Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
June 4, 2001
Cardinals list pastoral priorities
Unique consistory includes plea for 'globalization of holiness'
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY — In the largest gathering of its kind at the Vatican, more than 150 cardinals drew up a list of pastoral priorities, including new ways of strengthening holiness, unity and missionary energy in the Church.
Pope John Paul, who celebrated Mass to close the May 21-24 consistory, called it a "moment of communion" that produced deep analysis and some well-thought-out proposals.
The pope said he planned to make use of the cardinals' suggestions across a broad range of pastoral topics.
It was the first time the pope has called the cardinals to a special meeting since 1994. For more than half the 155 participants, it was a new experience.
Many cardinals said that, beyond specific issues related to Church structures and policies, an overriding theme was holiness - its central place in the life of every Christian. As one prelate put it, the Church's program should be "the globalization of holiness."
Related to that was how the Church can proclaim the Gospel in societies where religion is no longer automatically passed on from generation to generation.
"You've got to preach the Gospel with authority, but somehow you also have to help people understand that the message of the Gospel is good for them," said Cardinal Edward Cassidy.
The consistory featured introductory speeches by three cardinals, short talks - generally under 10 minutes - by about half the participants, and small-group discussions. In the final session, small-group reports were read aloud, along with a document that summed up the main points of the meeting.
Other than two cursory briefings, the Vatican did not make information available on the contents of the discussions or the final reports. Some individual cardinals were willing to talk to reporters, however.
They said a main concern of many speeches was improving collegiality, especially through reform of the Synod of Bishops. A number of cardinals criticized the current synod format, which features two weeks of speeches followed by group discussions, as unproductive and unwieldy.
Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels said the Church needs a forum that allows for sharper debate and fewer "homilies."
Others, like Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England, called for raising the profile of the synod, by making its secretariat a permanent Vatican office at the level of other congregations.
While the pope generally did not comment on the cardinals' proposals, he made two pointed remarks in support of the Synod of Bishops, calling it a "very valid form" of collegiality.
On other issues of collegiality, several of the discussion groups talked about the possibility of more flexibility by local churches in translating liturgical texts, in light of a recent Vatican document that emphasized universal norms.
One Vatican cardinal said more authority might be shared with local churches in the selection of bishops.
The papal ministry was also discussed, though not in much detail. Cardinals were careful to make clear that strengthening the role of local churches did not necessarily mean weakening the role of the papacy.
Cardinal Avery Dulles noted that, while papal primacy often is seen as an ecumenical impediment, non-Catholic churches have sometimes suffered because of the lack of a strong central authority.
Other main topics in the consistory discussions were:
The cardinals also issued a message to all Catholics, asking them to focus their attention on Christ through Scripture reading, prayer, participation in the Eucharist and Confession.
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