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Controversial Dominican priest to lead October retreat for bishops at start of synod

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe addressing the bishops of the Catholic Church in England and Wales / © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2023 / 09:21 am (CNA).

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich announced Monday that the October 2023 session of the Synod of Bishops on synodality will begin with a three-day retreat led by a Dominican preacher whose statements on homosexuality have previously sparked controversy.

Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe will lead the Catholic bishops and participants in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in a retreat near Rome from Oct. 1–3 at the invitation of Pope Francis, according to the cardinal.

Radcliffe, 77, served as head of the Dominican Order from 1992 to 2001. His heterodox statements, particularly those on homosexuality, have previously caused controversy in the Church.

In the Anglican Pilling Report in 2013, Radcliffe wrote that when considering same-sex relationships, “we cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means and how far it is eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual, and nonviolent. So in many ways, I think it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift.”

Hollerich announced the synod retreat at a Vatican press conference on Jan. 23 promoting an ecumenical prayer vigil that will be held in St. Peter’s Square to entrust the work of the Synod of Bishops to God.

“The synod is not about Church politics. It’s about listening to the Spirit of God and advancing together and praying. So there will be one different point compared to the other synods. After the prayer vigil, the bishops and the participants of the synod will leave for a three-day retreat. So we start with prayer, with listening to the Spirit,” Hollerich said.

The bishops’ retreat and ecumenical prayer vigil will both take place in the days immediately preceding the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, commonly referred to as the synod on synodality.

The 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in two sessions. The first session will take place from Oct. 4–29, 2023, and the second in October 2024.

At the press conference, Hollerich underlined that he is “not preoccupied … that there are different opinions in the Catholic Church,” but that he sees “tensions … as something positive” for the synod on synodality.

“We do not need the synod in the Catholic Church in order to experience tensions. There are already tensions without the synod and these tensions come from the fact that each one honestly wants to see or share how we can follow Christ and proclaim Christ in the world of today. That is the source of tension,” he said.

“Now in the document for the continental phase of the synod, we saw tension also as something positive. Because in order to have a tent, you need some tension. Otherwise, the tent is falling down. And I think that the synod, the listening to the Word of God, the listening to the spirit, praying together, being together on the way, will ease bad tensions. So we do not want bad tensions destroying the Church, but good tensions sometimes are necessary for harmony.”

Hollerich, who serves as the relator general of the four-year global synodal process, said in an interview with Vatican Media last October that he believes Church blessings for same-sex unions, which the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has ruled against, is not a settled matter.

The cardinal’s statement came in response to an interview question about the decision by Belgium’s Catholic bishops to support the possibility of blessings for unions of same-sex couples — in defiance of the Vatican.

“Frankly, the question does not seem decisive to me,” Hollerich told L’Osservatore Romano in an interview also published Oct. 24, 2022, by Vatican Media.

In today’s press briefing, Hollerich said that he hopes that the synod will lead to “a new springtime of ecumenism.”

The ecumenical prayer vigil, called “Together: Gathering of the People of God,” will be led by the Taizé Community in the presence of the pope on Sept. 30.

Young people aged 18 to 35 from all Christian traditions are invited to attend what the Vatican described in a press release as “a follow-up to World Youth Day” with praise and worship with Taizé music and prayer.

According to its website, more than 50 Christian groups representing many denominations have already partnered with the prayer vigil project, including the World Council of Churches, World Lutheran Federation, and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Exarchate Europe.

The Vatican invited ecumenical representatives to speak at the press conference about the vigil, including Anglican archbishop Ian Ernest, Armenian Apostolic Church archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and Brother Alois, the prior from the ecumenical Taizé Community. Pastor Christian Krieger, the president of the French Protestant Federation, also participated remotely.

Last year, the Vatican issued a letter asking Catholic bishops to invite local Orthodox and Protestant leaders to participate in the local stage of the synod on synodality.

Ernest, who serves as the personal representative of the archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and leads the Anglican Centre in Rome, reflected that he “felt more as a participant than an observer” at the inaugural session of the synod in October 2021 because his “voice was listened to in the group discussions.”

“This synodal process initiated by Pope Francis will be giving wings to our ecumenical togetherness, to our quest to work to walk together, and to see how best we could help in the suffering of those who live in distressed situations of this broken world,” Ernest said.


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18 Comments

  1. Disgusting that they would put a religious with these sorts of opinions as their primary speaker. Bishops should know better, as they are actively participating in spreading ideas in conflict with church law. Sodomy has been long condemned by the Jews in the Old Testament, as well as the early Christians. There is nothing to “discuss”.

  2. Although Mr. Olson and others deserve a lot of credit for plowing through and dissecting the nearly impenetrable prose of the “synod on synodality” documents, we could all save ourselves a lot of trouble by just understanding that this is the intended endgame. Legitimizing homosexuality is the overriding goal of this whole ridiculous circus. There is a lot of smoke and noise, but it really boils down to nothing more than this.

  3. Card Hollerich’s springtime of ecumenism highlights the homosexual agenda. Anglican attendee Archbishop Ernest’s take a “togetherness ecumenism”. A retreat into darkness, leader Fr Radcliffe gleams if perverse relations make you feel good must be Eucharistic. Ribald and dark. A holy Church garments besmirched a mystical Body crucified. Let us suffer with Christ.

    • Lets not leave out every other sin. Even when I was an atheist I figured out such postulates as the definition of sin was essential vanity, self-worship, not only the practice of vice, but the justification of vice, the need to prove oneself superior to all that preceded one’s own thought. This is the essense of the Synodal project.

