The Synod of Bishops is the outcome of the Conciliar years and is due to the farsighted courage of Paul VI, who instituted it half a century ago, shortly before the end of the Second Vatican Council. Since then, there have been many Synod Assemblies and they have indeed contributed to the maturation of that episcopal collegiality envisaged by the Council. In Christian Tradition, however, the path of the Synod and collegiality are ancient, and have never been abandoned despite the vicissitudes that have deeply marked the history of the Church.
Pope Francis has decided to continue on this path, proceeding at a faster pace. Thus, it was most significant that he personally greeted every participant in the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod on the Family before the start of their work. Of even greater significance were his words of welcome, with which he emphasized the “spirit of collegiality and synodality”, adding that they are “for the good of the Church and of the family”.
For this reason the Pontiff spoke about how to choose those who will for the most part bear the weight of the Synod work, and he highlighted that, for the designation of President Delegates, of papal appointment, he has chosen to follow the recommendations of the Post-Synodal Council elected by the participants at the last Assembly. “You bring the voice of the Particular Churches”, he said, and “you bring this voice in synodality”: speaking with honesty and listening with humility.
In his homily during the opening Mass of the Synod and also during the prayer vigil for the success of the Assembly’s work, Francis spoke about the family with words that penetrated the heart of countless people. They were words born from meditation on Scripture, on the image of the vineyard as a symbol of the People of God, on the prophecy of Isaiah, on the parables of Jesus and on those of wine, the fruit of the grapevine and sign of the unending feast.To this unequivocal invitation Francis immediately added his equally clear and firm reassurance: “And do so with great tranquility and peace, so that the Synod may always unfold cum Petro et sub Petro, and the presence of the Pope is a guarantee for all and a safeguard of the faith”. Within this framework, he then repeated, it is necessary that everyone collaborate “so that the dynamic of synodality shine forth”, illuminated by the Spirit given by the “Lord Jesus, Son of the Holy Family of Nazareth”.
Thus, with simple words, the Pope explained the profound need for the “good wine” of the family that lives in the heart of today’s women and men. And thus the interest aroused in many circles during this long Synodal journey, announced at last February’s Consistory, will also continue until next year’s Ordinary Assembly. Indeed, the deeper the roots of the family are, Francis said, “the more possible it is to go out and go far in life without getting lost”.
St. Peter’s Square
Nov. 19, 2018
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