Cardinal Eijk joins ten other cardinals in a new book on marriage and family

staatsieportret20kardinaal20eijkUsually 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.

Real life and teaching – Bishop Bode on the Synod

bode_purpur_240In a recent interview, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, one of three German delegates to the Synod of Bishops, has said that the debate is not just about singular questions on marriage and family, but about the fundamental decision on how to face the developments in Europe and the world. reports.

Bishop Bode looks critically at the tensions between Church teaching and the lives of the faithful, a topic on which he has been criticised before, when he was understood to consider that reality as one source of revelation among others. “Of course it is a great strength that the Church so strongly defends the indissolubility of marriage,” but when that ideal no longer relates to life, the bishop explains, it is ineffective.

Not surprisingly, Bishop Bode again wonders if a second civil marriage of Catholics should always exclude them from the sacraments, while at the same time underlining the value of monogamy, fidelity and indissolubility that has been recognised since the early Church. The bishop desires a pastoral solution, inclusing long-term pastoral support of the persons concerned, but speaks out against a second marriage according to the Orthodox model. However, a blessing of a second relationship could be a future possibility.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that Bishop Bode does not favour regional differences in the sacrament of marriage, something that the German bishops have been accused of striving for. “At the heart of marriage and family, we can not deeply disagree.”

Lastly, Bishop Bode warns against considering the questions of marriage and family only from the point of view of sexual morality. Marriage is, in the first place, a community of shared responsibility, he says. On this topic, and also when it comes to extramarital and same-sex relationships, the Church must follow the example of Jesus, who always “first considered the person and then noticed him in his weakness”.

Adopt a Bishop

We’ve seen it before, in the runup to the conclave for example, when faithful could “adopt” a prelate to specifically pray for, so that those prayers may help him in doing his duty for the needs of the Church and according to the will of God. The German website of Church in Need has now done something similar for the participating bishops of the Synod.

They write:

“On 25 March Pope Francis asked the faithful to pray for the Synod and suggested a prayer for that purpose, which you find below.

We also invite you to accompany the meeting in Rome with prayer, namely by praying specifically for a single bishop who participates or who is substitutes when the participant from his country can not.

To ensure that all participants and substitues of the Synod are strongly prayed for and none is “left out” we offer a random selector below, with which you can find a bishop and “adopt” him in prayer.”

joseph werthSo, go here, click on the “Jetzt Siehen” button and see who you can pray for.

I got Bishop Joseph Werth, Bishop of Transfiguration at Novosibirsk in Russia, who will participate in the Synod only if the Russian delegate, Bishop Paolo Pezzi of Mother of God at Moscow, would be unable to.

Who did you get?

Oh, and that prayer that Pope Francis suggested? That’s this one, to the Holy Family:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendour of true love, to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division: May all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may the approaching Synod of Bishops make us more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer. Amen.”

Bishops react to Laudato Si’

They’ve all received the encyclical in advance, with a personal note from Pope Francis, so more than a few bishops were ready to offer their thoughts and opinions as soon as Laudato Si’ was launched yesterday. Here are a few reactions I came across in my corner of Europe.

archbishop ludwig schickArchbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg writes: “The Biblical call to subdue the earth, can no longer be used by anyone as a justification for the plundering of nature and the wasting of resources.”

hesseFrom Hamburg, Archbishop Stefan Heße comments on the fact that Pope Francis addresses his encyclical to all people in the world: “He makes clear what urgent future issues must be solved for the entire world and for all people. That is not possible without a radical change in mentality”. And later, “Thus he underlines that the problems, which concern all, can also only be solved by all.”

