Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 2

(Vatican Radio) Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. opened the daily press conference by explaining what had happened in the morning session. He said that the general secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri, had explained “certain processes of the methodology” and its new elements. Lombardi said that Pope Francis also thought it was important for him to make a contribution and so he too said a few words.

“The Holy Father thought it important to say that what we are doing here must be seen as a continuation of last year,” Lombardi said. Pope Francis said that the group work, which the Synod Fathers begin on Tuesday afternoon, is going to be very important. The Pope reminded the Fathers that “Catholic doctrine on marriage was not called into question in the previous sitting of the Synod” and that “the Synod is not about one single issue – Eucharist for the divorced and remarried – but many issues and we must take them all into account.”

Fr. Lombardi listed different themes which arose in the contributions made during the session. He highlighted a number of them which included the passing on of the faith inter-generationally, migration, domestic violence, war, poverty and polygamy.

Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is the English-speaking Media Attaché of the Holy See, said that the comments made by the Synod Fathers were brief. Each is only allowed to speak for three minutes which “helps foster clarity.” He said that some interventions suggested that there had been an over emphasis on the problems the family faces and that one of the Fathers suggested that we acknowledge the “beauty and joy” of family life. “Some of the interventions suggested we should be more inclusionary in our language, especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Gay persons are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbours and colleagues,” Rosica said.

“There was also a suggestion that the third form or penance, general absolution, be used widely in the Year of Mercy,” said Rosica. He pointed out and clarified that these were suggestions which “might be considered by the Fathers.”

At the end of the briefing the panel was asked if the question of the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist was still open to discussion. Archbishop Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council of Social Communication, said that the issue was open. “It is open on a pastoral level but remember what the Pope said about doctrine,” he said. Asked if the reception of the Eucharist by divorced and remarried persons was a “doctrine or a discipline” Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, replied saying that different people may see this differently and that it was part of the work of the Synod to discuss this.

Archbishop Durocher went on to say that the bishops were all united in acknowledging that there is a gap between contemporary culture and church teaching. Archbishop Celli said that it was important for the church to find ways of entering into dialogue with the world. “We need to speak about what the Church teaches but must also avoid a ghetto mentality.”

Fr. Lombardi was asked if Pope Francis was going to participate in a small group. He said that the Pope did not normally attend small groups but that he was a Pope of surprises so “he may also surprise us!”

(from Vatican Radio)

Keeping doors open at the Synod on the Family

(Vatican Radio) On Tuesday afternoon, participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family move into small language group discussions, following on from one and a half days of presentations at the General Congregations. Philippa Hitchen takes a look at some of the key issues that have emerged during this first phase of the three week encounter....


There’s no easy way to summarize the 72 interventions by Synod participants that took place over the past 24 hours. But I think it is possible, in broad brushstrokes, to distinguish two ways in which these Church leaders are reflecting on the challenges facing families today.

The first is a philosophical approach, starting with Scripture and doctrine to formulate solutions to perceived problems of secular culture threatening Catholic beliefs and traditions. If we open the door to that secular mentality, one bishop warned dramatically, then the wolves will come in.

A second approach, put forward by other bishops, is to start from the profound changes taking place in society and ask how the Church can use Scripture and tradition to remain relevant to peoples’ lives today. Not living in fear of a hostile and godless culture, but rather engaging with it, to offer the Good News of the Gospel to anyone and everyone searching for meaning in their lives.

From that perspective, the introductory presentation on Monday by Cardinal Peter Erdo can be seen as an exquisite and classical presentation of Church teaching on the family  - but, as Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, former head of the Canadian bishops conference, pointed out -  it is just one piece of the puzzle. Rather than the final word for the bishops, as some have tried to suggest, it’s simply a starting point, from which the small language groups now begin their discussions. It’s within this smaller, more interactive setting that every participant – lay men and women, plus the non-Catholic representatives – can share ways of upholding Church teachings while remaining in touch with real peoples’ lives. Or if you’d rather use words from Pope Francis’ vocabulary – how to be a Church with its doors wide open, not stuck in the sacristy but on the streets getting its hands dirty.

