“The doctrine is not changing but developing to provide answers to vital challenges,” UGCC Head

Tuesday, 14 October 2014, 16:38
On October 13th in the Vatican, Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Budapest and the main speaker of the Synod, presented a summary of the discussions held during the first week of the work of the Extraordinary General Session of the Synod of Bishops on the topic of the Family.

The document immediately evoked many discussions in mass media  and questions regarding its content and official status.  In an Italian language interview with Radio Vatican, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, UGCC Father and Head  shared his thoughts on the work of the Synod and explained the essence of the document.

Your Beatitude, yesterday the circoli minori  [small groups] of the Pontifical Synod began working and   discussions about the document of Cardinal Erdo took place.  Share your thoughts about this Synod and tell us how you estimate its work.

This document is not the final or official document of the work of the Synod, but rather a draft, a collection of various presentations  by the synodal fathers during the meetings last week.  It cannot be perceived as the final summary of our discussions.  Right now in our work groups we are studying this text: there are many criticisms,  some members of our group think that some things should be changed, supplemented, so that our appeal to the Holy Father as well as to our faithful should be thought out and understandable.  First of all, we want to once more confirm the Church doctrine regarding marriage.  We have no intentions of changing or denying something as  is now often being reported in the mass media.  Really we are concerned about the challenges which come not from inside the Church, but from the outside.  The Synod Fathers are looking for the best method to respond to these challenges,  to propose in a new way the Gospel of the family in a positive and bright light. 

What, in your opinion is the biggest shortcoming of this document and why did it create so much misunderstanding?

The formulation of the expressions have to necessarily be more exact.  As is known, very often it is the devil, who hides behind details.  Sometimes the intentions and the authentic thoughts of the fathers do not coincide with the formed text.  And this creates certain misunderstandings.  That is exactly why right now we are trying to express ourselves in the most understandable manner: on the one hand, to better discuss this topic, and on the other hand – to propose  the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church in the keys of the new evangelization. 

Thus, the doctrine does not change with the flow of time during history?

The doctrine does not change  – it develops, i.e., clarifies itself, in order to answer certain challenges.  In Church history the doctrines were formed as answers of Christians to some heresies or  the improper understanding of Christian faith from the surrounding world.  Today we have new challenges, new difficulties in accepting traditional doctrines of the Church, and therefore we have to explain some aspects of the teachings of the Church in order to provide certain guidelines, especially of  a practical character for the pastoral service of the Church.  This synod is not doctrinal.  We gathered here not for the purpose of discussing a doctrine, but to share pastoral experiences.  During this Synod we contemplated the great sufferings of the Christian family in the current world and those attacks  that are aimed at it.

So called “irregular situations” i.e. those couples who cannot be acknowledged by the Church as marriages but towards which the Church takes a position of mercy and perception. What do they need and expect today?

Mainly we are attempting to confirm the Church doctrine that the family is an authentic, indissoluble and sacred union between a man and a woman.  Other attempts of of cohabitation cannot be regarded as a family. However, at the same time, it is important to acknowledge : for example, if a man and a woman  even without a Church marriage live in a stable, fruitful, and faithful  union, then in it are present those semina verbi  [seeds of truth], which should be appropriately respected.  At this Synod, perhaps for the first time, the attention of the pastors extends beyond the boundaries of their church enclosure, in order to examine the  situation of mortal sin and assist these people in gaining evangelical ideals.

.Mass media also talks about the openness to same-sex couples...

We did not talk about openness to same-sex couples  but rather about the suffering of those people.  In my presentation I said that we could not consider a homosexual orientation in itself a blessing, in other words something good.  It is a heavy trial, a burden and a problem which causes suffering.  Wounds which are inflicted by this phenomenon are not dependent on how we perceive it: positive or negative.  Therefore we have to look at this issue with open eyes.  A person cannot be identified by  her or his homosexual tendency.  We should look at this person, respect them as a likeness of God, taking into account the person's real existential dimensions, and in the light of the Gospel, to help the person in her/his sufferings.


Interviewer: Paulo Ondratsa

Translated from Italian by Rev. Andriy Soletskyj 



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