Italian cardinal: Our synodal journey will not be like Germany’s

By Courtney Mares for CNA

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, at a press conference in Bari, Italy, on Jan. 22, 2020. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, May 28, 2021 / 03:20 am (CNA).

An Italian cardinal told journalists Thursday that his country’s “synodal journey” will not be focused on highly controversial issues like the “Synodal Way” taking place in Germany.

“Ours is not a synod, it is a synodal journey that starts from conditions that are very different from those in Germany,” Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, said May 27.

Bassetti said that unlike their German counterparts — who are overseeing a Synodal Way pressing for changes on marriage, ordination, clerical celibacy, and sexual ethics — Italy’s bishops hope to focus on how the Church can address societal issues, such as joblessness and family breakdown.

“The German synod dealt with some very particular problems and I believe that the basic problems of our people are quite different,” the cardinal said, according to ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner.

“The celibacy of priests, those of the priesthood of women, are not the fundamental problems that are gripping the Church and humanity at this moment,” he said.

Bassetti, the archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, in central Italy, said that more pressing problems in Italy requiring the bishops’ attention were “loneliness, the education of children, the hardships of those who don’t make it to the end of the month because they don’t have a job, [and] the problems of emotional immaturity that lead families to break up.”

The cardinal spoke to the media on the last day of the Italian bishops’ general assembly, which took place in Rome May 24-27 with the theme: “Announce the Gospel in a time of rebirth: To start a synodal journey.”

The economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic were at the forefront of discussions among the more than 200 bishops from across Italy.

During the meeting, the bishops approved a grant of 60 million euros (around $73 million) allocated to dioceses to be used before the end of February 2022.

The bishops also passed resolutions on local patron saints, which will be sent to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship for confirmation. These include a resolution to make Our Lady of Graces in Ponte of Porretta, near the northern Italian city of Bologna, the patron saint of Italian basketball.

Bassetti also responded to questions about Italy’s “anti-homophobia bill.” The proposed law, known as the Zan bill, was approved in the lower house of parliament last year and is due to be considered by the upper house.

The cardinal reaffirmed the bishops’ “defense of the person against all violence and discrimination.”

“This is a point that must underlie the very broad protection of the plurality of opinions and the freedom to express them without fear of sanction mechanisms that could generate intolerance,” he commented.

“There are certainly issues on which there are different visions and on gender we have a biblical vision: male and female he created them,” he said.

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