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Pope Francis names Jesuit cardinal to key synod on synodality position

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, has expressed “great respect” for the German Church’s controversial “Synodal Way” and says he is open to women becoming priests.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union, is pictured in a file photo during a news conference at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday named the Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich as the relator general of the 2023 synod on synodality.

Hollerich, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), will help to oversee the gathering of the world’s bishops in Rome.

The 62-year-old cardinal has served as archbishop of Luxembourg since 2011. His archdiocese covers the whole Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, one of Europe’s smallest countries, bordering Belgium, France, and Germany.

He thanked Pope Francis for the new appointment via his Twitter account.

He will take part in the meetings of the Ordinary Council of Preparation for the upcoming synod, formally known as the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

As relator general, Hollerich will be expected to present a report at the start of the assembly in October 2023, introducing the theme of synodality. He will also outline the synod’s working document and the points that participants will be expected to discuss.

He will also preside over the preparation of the synod’s final document, which is submitted to participants for approval.

The rules governing synods say that, “if circumstances so indicate, the relator general presents a summary of the topics that emerge during the synodal discussions, as well as clarifying certain points and providing information on the elaboration of the final document.”

His role ceases at the dissolution of the assembly.

A nomination as relator general is seen as a mark of papal esteem. The relator general at the 2019 Amazon synod was the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes.

At the 2018 youth synod, the post was held by another Brazilian, Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha. The relator general of the 2014-2015 family synods was Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő.

The Vatican announced in May that the synod on synodality had been postponed to 2023, with a two-year consultative preparatory phase involving Catholic dioceses worldwide.

Hollerich was born on Aug. 9, 1958, in Differdange, southwestern Luxembourg,

He studied for the priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1981, within the Jesuit Province of South Belgium and Luxembourg. In 1985, he departed for Japan, where he studied theology at Sophia University in Tokyo, as well as the Japanese language and culture.

After further theological studies in Frankfurt, Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood on April 21, 1990, in Brussels, Belgium.

He then spent four years studying German language and literature at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in southern Germany.

He made his final vows in 2002 at the Church of St. Ignatius in Tokyo, passing to the Jesuit Province of Japan.

Named archbishop of Luxembourg by Benedict XVI, Hollerich served as president of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions from 2014 to 2018.

He was named a cardinal by Pope Francis, receiving the red hat on Oct. 5, 2019.

Hollerich was elected president of COMECE in 2018, succeeding German Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Since then he has spoken out on religious freedom, the plight of refugees in Europe, and secularization.

In September 2020, he expressed “great respect” for the German Church’s controversial “Synodal Way,” saying that participants dared “to ask very big questions.”

He said that the most important issue that the German Catholics were grappling with was the role of women.

“I’m not saying they have to become priests; I simply don’t know that. But I am open to it,” he told the German Catholic news agency KNA. “What is clear, however, is that the current situation is not enough. You have to see and notice that women have a right to a say in the Church.”

Hollerich tested positive for COVID-19 in January, but recovered.

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  1. “Great respect” for Germania’s “synodal path,” and “open” to invalid ordination of priestesses? Is this yet another functionally illiterate cleric who didn’t get that memo? Pope Francis, himself, has pointed unequivocally to John Paul II on this matter of priestesses:

    “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

    Is the 2023 “synod on synodality” already divisive and off the rails before it even gets started? Is this Germania’s contagious and likely pandemic “synodal path,” without face masks or “social [ecclesial] distancing?”

