By Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Part 5 of 6
This week most of our work was in the circuli minores. These
"smaller groups" are gatherings of about 20 Synod participants each,
put together by language. There are six Spanish groups, three English,
one Spanish and Portuguese, one French and one Italian. Before we
came to Rome our U.S. delegates decided that those of us who knew
another language should sign up for that language group so that we
wouldn't all be together. I signed up for the Italian group.
This group contains
bishops from six different Latin American countries, the representatives
of the Italian and European bishops' conferences, several officials
of the Holy See, the superior general of the male Carmelites, an
Italian sister who is the president of the international union of
women superior generals, a theology professor from the Gregorian
University in Rome and another bishop from the U.S. Our Italian
varies from superb to very bad, but it's good enough for us to understand
The purpose of these
groups is to discuss the interventions that were made earlier in
the general sessions and to produce "propositions" for submission
to the entire body. Ultimately these will go to the Holy Father
for his use in preparing the document that he will issue after the
Synod is over. These propositions can be several paragraphs in length,
and are supposed to reflect the consensus of what the group thought
was important in its reflection together.
In our group we
talked about Catholic schools, the Sacraments of Initiation, the
role of lay persons in the Church, lay ministry, religious life,
priestly vocations and training, Christian spirituality and the
Bible, the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life and, of
course, the international debt.
that, although we were supposed to be dealing with issues that were
specific to the Church in America, here we were, discussing mostly
matters that bishops anywhere in the world are concerned about.
To me this was an indication of the common fabric of the Church's
ministry. Of course there are specific issues in America, but when
you get a group of bishops together, you discover that their deepest
and most fundamental concerns are the same everywhere, just as the
Church's mission is the same everywhere.
of priests comes up often. One bishop from Guatemala has 15 priests
for a million Catholics. Another, from Mexico, told me that his
diocese is very well supplied with priests since he has one priest
for every 10,000 Catholics. In my diocese of Cincinnati we have
one priest for every 1,100 or 1,200. It gives one lots to think
activities continue. The U.S. delegates have had several dinners
at the North American College to host our colleagues from other
countries. Last Saturday there was a reception for us at the Villa
Stritch, the residence of American priests who work in the Vatican.
This week there is another at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
I have given several interviews, one to a journalist for the French
Catholic daily, La Croix, who recognized me from my picture
on American Catholic Online. None of us is bored.
during the coffee break I put on my raincoat over my bishop's cassock
and sash and walked to the Vatican supermarket to get some things.
The place was mobbed, as usual. I found the express checkout register
and took my place at the end of a long line, hoping I would get
back to the Synod session on time. Immediately an assistant manager
appeared and asked me if all I wanted was the few things I was carrying
in my hand. When I said, "Yes," he took me right up to the head
of the line and I was out in a matter of seconds. Sometimes there
are fringe benefits to being a bishop, at least in the Vatican!
Most Rev. Daniel
Archbishop of Cincinnati
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