Sunday, October 19, 2014

Francis: church has one year to mature. In the meantime, its doors are wide open

Iacopo Scaramuzzi
Vatican Insider
October 19, 2014

Speaking after the vote on the content of the Synod’s final document, the relatio synodi (three key paragraphs in the draft document did not win the two thirds majority vote), Francis addressed the assembled Fathers saying: “Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.” In his speech, which received a five-minute standing ovation , Francis underlined that the Church’s “doors are wide open to receive the needy”, “not only the just”. He disproved assumptions about a “disputatious Church where one part is against the other”, and presented himself as the “guarantor” of its unity. He reiterated that no one ever called into question the indissolubility of marriage and marriage’s openness to life.

The relatio synodi, Francis emphasised, is “the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as ‘lineamenta’”, as a guiding text that is, for the Ordinary Synod in October 2015.

“I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of ‘Synod’, a path of solidarity, a ‘journey together’, the Pope said after thanking everyone present. “And it has been ‘a journey’ – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say ‘enough’; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people.”

In typical Jesuit-style spiritual language, Poe Francis said that during the course of these past two weeks, there have been “moments of consolation” as well as “moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations”, which he then went on to list: “One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God.” This is “the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.” Then there was “the temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them.” There was also a temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast; and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick.” There was “the temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people,” “the temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them ‘byzantinisms’.”

“Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits,” Francis said. “If all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parrhesia ... And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life.”

The Church “is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans,” Francis said. “The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him.” It is not true therefore, that the Catholic Church is “a disputatious Church where one part is against the other,” as “many commentators, or people who talk” have portrayed it.

The Synod took place “cum Petro and sub Petro” and “the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all,” Francis emphasised, adding: “We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; ... it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome ... the lost sheep.” After extensively quoting Benedict XVI’s General Audience on 26 May 2010, Francis said: “The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant” and he guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church.”

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