SYNOD: Cardinal Ambongo Declares Synod Outcome will be a “Will of God”, Demurs on Questions Pertinent to African Church

By Paschal Norbert

VATICAN CITY, OCTOBER 13, 2023 (CISA)- Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu OFMCap, the archbishop of Kinshasa and a delegate at the ongoing Synod on Synodality in Rome and a leading African voice at the assembly has declared that the outcome of the Synodal process will be “welcomed by everyone as the will of God.”

Cardinal Besungu who was elected by the delegates to the committee that will supervise the ‘synthesis report’ of the conversations at the Synod posited that the Synod was not an avenue that would solve all the challenges of the Church and the faithful but would provide “new ways to address problems, whatever they are,” with “a spirit of synodality.”

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu OFMCap, the archbishop of Kinshasa and a delegate at the ongoing Synod on Synodality in Rome. Photo Courtesy

“I don’t think the synod’s goals consist in facing this way or that, but in a new way of being a Church, a new spirit,” said the cardinal from the Democratic Republic of Congo and president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

Quizzed further by journalists on the authority of the Synod to chart a new path for the Church during a press conference by the Synod organizers on October 8 and specifically how the Synod’s outcome could be considered an authoritative expression of God’s will, given that it lacks the special status of an ecumenical council, as the Second Vatican Council had.

Cardinal Besungu was at odds to explain this phenomenon and thus argued that the Synod participants, who comprise 70 non-bishop members in the amended composition by Pope Francis, have the authority by their baptism.

“It is by virtue of baptism that we have the same responsibility before the Church, and I think all those present have the authority to speak on behalf of the Church,” said the member of the order of Friars Minor Capuchin made cardinal by Pope Francis in 2019.

The former professor of Moral Theology in DRC was also asked if the African Church and bishops will accept the blessing of same-sex unions and homosexuality as a will of God should the Synod approve since deliberate attempts and arguments are significantly being driven in the current Synod for acceptance of LGBTQ issues, especially in the week leading to the assembly when the pope in a response to five cardinals suggested he could be open to the blessing of same-sex unions.

In his response, Cardinal Besungu demurred “the Lord Himself, through collective discernment, will tell us the direction to follow.”

“Well, first of all, we’re here for a synod on synodality and I wouldn’t want us to stray from the theme of synodality. Synodality is a new way for the Church to walk together, hand in hand, towards the shore where the Lord awaits us. This is what synodality is all about. How can we walk together to the shore where the Lord awaits us, and in walking together, how can we face the questions that confront us, and if one of the issues we face concerns the question of LGBT and all that — homosexuality? But when the time comes, the Lord Himself, through collective discernment, will tell us the direction to follow. But I wouldn’t wish, at this point, to fall into what might be called personal opinion because that would be to depart from the spirit of synodality,” said Cardinal Besungu.

On October 11, according to reports from Rome, the participants at the Synod discussed matters of sexual identity under the theme “How do we incarnate pastoral care regarding love between gay couples and the divorced, while remaining faithful to the teaching of the Church?”

In a press briefing regarding the topic, Dr Paolo Ruffini, president of the synod’s information commission, said: “Some speakers addressed the issue of sexual identity, saying that it must be addressed with responsibility and understanding, remaining faithful to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.”

“On this point, there were those who called for greater discernment on the Church’s teaching on sexuality and others who said there was no need for this further discernment,” he clarified.

Dr Ruffini added that when it came to pastoral care regarding homosexual couples and the divorced, delegates spoke of the importance of “remaining precisely faithful to the teachings of the Church.”