Cardinal Dolan Comments on Confident Continuity in Rome in the Midst of Reform and Renewal

On his Sirius Catholic Channel radio show earlier today from Rome, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan said about that working document that was released from the Vatican earlier this week:

There has been significant criticism of the initial relatio. Deep appreciation for the work that went into it, taking a quiet sum of it that was in there but, in general, the synod fathers have been united in saying this relatio that came out at the beginning of the week, that was a sincere attempt to summarize, was unfortunate and inaccurate and there’s going to be some major corrections.”

Cardinal Dolan emphasized that the synod is not like a platform committee vote at a political convention:

Nobody changes Church teaching. We talk a lot about how better to teach it. So the synods don’t issue a teaching document. The synod makes some hints and suggestions and proposals to the pope who, after the synod, usually issues a teaching document.

Expect much more, though, not Saturday (when we expect to see more documentation from the synod as it winds down), but over a year from now, from Pope Francis, on the continuing discussion about the family — that is expected to include a visit to Philadelphia next fall. “15, 16 months,” Dolan predicts. “But it will be worth the wait.”

Additionally, he pointed to something that has been largely overlooked: That Pope Francis is beatifying Pope Paul VI, the author of that infamously ill-received prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae, a document, which, as a matter of fact, even that relatio, the working document released earlier this week from Rome favorably mentioned and affirmed.

In the wake of a lot of hoopla this week in the media and elsewhere, Cardinal Dolan advised a calm confidence that the Church isn’t moving in the direction of whims of those meeting in Rome or the currents of the culture:

The Catholic Church is the very essence of continuity. We’re part of the one, holy, apostolic Church. Our very existence depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ. So, in some ways we’re people of the past, the past is alive right now and is confident about the future.

He noted Pope Francis’s own moves to highlight that continuity, commenting that “I think Pope Francis is remarkably shrewd.” Francis, Dolan observed, sees people “trying to caricature” him as an agent of “radical discontinuity.” And so he canonizes Popes John XXIII and John Paul II (which he did in May) and now beatifies (a big step ahead on the road to canonization) Pope Paul VI on Sunday. Dolan suggests a message there from the Holy Father may be: “I’m part of a line. I’ve got the chair of Peter … for as long as I have left… according to God’s plan … and I’m part of a tradition, I’m part of a continuity here.”

That continuity, and the work of the synod, is not about egos and grand plans but Jesus Christ. Bringing souls to Him, this is the work of the synod. This is the work of our lives.

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