Since only one quarter of the media representatives present at last week's closed-door meeting of German, French, and Swiss bishops have reported on the meeting, speculation has arisen in Rome that the group is preparing to launch a media blitz in favor of controversial changes to pastoral care for homosexuals and the divorced and remarried in the final weeks leading up to the Synod on the Family. On May 25, bishops from Germany, Switzerland, and France met at the Pontifical Gregorian University to discuss the most contentious issues of the upcoming Synod on the Family, which include approval of gay unions and Communion for the divorced and remarried. Among the 50 participants were nine bishops, as well as numerous professors and priests, and media representatives. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising gave the final remarks. Msgr. Markus Graulich, an official of the Roman Rota, and Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Sant'Egidio lay community, also participated. Though the meeting was secretive and held behind closed doors — some of the German, Swiss, and French bishops were not even informed of the conference — select representatives of media were allowed in. The publications represented at the conference, according to Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, were Neue Zuercher Zeitung; ARD; ZDF; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; La Croix; La Repubblica; I-Media; and Vatican Radio's German edition. The director of Vatican Radio's German edition was a moderator, while only journalists from La Repubblica and I-Media in fact reported about the event. With most of the journalists not reporting on the event, their role has raised suspicions. A source within a committee of European bishops told CNA June 1 that “representatives of the media were certainly convoked in order to prepare a media platform to launch and spread contentious issues and lead the discussion.” Even though Cardinal Marx has claimed to have been in Rome in a private capacity and that the German bishops conference did not fund the initiative, another source in a Vatican congregation maintained that “the German journalists, at least, who came from abroad to Rome had their airfare and hotels paid for by the German bishops conference.” As the participants are not allowed to comment on the meeting, this data cannot be confirmed. However, the source said, “the German bishops conference certainly took its part in pushing the meeting.” According to the ‘European source’ “it is likely that this platform will issue some joint document, and I have heard they want to come out with a theological document in September, on the eve of the Synod and while Pope Francis will be visiting the United States.” Their aim is “to launch a discussion with only a short amount of time left for counter-responses.” However, the source in a Vatican congregation maintained that “as the news of the conference came out, other bishops have started to think about countering this meeting.” “The meeting seemed intended to push for something, and many bishops did not like it.”
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