There is no manipulation of synod, argues cardinal

The Synod of Bishops on the Family is not being manipulated, rather the distortion rests in how it is being depicted or seen by a number of people, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington has said.

“I don’t think the synod itself has been tainted, but the lens through which it is being seen by many, many people has been tainted, and so I suspect that that will have some impact,” he said in an interview with the Jesuit magazine America.

The cardinal said much-welcome changes have been made to the Synod on the Family that “allow the bishops to come together and to speak very openly and very clearly about whatever they think needs to be said”.

The bishops themselves have long been asking for less time spent listening to written speeches being read aloud and more time for small-group discussions “because that’s where the real debate takes place,” he said.

The 13 small groups elect their own representatives who then hand in summaries that have been approved by the group to a 10-member writing committee charged with drafting a final document the synod will vote on and give to the Pope. Cardinal Wuerl, who is on this papally appointed drafting committee, told America: “I don’t see how you can manipulate all of those groups and all of the people leading them.”

In fact, the creation of a larger drafting committee was an improvement on a previous process that was not “working very well”. During last year’s extraordinary synod, “there was this great outcry” that the first interim report drafted by two top-ranking members of the synod wasn’t done well, so the Pope added more bishops to the process.

“I don’t see any of that as manipulative. I see it as widening the participation of the bishops,” he said. “Now there are some bishops whose position is that we shouldn’t be discussing any of this anyway. They were the ones at the last synod that were giving interviews, and denouncing and claiming there were intrigues and manipulation,” he told the magazine.

Such accusations, he said, do not have “a foundation in reality. I just think that these are people who have their own position and they just want to articulate that.”