May 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 132

Cardinals Offer Perspectives on Consistory

    VATICAN, May 28, 01 (CWNews.com) -- In speaking with the press after the conclusion of last week's extraordinary consistory, two European cardinals offered markedly different perspectives on the discussions.

    Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna threw cold water on two proposals that had been mentioned during the consistory: the idea of an immediate change in the role of the Synod of Bishops, and the proposal for a "pan-Christian" assembly.

    Cardinal Schoenborn said that the "pan-Christian assembly" proposed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster was more an "eschatological dream" than a practical proposal. And while he recognized the consensus in favor of improvements in the functioning of the Synod, he said "it is too late for this autumn." The important point, the Austrian prelate maintained, is that the cardinals recognized the need for reforms in the Synod, "which is normal, after 30 years."

    In his overall appraisal of the consistory, Cardinal Schoenborn said that the unity among the cardinals was "stronger and more cordial than ever." He conceded that the Church faces a crisis, particularly in the Western world, but added: " We must remain full of hope. It is just that hope that was strengthened in me by the assembly of the cardinals, and in my turn I will try to bring that hope to the Church in Austria."

    Cardinal Paul Poupard, the French-born president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, saw the consistory as "an important occasion to reinforce the two poles of the Church: the primacy of Peter and the episcopal conferences."

    Cardinal Poupard cautioned reporters that media coverage of the consistory had been distorted in part by the tendency of journalists to ask for prelates' comments on proposals circulated by others. The result, he observed, was to create the impression that the cardinals were engaged in debates, when he fact he said that there was remarkable degree of agreement among them. In particular he cited "the unanimity of the cardinals around the two poles of the Church, which are the See of Peter and the episcopal conferences."

    The French cardinal said that the consistory reached general agreement on the need for more beautiful and reverent liturgy, and on the need to move ecumenism out of the realm of theoretical discussion and into practical application.

May 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 132
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