101020marx250Cardinal Reinhard Marx, speaking on behalf of the bishops’ conference, said: “This encyclical is a great work of the Pope, which I gladly make my own. Today the Pope speaks to the conscience of the world and also of the Church, whether it is convenient or not. His message is not comfortable, it wakes us up and warns us to take responsibility. There is a great concern from the Pope not to separate ecological and social problems, commitment to the environment and to the poor, under any circumstances. In the sense the often used label of environmental or climate encyclical falls short. It is rather about an entanglement of the issues of environment and development.”

overbeckBishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen continues in much the same vein as Cardinal Marx: “With this text Pope Francis once again places himself in the tradition of his patron saint, as he – like Saint Francis – emphasises the interconnectedness of the world … It’s about the triad of God – Man – Creation, but also concretely about, for example, the various connections of climate change … This make the Encyclical a strong sign of the responsibility of our universal Church for the world, of which I hope, with an eye on the UN climate summit in Paris this autumn, that it does not miss its effect.”

dekorte2In the Netherlands, Bishop Gerard de Korte spoke at a press conference to present the Encyclical, and emphasised the fact that the Pope wants to address all people: “The Encyclical is a new impulse for the efforts of Catholics for a more just and sustainable world. But the words “our common home” in the Encyclical’s subtitle makes clear that the Roman Church wants to address all people. Not just other Christians and other believers, but all people of good will (par. 13). Together we are one human family (par. 52) … Addressing all people, believers and unbelievers, indicates that the best of the world religions and philosophies needs to be tapped to reach a global ethics of Creation. Mobilising the spiritual and ethical power of all people is extremely important. Christians have faith in Gods Spirit who blows where He wants and can renew people. The Spirit breaks through lethargy and despondency and gives us joy and peace (par. 222 etc).”

Bischof-Norbert-Trelle-Foto-Bernward-MedienHildesheim’s Bishop Norbert Trelle starts with the criticism of Pope Francis against modern economic systems: “These exclude a large number of people alive today, does not take future generations sufficiently into account and creates a throwaway culture, which exploits resources without concern for the people or the environment and accepts with open eyes the changes in the climate. Opposite that, the Pope places the worth of individual people, his relationship with Creation and with the Creator in the heart of it. He connects these theological statements with an invitation to fundamental economical change and concrete action of individuals …

BischofGenn_Klauser_05-2009Bishop Felix Genn of Münster emphasises that the Encyclical is not just an environmental tract: “Certainly environmental problems are at the heart of Laudato Si’, but it is much more than an ‘environmental Encyclical’. It concerns the common home of Creation. In essence, Pope Francis answers the question which each of us should also ask: “What kind of world do we want to leave for those that come after us, the children who are now growing up?” This then leads to us asking about the reason for our existence and about the values that form the basis of our coexistence: “Why do we got through this world, what do we work and tire ourselves out for, what does this earth need us for?” Only when we ask ourselves these questions, so Pope Francis thinks, in my view quite rightly, the care for the environment will produce effective results.”

bode_purpur_240Lastly, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, one of the German delegates to the Synod of Bishops, connects the Encyclical with the theme of the Synod’s upcoming meeting: “And so the Synod in October about the questions of marriage and family should not supersede the concerns for the human family and its home, Creation. Marriage and family are, after all, an essential component of an integrated ecology.”

The Synod comes together

synod of bishopsYesterday, Pope Francis okay-ed another group of bishop members of the upcoming Synod of Bishops assembly of October. The group is about three quarters complete now, with a handful of bishops’ conferences still to elect their representatives. Pope Francis also still has to announce his personal selection of both lay experts and clergy, as well as ecumenical guests, but with a new working Synod document to be presented on Tuesday, the preparations continue apace. The full list of Synod members will most likely be available after the summer.

