It’s hard for some to accept Jesus as the way, truth and life, the Pope (right) told the
The most serious challenge to the Church comes from the contemporary view that all truths must be scientifically proven, the Pope said as
he closed the extraordinary consistory (May 21-24) attended by 155 cardinals.
He echoed Australia’s Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who spoke of the difficulty of proclaiming the Gospel to an increasingly educated
public who live in an anti-authoritarian, pluralistic society and “like to make up their own minds”.
“You have to preach with authority, but somehow … help people understand that the message of the Gospel is
good for them,” said Cardinal Cassidy.
Belgium’s Cardinal Godfried Daneels noted a deep spiritual crisis in the industrialised world where God has been pushed aside. He called for more emphasis on the
sacrament, as well as a return to personal holiness and devotion that was also mentioned by other prelates.
The Pope said relativism, globalisation and vast access to information made it hard for modern
people to accept Christ as the “way, truth and life” for every person.
But he was hopeful that the Church would be able to face these challenges with help from the “power that comes from above” and trusted
that God would remain at the Church’s side despite the “enormous challenges” of modern times.
A hot topic outside the consistory was the question of headhunting for the next pope, but, by all accounts, this
scenario was exaggerated. The cardinals’ time and energy were mostly spent in a heavy agenda of speech-making and consensus-building, leaving little time for papal politicking.
Cardinal Daneels said that in
the sense that people got to know each other the consistory was a preparation “but we didn’t do any headhunting for a new pope”.
Campaigning for a pope is taboo; it is a surefire way to remove a potential
candidate from contention.
The main concern of many speakers was to improve collegiality, most especially through reform of the Synod of Bishops, which is seen by some as in need of recasting as a forum for
sharper debate. Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law suggested an annual synod with an open agenda as a way of increasing communication between the Vatican and bishops around the world.
The Pope said the Synod of
Bishops was a “very valid form” of collegiality.
The cardinals discussed flexibility in translating liturgical texts in the light of Vatican is concern about some translations altering traditional liturgical
texts to make them more gender inclusive.
The papal ministry was also discussed, although not in as much detail as some had foreseen. The cardinals were keen to stress that strengthening the role of local
churches would not weaken the papacy’s role
An extensive coverage of the Extraordinary Consistory will appear next week.