CCCB president appointed to commission preparing synod’s final message

By Deborah Gyapong

Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA (CCN) — The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has been appointed to the commission preparing the final pastoral message of the synod on the family.

Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher has been attending the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops along with other presidents of bishops’ conferences and heads of dicasteries Oct. 5-18 in Rome.

Durocher will participate in a commission of eight headed by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi that will prepare the message that witnesses to the bishops’ experience at the synod.

The CCCB President also participated in the synod’s daily news briefing Oct. 9, with Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

The archbishop outlined some of the debate concerning communion for divorced and remarried Catholics that has dominated headlines concerning the synod. (See related story.)

“Those who speak strongly in favour of not admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the eucharist also see this as an exercise of mercy,” said Durocher. “Because mercy is bringing people to the truth and so to say those who hold that line are not merciful would be unjust.”

“On the other hand to say that those who consider there should be a way of opening communion, that those people not concerned with justice or with truth, that would also be unjust to use that language,” he said.

“Many voices are saying there is no kind of line that will be the absolute line that will apply to all individual conditions,” he said.

“Jesus did not meet general cases, He met individuals,” he said.

The archbishop pointed out the synod has been hearing from people for whom this issue is “most important.”

“But where the majority of the synod fathers stand on this issue is anybody’s guess,” he said.

Durocher reminded journalists the extraordinary synod is “meant to lay the foundation for a yearlong discussion” that will continue until the full synod of bishops on the family in Oct. 2015.

Durocher said the synod proceedings have been showing that “all the bishops agree that we have to find ways” to help those in need.

The question of access to communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics also has to be seen through the lens of accompanying people more effectively in order to bring them closer to what God offers, he said.

He said when people realize their irregular situation means they cannot receive communion, they see that “as an exclusion” from the church and church life.

Experiencing this situation as exclusion “is certainly not what Jesus wants for people who are struggling,” he said.

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