This is the list of members as it stands now (some names will appear more than once, as certain individuals will have more than one fucntion during the assembly):



  1. Pope Francis

Secretary General

  1. Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri

President Delegates

  1. Raymundo Damasceno Cardinal Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil
  2. Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa
  3. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines
  4. André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, France

Relator General

  1. Péter Cardinal Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary

Special Secretary

  1. Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy

Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops

  1. Bishop Fabio Fabene

Members of the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops

  1. Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, United States of America
  2. péter erdöPéter Cardinal Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary (at right)
  3. Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation
  4. Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy
  5. Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India
  6. Laurent Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo-Kinshasa
  7. Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa
  8. George Cardinal Pell, President of the Secretariat for the Economy
  9. Odilo Pedro Cardinal Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil
  10. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Wien, Austria
  11. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine
  12. Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamalas, Auxiliary Bishop of Valparaíso, Chile
  13. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines
  14. Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
  15. Donald William Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, United States of America

Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia

  1. Angelo Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
  2. João Cardinla Bráz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
  3. Domenico Cardinal Calcagno, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
  4. Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
  5. Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
  6. Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples
  7. fisichellaArchbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation (at right)
  8. Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
  9. Dominique Francois Joseph Cardinal Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
  10. Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  11. Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
  12. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
  13. Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State
  14. George Cardinal Pell, President of the Secretariat for the Economy
  15. Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  16. Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
  17. rylkoStanislaw Cardinal Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (at right)
  18. Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
  19. Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
  20. Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy
  21. Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
  22. Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
  23. Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
  24. Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions)
  25. Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Counil for Pastoral Assistance ot Health Care Workers

Heads of the Eastern Churches in Union with Rome

  1. George Cardinal Alencherry, Syro-Malabar Church
  2. babjakArchbishop Ján Babjak, Slovak Church (at right)
  3. Archbishop Peter Fülöp Kocsis, Hungarian Church
  4. Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, Greek-Melkite Church
  5. Lucian Cardinal Muresan, Romanian Church
  6. Béchara Pierre Cardinal Raï, Maronite Church
  7. Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako, Chaldean Church
  8. Patriarch Isaac Ibrahim Sedrak, Catholic Coptic Church
  9. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Ukrainian Church
  10. Archbishop William Charles Skurla, Ruthenian Church
  11. Berhaneyesus Demerew Cardinal Souraphiel, Ethiopic Church
  12. Patriarch Nersès Bédros XIX Tarmouni, Armenian Church
  13. Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam, Eritrean Church
  14. Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal, Syro-Malankar Church
  15. Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, Syrian Church

