Bishops Synod on the Eucharist
Posted Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005 at 9:32 a.m. CDT

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Coverage of Bishops Synod on the Eucharist

Report #12, An NCR exclusive
Outreach to Latin Mass Catholics proposed for final message

By John L. Allen Jr.

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A rather deafening silence at the Synod of Bishops about the pre-Vatican II Mass was broken on Saturday, when Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos proposed that the bishops' final message contain an opening to Catholics attached to the old Mass, perhaps treating it as one among several approved rites in the Catholic church.

Sources told NCR that Castrillón Hoyos did not specifically mention the idea of a "universal indult," meaning permission for priests to celebrate the old Mass whenever they like, but that his remarks "could be read in that way."

On another issue, the current draft of the final message expresses "compassion" for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, encouraging them to remain connected to the church. Some bishops expressed concern that the language might make the church's position on the indissolubility of marriage seem ambiguous, but other bishops said they want the reference to remain.

Read more NCR coverage of the synod on the
  • Report #17: Final draft rebuffs Latin Mass; priest shortage, divorce squarely on church’s pastoral agenda Posted Oct. 20, 11:00 a.m.
  • Report #16: Gregory: Little change expected but synod had honest talk of pastoral realities Posted Oct. 19, 11:00 a.m.
  • Report #15: Draft propositions do not recommend changes in church discipline Posted Oct. 18, 11:00 a.m.
  • Report #14: Women’s voices heard through interventions of 12 synod auditors Posted Oct. 17, 12:15 p.m.
  • Report #13: Statement on married priests likely in final list of proposals Posted Oct. 17, 12:00 p.m.
  • Report #12: Outreach to Latin Mass Catholics proposed for final message. Posted Oct. 15, 9:32 a..m.
  • Report #11: Problems acknowledged, synod bishops seek middle ground solutions. Posted Oct. 13, 1:15 p.m.
  • Report #10: Despite frank talk, few breakthroughs expected from synod. Posted Oct. 12, 11:00 a.m.
  • Report #9: Key synod themes seem clear, but consensus may be elusive. Posted Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m.
  • Report #8: Inculturation of liturgy sparks debate at this and past synods of bishops. Posted Oct. 10, 11:30 a.m.
  • Report #7: Bishops of Global South link Eucharist and justice, local cultures. Posted Oct. 8., 9:52 a.m.
  • Report #6: Discussion of celibacy and marriage clergy continue to hold center stage. Posted Oct. 7, 10:21 a.m.
  • Report #5: Environment, social justice emerge as eucharistic themes. Posted Oct. 6, 10:30 a.m.
  • Report #4: Divorced, remarried Catholics topics of frank synod discussions. Posted Oct. 5, 3:00 p.m
  • Report #3: Priest shortage continues to roil synod of bishops. Posted Oct. 4, 2:01 p.m.
  • Report #2: Movements appeal for changes to make Eucharist more accessible. Posted Oct. 4, 2:00 p.m.
  • Report #1: Priest shortage takes center stage on synod's first day. Posted Oct. 3, 3:04 p.m.
  • Read The Word From Rome columns
  • The final set of propositions; The case of viri probati; Some worry the synod lacked theological heft. Posted Oct. 21, 2:07 p.m.
  • Latin Mass a non-issue; Interview with Bishop Skylstad; Scola's 17 questions to guide the synod. Posted Oct. 14, 10:46 a.m.
  • The synod so far; How to report on a synod; A view from Moscow; Document on homosexuals in seminaries will not create an absolute ban; Catholic left and right square off. Posted Oct. 7, 11:55 a.m.
  • Preview of the synod on the Eucharist. Posted Sept. 30, 8:05 a.m.
  • The Synod of Bishops met Saturday morning to consider the first draft of its final message, which was criticized by some participants for its length.

    The synod will produce two documents by its Oct. 23 close: a final message released to the public, and a set of propositions reserved to the pope.

    Proposal made on Latin Mass
    During discussion Saturday morning, Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy as well as president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, created in 1988 to meet the pastoral needs of Catholics attached to the pre-Vatican II Mass, proposed inserting language that would essentially treat the old Mass as a legitimate rite of the church, comparable, for example, to the various Eastern rites that already exist.

    Under current rules that date from 1984, priests may celebrate the old Mass only with the permission of the local bishop.

    Prior to Castrillón Hoyos' proposal, no one at the synod had spoken about the old Mass. Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Congregation for Divine Worship, defined the old Mass as "not a priority for the synod" at a Thursday press conference.

    The synod will next see a draft of the final message on Oct. 21, at which time it will be put up for a vote. The Committee for the Message will now decide whether or not to include Castrillón Hoyos' proposal, along with others heard Saturday morning.

    Castrillón Hoyos has long been an advocate of reconciliation with the adherents of the old Mass, above all the breakaway Society of St. Pius X founded by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

    Efforts at reconciliation date to 1999, when Castrillón Hoyos wrote to four bishops ordained illicitly by Lefebvre in 1988, addressing them as "my dear brother," and saying that the pope's arms were open wide to embrace them.