On the subject of vocabulary, there’s been lots of talk about the use of language that won’t alienate people who are thirsting to hear the word of God. Several participants warned strongly against a language of exclusion, especially when talking about people living in second marriages or in same-sex relationships. While we easily agree on sensitive, inclusive language to talk about victims of violence, the poor, or other marginalized people, we haven’t yet found consensus on a language to describe gay people as part of our own family, our own brothers and sisters.

Violence against women has been another hot topic raised by some synod fathers, one of whom quoted shocking statistics showing how one third of all women in the world are victims of domestic violence. He called for the Synod to stress in the strongest possible terms that Scripture (in particular St Paul’s letters) can never be used to justify male domination or violence against women. He also suggested the Church could show it means business by opening up greater roles for women in the Vatican and in local diocesan positions, or allowing lay men and women to preach the homily at Mass, underlining the unity between God’s word and their lived experiences.

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming or straying from the strict confines of the Synod’s guiding document, well, one participant had a helpful image of how sometimes, in our cars, our Sat Nav systems come up against a road block and can’t find a way through. That’s when we have to trust technology to open up a path that might be quite different from the road we were expecting to take. Over to the small groups now, to continue the journey. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: God wants his ministers to be merciful

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has warned against having a hard heart that is closed to God’s mercy.

Speaking on Tuesday morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta before joining the Synod Fathers gathered in the Vatican Synod Hall, the Pope urged the faithful not to put one’s own convictions or a list of commandments before the Lord's mercy.

Drawing inspiration from the first reading of the Book of Jonah, the Pope pointed out that Jonah is initially resistant to God's will, but eventually learns that he must obey the Lord. 

Remarking on the fact that the city of Nineveh converts thanks to Jonah’s preaching, Pope Francis said “it really was a miracle, because in this case he abandons his stubbornness, his rigidity,  to obey the will of God, and he did what the Lord commanded him."

And afterwards, the Pope said, after the conversion of Nineveh, Jonah “who was not a man who was docile to the Spirit of God, was angry". The Pope said he even rebuked the Lord.

So, Pope Francis observed, the story of Jonah and Nineveh unfolds in three chapters:  the first "is Jonah’s resistance to the mission the Lord entrusts him with"; the second "is his obedience” and the ensuing miracle; in the third chapter, "there is resistance to God’s mercy".

The Pope went on to say that Jesus too was misunderstood because of his mercy.
He recalled that Jesus lived with the Doctors of the Law who did not understand why he did not let the adulteress be stoned, they did not understand why he dined with publicans and sinners, “they did not understand. They did not understand mercy”.

Pope Francis said that the Psalm that we prayed today tells us to "wait for the Lord because with the Lord there is mercy, and redemption."

"Where the Lord is - Francis concluded - there is mercy”. And, he added, as Ambrose said: “Where his ministers are there is rigidity. The rigidity that defies mission, which challenges mercy ":

"As we approach the Year of Mercy, let us pray the Lord to help us understand his heart, to understand what 'mercy' means, what it means when He says: 'I want mercy, not sacrifice!'” he said.


(from Vatican Radio)

Cardinal Arinze: “The family comes from God”

(Vatican Radio) Following Sunday’s opening Mass for the Ordinary General Synod on the Family, Cardinal Francis Arinze reflected on the significance of the readings for the three week assembly of bishops.

Cardinal Arinze, who is Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, was present at the 5 Oct Mass at the Vatican with Pope Francis to open the Synod.

Listen to Vatican Radio’s interview with Cardinal Arinze:

“The readings were as if they were prepared for the Synod,” he said and noted that the family is a gift from God. Quoting from the Book of Genesis, he noted that uniting Eve with Adam means that God is the source of the family.

This unity is underscored by Christ’s admonition that “what God has put together, let nobody separate.” Cardinal Arinze added, this is “very clear.”

The Ordinary Synod runs from 4-25 October and focuses on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.

(from Vatican Radio)

Intellectual property rights must serve justice, common good

(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, on Monday addressed representatives of the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO is a global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation.

In his remarks, Archbishop Tomasi, noted the “vastly different” situation of intellectual property in the contemporary world, in contrast to the situation in which IP was born. “Over the past few decades, the centre of wealth creation has been shifting from tangible assets or physical capital to intangible assets or intellectual capital or, as the OECD calls it, knowledge based capital.”

