In the most recent book by a cardinal on that most visible question of the Synod – Should divorced and remarried faithful be able to receive the Eucharist? – Cardinal Ennio Antonelli points out ho we – fathful and bishops – should approach the Synod. Not by wishing to change doctrine, but to find the most effective and suitable forms of pastoral care. EWTN has a story.
What struck me immediately is the quote from Saint John Paul II: “[Pastors] must not to lower the mountain, but instead help believers to climb it by leading the way”.
“For their part”, Cardinal Antonelli adds, “the faithful should not stop trying to reach the summit; they must sincerely seek both what is good and the will of God. Only with this fundamental attitude is it possible to develop a positive path of conversion and growth, even though individual steps may be short and sometimes even deviant”.
If we want to follow the Lord, we will unavoidably come across steps we find difficult. The answer then is not to ask the Lord to change the way He takes, but to look for His help in overcoming the difficulties, and bishops and priests are the shepherds to help us find His helping hand.
And that, I believe, is what the Synod should be about: not about finding other ways than that of Christ, but about how the Church can best help the faithful follow Him, even – especially – when it is hard.
Cardinal Antonelli was Archbishop of Firenze from 2001 to 2008 and President of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 2008 to 2012. He was created a cardinal by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2003.