THE official reports of the proceedings of the recent Synod in Rome are so many, and so diverse, that it will be some months before the impact of many statements will have had time to be fully understood.
Much has gone unreported, or been overlooked, because of the sheer volume of the reports. Here, for example, is what Bishop Edward Russell Gaines of Hamilton had to say on behalf of the New Zealand bishops conference, where the "Renew" programme was adopted by all dioceses over the past three years.
The following subjects were raised for synodal consideration: "the role of women in the future of the Church. Professional women feel their gifts and talents could be better used in the decision making processes of the Church: Language used in worship and liturgy is felt to be 'exclusive' of women. A more prompt approval of English texts could remove this hurt to some: single women, solo mothers and divorced women feel they are alit.iatt,i from the Church: women are not consulted in the law making processes of the Church; laws they are expected to observe in their lives; women feel there is a reluctance on the part of some parish priests to graciously allow women to exercise ministry in the Church; women look for a spirit of celebration and reconciliation in the Church, so they may share more fully in the `Communio of Love'."
From behind the Iron Curtain from Czechoslavakia, came the cry of Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, Archbishop of Prague, from a country where entire generations of the faithful have been forced to live without bishops: "The faithful have the special mission of bearing witness of faith, for they daily live alongside other men and women. They must live the word of Jesus: You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:7) . . . The apostolate demands not only interior formation, but courage as well: the contemporary world is marked by cowardice and fear! And it is precisely upon these human weaknesses that dictatorships build their dominion!
Lord, you call me — here I am! I am ready!"
On behalf of the underground church, Metropolitan Archbishop Stephen Sulyk of Philadelphia of the Ukranians (USA) made this plea: "While according due recognition to the active role of the laity in the establishment, organisation, and support of the Ukranian Catholic Church in the Free World, I must also speak for the heroic witnesses of our church of the catacombs in Ukraine, who have maintained their faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and their loyalty to the See of Peter. I propose that this Synod recognise and laud the valiant testimony of our brothers and sisters in the underground churches in the USSR and all communist countries throughout the world."
And this, from Bishop Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Pereira, Colombia: "I wish to speak on the sanctity of the laity. Our world today needs the witness of holiness. It needs new models of holiness appropriate for today's circumstances. In the face of a world that lowers the horizons of the transcendent, sunk in hedonism and searching for pleasure and an easy life in every possible way, without baulking, even at the illegitimate use of power, violence and oppression, a new and powerful transforming action is called for both individually and collectively in reponse to universal call to holiness of both lay men and lay women, for the sanctity of the whole Church. The poverty of our continent gives birth to a binding union with those things that are non-transient, that cannot be stock-piled by grasping hands, are not subject to exploitation and the unjust hand-outs of equally unjust powers. In a world that is satiated and extravagant, we are beginning to understand a little better, thanks to the poor, what poverty of spirit is all about, the Blessedness of the poor . . . From the depths of injustice, violence, drug traffic and abuse, and an all-pervading hedonism springs the urgency for the laity to be the salt of the earth and witnesses.
We have been warned not to expect too much from the Synod, but, surely, the harmony, wisdom and holiness expressed in these examples of reports of the Synod will lead the men and the women of our Pilgrim Church on earth towards a better and happier era, in our spiritually under-developed consumer society, and help lead us all to God, who is our home.