Archbishop Tomasi reminded his audience that protection of intellectual property is essential to incentivizing innovation and spreading the benefits of those innovations. Yet, he said, “while we recognise the value of intellectual property protection, the scope of those rights must always be measured in relation to greater principles of justice in service of the common good.” He warned, “the fruits of scientific progress, rather than being placed at the service of the entire human community, are distributed in such a way that inequalities are actually increased.” Archbishop Tomasi insisted, “The law of profit alone cannot be applied to that which is essential for the fight against hunger, disease, and poverty,” citing Pope St John Paul II.

Concluding his statement, Archbishop Tomasi assured the participants that they could “count on the constructive spirit and support of the Holy See during these Assemblies.”

Below, please find the full text of Archbishop Tomasi’s remarks to the World Intellectual Property Organization:

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

55th  Series of Meetings of the WIPO Assemblies

Geneva, 5 October 2015

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See would like to congratulate you on your election to chair the General Assembly. We welcome the two new vice-chairs as well and thank the outgoing chair and vice-chair for all their hard work over the past year. My Delegation is confident that under your leadership we will be able to reach a positive outcome during this session, as we did in the previous ones.

Allow me also to express our appreciation to the Director General and the Secretariat for the preparation of these Assemblies and for the substantial outcomes achieved by WIPO in recent years, in particular in relation to work concerning global IP services. The steady growth of applications and the expansion of membership cannot be achieved without proper responses to the evolving demands from the real world.

The context in which intellectual property (IP) operates in the contemporary world is vastly different from the one in which IP was born. The new context has changed the position of IP both in the economy and in society. Over the past few decades, the centre of wealth creation has been shifting from tangible assets or physical capital to intangible assets or intellectual capital or, as the OECD calls it, knowledge based capital.

We live in a global knowledge economy and the key to future progress is to excel at turning what we discover and learn into marketable new products and technologies. As clearly shown by the Global Intellectual Property Reports, innovation adaptation and the use of these new technologies are the primary drivers of growth within international economies.

Through both private and public investments, we continue to see incredible scientific advancement in the understanding and use of biological resources, the applications of which hold great social value and potential to improve the lives of people, particularly in the medical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural fields. To continue incentivizing such innovations and to spread the benefits of these innovations widely, just legal frameworks for intellectual property protection play an essential role. Yet, while we recognise the value of intellectual property protection, the scope of those rights must always be measured in relation to greater principles of justice in service of the common good. However, nowadays, the fruits of scientific progress, rather than being placed at the service of the entire human community, are distributed in such a way that inequalities are actually increased. The law of profit alone cannot be applied to that which is essential for the fight against hunger, disease, and poverty.[i]

WIPO is also making a significant contribution to IP information sharing and dissemination through its work related to global IP infrastructure. The contribution to society from the invention to be patented does not consist only of the invention as such, but also of the provision of technical information related to that invention. The global patent system needs continued improvement towards increased transparency and efficiency. International enterprises can be caught unaware of existing patent rights in various markets, while inventors and researchers need access to a fully articulated and comprehensive database of patent claims. A comprehensive database would lower search costs for inventors and examination offices.

While WIPO needs to follow the principles and objectives set in the Organization’s Convention, this has to be done in a manner that continues responding to the ever-changing realities of the international community. This means that the Organization has to continue to work at the service of the real world, which is formed by innovators, creators, and especially the users of the IP system and IP information. The Secretariat and the Member States should revive the normative work in a functional and responsible manner that could be accepted across the system and through which we can fulfill our responsibility as a member of the global community.

The present-day Intellectual Property Rights system is built on long-standing and traditional concepts of protection and designed for an era before the technological revolution. Classic copyrights cannot be sustained in this modern digital world and the “one-size-fits-all” approach of patent rules is no longer viable for the cross-industry complexities of the new technology development. The Organization is called to face major challenges and offer a place for bridging the gap between the prevalent trade-oriented approach and the broader implications of intellectual property regulation. In this sense, the renewal of the mandate for the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) could represent a strong signal.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, let us assure you that you can count on the constructive spirit and support of the Holy See during these Assemblies.

Thank you Mr. President.


[i] John Paul II, Address to ‘Jubilee 2000 Debt Campaign’, 23 September 1999.

