Cardinal Donald Wuerl has flatly denied the allegations by some of his fellow cardinals and bishops that the fathers attending the synod are “somehow” being manipulated by the pope and the synod structure that Francis approved. He wonders whether the underlying reason why they are suggesting or saying such things is because “they just don’t like this pope,” and find the church that he is calling for “somewhat threatening.”
In this interview with America on Oct. 18, the cardinal archbishop of Washington charged that a number of his brother cardinals and bishops have their own position and think that some questions now on the synod agenda should not even be discussed. He said some of these people “are speaking, sometimes surreptitiously, sometimes half-way implying, then backing off and then twisting around” and in this way they have ‘tainted’ the synod process in the public eye with their groundless allegations of manipulation, and so cast a cloud over its outcome.
Cardinal Wuerl has a long experience of synods, having attended seven as a bishop, and having served as general rapporteur at one. He is known as a man of great equilibrium, patience and wisdom and, not surprisingly, Pope Francis appointed him as one of the 10 members of the special commission he established to draft the final synod document.
Given all this background, Cardinal Wuerl is well positioned to judge the present synod process and, in this interview, he categorically states that he hasn’t seen even the slightest hint of manipulation at this synod. On the contrary, he says, the bishops have greater freedom that ever before to speak their mind, and have more time than in any of the past synods to discuss the issues in depth in the small language groups.
Cardinal Wuerl said, “there are always people who are unhappy with something that is going on in the church, but the touchstone of authentic Catholicism is adherence to the teaching of the pope.”