The topic of the next synod has been announced as “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment”, according to a Vatican statement released Friday.
But according to one respected Vatican journalist, the synod – a
meeting of bishops which will take place in 2014 – was nearly dedicated
to a different theme: priestly celibacy.
Edward Pentin, Vatican correspondent of the National Catholic Register, reported
that Pope Francis was “known to be keen” for the next synod to examine
“priestly celibacy and a possible push to allow married priests”.
However, Pentin wrote, “That proposal was understood to have been
voted down by the majority of members on the XIV Ordinary Council of the
Synod of Bishops.”
The XIV Ordinary Council is a group of bishops which works with the
Pope on choosing the theme of the synod.
It includes Cardinal Christoph
Schönborn of Vienna, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, Cardinal George
Pell, head of Vatican finance reform, and several other well-known prelates.
In choosing the theme, Pope Francis also consulted bishops’
conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the heads of women’s
There had been speculation
that the synod would address priestly celibacy.
Cláudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo and a friend of Pope
Francis, is known to be interested in reforming the requirement for
priests to be celibate, and recently had an audience with the Pope.
The Vatican statement
said the choice of synod theme is expressive of “pastoral concern of
the Church for the young”, and was “continuous” with the previous Synod
on the Family and the Pope’s subsequent document Amoris Laetitia.
The next synod’s goal, said the Vatican, was “to accompany young
people on their way of life towards maturity so that, through a process
of discernment, they can discover their life project and realise it with
joy, opening the encounter with God and with men, and actively
participating in building up the Church and society.”