Prelates elected by the Bishops’ Conferences

  1. Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez, Bishop of Tehuacán, Mexico
  2. Bishop Francis Alleyne, Bishop of Georgetown, Guyana
  3. Bishop Antoine Nabil Andari, Auxiliary Bishop of Jebbeh-Sarba-Jounieh, Lebanon (Maronite)
  4. Archbishop José María Arancedo, Archbishop of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, Argentina
  5. Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, Bishop of Ondo, Nigeria
  6. Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza, Archbishop of Guayaquil, Ecuador
  7. Bishop_Joseph_Arshad_jpgSmallBishop Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Faisalabad, Pakistan (at right)
  8. Archbishop Joseph Atanga, Archbishop of Bertoua, Cameroon
  9. Audrys Juozas Cardinal Backis, Archbishop of Vilnius, Lithuania
  10. Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genua, Italy
  11. Bishop Constantino Barrera Morales, Bishop of Sonsonate, El Salvador
  12. Bishop Gervais Bashimiyubusa, Bishop of Ngozi, Burundi
  13. Bishop Bernardo Miguel Bastres Florence, Bishop of Punta Arenas, Chile
  14. Bishop Krzysztof Janusz Bialasik Wawrowska, Bishop of Oruro, Bolivia
  15. Ricardo Cardinal Blázquez Perez, Archbishop of Valladolid, Spain
  16. Charles Maung Cardinal Bo, Archbishop of Yangon Myanmar
  17. bode_purpur_240Bishop Franz-Josef Hermann Bode, Bishop of Osnabrück, Germany (at right)
  18. Bishop Johan Jozef Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp, Belgium
  19. Bishop Anthony Fallag Borwah, Bishop of Gbargna, Liberia
  20. Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla, Bishop of Novara, Italy
  21. Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa
  22. Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin, Bishop of Le Havre, France
  23. Archbishop Paul Bùi Van Doc, Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  24. Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, Archbishop of Trujillo, Peru
  25. Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, Archishop of Cuenca, Herrera
  26. Bishop Charles Allieu Matthew Campbell, Bishop of Bo, Sierra Leone
  27. Archbishop ChaputArchbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, United States of America (at right)
  28. Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla Ramos, Bishop of Toluca, Mexico
  29. Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, Archbishop of Maputo, Mozambique
  30. Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, Archbishop of Suva, Fiji
  31. Archbishop Mark Benedict Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia
  32. Thomas Christopher Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Canada
  33. Bishop Henri Coudray, Vicar Apostolic of Mongo, Chad
  34. Archbishop Vincent Coulibaly, Archbishop of Conakry, Guinea
  35. Archbishop Sérgio Da Rocha, Archbishop of Brasília, Brazil
  36. Bishop Jonas Dembélé, Bishop of Kayes, Mali
  37. Bishop Tsegaye Keneni Derera, Vicar Apostolic of Soddo, Ethiopia
  38. Daniel Nicholas Cardinal Di Nardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston,United States of America
  39. Bishop Joseph Dinh Dùc Dao, Auxiliary Bishop of Xuan Loc, Vietnam
  40. Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola, Bishop of Tshumbe, Congo-Kinshasa
  41. Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastião Do Rosario Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa and Damão, India
  42. Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle, Bishop of Northampton, England
  43. Bishop Charles Edward Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand
  44. Archbishop Paul André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau, Canada
  45. Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, the Netherlands
  46. Bishop Benno Elbs, Bishop of Feldkirch, Austria
  47. ezzati andrelloRicardo Cardinal Ezzati Andrello, Archbishop of Santiago Chile (at right)
  48. Bishop Antonino Eugénio Fernandes Dias, Bishop of Portalegre-Castelo Branco, Portugal
  49. Bishop George Frendo, Auxiliary Bishop of Tiranë-Durrës, Albania
  50. Bishop Jaime Rafael Fuentes Martín, Bishop of Minas, Uruguay
  51. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, Archbishop of Poznan, Poland
  52. Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera, Bishop of Daet, Philippines
  53. Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez, Archbishop of Camagüey, Cuba
  54. Bishop Petru Gherghel, Bishop of Iasi, Romania
  55. Archbishop José Horacio Gómez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, United States of America
  56. Archbishop Roberto Octavio González Nieves, Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico
  57. cardinal-oswald-gracias-1Oscar Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India (at right)
  58. Bishop Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo, Malta
  59. Archbishop Henryk Hoser, Bishop of Warszawa-Praga, Poland
  60. Bishop Eugène Cyrille Houndékon, Bishop of Abomey, Benin
  61. Bishop Daniel Eugene Hurley, Bishop of Darwin, Australia
  62. Bishop Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa, Bishop of Bilbao, Spain
  63. Archbishop Dominic Jala, Archbishop of Shillong, India
  64. Bishop Jean-Paul James, Bishop of Nantes, France
  65. Bishop Gheorghi Ivanov Jovcev, Bishop of Sofia-Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  66. Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Bishop of Palai (Syro-Malaberese), India
  67. Antoine-Kambanda3Bishop Antoine Kambanda, Bishop of Kibungo, Rwanda (at right)
  68. Bishop Peter Kang U-Il, Bishop of Cheju, South Korea
  69. Archbishop Samuel Kleda, Archbishop of Douala, Cameroon
  70. Archbishop Heiner Koch, Archbishop of Berlin, Germany
  71. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus
  72. Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung, Bishop of Larantuka, Indonesia
  73. Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi, Bishop of Mymensingh, Bangladesh
  74. Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, United States of America
  75. Bishop Mathieu Madega Labouakehan, Bishop of Mouila, Gabon
  76. Bishop Pedro María Laxague, Auxiliary Bishop of Bahia Blanca, Argentina
  77. Lee%20Keh-mienBishop John Baptist Lee Keh-Mien, Bishop of Hsinchu, Taiwan (at right)
  78. Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi, Archbishop of Maseru, Lesotho
  79. Bishop Jacques Danka Longa, Bishop of Kara, Togo
  80. Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey, Bishop of Sion, Switzerland
