.
Cardinal Tagle suggested that “this synod was especially sensitive to listening to the feminine voice.”
He agreed that “the experience of young women blossoming into their humanity should be heard.”
He said that there was some pointed proposals; among them the need to make women in Scripture more prominent so that all can use their experiences as an interpretive guide for life.
He said he was grateful for all the women experts at the synod for they provided “a much needed expansion of horizon.”
Next, to our surprise and delight, Cardinal Bo held up a copy of Visions and Vocations, the Catholic Women Speak book and said he was going to begin reading it. He spoke clearly about the need to put a laser focus on women because of the suffering they endure in his country and around the world.
Woo hoo! I could barely stay in my seat.
That is simply thrilling knowing that he would be reading the wisdom and candor of women like Mary McAleese, Anne Arabome, Cindy “Sam” Bowns, Gaya Lobo Gajiwala, Susan Hartford, Nontando Hadebe, and so many more.
What if LGBT doesn’t turn up in the final document?
Christopher Lamb of The Tablet asked one of the most important questions of the day. He wanted to know what the panelists thought the message would be to young Catholics if the preferred self descriptor, LGBT, doesn’t show up in the final document.
There was a bit of silence at first, but Cardinal Tagle answered that:
In the interventions in my small group and in the aula, the approach of the church to the people – the so called LGBT – was present and many times raised. The call for the church as a welcoming church – that regards the humanity of each person – was always present.
We just received the document this morning.
Maybe the questions could be raised again tomorrow.
He looks at Ruffini who doesn’t shake his head in agreement.
My hunch is it will be there, but it what form I don’t’ know. But it will be there.
It was also fun to watch Cardinal Tagle respond to Edward Pentin’s question about the morality showing up at the synod with regards to LGBT people.
Pentin suggested that his brand of Catholic morality was missing and he asked if it was being discussed.
Cardinal Tagle, with a playful smile, responded simply, “Yes.”
I love this church everyday, but somedays I am in love…