Miguel Ángel Ortiz: “The Church Should Talk of the Beauty of Faith, Not Paper Over the Cracks”
On Thursday, 27 November 2014, the UIC’s Garden Hall hosted a discussion organized by the Institute of Advanced Family Studies (IESF) and the Office of the Vice Rector for the University Community. The event focused on the challenges facing families following the recent Synod of Bishops that took place in Rome.
In front of an audience of more than 100 people, Miguel Ángel Ortiz, a lecturer in Matrimonial Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, began his talk by explaining what a “synod” is and how it differs from a council. “A synod is an advisory body, so its decisions are not binding”, he explained. “That’s why the Pope has the final say, although he takes different opinions into account".
Having established the context, Ortiz then proceeded to talk about the extraordinary synod on the family that took place this October in Rome, in preparation for the ordinary synod to be held next autumn. The October synod was attended by more than 200 bishops from around the world and provided an introduction to the issues that are currently facing the family, including intergenerational solidarity and demographic sustainability.
Ortiz reminded those present of the background to the issues that have had the strongest public impact, such as the Pope’s July 2013 declarations in Rio de Janeiro on the subject of divorce and remarriage and his May 2014 affirmation in the Holy Land on the need for the synod to focus on the family in all its aspects, and not to concentrate solely on its problems.
During the synod, Ortiz explained, many different subjects were discussed and the public wrongly concluded that the bishops were divided into “lenient” and “strict” factions. “In fact, all the decisions were taken on the basis of a two-thirds majority except for three, which were taken on the basis of a simple majority”, he stated. “During his closing speech, the Pope spoke of two distinct traps that we must not fall into: being so rigid that we do not allow God to surprise us, and being so naïve that we will put up with anything in order to become closer to our flock”, Ortiz continued, referring back to his earlier comments on the organization of the synod.
At the end of his talk, Ortiz was asked a specific question about providing pastoral care to those who are divorced and the controversial issues that have arisen as a result. “The Church should talk of the beauty of faith, not paper over the cracks”, he replied. “What do divorced people want? They don’t just want to receive the sacraments; they want to be understood, to be helped and to know what God wants for them”.