One of the Vatican’s top cardinals has made a plea for more transparency during the two-week synod of bishops, a global meeting called by Pope Francis to discuss the church’s position on moral issues such as divorce and same-sex marriage.
Cardinal Gerhard Mueller told two Catholic-TV broadcasters permitted to attend the proceedings that all the synod speeches should be made public. "All Christians have the right to be informed about the intervention of their bishops," he said, according to the Associated Press.
Mueller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has a good relationship with the pope. However, the two diverge on certain theological issues. Mueller has published two books that express his total opposition to divorce and allowing remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Pope Francis, on the other hand, has married cohabiting couples, baptized children of unmarried couples, and allowed an Argentine woman married to a divorced man to receive Communion.
Ahead of the synod, which began on Sunday, the Vatican said public information about the meeting would be limited. Printed summaries of bishops’ speeches would be withheld and in some cases even the names of those who would speak. Officials said this would promote freer debate among bishops who would be discussing controversial family issues such as divorce, gay couples and birth control.
"This may not be something they wrote 15 days ago, but at the moment they say it," Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of the Office for the Synod of Bishops, said regarding the policy that some journalists have argued will keep the public in the dark.
Instead of providing summaries, the Vatican has put on daily briefings by spokesman Federico Lombardi, who is present at the synod meetings but does not specify who said what. He is assisted by three priests and one woman who will translate his remarks from Italian to English, Spanish, French and German, the National Catholic Reporter reports.