‘Communication’ issue raised with Vatican


Cardinals discussing the future of the Roman Catholic church have raised the issue of the gulf between Vatican directives on sex and other issues and reality back at the parish.

Along with a few mentions of the word “collegiality,” a code word for more democracy in the church, what some cardinals are calling a problem of “communication” between the Vatican and its worldwide dioceses was emerging Tuesday as an issue at the closed-door meeting.

Pope John Paul II summoned the cardinals for three days of talks on challenges facing the church in the third millennium. It is also giving the princes of the church, as cardinals are known, an opportunity to get to know one another for the time when they will have to vote for a successor to the 81-year-old John Paul.

Speeches from several of the 153 cardinals present Tuesday touched on the Vatican policy stressing the traditional family of husband and wife.

In addressing his fellow cardinals, Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia cited U.S. Census Bureau statistics showing the increasing number of Americans living together but not marrying and the number of children born out of wedlock, according to an account by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

The head of the Vatican’s office on the family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Colombia, according to Navarro-Valls, announced his office was putting together a dictionary of sexual terms. The spokesman said it would reflect “new usages such as sexual health and gender.”

Navarro-Valls said there have been “rare mentions” of the word collegiality, although some cardinals have mentioned problems in “communication” between Rome and the dioceses.

John Paul has made improving relations with non-Catholics a major goal of his papacy. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of England suggested the Vatican organize a major meeting of leaders of various Christian denominations

It is not clear if the Vatican will issue a document summing up the cardinals’ views.

The meeting ends Wednesday. On Thursday, John Paul will celebrate Mass with the cardinals and join them for lunch.