Action Alert!

American influence at the Vatican and in the Synod

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 18, 2014

With the departure of Cardinal Burke from this role as head of the Apostolic Signatura, there is now not a single US prelate in a leadership position in the Roman Curia. Nor is there an American holding the #2 spot in any Vatican congregation or pontifical council (although Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, the “adjunct secretary,” probably ranks as #2.5 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). That’s likely to change fairly soon.

Sometime early next year, Pope Francis will unveil his plans for the reorganization of the Roman Curia. At that time—if not before—he will probably want to add an American to his team.

But there’s already an event on the horizon that could give Americans more influence on the universal Church than any Vatican prefect. That’s the World Meeting of Families, which will take place next September in Philadelphia. Now that the Pope’s participation has been confirmed, that event takes on even more significance.

The timing couldn’t possibly be better. With the Synod of Bishops set to convene again in October, this meeting in Philadelphia will provide the last, best chance for influential Catholics to present their thoughts on marriage and family life before an international forum. Cardinals and bishops—yes, and the Pope—will enter the Synod with those thoughts still fresh in their minds.

Archbishop Charles Chaput is not the sort of man who would whiff on an opportunity like this one. Sure enough, the preliminary roster of invited speakers is promising.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world’s Catholic leaders dropped in on Philadelphia for a week, and left with a deeper sense of the importance of defending the family? Don’t underestimate the impact such a meeting can have. Just this week the “Humanum” conference, being held in Rome, has provided an enormous morale boost for faithful Catholics—not least because it furnished the occasion for a strong statement by Pope Francis on the crisis in family life and the need to reinforce the understanding of marriage.

By the way, each day’s session of the “Humanum” conference is beginning with a video presentation. If you have 15 minutes to spare, watch this superb presentation, the first in the series. It will be a half-hour well spent and a reminder that our side—that is, the Catholic side—has the winning arguments on the power of marital love.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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