    A meeting between three of the bishops and Castrillón took place on Aug. 14, 2000, in Castrillón's Rome apartment.

    One public signal of progress came on Aug. 8, 2000, when more than 1,000 members of the society entered St. Peter's Basilica for a prayer service to mark the Jubilee Year. Though the event had not been on the Vatican calendar, officials acknowledged it had taken place with the approval of the Holy See.

    On Aug. 29, Pope Benedict XVI received the current head of the society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, also one of the four men consecrated by Lefebvre, in a private audience at Castel Gandolfo.

    During small group discussions on Friday, the question of communion for pro-choice Catholic politicians also arose.

    Another Colombian, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and widely seen as a strong conservative force on cultural issues, proposed in one of the Spanish-language groups a proposition on politicians who do not follow the moral teaching of the church.

    After an invitation from Archbishop William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the opening of the synod for discussion on this topic, Lopez Trujillo was one of only two participants to take it up.

    Lopez Trujillo's draft proposition, sources told NCR, calls for Catholic politicians to "be aware" of the grave responsibility they hold when dealing with legislative proposals that are not consistent with Catholic moral teaching.

    Lopez Trujillo linked this admonition to a citation from 1 Corinthians 11: "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord …"

    The proposition does not, sources said, directly call upon bishops or priests to turn away such politicians if they come forward for Communion.

    Lopez Trujillo's proposal received a large majority when put up for a vote in the Spanish group, sources said, enhancing its likelihood of finishing in the eventual set of propositions submitted to the pope.

    Language groups report
    On Saturday morning, the bishops heard reports from each of the small working groups organized by language.

    The subject of the priest shortage emerged in several reports. One of the lengthier treatments was in English Group B, whose relator, or synthesizer, is Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh. That group said:

    "Our discussion highlighted that celibacy is not the principal and certainly not the sole reason for this shortage. In fact the culture of today is in crisis in a number of other areas including the nature, duration and vitality of marriage. The lack of lifelong commitment seems to be a fundamental leit motif throughout our reflections on much of modern life."

    French Group C reached much the same conclusion.

    "The idea to ordain viri probati has been discussed, but has not reached majority approval," it said. "The group is unanimous in stating the invaluable value of priestly celibacy for the Latin church and wishes to engage the church in vocational pastoral care which is even more energetic, positive and open to the gifts of God."

    English B proposed four potential remedies for the shortage:

    • Encouraging vocations
    • Sharing of priests among local churches
    • Expanding the permanent diaconate
    • Eucharistic Services without a priest, though without blurring the distinction between these services and the Mass.

    Spanish Group B emphasized, among other things, the linkage between the Eucharist and social engagement.

    As a result of celebrating the Eucharist, the group said, "the faithful [should] necessarily grow also in social commitment, to defend human life, family values, justice, solidarity and peace."

    Other frequent topics included catechesis, the formation of future priests, the art of celebrating liturgical rites, practical assistance to homilists (including a proposal for a set of thematic homilies to be prepared to cover the basic Mysteries of Salvation with appropriate references to the Lectionary, the fathers of the church and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

    Two other hot-button issues resurfaced in the group reports: the situation of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and inter-communion for non-Catholics.

    On the former issue, Italian Group A called for a study of "conditions of admission to the Eucharist in the case of remarried divorcees." Spanish B proposed attempts "to reach them with a compassionate attitude, so that one may offer them guidance and permit them to clarify their situation with a suitable canonical process."

    On the latter, English Group C made the most developed proposal

    "The question of ecumenical relations in the matter of eucharistic hospitality was also discussed," it said. "Our group is proposing that a thorough study be made in regard to the Catholic practice of eucharistic hospitality in order to help local churches overcome the confusion that currently exists among clergy and faithful."

    English Group C also proposed four criteria for evaluating inculturation of the liturgy, meaning allowing the rites of the church to be shaped by the traditions and customs of local cultures:

    • The unity of the celebration must be preserved;
    • The celebration must be in conformity with the deposit of faith;
    • It should be conducive to prayer and adoration;
    • It should be an expression of reverence in conformity with Varietates Legitimae, a 1994 Vatican document on inculturation.

    Some of the 12 small groups produced as few as 15 propositions, others as many as 75. It is now the task of the relators of the group, along with invited experts and the synod staff, to synthesize the proposals and come up with a list for an eventual vote.

    The Committee for the Message, meanwhile, is now working on the final draft of that text, and will consider the proposal made by Castrillón Hoyos.

    Its members are: Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec; Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Latin University; Cardinal Laurent Monsenwo Pasinya of Kisangani, Congo; Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Sao Paolo, Brazil; Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti, Italy; Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay, India; Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir of Antioch, head of the Maronite Catholic Church; Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., the Jesuit superior general.

    John L. Allen Jr. is NCR’s Rome correspondent. His e-mail address is will post daily reports from the Bishops Synod on the Eucharist through Oct. 22. Bookmark this page or check back with to read more coverage of this international Catholic event.

    October 15, 2005, National Catholic Reporter

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