    Or, is Hollerich just the one, in his opening and closing remarks, to get it right? As a mere layman very much outside the loop of Vatican politics, I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, general of the Synod on Synodality has a significant role in redefining the oxymoronic nature of Synods on synodality. Not only does he prepare the agenda he already has expressed favorable views on female ordination as did illustrious predecessor relator general Cardinal Hummes OFM of fabled Amazonia Synod fame where indigenous women priestesses reigned invitees to a Vatican garden ceremonial and a goddess enshrinement St Peter’s Basilica leaving many of us awestruck and stricken [then a radial Austrian traditionalist happily seized goddess Pachamamma attempting to drown her in the Tiber she heroically rescued by Rome police clutched affectionately by His Holiness and restored to honor at Chiesa Santa Maria Traspontina]. A premonition of sorts signaled by Cardinal Hollerich agog with favor for women priestesses, impressed by German synodalischer bishops “daring to ask very big questions.” Amazonia. Deutschland. Finally Vaticano 2023, what else may be in store besides female ordination seems forecast by the enthusiasm for tackling the big questions. That is unless by that time sanity has been restored.

    • Now and then when I want to have my sanity restored over the disheartening state of the Church, I pray a rosary, poor a little glass of sipping whiskey, and then I rewatch my DVD of The Nun’s Story with Audrey Hepburn to be reminded of a time when “the big questions” that Catholics asked themselves involved considering and censuring their own sins of pride.

  3. With Germany losing Catholics by the droves he says their biggest problem is the role of women in the Church??? Another clueless leftist! What we’ve come to expect in this sad papacy alas…

    • The great line in Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate’, is clearly at work here, as in how has 2000 years of Holy Magisterial teachings been suspended in the formation of such Catholic Church leaders in the Hierarchy the past 50 years?

  4. The Archdiocese of Luxembourg is smaller than several US archdioceses in area, in Catholic population, and in total population. It has no suffragan dioceses. Why a cardinalate?

    • Luxembourg has been a player beyond its size. A “periphery” area with a long narrative. First mentioned in Caesar’s “Commentaries” and a long-term survivor under various partitions and banners including Napoleonic and Nazi occupations. Remnant of the Holy Roman Empire, remnant of dynastic monarchies prior to our bottoms-up democracy gone septic, middleman between big-neighbors France and now synodal-path Germania, trilingual, original member of European unification (NATO, European Union, etc.), thriving economy plus green politics. Also, the prime minister, Xavier Bettel, now in his second term (2018), is openly gay…

      What more could one want in recalling/burying(?) Christian civilization while also dialoguing a very fluid middle ground–as the political and ecclesial goal posts keep sliding to the Left?

  5. The bold, shameless effrontery leaves you speechless. We are the lab rat for the secular materialist fraudulent academic speculation of those sporting the Jesuit moniker? The Society requires definitive suppression. Its metamorphosis has left it nothing of the patrimony of Saint Ignatius. That incredible charism perhaps had to be eviscerated in order to bring the entire Church to this tragic moment.

  6. I am sure that the man has enough theology degrees to wallpaper his office with. I am equally sure that the man doesn’t know the first thing about Christianity.

  7. Yet another Trainwreck Synod, but this time dedicated to the subject of Trainwreck Synods. What could possibly go wrong.

    My big question is where do they get the money to pay for all this garbage, considering that the Vatican’s finances are in freefall.

  8. “Women have a right to a say in the Church.” Because what, women have ‘no say’ now? Women have had ‘no say’ for the past 2000 years? Absurd.

  9. There is no need to emphasise “Jesuit”. Cardinals have always belonged to different religious vocations, but are hardly associated with them in articles because of their administrative and ecclesiastical positions. The veiled title is, “Jesuit Pope appoints Jesuit Cardinal”. The intention of this emphasis is at best less than noble.

  10. The synod on synodality?
    Later today I have a meeting on meetingality.
    Tomorrow I’m going to a workshop on workshopality.
    I’d like to host a conference on conferencality.

    • But you’ll have to postpone all those events until you create committees to do sufficient work to study the matter. And if these meetings and workshops are Catholic events, you’ll need a great deal of input from anti-Catholic bigots about what Catholics need to know and do to become more acceptable to anti-Catholic bigots, presuming of course they can publish their position papers on time before the committees begin their work. Otherwise more postponements will be necessary so not to affect displeasure among the bigots.

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