  81. Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, Archbishop of Mariana, Brazil
  82. José Manuel Cardinal Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Patriach of Lisbon, Portugal
  83. Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Vicar Apostolic of Paksé, Laos
  84. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland
  85. Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland
  86. Reinhard Cardinal Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising, Germany
  87. mokrzyckiArchbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine (at right)
  88. Bishop Zolile Peter Mpambani, Bishop of Kokstad, South Africa
  89. Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa, Archbishop of Blantyre, Malawi
  90. Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna, Nigeria
  91. Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye, Archbishop of Dakar, Senegal
  92. Bishop Tarcisius J.M. Ngalalekumtwa, Bishop of Iringa, Tanzania
  93. Bishop Urbain Ngassongo, Bishop of Gamboma, Congo-Brazzaville
  94. Vincent Gerard Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, England
  95. John Cardinal Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya
  96. Bishop Renatus Leonard Nkwande, Bishop of Bunda, Tanzania
  97. archbishop-of-gulu-john-baptist-odama-5Archbishop John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu, Uganda (at right)
  98. Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archbishop of Madrid, Spain
  99. Archbishop Diego Rafael Padrón Sánchez, Archbishop of Cumaná, Venezuela
  100. Archbishop José S. Palma, Archbishop of Cebu, Philippines
  101. Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, Archbishop of Accra, Ghana
  102. Bishop Franhiskos Papamanolis, Bishop emeritus of Syros, Greece
  103. Bishop Yves-Marie Péan, Bishop of Les Gonaïves, Haiti
  104. Bishop Gregorio Nicanor Peña Rodríguez, Bishop of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higüey, Dominican Republic
  105. Bishop Harold Anthony Perera, Bishop of Kurunegala, Sri Lanka
  106. Archbishop Toash Bernard Peta, Archbishop of Maria Santissimi in Astana, Kazakhstan
  107. DOM-JOÃO-C_-PETRINIBishop João Carlos Petrini, Bishop of Camaçari, Brazil (at right)
  108. Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, Archbishop of Madre de Dio a Mosca, Russia
  109. Bishop Benjamin Phiri, Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata, Zambia
  110. Bishop Maurice Piat, Bishop of Port-Louis, Mauritius
  111. Archbishop Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón, Archbishop of Ayacucho, Peru
  112. Mario Aurelio Cardinal Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  113. Bishop Philipp Pöllitzer, Bishop of Keetmanshoop, Namibia
  114. Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan, Bishop of Punalur, India
  115. Archbishop Georges Pontier, Archbishop of Marseille, France
  116. Norberto Cardinal Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, Mexico
  117. robles ortegaFrancisco Cardinal Robles Ortega, Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico (at right)
  118. Bishop Braulio Sáez García, Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
  119. Bishop Pablo Emiro Salas Anteliz, Bishop of Armenia, Colombia
  120. Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez, Archbishop of Bogotá, Colombia
  121. Bishop Aníbal Saldaña Santamaría, Prelate of Bocas del Toro, Panama
  122. Bishop Joseph Sama, Bishop of Nouna, Burkina Faso
  123. Odilo Pedro Cardinal Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil
  124. Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop of Milan, Italy
  125. Bishop Noel Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield, Canada
  126. Archbishop Richard William Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton, Canada
  127. Bishop Luis Solé, Bishop of Trujillo, Honduras
  128. Bishop Enrico Solmi, Bishop of Parma, Italy
  129. Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia
  130. Bishop Emílio Sumbelelo, Bishop of Uíje, Angola
  131. Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, Archbishop of Nagasaki, Japan
  132. Bishop Antoine Tarabay, Bishop of Saint Maron of Sydney, Australia (Maronite)
  133. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland
  134. Bishop Philibert Tembo Nlandu, Bishop of Budjala, Congo-Kinshasa
  135. Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, Archbishop of Trichur (Syro-Malaberese), India
  136. Bishop Désiré Tsarahazana, Bishop of Toamasina, Madagascar
  137. Mgr-Twal-Je-demande-a-la-France-d-avoir-un-role-plus-politique_article_popinPatriarch Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Israel (at right)
  138. Bishop José Francisco Ulloa Rojas, Bishop of Cartago, Costa Rica
  139. Bishop Camillus Raymond Umoh, Bishop of Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria
  140. Archbishop Óscar Urbina Ortega, Archbishop of Villavicencio, Colombia
  141. Jorge Liberato Cardinal Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela
  142. Bishop Rodolfo Valenzuela Núñez, Bishop of Vera Paz, Guatemala
  143. Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, Archbishop of Davao, Philippines
  144. Bishop András Veres, Bishop of Szombathely, Hungary
  145. Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco, Bishop of Oran, Algeria
  146. André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbisop of Paris, France
  147. Bishop César Bosco Vivas Robelo, Bishop of León, Nicaragua
  148. Bishop Jan Vokál, Bishop of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
  149. Bishop Tomo Vuksic, Military Ordinary of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  150. Bishop James Maria Wainaina Kungu, Bishop of Muranga, Kenya
  151. Bishop Jan Franciszek Watroba, Bishop of Rzeszów, Poland
  152. Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau, Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  153. Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, Bishop of Alindao, Central African Republic
  154. Archbishop Lévon Boghos Zékiyan, Archbishop of Istanbul of the Armenians
  155. Archbishop Stane Zore, Archbishop of Ljubljana, Slovenia
  156. Bishop Valter Zupan, Bishop emeritus of Krk, Croatia
  157. stanislav_zvolensky_TASRArchbishop Stanislav Zvolensky, Archbishop of Bratislava, Slovakia (at right)
  158. Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa, Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana, Uganda

