A significant part of Thursday, 12 October, Day 8 of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod, was dedicated to prayer. Participants started the day by praying for world peace. Introducing the prayer, Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, invited the assembly to join him in asking God “for peace in the world, especially in the Holy Land, but also in Ukraine, the violence in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon”. He asked God to “let the whole of humanity [...] form one family, without violence, without absurd wars and with brotherly spirit” and “live united in peace and concord for our Lord Jesus Christ”.
His call was echoed by Palestinian Catholic, Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, who prayed “for the people of Israel and Palestine who are under the grip of unprecedented violence, for the victims, especially the children, for the wounded, for those held hostage, for the missing and their families”. Recalling other countries living in war torn areas in the Middle East and globally, she asked the Lord to help us “commit ourselves to building a fraternal world so that these peoples and those in the same conditions of conflict, of instability and violence may find the path of respect for human rights where justice, dialogue and reconciliation are the indispensable tools for building peace”.
In the evening, Synod participants were invited on a pilgrimage to the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian, where the relics of Saints Peter and Paul had been temporarily kept, as well as to the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus and Saint Domitilla, in Rome. Addressing those present in the Basilica of Saint Sebastian, Monsignor Pasquale Iacobone, the President of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, explained that Saints Peter and Paul had met in these places of great historical and spiritual significance, and that their example of being a single, united Church, is one for the whole world to follow in order to overcome divisions.
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the General Relator of the Synod, described the pilgrimage as a pilgrimage “to the realities of our Churches”, and invited participants to “find the meaning of this journey of God in our realities”, where the reflection of the Cross is ever present. “We bishops”, he said, “must look at our cross and say, ‘Lord, I love you, I take up the cross and follow you’”.
Earlier in the week, Synod participants had completed the first two modules of the Instrumentum Laboris: Module A, “For a Synodal Church. An integral experience” and Module B on “Communion, participation, mission. Three priority issues for the synodal Church”. The Instrumentum Laboris was introduced to the Synod Assembly by Cardinal Hollerich on the evening of Wednesday, 4 October, the opening day of the Synod. Explaining its function, Cardinal Hollerich said it was “designed first and foremost to allow us to ‘warm up our engines’ to live and to experience the methodology that we will also use in the following modules”. It has the aim of helping “to learn how to make the alternation between Circuli Minores and General Congregations, fruitful”. The Instrumentum Laboris, the Cardinal added, should “help us to make contact with synodality as a comprehensive vision”, and “carry the formation and training it has given us into the next modules”.