The Story Behind the Synod’s Final Document | Edward Pentin | Catholic World Report
Much of what went on in the creation of the synod’s interim report has been well documented—less well-known is what happened in the drafting of the synod’s final report.
[Editor’s note: The following is an exclusive excerpt from Edward Pentin’s new book The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation of Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, available now from Ignatius Press as an e-book. To find out what really went on before, during, and after last year’s controversial Synod of Bishops, Pentin spent months speaking to many of those who were there and piecing together what happened behind the closed doors of the Vatican’s Synod Hall.
In this excerpt, Pentin reports on the back-room discussions and politicking that took place during the drafting of the synod’s final document.]
Attempts to Manipulate the Final Document
Although much of the process regarding the creation—some would say manipulation—of the interim report is well documented, less well known is what happened in the drawing up of the final report.
In the afternoon of Tuesday, October 14, Cardinal [Wilfred] Napier was asked to call at the office of the secretary general, who informed him that Pope Francis was concerned that the Churches in Oceania and Africa were not represented on the drafting committee for the final report and that consequently he had invited Napier to represent Africa.
The South African cardinal accepted the invitation out of obedience to the Holy Father and went to the committee meeting. The first part, working on the propositions, went smoothly—it was a matter of grouping them in the right places and was a straightforward procedure. However, when the actual drafting of the final document began, the trouble started. As an outline for the final report, the committee used the interim report, making changes that reflected the comments that had come from the discussion groups.
Cardinal Napier noted with concern that the paragraph on same-sex unions was still in the section on marriage, even though the Church does not recognize same-sex unions to be marriage at all. He tried to raise this concern, but the committee “just carried on discussing how the proposition should be phrased in Italian”, he said.
“I tried to intervene a second time”, Napier recalled. “This time they said, ‘Ah, yes, all right, okay, we’ll try and change it.’ But continued working on the wording, ‘but only as it would be in Italian.’”
It was then that an American cardinal on the committee “got really angry”, Napier remembered. He protested that, as a member of the committee, Cardinal Napier had as much right to be heard and listened to, and “you’re just ignoring him.” He demanded that the secretary general stop saying he was going to change only the Italian and insisted the document was for the whole Church, not just for Italy. “Oh, he was angry”, Napier said. “He really ripped into them. He said: ‘What’s going on here? You’re not listening to this guy? He’s on the council, on the committee, and you’re just ignoring what he’s saying.’ Thereafter they took a little bit of a breather and changed things around a bit.”
According to an inside source, the American cardinal in question was Donald Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.