Superiors General

  1. Father Mario Aldegani, Congregation of Saint Joseph
  2. Father Javier Álvarez-Ossorio, Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus Fathers)
  3. Father Richard Kuuai Baawobr, Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers)
  4. Father Michael Brehl, Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists)
  5. Father Bruno Cadoré, Order of Preachers (Dominicans)
  6. Father Jesús Diaz Alonso, Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
  7. Father Hervé Janson, Little Brothers of Jesus
  8. Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
  9. 1115_schroeder_012Abbot Jeremias Schröder, Archabbot of the Benedictine Congregation of Sankt Ottilien (at right)
  10. Father Marco Tasca, Friars Minor Conventual

Cardinal Antonelli gets it

antonelliTO2_webIn 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.

For Berlin, a Synod Father

kochWith the appointment of Bishop Heiner Koch to Berlin, the German capital has an archbishop again after an almost eleven-month vacancy. He leaves the Diocese of Dresden-Meißen, a suffragan of Berlin, vacant after less than two-and-a-half years, making it on of two empty sees in Germany, the other being Limburg.

Who is Archbishop-elect Heiner Koch? Like his predecessor in Berlin, Cardinal Woelki, he was born in the Archdiocese of Cologne, in Düsseldorf. He is less than a week away from his 61st birthday, has been a priest for 35 years (he was ordained on his 26th birthday in 1980) and a bishop for nine years. He is the third archbishop of Berlin, but the tenth ordinary since Berlin became a diocese in 1930. Six of his predecessors were made cardinals.

heiner kochThe new archbishop studied Catholic theology, philosophy and pedagogy at the University of Bonn and is a Doctor of Theology. After his ordination, he was attached to parishes in Kaarst and in Cologne itself (at the cathedral since 1993). He was also school pastor at the Heinrich Heine University in his native Düsseldorf, and in 1989 he started working in the vicariate general of the Archdiocese of Cologne, which probably set him on track to become a bishop. Made a Chaplain of His Holiness in 1993 and Honorary Prelate in 1996, now-Msgr. Koch was made the subsitute for the vicar general in 2002. In the same year he led the preparations for World Youth Day 2005, which took place in 2005.

