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an average of 100 miles a day as they made their way across

the country.
Like the young cyclists, British exchange teachers find
their American experience tiring; unlike the students, they
take a critical view of much that they met. In the Sept. 19
issue of T.E.S., Clive Cookson, the paper's Washington
correspondent, interviews three English women who re-
cently finished a year as visiting teachers in the public
schools of various Washington, D.C., suburbs. They said
they found the curriculum in these schools to be too rigid;
the constant testing and evaluating of students to be exces-
sive, and the freedom of teachers to experiment to be very
limited. On the other hand, they found American parents
to be friendlier and more interested in their children's
schooling than British parents are. If so tiny a sample can
support a generalization, one might conclude that the
American family has a more liberated spirit than the
American school.
the Synod
Rome. Sept. 30. While meeting in Rome to
discuss the role of the Christian family in
the modern world, the Synod of Bishops
has reflected the diversity of the Catholic
community throughout the world. Each
bishop as he has risen to speak in the
synodal hall has expressed the interests and
concerns of the bishops' conference from
his area. With over 200 synodal fathers
from over 90 countries, it is not surprising
that different bishops stressed different
issues in the eight minutes they had for their
first intervention.
Bishops from third world countries, for
example, complained that the working
document, sent to the bishops prior to the
meeting, refiected first world problems
(like divorce) that were irrelevant to their
people. In India, where Catholics consti-
tute only 1.6 percent of the population,
mixed marriages are not the exception, but
the rule. The Indian bishops would like reg-
ulations on marriage between Catholics
and non-Christians simplified. They also
would like to develop a marriage ceremony
that would be acceptable to both Catholic
and Hindu spouses. In addition, while
Western bishops might be concerned about
the problems their congregations are hav-
ing with the church's teaching on birth con-
trol, the Indian bishops see Pope Paul VI's
encyclical, Humanae Vitae, as the defense
of their people against a government that
wants to impose limits on the number of
births a family can have.
Another example of Western insensitivi-
ty to developing countries was the working
document's reference to the stability of tra-
ditional family culture in the third world as
opposed to its breakdown in the West. One
Latin American bishop objected that this
was an excessively rosy picture since the
desperately poor in his country do not have
the necessary resources to support family
structures. Families are for the rich.
One of the highlights of the first week of
the Synod was the intervention of
Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Fran-
cisco, whose speech on birth control was
widely quoted by the press. Archbishop
Quinn, speaking for the National Con-
ference of Catholic Bishops, made his own
Pope Paul VI's comments on Humanae
Vitae that the "church could and perhaps
should return with a fuller, more organic
and more synthetic exposition" of the
question of birth control. He noted that the
rejection of the church's teaching on con-
traception is widespread. In the United
States, he said, nearly 80 percent of
Catholic women use contraceptives, and
only 29 percent of the priests believe con-
traception is intrinsically immoral.
Archbishop Quinn also noted that a signi-
ficant number of theologians continue to
oppose the ban on artificial birth control
and that this can influence both priests and
laity. While Archbishop Quinn reaffirmed
his own acceptance of Humanae Vitae, he
called for a dialogue between theologians
and the Holy See on the issue of contracep-
tion. He also called for developing a consul-
tation with theologians to establish clear
guidelines on the possibility and the limits
of dissent within the church.
Archbishop Quinn's statement was posi-
tively received by the Indonesian bishops
and others who would like to see the church
drop its opposition to artificial birth con-
trol. In fact, some Vatican reporters in-
terpreted his address as a cryptic rejection
of Humanae Vitae, despite the Arch-
bishop's denials. Thus Archbishop Quinn,
a moderate by American standards, was
suddenly considered a flaming liberal in
Rome simply because European reporters
could not believe that Americans usually
mean what they say and only what they
Cardinal Pericle Felici, president of the
Pontifical Commission for the Revision of
Canon Law, appeared to have interpreted
the San Franciscan's address in the same
way as the local press. In what some called
an attack on Archbishop Quinn, Cardinal
Felici defended the traditional teaching and
said that the bishops should not depend
merely on statistics nor should they sow the
seeds of more confusion.
These misunderstandings between the
first and third world, between European
and Americans, reflect the obstacles the
bishops confront as they seek to communi-
cate across the barriers of different lan-
guages and cultures. Where this will lead
the Synod in the weeks ahead is uncertain.
Numerous bishops have called for a better
developed theology or spirituality of the
family, but most have also said that this
new theology should grow out of or re-
affirm the traditional teaching of the
Pope John Paul II has not yet revealed
what he thinks about all the discussions.
He has attended all the sessions so far, but
he has quietly listened to the bishops except
for a couple of ceremonial addresses. But
most observers feel that before the Synod is
over, he will speak his mind.
America/October 11,1980