to be themselves, let their hair down and let it all hang out for two and a half hours. But what happens next is none of their business.
The sprightly African women will dance off the scene and screen. Some will say the singing and dancing never happened. The chaps will take over. A chance will have been missed. And that's that.
Yet if the African Synod's end is in its beginning, then the portent for the future is that the Africans will dance their way into inventing an African church in which their liturgy is appreciated, not as an occasional concession but as a birthright. □
( May 20, 1994) Rome -- Not long after the synod for Africa, actually in mid-June and once delayed because of Pope John Paul's accident, comes the fifth meeting of the entire college of 141 cardinals.
Until this pontificate, the cardinals never met as a body except when they came together in a conclave to elect the pope.
These regular meetings with the cardinals are one of Pope John Paul II's most striking innovations. It meant upgrading the College of Cardinals, sometimes known as the "senate" of the church.
Yet the office of cardinal is not scriptural. It was invented only toward the end of the first millennium. After Vatican II it seemed to be on its way out, having little place in a church that stressed the importance of bishops as pastors of local churches.
Paul VI toyed with the idea of entrusting the election of his successor not to the traditional College of Cardinals but to a special synod of presidents of episcopal conferences (some of whom would be cardinals, but most would not).
But then he took fright at this departure from tradition and restricted his reform to excluding from the conclave cardinals over age 80.
That made the over-80s furious back in 1972. Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani's jowls wobbled, Cardinal Eugéne Tisserant's beard