The next year, he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Cologne, with the titular see of Ros Cré in Ireland. Bishop Koch was responsible for pastoral area South, as well as for the non-German speaking faithful of the archdiocese. In the German Bishops’ Conference, this extended to the pastoral care for Germans abroad.

In 2013, in one of his last appointments as such, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Koch as bishop of Dresden-Meißen, at the opposite end of the country. A year later, the German bishops chose him to head the Commission for Marriage and Family, which made sure he was also chosen as one of the country’s three delegates to this year’s assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

heiner kochThe Synod, then… In the entire saga about the German bishops and the Synod, Archbishop Koch has been one of the main players. He will attend the Synod with Osnabrück’s Bishop Bode and Cardinal Marx, and he also took part in what some have called the “shadow Synod” in Rome with representatives of the French and Swiss episcopates. But it is unfair to call the archbishop a liberal in matters of marriage, family and sexuality. In 2012, he stated that debating certain topics that have been authoritatively decided upon by the magisterium of the Pope and bishops is only “frustrating and ineffective”. “A productive and creative conversation,” he said, “is only possible on the basis of our mutual faith and our mutual understanding of what it means to be a Church.” More recently, Archbishop Koch has been accused of being in favour of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments. In an interview in Feruary, he said:

“The questions is if we can’t allow faithful who have been divrced and remarried and are deeply pious to receive the Eucharist under certain conditions. That could take place, for example, after a long conversation with a confessor. We should consider such questions.”

His focus, however, is more on the question of how the Church can be close to people in that situation: not so much doctrine, but pastoral care, as he explained later.

In an interview on the occasion of his appointment to Dresden-Meißen, Archbishop Koch explained his priorities in relating to people, which perhaps also explain why some would falsely think that he is not overly concerned with doctrine:

“I don’t want to start with showing people the ethical consequences wihout them first knowing the reasons for them in the faith. I want to speak to them about God. I want to listen to them and hear what they can tell me about God in their lives.”

This attitude comes to the fore more often, when Archbishop Koch says that difficult questions are not resolved via headlines, but via conversations and encounters with people.

In the same interview, he also explained the Church’s position on same-sex marriages:

“The Church is convinced that a child needs a father and a mother. I also know that there are married couples which neglect children, and homosexual coupes who love them. But that does not change the fact that the family consisting of father, mother and children is a great wealth for all, not least in their gender differences. God created people as man and woman. Together they reflect the fullness of the divine life. There is not consensus in society, but that does not mean that we should abandon this position”.

220px-Karte_Erzbistum_BerlinThe future in Berlin. As archbishop in the German capital (with equal pastoral responsibility for the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, as well as eastern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Archbishop Koch will increasingly be at the heart of the action for both state and Church. In a reflection of recent political history after the reunification, when Germany’s political institutions moved from Bonn  to Berlin, the German Bishops’ Conference has long been considering moving their offices to Berlin as well. The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, also resides in that city. As mentioned above, six of his predecessors (including the five immediate ones) were made cardinals, so we may see a second Cardinal Koch (in addition to Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) at some point. Archbishop Koch is young enough to wear the red with influence. But even in purple he will have his work cut out for him.

His predecessor, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, quickly established himself as a bishop in the mold of Pope Francis: close to the margins of immigrants and workers. Archbishop Koch will probably have little problems taking that attitude on as well. The Archdiocese of Berlin is twice the size of Dresden-Meißen, but has about the same number of Catholic faithful. It is in the process of merging parishes to better serve these faithful, which is a sensitive process to lead for any bishop.

More to come…