by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

Ordinarily speaking, the Synod Fathers, who alone have a right to address the General Assembly and to vote on Synod documents, are bishops.

At the Vatican Press Conference on Saturday, October 24, it was revealed that Pope Francis had invited a religious Brother, Hervé Janson, Prior General of the Little Brothers of Jesus ( founded by French mystic and hermit, Charles de Foucauld) to be not just a participant or auditor of the Synod, but indeed a voting member equal to the bishops.

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

Let us begin by defining our terms, distinguishing between "ecumenical" dialogue" (or "ecumenism") and "inter-religious" dialogue. The word "ecumenism" comes from the Greek word "oikoumene," meaning "universal." Ecumenism refers to a dialogue among Christians. Inter-religious dialogue occurs between Christians and members of non-Christian religions.
Authentic dialogue is an open, frank and honest conversation about the real divergences and commonalities that exist between one religion and another, between one Christian tradition and another. It does not mean that religious leaders gather around a "bargaining table" like politicians to haggle over doctrinal matters in search of forced compromised positions that undermine each religion or denomination's original beliefs.

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

Having covered both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Synods of the Bishops on the Family I (and many other journalists/observers, near and far) have the distinct impression that the Holy See"s Press Office deliberately shut out some of the more "conservative" Synod Fathers from making presentations and fielding questions at its daily press conference.

One can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a significant amount of "spin" at play in the Sala Stampa. One can’t help but wonder if the Vatican Press Office is fueled by a certain "ideology" that can’t stand to hear from opposing voices.

If we take a look at the list of presenters at the Sala Stampa, we note the conspicuous absence of several theological and pastoral "heavy-hitters," for lack of a better term.

 by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

"Buonismo" is an Italian word that refers to a tendency of certain people to be "nice," no matter the circumstances or the cost. My Uncle Frank (God rest him!) epitomized "buonismo." Whenever one of my family members needed money, even if he knew the money was not going to be well spent, he would give it away until – alas! – he didn't have anything left to give. 

Of course, my Uncle Frank was a kind and generous man and, as the Bible teaches us, "love covers a multitude of sins." However, if you give money to an alcoholic, you could very well be enabling that person to get his next drink and, therefore, could end up hurting rather than helping such a person.

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris
 Many bishops, priests and seminarians feel that they are under fire from Pope Francis, that they are always somehow wrong, that they are under-appreciated and harshly judged – often enough for merely fulfilling their vocational responsibilities. At least in my circle of friends, we want to say to him: "Holy Father, please show us some mercy!"

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

The "Final Document" (also known as the "Relatio Synodi" or "Relatio Finalis") of the Synod of the Bishops on the Family  was written by a "commission" of  ten bishops who, well in advance, were handpicked by Pope Francis.  The members of the commission supposedly worked all night last Friday trying to put together a document that would be acceptable to the entire Synod Assembly. In the end, the "Final Document" was comprised of 94 paragraphs. 

by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris

It’s not very common or popular nowadays to speak of heresy. Perhaps the word conjures unpleasant notions of the Spanish Inquisition and witch hunts. Nevertheless, the reality of heresy still exists, even if some find it difficult to admit or explain.

Sometimes we have a tendency to go to extremes in the Church: from focusing perhaps too much on heresy in the period before the Second Vatican Council to barely recognizing its existence since the Council ended 50 years ago. Let’s attempt here to find a middle road between those two extremes.

We begin with the simple definition of the term"heresy," which derives from the Greek word "haeresis," meaning "to pick and choose one"s beliefs." Theologically speaking, there are two principal forms of heresy – "material" and "formal."

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