Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia arrives for the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 5. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Chaput: Synod must speak to global Church, not just West

By  Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
  • October 8, 2015

VATICAN CITY - Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said the Synod on the family must recognize global diversity while staying true to Church doctrine.

The 270 bishops participating in the Synod have been separated into 13 small groups, divided by language, to better debate family issues.

Chaput, who last month hosted the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, said there was concern among members of his group that the Synod’s working document did not reflect the “universal Church.”

“Who is our audience? Our audience is huge, and we must address that diversity,” he told journalists at the Vatican Oct. 7. He said the Synod is focused on Western issues rather than those faced in African countries and elsewhere.

Although bishops must be aware of the reality faced by their counterparts around the world, Chaput said that did not mean changing Catholic teachings: “It’s not appropriate for individual bishops’ conferences to decide matters of doctrine.”

The Philadelphia archbishop did not participate in last year’s Synod, which launched the bishops’ discussion of the family, but at the time spoke out against bishops’ willingness to present a more open Church to gay and remarried Catholics.

“I was very disturbed by what happened,” he said last October. “I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.”

A report released midway through last year’s Synod showed a more pastoral approach to gay and remarried Catholics, but these paragraphs were stripped from the final Synod document after they were challenged by conservatives.

Chaput said homosexuality had been mentioned by bishops but was not the “dominant point” of conversation.

“We have to be careful with our language so people don’t get hurt, but also we must be faithful to Church doctrine,” he said.

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