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Mexican cardinal comments on treatment of controversial issues at Synod on Synodality

Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/ACI Prensa

ACI Prensa Staff, Oct 25, 2023 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, the primatial archbishop of Mexico, downplayed the issues that have generated some controversy during the Synod on Synodality and believes that this assembly “will not enter into concrete proposals on these issues.”

Just one week before the end of the first session of the Synod on Synodality, the cardinal shared his impressions from Rome with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, on the event that began Oct. 4 with the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

Controversial issues at the Synod on Synodality

Aguiar said he is “very satisfied” with what has happened during the first three weeks of the synod. He noted that during this time “we have shared our socio-cultural and ecclesial realities from all corners of the world in the general congregations, and more intensely those of Latin America, in the small circles.”

He also emphasized that the controversial topics surrounding the Synod on Synodality — such as the female diaconate, priestly ordination for married men, or issues related to the LGBT community — “have not been a central issue” but rather “they have appeared peripherally, without any consequence.”

He stressed that, in his opinion, the synod “will not enter into specific proposals on these topics, but rather they will continue to be studied in more depth by specialists in each subject.”

During the third week of the synod, topics such as pastoral ministry to LGBT people and the female diaconate were addressed. During the meetings, the structure of the Church was also discussed, with the aim of giving form to a “more synodal” future.

The president of the synod’s information commission and prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Paolo Ruffini, downplayed the debate on the inclusion of LGBT issues, stating that “the blessing of homosexual couples is not the topic of the synod.”

In addition to these issues, the synod has also addressed debates related to the female diaconate and the possibility of women giving homilies. Regarding the fact that one of the topics discussed in the synod is the “revision of the structure of the Church,” Aguiar told ACI Prensa that it is fundamentally about “raising our awareness of the need to train priests who assume authority as a service and not as command exercised in a pyramidal manner.”

The cardinal emphasized that “we must promote pastoral units: that is, the joint leadership of neighboring parishes, which assume a single pastoral coordination.”

According to the cardinal, “synodality means assuming co-responsibility for evangelization in diocesan structures, through processes that lead to listening to the word of God, especially the Gospels, to integrate small communities within the parish, and then collaborate together in processes of mission to those who are most distanced [from the Church].”

Challenges of the Church in Latin America

For the primatial archbishop of Mexico, the most urgent problem that the Church in Latin America must face is “to take advantage of the popular religiosity nurtured for centuries and to develop multiple ways and means of evangelizing through that religiosity.”

The cardinal pointed out that this task “must be carried out in the parishes, being the Church that goes out, that is, visiting the environments of its territory.”

Finally, he said that during the meetings the persecution of the Church in Nicaragua was not specifically discussed and that “occasionally” attention has been called to “situations of aggression or persecution of the Church that have occurred and continue to occur in some countries.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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