On the first full day of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis encouraged participants to speak their minds while remaining open to the contributions of others. “You have to say all that which in the Lord you feel you have to say,” the Pope said today in his introductory address. “And, at the same time, you must listen with humility and accept with an open heart what your brothers say.”
It’s a great responsibility: to bring the realities and problems of the Church, to help them walk that road that which is the Gospel of the family,” the Pope continued.
And one basic condition of synodality, he said, is to “speak clearly. No one say ‘You can’t say this; think of me this way or that…’ You have to say everything that you feel with frankness.”
Pope Francis then recalled how he received an email from a cardinal after the consistory that took place in February, saying “it’s a shame that some cardinals didn’t have the courage to say some things out of respect of the Pope, feeling, perhaps, that the Pope was thinking something different.”
“This is not good, this is not synodality, because you have to say all that which in the Lord you feel you have to say,” the Pope explained, saying that they must also be humble and open to the opinion of others.
“I ask you, please, (to have) these attitudes of brothers in the Lord: speak with frankness and listen with humility.”
The themes of humility and openness echoed Pope Francis’ homily from yesterday’s Sunday Mass officially opening the synod. Reflecting on the day’s Gospel, the Holy Father said that the calling of the Synod of Bishops is “to work for the Lord’s vineyard”:
Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.
We are all sinners and can also be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can “thwart” God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.
My Synod brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ by “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil4:7). In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 21:43).
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