(from Vatican Radio)

Card. Alencherry: pastors called to prophetic role

(Vatican Radio) The third General Congregation of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened on Tuesday morning with the celebration of Terce (mid-morning prayer).

The homily for the Liturgy was delivered by Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Major Archbishop and President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.

In his homily, Cardinal Alencherry reminded the Synod Fathers that “the pastors of the Church in the present times are called to take upon their lives a prophetic role of suffering and kenosis.”

Below please find the full text of Cardinal George Alencherry’s homily during Terce at the third General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops:

Holy Father and My dear friends,

The reading from Jeremiah 22:3, gives us a message very much applicable to the goal of our Synodal deliberations on family. Prophet Jeremiah uttered a few oracles to the royal family of Judah cautioning the King against the ruin that may fall upon the Kingdom, if the King does not render Justice and righteousness and save the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor. Josiah and Jehoiakim were the Kings of Judah, at that time. We know that both of them were weak Kings, and Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon destroyed the Kingdom of Judah and the temple. Owing to the failures of the Kings the people were driven to exile and all the sufferings arising there from. Josiah and Nebuchadnezzar, the Kings of Judah could not render justice and righteousness and save the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor. Justice means the acceptance of the reign of God and righteousness is the grace of God resulting from the acceptance of God’s reign. The Kings of Judah failed in their responsibility to give justice and righteousness to the people due to which the people had to suffer the consequences.

The words of the prophet are applicable to rulers and leaders of all the times and also to the people governed by them. In many countries of the world people are denied of justice and righteousness by the promotion of individualism, hedonism and oppression by secularist values and lines of action. The question arises whether the leaders of the Church have come forward with a prophetic role like that of Jeremiah to support the people by the Word of God and by personal witness.

Jeremiah had to suffer at the cost of his prophetic role. His life was a symbol of the message he gave. Suffering and ruin, he had to take upon himself. He was asked to accept three signs in his life: not to marry, not to attend funerals and not to attend parties.

Do not take a wife (16:2): Jeremiah is not to experience the deep love of a bride, for the bride, Israel, has rejected Yahweh’s love. He must experience loneliness, as Yahweh experiences loneliness. In Christian times, celibacy becomes a sign.

Do not go into a house where there is mourning (16:5): Jeremiah is not to mourn or show compassion to the dead, because Yahweh has lost all feelings for his people. They will die unlamented.

Do not go into a house where there is a celebration (16:8): Jeremiah is not to join any celebration, because there is nothing to celebrate. Jeremiah is called to lead a terrible life, no wonder he goes into deep depression and bitter lament (cf. 20: 7ff). It is not easy to be a prophet. (The New Community Bible, St Paul Publications, Mumbai, India)

The pastors of the Church in the present times are called to take upon their lives a prophetic role of suffering and kenosis, similar to that of prophet Jeremiah. The words of Holy Father Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (n. 49) become meaningful here.

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).”

(from Vatican Radio)

Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 1

(Vatican Radio) The first of the daily press conferences to report on the proceedings of the Synod of the Family took place at 1pm Rome time on Monday. The Synod began on Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica and the first session sat on Monday morning.

Fr. Russell Pollitt, S.J. reports 

Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, was accompanied by Cardinal Péter Erdö from Hungary - who is the synod rapporteur; Cardinal André Vingt-Trois from France - one of the president delegates; and Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte - who is special secretary to the Synod. In his remarks Fr. Lombardi said that each day there would be Synod Fathers present at the press conference as guests.

Fr. Lombardi explained the order of the morning’s session which began with prayer and the singing of the Veni Creator Spiritus. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, welcomed everyone before Pope Francis gave his opening address to the Synod Fathers. After the morning coffee break, Cardinal Péter Erdö gave the introductory address entitled “The Vocation of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.”

Cardinal Vingt-Trois said that his first impression of the Synod was that there is “a wide diversity of participants, geographically, which includes members form the Latin and Oriental Churches but all are hinged around the Pope.” He said that the Holy Father had reiterated what he had said before; he wants to tackle issues in an “open-minded way through prayer, meditation and dialogue.”

