Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark on September 21, 2018, advised the people of the Archdiocese that he will not attend the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, set to begin in Rome on Oct. 2 and conclude at the end of the month. Earlier this year, Pope Francis had requested the Cardinal’s attendance at this important event in the life of the Church.
In a letter to the people of Newark, the Cardinal stated: “This Synod is a uniquely important moment in the life of the Church, and I was honored to have been named by the Holy Father as a member of this special gathering whose topic, Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment, is of vital concern to the Church today and in the future.
“However, as you are aware,” he continued, “the Archdiocese of Newark suffers greatly as a result of the crisis that continues to unfold. After the revelations of the past summer, I could not see myself absent for a month from our archdiocese and from you, the people entrusted to my care. After prayer and consultation, I wrote to Pope Francis, asking that he dispense me from attending, but assuring him that I strongly support the objectives of the Synod and that I would obey whatever he decided.”
He further stated: “The Holy Father responded the next day with a beautiful pastoral and compassionate message. He told me that he understands why I need to stay close to home, and he released me from the obligation to attend the Synod next month.”
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri who was appointed by the Holy Father to prepare for this Synod, said at a Press Conference that the Synod’s primary aim is to make the whole Church aware of her important and not at all optional task of accompanying every young person, without exclusion, towards the joy of love; secondly, by taking this mission seriously, the Church herself will be able to reacquire a renewed youthful dynamism; thirdly, it is also important for the Church to take this opportunity to carry out vocational discernment, so as to rediscover how she can best respond today to the call to be the soul, light, salt and leaven of our world.