Catholic World News

Synod fathers address media bias, Islam, annulments

October 12, 2012

On the fifth day of the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 12 synod fathers spoke on various aspects of the synod’s theme, “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”

Father Robert Prevost, Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine, said that “the human imagination concerning both religious faith and ethics is largely shaped by mass media, especially by television and cinema. Western mass media is extraordinarily effective in fostering within the general public enormous sympathy for beliefs and practices that are at odds with the Gospel.”

“However, overt opposition to Christianity by mass media is only part of the problem,” he continued. “The sympathy for anti-Christian lifestyle choices that mass media fosters is so brilliantly and artfully engrained in the viewing public, that when people hear the Christian message it often inevitably seems ideological and emotionally cruel by contrast to the ostensible humaneness of the anti-Christian perspective.”

“The Fathers of the Church, including Saint Augustine, can provide eminent guidance for the Church in this aspect of the New Evangelization, precisely because they were masters of the art of rhetoric,” he added. “Their evangelizing was successful in great part because they understood the foundations of social communication appropriate to the world in which they lived.”

The head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church said that Christians could benefit from a succinct formula that summarized their faith. “We bathe in a non-Christian world: we are the small flock, ad extra in relation to Islam, and ad intra because of the decrease of religious practice,” said Patriarch Grégoire III Laham.

He added:

Our faith is beautiful. However its content and its statements are very difficult.

The proclamation of the faith in Islam can be summarized by this dual witness: “There is no other god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet”.

For the Jews, the substance of the Faith is expressed by the double commandment: “I am your God! You have no other but me. You will love your God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself!”

Our beautiful Christian faith is too complicated: the terms, their content and their explanation. We bathe in an ensemble of dogmas, of mysteries: the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, Redemption, the Sacraments (called mysteries by the Greeks).

These dogmas must be interpreted in a form capable of touching upon daily life, human aspirations, happiness and prosperity, the daily realities of our faithful. From this, we can see the great importance and need for the New Evangelization to create a concise, precise and clear text on our Faith. This is important for our faithful ad intra, as well as for our fellow non-Christian citizens ad extra.

Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto called for a “decisive turning point” in the pastoral care of the children of parents who have remarried outside the Church. He also spoke of his desire for a faster annulment process:

The offspring of divorced and remarried parents … are often rendered strangers to the sacraments by the non-participation of their parents. Here a decisive turning point is needed in terms of pastoral care, as Pope Benedict XVI has affirmed several times (for example at the World Meeting of Families in Milan).

It will also be necessary to initiate reflection on the methods and time necessary for the recognition of the nullity of the matrimonial bond: as a bishop and moderator of a Regional Ecclesiastical Tribunal, I must admit that some requirements (such as the need for the conforming double sentence, even if there is no appeal) seem to many people with problems who wish to resolve their situation to be difficult to comprehend.

The synod fathers’ interventions followed the solemn papal Mass inaugurating the Year of Faith. Over the course of the day, the synod fathers heard from four non-Catholic participants in the synod, including the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 13, 2012 11:22 AM ET USA

    Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, please consider what the divorce/annulment/remarriage scenario has done to the Catholic family. You want to speed it up and skip the second conforming sentence. St. Paul went the other direction in telling spouses not to leave each other, and if they do to return OR LIVE THE REST OF THEIR LIVES ALONE! (Cor. 7:1-6) Children of annulment are worse off than children of divorce. You are telling them that not even God defends them.