Editor's note: The Christian Post has arranged with noted evangelical Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, an expert on and friend of The Catholic Church, to provide exclusive and rare coverage of the World Synod of the Catholic Church scheduled for October 3-24.
This Vatican Synod is generating great interest among Catholics and Evangelicals alike as Pope Francis continues to make overtures for increased cooperation with Evangelicals to protect religious freedom in a world of increased persecution of Christians.
Schirrmacher is president of the International Council of the International Society for Human Rights und Ambassador for Human Rights and executive chair of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, the largest evangelical association in the world.
Only one evangelical was invited to this year's three-week Synod: Dr. Schirrmacher. Below is his exclusive CP blog post from this historic meeting:
October 6, 2015
In December 2014, shortly after the last Vatican Synod on the Family, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith conducted a three-day colloquium on the "Complementarity of Man and Woman" in cooperation with three pontifical councils (Pontifical Council for the Family, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity). Speakers from 23 countries and almost all larger religions invoked the model of lifelong marriage between the two sexes and children. The colloquium took place in the very facilities we are using now for the synod.
Representatives from not only all the large, well known world religions, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, but also representatives from regional religions in India and Japan, including Sikhs, Jainists, and Shintoists and extending to Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in the USA were speakers together with Christians from many denominations. They underscored the importance of family built upon lifelong marriage between the two sexes.
It became clear — and that was the intention of the entire thing — that the large majority of humanity still retains the ideal of the classical family consisting of a father and a mother and children where the father and the mother remain together for life.
On one of the scholar's panels I noted, that the closer cooperation between the Pontifical Council for the Family and WEA family experts, which was only agreed upon between the Holy Father and the World Evangelical Alliance also in December, was finding expression at the colloquium.
This is what I said: "The largest contingent of plenary speakers, apart from the moderating cardinals and archbishops, came from all five continents and from the Catholic Church and Evangelicals within and outside of the World Evangelical Alliance. Of note were the American pastor Rick Warren, the leading Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, the former Bishop of Rochester and WEA advisor on questions relating to the Islamic world, Michael Nazir-Ali and Dr. Russell D. Moore, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Jaqueline Cooke-Rivers, an African-American university professor hailing from a Pentacostal church. Additionally, there were other Protestants from the conservative end of the spectrum, for instance the head of Bruderhof, Johann Christoph Arnold. Understandably, representation from the spectrum of liberal Protestantism was largely missing."
Today I spoke with Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, who organized the symposium, and with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council of the Family, in depth about the growing Catholic-Evangelical cooperation to defend marriage and family. Directly after the synod, the Italian Evangelical Alliance invited me as a speaker to a Catholic-Evangelical family day in Sicily, which will be attended by 4,000 people. Thus I will stay a day longer in Italy than planed.
Müller is the Prefect of the Congregation of Faith, the position Pope Benedict had before he became Pope. It is the most important Papal Council and the Equivalent to the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. It is with humor that I realize both the Catholic Church and the WEA have asked Germans to lead their theological team, even though German theology has, in part, done much harm to the Church.