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Keep it simple synod fathers plead

VATICAN (SE): The presence of 262 synod fathers at the Synod of Bishops scheduled to finish on October 27 has meant a wide variety of topics have been touched on during the five-minute time allotments for input from the floor.

On the fifth day of the synod, Patriarch Grégoire III Laham, from the Melkite Catholic Rite, pointed to the complex nature of the Christian message, which he said makes life difficult for Catholics.

In comparison, he noted the simplicity of Islam and Judaism, as Muslims articulate their faith simply as, “There is no other God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet, and the Jews have a double commandment, I am the Lord your God, you have no other but me. You will love your God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself.”

However, in the Christian faith he said, “We bathe in an ensemble of dogmas, of mysteries; the Holy Trinity, the incarnation, redemption and the sacraments.”

He called for the new evangelisation to work at giving clear and concise descriptions of faith that can touch the aspirations, happiness and prosperity of the daily realities of the faithful. Other interventions backed up the patriarch’s call for clarity, simplicity and easy to understand language. 

In this context, a call for a revision of the new translation of the English Mass went out even before the dust has settled on it.

Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, from Indonesia, said that literal translations make things difficult and the meaning is not clear to people. He called for everyday language and more sensitivity to local situations.

He isolated the much criticised, “And with your spirit,” response in the Mass, which does not mean anything in English, explaining that evil spirit is the only nuance people in his country pick up from it.

He questioned why at a time when speaking clearly, especially to the youth, is so vital, the Church is making liturgical language more inaccessible.

Others spoke of the importance of interfaith and ecumenical activities and dialogue, as well as lived experiences of acting and praying together as playing a revitalising role in the life of faith.

Possibly the most dramatic intervention came from Peter Cardinal Turkson, who showed a scare video on the growth of Islam in Europe. While the video contains highly inaccurate statistics and caused much anger in the gathering, he said that he was using it to highlight nihilism, or the negating of meaningful aspects of life in the world today.

He denied it was intended as a slur on Islam, pointing out that he had been partly brought up by an uncle, who was a Muslim.

Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte called for a speed up in annulment proceedings, saying that the slow pace at which they operate is harming the religious education of children, as their parents or people caring for them see themselves as being locked out of the Church, which deprives the children of valuable religious experience and formation to which they are entitled.

However, Bishop Stanley Roman, from India, pointed to what he called the weak point of the synod, saying that although there had been much talk about Catholics who have strayed from the Church, that group is entirely unrepresented.

He said that he believes it is a significant voice that is lacking at the gathering.

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