Cardinal Erdö explained that his introductory address had followed the structure of Instrumentum Laboris. “I tried to systematise all the data which was received from the Church around the world, including families and individuals who wrote to us, following the themes already in Instrumentum Laboris.”

Archbishop Forte, in his remarks, said that the aim of the Synod was to “propose the gospel of the family” but also to “echo the hopes and pains of families around the world today.” He emphasised the need for “openness to the Holy Spirit as well as prayer and humility before God.”

The prelates answered some questions after their short inputs. They were asked if they feel under pressure form the media. Archbishop Forte responded saying that last year some media had a “bi-polar interpretation” of what was happening at the Synod but that this was “not the perception inside the Synod.” He said “We are here to listen to the problems people have, we are more united than the media assumes. There are divergent views, which are ok, but this does not mean division. I feel we are on a marvellous spiritual pathway with God.”

Cardinal Vingt-Trois explained how, in Paris, people were invited to create “synod teams.” He said that these teams found there were divergent opinions among them and they “could be expressed without breaking communion.”

The prelates emphasised that the Synod was a pastoral one. “It will not lead to doctrinal changes, because it is about pastoral attention, pastoral care. We are about resonating pastorally,” Forte said.

Cardinal Erdö said that there was an active interest in the Synod because of the issues that were raised last year. He said that the Synod Fathers hope to develop the Church’s understanding of family by listening to each other and paying special attention to tradition. “Development is not unlimited; we have to look at tradition.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Synod on family life gets underway in the Vatican

The first working day of the Synod of Bishops on the Family was due to start at 9am on Monday, but like every good host, Pope Francis was in the hall, well ahead of time, welcoming the bishops, priests, religious and lay people as they took their seats for the opening prayer.

Philippa Hitchen reports.....


In his greeting to the gathered assembly, the Pope recalled that a synod is not a parliament or senate, where people do deals and make compromises, but rather a journeying together of the people of God, guided by the Holy Spirit. He appealed for courage, humility and prayer, so that participants may not be intimidated by worldly temptations, but at the same time that they may not turn the Church into a “museum of memories”, unable or unwilling to respond to the challenges facing so many families today.

Synod secretary general Cardinal Baldisseri outlined the previous steps on this journey, from the much talked about consistory of cardinals back in 2014, right up to the World Meeting of Families that concluded in Philadelphia last weekend. In between we’ve had a year of reflections on family life from the Pope at his weekly general audiences and a new document making it simpler and cheaper to obtain annulments for those whose marriages can be declared invalid – both important parts of the puzzle for those trying to predict how this highly charged meeting will pan out.

For the secular press inevitably, the focus of the past weekend has been on the ‘coming out’ of a Polish monsignor working at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, timed- as the head of the Holy See press office put it – to subject the Synod to “undue media pressure” on issues of celibacy and gay relationships. In a lengthy introductory presentation, Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo touched on – in his words - the “pastoral care of people with homosexual tendencies”, but he also outlined so many other issues, from violence, migration and unemployment to cohabitation, divorce or declining birth rates, often stemming from the individualism or fear of commitment often experienced by young people today.

In short, there’s a lot for synod participants to get their heads around over the next three weeks before a final document is drawn up and voted on. A couple of cardinals I chatted with over coffee this morning said despite the huge workload, the atmosphere was ‘serene’ with bishops convinced that differing perspectives can enrich the discussion, rather than being a source of irreconcilable division, as the media would so often have it. Other participants were a bit more realistic perhaps, describing a sense of tension and awareness of just how important this meeting may prove for the credibility of the Church over the coming years.

The only person in the room I spotted completely unaffected by the whole proceedings was a tiny baby snoozing quietly in the arms of his father, one of the 18 couples who’ll be sharing some very practical experiences of the joys, hopes, sorrows and anxieties of bringing up a family today. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: full text of remarks at Synod opening

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Monday morning - the morning of their first full day of sessions. Below, please find Vatican Radio's full English translation of the Holy Father's remarks.


Dear Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies, brothers and sisters,

The Church today takes up once again the dialogue begun with the announcement of the extraordinary Synod on the family, and certainly even long before that, to evaluate and reflect on the text of the Working Document (Lt. Instrumentum laboris), elaborated on the basis of the [Extraordinary Assembly’s] final report (Relatio Synodi) and the responses of the Bishops’ Conferences and from the other organizations with the right to contribute.

