Archbishop Chaput on the Synod: ‘Very Positive,’ but Not Problem-Free

Speaking to the Register two days before the synod fathers vote on the synod’s final document, the Philadelphia archbishop discusses how the meeting has unfolded and what he’ll bring home from it.

by Tom McFeely

VATICAN October 23, 2015 (National Catholic Register) — At this year’s Synod on the Family, Archbishop Charles Chaput might be dubbed “The Shepherd of Truth.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia with Pope Francis.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia
with Pope Francis.– L'Osservatore Romano

Over the course of the three-week gathering of bishops from around the world, the Philadelphia archbishop has garnered attention for his unswerving commitment to speaking with clarity about the key issues in play, and for insisting that any outcome from the synod must not compromise important Church teachings.

In an Oct. 22 email interview with the Register, Archbishop Chaput again remained true to his synodal form, discussing frankly both the overall positive atmosphere of this year’s synod while at the same time not glossing over the tough issues that have arisen and that remain in play, two days before the synod fathers vote on the content of the synod’s final document.

As the synod draws to a close, what’s your view of the how it progressed?

It’s not finished, so I can’t offer a final opinion. Overall it was a very good, very fraternal experience. It was a lot friendlier inside the synod than people on the outside seemed to think. There were some serious issues and differences among the synod fathers — the nature of conscience and the problem of Communion for the divorced and remarried, among others. How those matters resolve themselves will shape how the synod is judged.

The process is new. It had some glitches and ambiguities. Translations have been a problem. I think many synod fathers would want the final drafting commission to be elected, not just appointed, in the future.

But so far, the experience has been very positive, and I suspect the final document will be a great deal better than the original working text.

A lot of media attention focused on the question of reception of Communion for the divorced-remarried, and the German small-group report proposed that this issue could be addressed through “the internal forum.” What exactly does this mean, and do you see this proposal as a way to move the discussion forward without compromising Church teachings?

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