U.S. Bishops Call Synod ‘Great Success’
VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Four leading U.S. prelates on Friday called the special synod of bishops a great success and said it allayed fears the church might dismantle some of the far-reaching changes produced by the Second Vatican Council 20 years ago.
″The church is now into a new era. ... The church is moving in a new, strong direction,″ Archbishop John L. May of St. Louis, vice president of the U.S. bishops conference, told a news conference.
″The statement coming from the synod is that Vatican II is wholly reaffirmed, that basically we are on the right track,″ May said.
The bishops attending the two-week synod voted nearly unanimously Friday in support of ″a message to all Catholics,″ said the Rev. Diarmuid Martin, a synod spokesman. He said 155 of the 165 bishops at the synod took part in the voting.
Martin said the message, described as a general statement on the ″meaning and sense″ of the synod, will be published Saturday, the synod’s final working day. Pope John Paul II is to celebrate a closing Mass Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Also Saturday, the bishops are to vote on a longer document containing their recommendations to the pontiff, who then is scheduled to address the synod. Martin said the bishops also will decide whether to publish the second document or hand it over to the pope for possible action.
The synod was convened by the pope to assess the state of the 840-million- mem ber church since the Second Vatican Council, which instituted reforms in liturgy, ecumenism, church government, religious education and the church’s relations with the outside world.
Bishop James W. Malone of Youngstown, Ohio, president of the U.S. bishops, said the meeting gave him ″more confidence.″
″I would say to the people of my diocese: Continue on the road that you are doing and be more confident because after this worldwide extraordinary synod your efforts have been affirmed,″ he said. ″The synod was a success - a great success.″
Also at the news conference were Cardinals Bernard Law of Boston and John Francis Dearden of Detroit.
The U.S. prelates acknowledged that various bishops presented opposing views during their discussions. ″With equal candor, and no less fraternal a spirit, we have sought to assess current needs and have put forward our proposals for dealing with them,″ Malone said.
He said the synod ″laid to rest certain rather fevered speculations during the past year, to the effect that the synod might somehow repudiate or undo the work of the (Second Vatican) council.″
″That was never in the cards, because it was never in anyone’s mind - and least of all the Holy Father’s,″ Malone said.
Malone was asked what message he was taking home for those who ″find difficulty″ in accepting the church teachings on family issues and sexual morality.
″They continue in the broad sense to be members of the family of the faithful,″ he said. ″We welcome them to our liturgy, we welcome them to the social family which is the Catholic parish membership, to those who are divorced and remarried and who are not able to receive the Eucharist, we welcome them to the fullest extent that we can into the community of faith, to try to give them support.
″To those who find it difficult or impossible to live up to the teaching of the church, we try to present as attractively as possible the teaching, to do it gently, to do it persuasively, to do it in Christian love, and hope and pray for the day when more will be able to see the fullness of the church teaching as the best expression and the clearest road to salvation,″ Malone said.
Among the subjects discussed at the synod were secularism, the need for a universal catechism, power-sharing between the pope and bishops, the role of women in the church, seminary education, liturgy and the church’s stand on peace and social justice.