The Synod, as we know, is a journey undertaken together in the spirit of collegiality and synodality, on which participants bravely adopt parrhesia, pastoral zeal and doctrinal wisdom, frankness, and always keep before our eyes the good of the Church, of families and the suprema lex, the Salus animarum.

I should mention that the Synod is neither a convention, nor a parlor, nor a parliament or senate, where people make deals and reach compromises. The Synod is rather an Ecclesial expression, i.e., the  Church that journeys together to read reality with the eyes of faith and with the heart of God; it is the Church that interrogates herself with regard to her fidelity to the deposit of faith, which does not represent for the Church a museum to view, nor even something merely to safeguard, but is a living source from which the Church shall drink, to satisfy the thirst of, and illuminate, the deposit of life.

The Synod moves necessarily within the bosom of the Church and of the holy people of God, to which we belong in the quality of shepherds – which is to say, as servants. The Synod also is a protected space in which the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Synod, the Spirit speaks by means of every person’s tongue, who let themselves be guided by the God who always surprises, the God who reveals himself to little ones, who hides from the knowing and intelligent; the God who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa; by the God, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep; the God who is always greater than our logic and our calculations.

Let us remember, however, that the Synod will be a space for the action of the Holy Spirit only if we participants vest ourselves with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and trusting prayer: with that apostolic courage, which refuses to be intimidated in the face of the temptations of the world – temptations that tend to extinguish the light of truth in the hearts of men, replacing it with small and temporary lights; nor even before the petrification of some hearts, which, despite good intentions, drive people away from God; apostolic courage to bring life and not to make of our Christian life a museum of memories; evangelical humility that knows how to empty itself of conventions and prejudices in order to listen to brother bishops and be filled with God – humility that leads neither to finger-pointing nor to judging others, but to hands outstretched to help people up without ever feeling oneself superior to them.

Confident prayer that trusts in God is the action of the heart when it opens to God, when our humors are silenced in order to listen to the gentle voice of God, which speaks in silence. Without listening to God, all our words are only words that are meet no need and serve no end. Without letting ourselves be guided the Spirit, all our decisions will be but decorations that, instead of exalting the Gospel, cover it and hide it.

Dear brothers, as I have said, the Synod is not a parliament in which to reach a consensus or a common accord there is recourse to negotiation, to deal-making, or to compromise: indeed, the only method of the Synod is to open up to the Holy Spirit with apostolic courage, with evangelical humility and confident, trusting prayer, that it might be He, who guides us, enlightens us and makes us put before our eyes, with our personal opinions, but with faith in God, fidelity to the Magisterium, the good of the Church and the Salus animarum.

In fine, I would like to thank: His Eminence Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod; His Excellency, Archbishop Fabio Fabene, Undersecretary; and with them I thank the Rapporteur, His Eminence Cardinal Peter Erdő and the Special Secretary, His Excellency Archbishop Bruno Forte; the Presidents-delegate, writers, consultors, translators and all those who worked with true fidelity and total dedication to the Church. Thank you so much!

I also thank all of you, dear Synod Fathers, fraternal delegates, auditors and assessors, for your active and fruitful participation.

I want to address a special thanks to the journalists present at this time and to those who follow us from afar. Thank you for your enthusiastic participation and for your admirable attention.

We begin our journey by invoking the help of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Thank you.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: the Synod is guided by the action of the Holy Spirit

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday described the just opened Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family as an ecclesial expression that is guided by the action of the Holy Spirit.

Greeting participants at the Assembly just before work began on Monday morning, the Pope reminded them that a Synod of Bishops is not a conference, a parlor or a senate during which an agreement is reached.

It is, he said, a “walking together with the spirit of collegiality and synodality” never losing sight of the good of Church and of families.     

Noting that the Holy Spirit speaks in the language of all the people of God who never fails to surprise us, the Pope said participants must be armed with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and trusting oration so that the Synod may be a space of action of the Holy Spirit.

The only method to be used, Pope Francis concluded, is to open oneself to the Holy Spirit so that he may guide us and enlighten us.

A full Vatican Radio translation of the Pope’s words to the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family will be provided shortly.


(from Vatican Radio)