    • Let’s not leave out every other sin. Even when I was an atheist, I figured out such postulates as the definition of sin, evil in my pre-religious thought, was essentially self-worship, not only the practice of vice, but the justification of vice, the need to prove oneself superior to all that preceded one’s own thought. This is the essence of the Synodal project, especially as imagined in yet another cliche of pseudo-Catholic tolerance fantasy constued in “walking together”, which excludes, of course, Catholics who retain a revulsion for vanity.

  4. This is shocking and frankly unsettling to me as a Catholic that our Bishops, those who are to shepherd the flock will hear from a “priest” who denies their faith by suggesting there is Eucharist in homosexuality and apparently LGBQT+ actitivy. How is this may he explain? How can anyone, especially the person who sits in the chair of Peter allow this although apparently he cares not for we the sheep or his shepherds, only attacking clericalism while he allows heretical views to be promulgated throughout the Church and its heirarchy. What are we to think? to Believe? who do we go to for guidance? we the body of Christ are left on our own by Pope Francis and his lack of consideration for truth.

  5. As for Synod on Synodality, this is nothing more that a term for attempts to destroy the Truth in our faith. Is this Pope’s intention to “strengthen the Church” through heresy? Is it his intention to confuse the sheep, the body of Christ through his words and pronouncements that are not understandable to most and truly confusing to many. Sadly while the Pope, Cardinals and Bishops prepare for Synod the body of CHrist twists in the wind, not knowing what is truth and what is right as even our shepherds do not seem to know or at least seem to want to do what is popular today, calling what is truth untruth, what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right.

  6. Controversy? How can this priest’s comments have caused controversy?

    He’s an angry, unblinking, blather-spewing heretic who’s trying to destroy the Church. Period.

    No controversy possible, given that fact — at least among believing Catholics.

  7. If I ever require an emetic to eject an accidental ingestion of poison, these words of one diminished dominican will surely do the job: [when considering same-sex relationships], “we cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means and how far it is eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual, and nonviolent. So in many ways, I think it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift.”

    How does one begin to reason with something which is less than nothing?

  8. “We do not need the synod in the Catholic Church in order to experience tensions. There are already tensions without the synod and these tensions come from the fact that each one honestly wants to see or share how we can follow Christ and proclaim Christ in the world of today. That is the source of tension,” he said.

    The true source of tension is the fact that the current pontiff has put heretics (a word I use advisedly) like Hollerich and Radcliffe in charge of a synod whose organizers appear to be itching to cast aside settled truths of the Faith.

  9. We read: “Young people aged 18 to 35 from all Christian traditions are invited to attend what the Vatican described in a press release as ‘a follow-up to World Youth Day’…” Thusly, will the youth will be groomed into thinking that the Synod is a “church” of their own making? Since “synodality” was inserted as an extraneous add-on to the final report of what actually happened at the earlier Synod on Youth back in 2018? No textual abuse if it’s consensual!

    Is this the way to reconnect the younger generation to real hope in their future, and to the Mystery of the infinite God who chose to enter into our finite human history–as the Incarnation? And, the Mystery of the perennial Church now centered on the gift of the Eucharist, with our call to soulful service to one another?

  10. Ianyone who reads Pope Paul VI’s classic Encyclical “Humanae Vitae” should quickly come to the conclusion that Same Sex Marriages or unions are clearly at odds with Church Teaching and with the Natural Law

  11. So they toss Father Pavone with no reprieve for being passionate about his anti-abortion work, and then let a rogue cleric speak to impressionable 18 year olds in such a way as to imply that homosexuality is fine and dandy and maybe even approved as a life choice? And this while Francis does NOTHING to express disapproval, set the course right, or stand up for genuine church teaching? Does nothing about this pro-homosexual trend in the German and Belgian church as that lot careens toward schism? I have nothing against homosexuals as people. I have been acquainted with a few and they have been nice people. However to begin to approve and normal their sexual point of view, is for a church, heading down the road to extinction, because there will be nothing of value left for them to teach, and they will have betrayed their mandate. I am sure there is something “vulnerable and tender” in many adulterous relationships too. But adultery still remains a sin, no matter what.This is more cafeteria Catholic stuff. One does not expect that fro m a Bishop or a Pope. But what makes itso dangerous is the laissez-faire treatment , if not outright support, it is getting from the church hierarchy, who clearly have spent too much time absorbing secular “values”. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when these schismatic Bishops finally go to Judgement.

  12. As other have commented, it is beyond utterly disgusting to call homosexuality “eucharistic” but there’s a reason they are doing it for. True belief in the True and Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is a most powerful weapon AGAINST ALL SIN, and that includes homosexuality, called The Mother [Enabler] of all Sins by Pope Saint Gregory the Great.

    To try to cancel that most purifying and sanctifying reality of the Holy Eucharist, the most disgusting filth is being introduced to stain it and desecrate it by calling homosexuality “eucharistic” and Pope Francis calling it “a sin but not a crime”. All sin is a crime before God that will face ultimate and eternal justice, regardless of human laws. Every time you receieve the Holy Eucharist ask for greater and greater Faith in its reality and also for the defeat of all sin inside and outside of you, especially of homosexuality, the biggest ENEMY of the True Eucharist and Satan’s disgusting false eucharist, all for the eternal glory of God in us and through us and in all that exists!!

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