ACTA takes a very positive view of the Synod and is encouraged by it. Here were bishops talking together, arguing, debating, disagreeing. Ten years ago, that would have been inconceivable. Instead of a rubber stamp, the synod has become a lively institution well suited to hammering out pastoral positions in support of the Pope. The Synod wants “the involvement of the whole People of God under the action of the Holy Spirit...finding ways of truth and mercy for all”. It is vital then that many more women and married people should be involved before October 2015. Representatives chosen by laity themselves should be heard, locally and at the Synod as working members, not just making the occasional comment. The lay people selected by Bishops to give evidence to the Synod have a very limited mandate to speak for us all, despite their expertise and deep sincerity.
ACTA notes that there were weighty majorities in favour of the two provisions in the interim synod report that were most controversial, although these failed to gain the two thirds majority required to pass - the readmission of divorced and remarried Catholics, under certain conditions, to Communion, and the welcoming of gay and lesbian Catholics and the acknowledgement of their gifts.
ACTA believes Pope Francis’ optimistic and joyful leadership is encouraging us towards creative map-making as well as map-reading. We hope the principle of ‘graduality’ that surfaced in the relatio, might offer a constructive way forward for complex, pastorally sensitive situations. Before the next synod, there is a year during which there will be intense discussion and debate, as the whole Church seeks to discern the right course. ACTA expects the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will consult very widely. The laity is ready and willing - and entitled - to help.