At a specially convened press conference, Cardinal Parolin has authorised the release of the Instrumentum Laboris for the forthcoming ‘Rhine Synod’ The 168-page document sets out the agenda for the Synod, which is scheduled for December. A digest has been helpfully supplied by Walter, Cardinal Kasper.
The Instrumentum will address the crisis in vocations which has long afflicted the Rhineland nations, by permitting the ordination to the priesthood of so-called ‘viri probati’ (married men with no more than one previous spouse living). This will accord with the social mores of indigenous peoples, who, throughout the region, either never marry, or do so several times.
Another aim of the document is to encourage liturgical changes in tune with local custom. Mass attendance, for example, will no longer be seen as obligatory and can be commuted by payment of the Kirchensteuer.
Said Cardinal Baldisseri, who has had oversight of the project: ‘The aim of the Holy Father is to respect indigenous culture wherever it is to be found. The Rhine, the Amazon, the Mekong – it matters not where. The Catholic Church is called to embrace all kinds of cultural diversity. That is why it is called ‘Catholic’.’