VATICAN CITY - Two couples attending the Synod of Bishops on
the family said what surprised them most about their first
synod in Rome was reading inaccurate media coverage of the
closed-door proceedings, the diversity of problems families
face around the world and the synod fathers' great concern
and compassion for the family.
Even though Ketty De Rezende of Brazil studied and lived in
the United States and Canada, she said hearing about the
diversity of challenges families face in other parts of the
world came as a surprise to her.
Ketty and her husband, Pedro, are active in Brazil in the
pastoral care of families facing difficulties. But much of
what they encountered in the Americas was very different from
some of the problems needing attention in Asia and Africa,
Ketty and Pedro De Rezende, professors in mathematics and
computer science, respectively, at the University of
Campinas, Brazil, spoke to the press Oct. 12 during a Vatican
The many difficulties facing families, discussed during the
first week of the synod, "did surprise us. I think we weren't
quite aware of all these challenges," she said.
Pedro told reporters what surprised him most was "what the
press has been publishing."
"Many, many times it doesn't reflect what we see in there,"
The synod proceedings are closed to the press, but synod
participants are allowed to be interviewed and to release
their written speeches to the public.
Pedro said that instead of objective reporting on what was
being said by synod participants, what he was seeing seemed
to be suggestions about "what synod fathers should talk
However, he said, the synod discussions are being guided by
the 23,000-word working document that came out in June.
"So I was pretty surprised to see what is coming out is not
being quite faithful" to the themes in the document and
participants' input, he said.
Penny Bajaj of Mumbai, India, said she was struck by the
unanimous expressions of compassion and sympathy from all
those attending the synod. Of the more than 360 people
attending the synod, 270 are voting cardinals, bishops and
men religious. The remaining are religious and laypeople
attending as observers, experts and representatives of other
"All the synod fathers, the bishops expressed their great
love and concern for the family," said Bajaj, who worked for
the Catholic Church in India in a variety of capacities for
"It was very beautiful to see the great love, the hope, the
understanding: How should the family be in today's day and
time knowing that, in all parts of the world, the family is
really running into a lot of problems? How do we contain
this? How do we change this? How do we make this better? How
do we make this in God's light something beautiful?"
She said every cardinal, bishop and priest in her small
working group spoke about their concern, their love for the
family, "especially for the families who are in distress."
Her husband, Ishwar Bajaj, said he was impressed that the
synod was focusing on forgiveness and mercy, even toward
those who have separated from their spouse or have sinned
against their family or the church.
"I found that this was a very, very compassionate and loving
atmosphere and attitude that the synod was aiming at: to
bring the families back into the ... church and tell them
that there was mercy" and that sins would be forgiven "as
long as they repented and changed."
Ishwar Bajaj, who was raised a Hindu but was baptized into
the Catholic Church 13 years ago on his 25th wedding
anniversary, said he felt the synod's focus on mercy "has
been a very important and dynamic stand that the church is
taking in this current century."