Mass for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude was celebrated by Fr Joachim Rego.
The morning prayer reflection was led by Fr Giovanni Cipriani. The session was chaired by Fr Luigi Vaninetti.
The first item was a proposal from the Commission for Solidarity in Finances that all entities should contribute annually 2% of the gross income of their entity’s administration to the Solidarity Fund, and that the Synod should confirm the decision of the last General Synod that 7% of the proceeds from any sale of immobile goods (lands or buildings) be contributed to the Solidarity Fund.
A number of clarifications were sought, some in relation to cases where civil governments have requirements linked to the sale of property. Other issues raised included the following: Criteria for the running of the Solidarity Fund were established some time ago and could be revisited. There is a need for co-ordination between funding solidarity at configuration level and at the level of the whole Congregation. Should the Solidarity Fund and Formation Fund be united or remain separate? It would be useful for the Commission to meet with the economes or finance managers of the different entities. Even with these fixed contributions, voluntary contributions to the Solidarity Fund can still be made. After discussion, the proposal was carried with no dissenting voices.
The Superior General then gave the third part of his report. Among issues referred to in the report were: the need to include within our Constitutions and General Regulations a reference to those laity who seek to live our Passionist Charism and be associated with our Congregation; the importance of historical research and publications on our Congregation and its provinces; the work of the Commission for Communications and the setting up of a permanent office for communications; the need for norms to guarantee the safety of financial funds; the ‘two pulses’ of the heart of our Charism, which are (a) Contemplating the Passion of Jesus and living in fraternal and poor communities, located in solitude (b) Announcing the contemplated word of the Cross, giving preference to abandoned places and recognising Jesus in the suffering and the poor); our presence at the U.N. through Passionists International; the need for adequate policies throughout the Congregation for dealing with questions of sexual abuse and promoting the safeguarding the vulnerable; training for formation personnel; the role of brothers in leadership; the required number of houses and religious to constitute a province. Other points referred to in the report were JPIC, the World Youth Day in Madrid next year, the new Manual-Compendium of Passiology being produced for the Congregation by Fr Antonio Artola, a Dictionary of the Passion which is being compiled by a commission of Passionist scholars, the death of two Passionist Bishops since the last Synod (Bishop Venancio C. Orbe Uriarte and Archbishop Piergiorgio Nesti), the beatification of John Henry Newman and the seminar on Newman and Blessed Dominic which will take place at the Lateran University next year, and the 25th anniversary of the approbation of the Constitutions.
The responses to the General’s report began with a discussion on his suggestion that we include within our Constitutions and General Regulations a reference to those laity who seek to live our Passionist Charism and be associated with our Congregation. A letter has been submitted to the Synod by the Italian Passionist Lay Movement in which they ask for some common points to be drawn up which would give an identity to all the lay movements linked to our Congregation, and for a comprehensive text on our spirituality for laypeople to be compiled by a group of experts; they also request that a General Consultor be named who would act as a reference point for the various lay movements. We need to examine the Passionist lay movements from a theological point of view and also look at the question of ministry for them. (The CORM Province can no longer staff the house in Castellazzo, but are keeping it until 2012 in the hope that other Passionists or our sisters or laity might wished to become involved in the work of welcoming visitors to Castellazzo.) The desire of lay people to share in the spirituality and charism of religious communities is an important current in the Church today. The configurations need to examine the way in which the various groups and movements relate to us: their place in the life of our provinces and communities, their responsibilities and the commitments they make; how their relationship with us is working. A norm should certainly be drawn up, but after adequate research into the variety and nature of these Passionist lay movements, all of which are called to live the Memory of the Passion according to the Charism of Saint Paul of the Cross.
On the question of Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation, it was pointed out that religious, including those in formation, can apply to work for a short period of time (e.g. 1-3 months) with Fr Kevin Dance at the United Nations. Any religious who are engaged in practical projects which relate to questions of JPIC are encouraged to inform Fr Kevin, as this information can be useful when the United Nations is studying particular questions. It was pointed out that we should not forget the questions related to justice which exist in the developed world such as the arms trade, immigration, the death penalty and the international transfer of capital. Also in our discussions on world poverty, we tend to concentrate on Africa and Latin America, forgetting about India and other countries in Asia.
The afternoon session was devoted to the section on sexual abuse contained in the General’s Report. The provincials of CRUC, PATR and PAUL formed a panel with Fr Michael Mullins s.m. and shared with the Synod members their experience of how this question has been and is being responded to in their various countries. Among the points raised were the following: the importance of dealing with child sexual abuse as a crime, rather than simply as a sin or a psychological problem; the necessity of reporting all cases to the statutory authorities; the primacy of listening to the victims and ensuring that they have adequate support, rather than protecting the institution; the need for proper procedures for dealing with those guilty of abuse, whether sexual, physical or emotional. The panel’s presentation was followed by a lengthy discussion which highlighted the need for safeguarding of the vulnerable in our ministries, proper procedures in each province or entity for addressing the issues relating to abuse in the proper way, and formation for our religious in understanding this issue.
Evening Prayer was celebrated in the Retreat House Chapel.