Why has the Synod that just concluded stirred long unseen interests and passions, and not only within the Catholic Church? Surely, the theme of the family touches and concerns everyone, without exception. Surely, the Pope’s decision to dedicate attention and energy to it for over two years, making it the dominant theme of the first part of his pontificate, alone highlighted its importance.
Half a century since its institution, the Synod of Bishops has shown its growth and potential, which consist primarily in the method, developed over the years and renewed in recent times by the decisions of Benedict XVI and Francis, along with the help of the General Secretariat, which, along with its collaborators has proved very effective in these months. In other words, despite pretextual polemics, the new method is functional and transparent, as has been seen in recent days.
But there’s more, and Bergoglio explained so pointedly, concluding the work of this assembly which was followed by the media and in the Catholic sphere with interest that perhaps has not been seen since the days of Vatican II. The Synod did not attempt to settle all the issues, the Pope said, but rather sought to “see them in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s tradition and two-thousand-year history”, thereby open to hope but avoiding repetition of “what is obvious or has already been said”.
The assembly, in this sense, was neither expected nor predicted, because the Synod Fathers were able to look difficulties and uncertainties in the face, “in the light of the Faith, ... fearlessly, without burying [their] heads in the sand”. Thanks to a large scale, world consultation, voice was indeed given to the entire Catholic Church, which in these three weeks has once again shown her vitality, holding “lively and frank discussions about the family”.
Fearless of discussion — to use the Pope’s words — but determined to avoid being conditioned by malevolent interpretations and closures that eventually transform the doctrine into “dead stones” to be used “not in entirely well-meaning ways” to express legitimate opinions. Or, one might add, used to disturb with somewhat coarse manoeuvrings that have very little to do with journalism and synodal debate. Indeed, none of it even came close.
dogmatic issues were not touched. This was stated firmly by the Successor to the Apostle Peter, who is the guarantor of Catholic communion and unity. But voices raised from various continents, made clear the inherent need for inculturation in the Christian tradition. It must come about without “hand[ing] down condemnations or anathemas”, because the Church’s first duty is “to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation”.
keeping with Vatican ii, which was opened and closed with the hallmark of mercy, Francis repeated the words once spoken by Paul VI: “God is — let us say it with tears — good for us. He loves us, he seeks us out, he thinks of us, he knows us, he touches our hearts us and he waits for us”. And, as at the Council, Montini was able to maintain the unity of the largest assembly of bishops ever convened, thus today has his Successor managed to obtain a de facto unanimous consensus for nearly the entire Synod document. The sole aim now is returning to walk together in the world, to bring to “every situation, the light of the Gospel, the embrace of the Church and the support of God’s mercy”.
St. Peter’s Square
Dec. 9, 2019
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