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.