Cardinal Vincent Nichols has issued a pastoral letter reflecting on the recent Synod to be read out in all parishes in Westminster at Masses this weekend.
In the letter, Cardinal Vincent explains that the Synod ‘was about the pastoral care that we try to offer each other, the “motherly love of the Church”, especially when facing difficult moments and experiences in family life.’
The Cardinal continues: ‘Central to the work of the Synod that has just ended was the desire to strengthen and reinvigorate the pastoral practice of the Church. A central principle for this pastoral care emerged clearly: that in trying to walk alongside people in difficult or exceptional situations, it is important to see clearly and with humility all the good aspects of their lives. That is what comes first. From this point, we learn to move together towards conversion and towards the goodness of life that God has for us and that Jesus opens for us all. This positive approach flows right through the “Synod Report” and I hope will increasingly shape our attitude towards each other.’
Cardinal Vincent also speaks about the need to recognise the realities in journey of those living together without marriage or who are in second marriages, and to recognise that, ‘while not in keeping with the pattern the Lord asks of us, their lives are often marked by real goodness. This is the basis for our care of them, for our approach to them, our invitation to them to come closer to the Church and deepen their faith and attend carefully to its call.’
The Cardinal also addresses ‘how the Synod reflected on the situation of people of a same sex attraction. There was no suggestion that the teaching of the Church might somehow give approval to the notion of “same-sex marriage” or that its teaching on sexual morality is to change. However, two things were very clear. The first is that we should never identify people by their sexual orientation. Every person is endowed with unique dignity, both as an individual and as a Christian. This dignity is always, always to be respected. Secondly, it is the teaching of the Church that they are not only to be respected but also always accepted, with compassion and with sensitivity (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358). This teaching has to be translated into loving care, in our daily life in the Church, in our parishes, and indeed in society.’
The Cardinal ends the letter by saying, ‘I hope, in a while, I will be able to put before you ways in which your prayer and reflection on these themes can be a contribution to this ongoing work of renewal in the life of the Church, in response to the unfailing love of Jesus, under the leadership of Pope Francis and always in union with him.’
The full text of the pastoral letter can be read here.