That said, to quote my Grade 3 teacher, "What did we learn from all of this?" If you asked the "average" Catholic, what did the Synod accomplish, they'd likely be struggling to find an answer (some might not even have known the Synod took place). Yet there were fruitful discussions, impassioned pleas and countless suggestions from the shepherds of our faith.
To help digest the process, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City, sat down with Salt & Light's Kris Dmytrenko (who's on assignment in Rome) to try and simplify the complex dialogue. The interview is definitely worth a read as it speaks to how we can look for the practical application of all that took place at the Synod.
Full text of the interview available here.
Today's Vatican Information Service has a piece about the meeting of Pope Benedict XVI with Canada's new Ambassador to the Holy See, Anne Leahy. I had the pleasure of meeting Pope John Paul II in 2001 - they brought us in pairs to meet the Pontiff. Every time I see a photograph from my "historic meeting", I can't help but be reminded of Anne Leahy - you see she's standing beside me in my photo with JPII - we were "paired" together for our meeting.
By the way, if you're looking for more information on our Embassay at the Vatican, you can also visit them online. Full Vatican Information Service piece with comments from Pope Benedict XVI below.
CATHOLICISM, THE CORNERSTONE OF CANADIAN SOCIETY
VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2008
(VIS) - This morning the new Canadian Ambassador to the Holy See, Anne Leahy, presented her credential letters to Benedict XVI.
In his address to the diplomat, the Holy Father first noted the words of John Paul II during his visit to Canada in 2002, when he affirmed that the Canadians were "heirs to an extraordinarily rich humanism, enriched even more by the blend of many different cultural elements. But the core of your heritage is the spiritual and transcendent vision of life based on Christian revelation which gave vital impetus to your development as a free, democratic, and caring society, recognized throughout the world as a champion of human rights and human dignity".
The Pope then recalled that Canada and the Holy See will soon celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations and praised that country’s vocation of "encouraging multilateral collaboration in favor of a solution to the many problems that present a challenge for humanity in this age".
The Holy Father noted in this regard, "the agreement of Canada and the Holy See, along with other countries, to support the treaty prohibiting anti-personnel land mines and to promote its adoption throughout the world. ... At the same time Canada and the Holy See, together with other nations, are making the effort to contribute to the stability, peace, and development in the Great Lakes region of Africa".
Quoting the words of the new ambassador, Benedict XVI reaffirmed that "Catholicism, thanks to its institutions and the culture that it promotes, represents the cornerstone of the building of Canadian society. Nevertheless, profound changes can be noticed today, which are seen in different sectors and at times cause concern to the point of asking ourselves if it does not mean a regression in the understanding of the human being. These changes mainly concern the areas of defense and the promotion of life and the family based on natural marriage".
In this context, "a culture of life can nourish anew the personal and social existence of Canada as a whole. "For that to happen," the Pope said, "I believe that it is necessary to redefine the meaning of the exercise of liberty ... which is perceived more and more as an absolute value, an intangible right of the individual, regardless of the importance of the divine origins of freedom and its communal dimension. ... In this interpretation, only the individual can decide and choose the form, characteristics, and ends of life, death, and marriage". "True freedom," he observed, "is ultimately based on and develops in God.
It is a gift that can be accepted as the seed from which the person and society can grow responsibly and be enriched. The exercise of this freedom implies reference to a natural moral law that is universal, which precedes and unifies all rights and duties.
In this perspective, I would like to show my support to all the Canadian Bishops’ initiatives in favor of family life and thus of the dignity of the human being.
Concluding, Benedict XVI spoke of that country’s Catholic schools, which "thanks to their contribution to the transmission of the faith to new generations, preparing them for dialogue among the different components of the nation, carry out a constant need of the Church’s mission for the good of all, and enrich Canadian society as a whole".
Photos: Archdiocese of Quebec City, Canadian Embassy to the Holy See