US bishops say despite media hype, synod showed consensus

US bishops say despite media hype, synod showed consensus

By Matt Hadro, Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2014 / 05:56 pm (EWTN News/CNA)

The U.S. bishops who attended the recent Synod on the Family have emphasized that while the media painted a picture of conflict, the synod fathers were actually united in support of Church teaching.

“This synod, brothers, was one of consensus. Rather remarkable consensus, faithful to the authentic understanding of matrimony revealed by God,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

Cardinal Dolan addressed the U.S. bishops at their annual fall conference in Baltimore on Nov 10.

He spoke about the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, a two-week meeting of bishops from around the world that took place last month, focusing on pastoral care around issues involving the family. This year’s synod was the beginning of a bigger process, which will continue with a longer synod next year.

The bishops who attended the synod in Rome reported that despite confusing media portrayals, the event was actually marked by unity. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said the synod’s final document was a “clear affirmation that the teaching of the Church is unchanging.”

“I think we can say abstractly at least, the teachings of the Church remain timeless,” he re-affirmed later during the afternoon press conference.

Cardinal Dolan similarly defended the unity of the gathering, skewering what he saw as the media’s false interpretation of what occurred.

From following media reports, he observed, the synod appeared “divisive, confrontational, partisan, it dwelt only on same-sex attraction, cohabitation, divorced and remarried Catholics.”

But in reality, he said, it was “hardly as spicy, juicy, interesting.”

Pope Francis’ leadership of the synod was characterized by “a radiant charism for attentive listening,” Cardinal Dolan said.

The Pope did not guide the direction of the discussion, preferring instead to remain largely silent, apart from leading the Angelus, the cardinal said, adding that the pontiff “clearly trusts that the Holy Spirit works in a kind of fraternity, trust, and give-and-take.”

Cardinal Dolan acknowledged that the synod “was exhausting, as listening usually is,” and “admittedly at times frustrating since yes, there was some impatience with procedural snags, a few miscues in communications, and an untimely release of a draft, unapproved document.” However, he reiterated that the gathering ultimately was one of “consensus.”

(Read the rest there)

I think the above quote from Card Dolan is pretty encouraging.

Also, at the press conference, Archbp Kurtz put the discussion in the context of JPII and the Theology of the Body, which I think is encouraging too:

“We can restore hope in marriage by calling forth such witnesses to help one another, and to help us accompany and encourage families with practical, on-the-ground support. We can work to better convey St. John Paul II’s remarkable vision of marriage and family life as developed in his theology of the body,” the Archbishop explained.

Well, that’s a relief. But given the atmosphere here in the US with the media confusion and frustrated Conservatives, why didn’t Cardinal Dolan pipe up earlier?

Good question. And why didn’t the Pope say the same thing?

This is another, very similar, article from National Catholic Register, with this quote from Card Dolan:

"He (Dolan) said they listened to lived experience of married couples, and theologians teaching how the lifelong love of one man and one woman reflects the Blessed Trinity “giving us a forecast of heaven.”
“At this synod, we listened to brave bishops from Africa about how the biblical teachings on marriage, so widely dismissed in the first world was actually transforming their culture.”

Also a good question, that I don’t know the answer to. I haven’t figured out Pope Francis’ strategy yet. He has made public statements since the synod affirming marriage as between a man and a woman, stating that communion for the divorced and remarried is not an option, etc. but there has not really been a formal statement from the Vatican, has there?

Not to say that Pope Francis should not be aware of what’s going on in the US media, but Cardinal Dolan would have a better handle on it, wouldn’t he? In any case, I think there has been a lot of running around declaring the sky is falling when I think everyone maybe needs to take a deep breath and trust a little bit in the Holy Spirit.

Well, yes he has affirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman several times (in fact there’s a whole conference next week at the Vatican on that very topic).

But, I’m sorry to say, he has not said communion for the remarried isn’t an option. He hasn’t commented on that issue at all :frowning:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit