Listening to the "voice of the Spirit"
The data collected so far, Hollerich said, convinces him “that we are facing an ecclesial dialogue without precedent in the history of the Church, not only for the quantity of responses received or the number of people involved (which to some who want to rely solely on numbers — which can only be approximate — may seem limited) but also for the quality of participation.”
At Friday’s press conference, Cardinal Hollerich and Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, emphasized the importance of listening and discernment.
“Precisely because no one in the Church has the exclusive right to the truth, the consultation of the People of God demands discernment,” Grech said.
“Not everything spoken is the voice of the Spirit: one must grasp within the sound of voices, the voice of the Spirit,” he added. “Therein lies the function of discernment, which is already operative in the process of listening, when the community converges on a point.”
Questioned by a journalist about whether the voices of Catholic priests and lay people who love the Latin Mass would be listened to in this process, the head of the Synod of Bishops, Grech, said the listening process means not only for bishops to listen to the people but “also the bishop has to be listened to.”
“Because sometimes there is a risk of it being a monologue, on one side or the other,” he said.
“Listen to what the Spirit is telling the Church of today. This is the task, the goal of this synodal process. So the Church learns to put into practice this synodal style. But nobody must feel excluded, nobody must not suffer because his or her voice is not heard,” he said.
A team of hand-picked experts
The document for the continental phase of the synod, which can also be considered the first Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, will be drafted by a team of “experts,” Cardinal Grech said.
The 20-some people drafting the document include Catholic priests, university professors, and one religious sister. A professor from the continent of Africa has not yet confirmed her participation.
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Among the experts chosen are Father David McCallum, SJ, executive director of the US-based Discerning Leadership Program; Father Ormund Rush, associate professor of religion and theology at the Catholic University of Australia; Monsignor Philippe Bordeyne, president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome; and Austen Ivereigh, a biographer of Pope Francis and coordinator of the UK-based project “The Road to a Synodal Church.”
The members of the synod’s ordinary council will also provide suggestions for amendments and give the document its final approval.
During the question and answer portion of the press conference, Cardinal Hollerich was asked about comments he made in an interview earlier this year, in which he appeared to imply he disagreed with the Church’s teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts and wanted it to change.
The cardinal was asked if he wanted the Synod on Synodality to bring about a change in Church teaching on this issue.
“I have no personal agenda for this synod,” the cardinal and bishop of Luxembourg responded.