Kocsis Fülöp

Fülöp Kocsis: Let’s fulfill the synodal mission!

What significance does the synod have for the Greek Catholic Church? How does synodality influence the future of the Greek Catholic Church? These questions are answered by the Archbishop-Metropolitan of the Hajdúdorog Archdiocese.

– You were one of the church leaders who participated in and spoke at the first session of the papal synod in October 2023. What preparations accompanied your participation?
– As a metropolitan, I am a member of the synod by virtue of my office, so when I learned about the organization of the session, I knew I would be there. The first session was preceded by a long preparation period during which I was continually informed about the proceedings as a leader. After that, I convened the bishops of the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church, the Bishop of the Diocese of Miskolc, Father Atanáz Orosz and the Bishop of the Diocese of Nyíregyháza, Father Ábel A. Szocska, to collectively contemplate about the synod.

– During the synod, some questions arose that the Catholic Church had not or only to a limited extent dealt with previously. Did this cause any tension among the participants?
– I did not experience any tension. The worst thing that happened was that I met several sceptical bishops who questioned the validity of the solidarity synod. Contrary to your suggestion, it was not only the topics discussed that raised suspicions but also the presence of laypeople, and it even arose whether we could speak of a valid synod in this case. However, I must also add that the LGBTQ issue that came up during the session divided the participants. Some argued in favor of being more open about homosexuality and many applauded this, while others were opposed to the issue. But

Pope Francis warned us all about an important point: we must not let the media influence our opinion.

That is, we must form our opinions based on the teachings of the Church, not on public opinion.

– What was the conclusion?
– We must welcome everyone into the Church who feels excluded from the community; homosexuals cannot be expelled from the community. I have been in situations myself where I have encountered the exclusion of a homosexual person from the church, so I stood up for them. However, it is very important to note that this is not just about homosexuals but about minorities. The Church must think the same way about all the people of other ethnicities and origins. It is essential that we distinguish between minorities and the LGBTQ community. In this regard, I spoke out at the synod, emphasizing that all those who identify as LGBTQ also support this ideology, which is not right!

– What effect did your speech have?
– It divided the session; some welcomed my opinion and agreed with me while others clearly rejected it.

(Photo: Archdiocese Hajdúdorog)

– How does the modern perspective, which sees people becoming more open to Eastern religions, affect the Greek Catholic Church? Is it conceivable that this will affect the number of faithful communities?
– It is true that reason does not reign in the world today. Westerners are turning to Eastern practices with pleasure, and we must also realize that

rational Western churches cannot satisfy the spiritual yearning of modern people compared to the rich traditions of Eastern churches. But by no means do I think that the number of believers will increase in Eastern churches.

Consider, for example, that the Greek Catholic Church sets high expectations for liturgy; members of the community cannot become Sunday Christians who participate in liturgy as they please. So serious commitment is needed, and this is not attractive to modern people, so Eastern churches will not attract crowds either. Our task as members of the Greek Catholic Church is to offer the richness that our Church possesses to the members of the Roman Catholic Church, as Pope St. John Paul II also encouraged us: let us help Western churches experience the depths of Eastern churches. As for conversions between the Greek Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church, I just signed a request before this interview from someone who wants to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. There are few of these requests (twenty to thirty per year), both in the current setup and vice versa.

– After all this, what do you expect from the second and final session of the synod? How are you preparing your heart for this?
– I do not know, I cannot know what will happen in Rome in October 2024. I can say that I am not preparing my heart, but my Church. We mobilized the groups dealing with the synod in the Hajdúdorog Archdiocese to fulfil the synodal mission. Part of this mission is for every baptized person to feel like a member of the Church, as the teaching also formulates. Unfortunately, I often find that ordinary people think they cannot be members of the Church because it is only for priests and bishops. However,

everyone has a say in the formation of the Church, whether they are a thirty-year-old working young person or a fifty-year-old head of a family, and so on.

I am awaiting the responses of my Church until the second session, and I hope we will fulfil the mission to which Pope Francis has called everyone.

Written by Nikolett Vermes

Photos: Hajdúdorog Archdiocese