Note from us: As always, we are sharing articles and information that we are not saying is correct, or incorrect. The purpose is to show what is going on in the world today.
Pope Francis during the opening Mass of the Synod, Sunday, October 10 in St. Peter’s Basilica. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI /AFP)
By Loup Besmond de Senneville | Vatican City
Pope Francis has launched a two-year consultation of all the world’s Catholics, an ambitious project to prepare the agenda for the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops in 2023.”In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models,” he told some 3,000 people, including numerous foreign ambassadors to the Holy See, who were gathered for Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.The 84-year-old pope encouraged Catholics to meet and listen to one another, allowing God to help them begin walking together “where we are”.
“On the often rocky roads of life”
Francis called this “synodal process” of consultation, which is scheduled to begin on October 17 in local dioceses around the world, “an adventure” in which everyone must take part.”Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way’?” he challenged Catholics during his homily on Sunday.True to his description of the Church as a “field hospital” engaged in the midst of the world’s turmoil, the Jesuit pope elaborated on his vision of a God who “is not found in neat and orderly places, distant from reality” but who “walks ever at our side. He meets us where we are, on the often rocky roads of life”.Francis encouraged Catholics to become “experts in the art of encounter”, like Jesus, who “is not afraid to listen… with his heart and not just with his ears”.The pope warned that listening has nothing to do with “organizing events” or with “theorizing about problems”.”Are we good at listening? How good is the ‘hearing’ of our heart?” he asked.
He said the synodal process should “suggest fresh paths and new ways of speaking” for the Catholic Church. But he warned against a number of possible pitfalls.”Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties,” the pope insisted.He also encouraged Catholics to get out of their “old habits” by totally avoiding “artificial and shallow and pre-packaged responses”.Francis warned that the synod is not a “Church convention, a study group or a political gathering”, nor is it “a parliament”.On the contrary, he called it “a process of healing guided by the Spirit”.
Baptism as an “identity card”
The pope’s closest aides in launching the synodal process – especially those in secretariat for the Synod of Bishops – are putting a lot of hope in the consultations at the local level.”Enabling everyone to participate is an essential ecclesial duty!” Pope Francis said the day before at a meeting with 270 people from around the world.”All the baptized, for baptism is our identity card,” he said.Here too, he warned against “three risks” for the synod: “formalism”, “intellectualism” and “complacency”.After the consultation phase with Catholics around the world, which will last until February, all the bishops’ conferences are being urged to publish a report on these first meetings in April.Then the discussion will continue continent by continent.Finally, national episcopal conferences will elect representatives to attend the final stage of this novel synodal process – the ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is to take place in October 2023 at the Vatican.