Usually rather tight-lipped about the proceedings at and his own contributions to the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Wim Eijk is now said to be contributing to a book about marriage and family in the runup to the Synod assembly of October. He is joined by ten other prelates, cardinals all, and as such this new book can be compared to the five-cardinals book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. Cardinal Eijk’s contribution will be based on his work at the previous Synod assembly last year.
Like the earlier book, this will take a position which underlines the role of doctrine in addition to mercy, contrary to some who consider the latter overruling the former. In truth, both are needed and can’t survive without the other.
In addition to Cardinal Eijk, the other contributing cardinals are:
- Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop of of Bologna
- Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankar Church
- Paul Cordes, President emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”
- Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague
- Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne
- John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja
- Antonio Rouco Varela, Archbishop emeritus of Madrid
- Camillo Ruini, Vicar General emeritus of Rome
- Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
- Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas
The book is said to be criticising the “protestantisation” of the Church. What that means will remain to be seen, but we may expect a focus on the desire to adapt teaching to the wishes of interest groups and individual faithful under the guise of mercy, as we continuously see in the debates surrounding the Synod and its topics.
Immediate local reactions to the news (which for now is mostly hearsay, it has to be said) of Eijk’s involvement were not overly positive. Some see this as proof that the cardinal is in direct opposition to Pope Francis. If that’s true, the same must be said of the other contributors, some of whom were appointed by the Pope (Cardinal Sarah) or are known to enjoy his appreciation and esteem (Cardinal Caffarra), while others are not directly known for overly orthodox attitudes (Cardinal Duka). Pope Francis has asked for discussion, which includes opposing points of view. This is that discussion, and the Pope knows that full well. If his attitude towards the Curia is anything to go by, he is happy to let it do the work it exists for, and that includes defending the unpopular elements of the faith.
I am happy to see a high-profile contribution from a Dutch prelate on this topic, which has already made so many headlines in the blogosphere and Catholic media. We need more of that.
The book, titled Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family: Essays from a Pastoral Viewpoint, can be pre-ordered from Igantius Press here.