Saturday, 18 October 2014

Synod14: A Church composed of sinners

Francis uj

The work of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family has concluded today with a vote on the final report - the “Relatio Synodi”, which is now available in the full, Italian original (including data on how many of the Synod Fathers were in favor of or not in favor of each of the Relatio’s 62 paragraphs.

Instead of taking at look at the Relation, I would like to share some passages from the closing address of Pope Francis, who spent the last two weeks without intervening in the Synod, since - as Card. Ravasi said in the press conference earlier today, the saying “Roma locuta, causa finita” applies - if Francis had spoken it would have been the end of the discussion. Instead, as Ravasi pointed out, the Pope’s silence was fundamental for the Synod’s discussions to be possible.

Now that the Synod has concluded, Pope Francis could speak again, and speak he did!1

After thanking all for the shared journey of the past days and highlighting the positive, mutual help and collaboration among all involved, Francis turned to the challenges, in the form of five temptations that the Synod Fathers faced:
“- One: the temptation of hostile rigidity, that is, wanting to enclose oneself in the written (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, the God of surprises (the spirit); within the law, in the certainty of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and achieve. Since the time of Jesus, there has been the temptation of the zealots, the scrupulous, the cautious, the - today - so-called “traditionals” and even the intellectuals.

- The temptation of destructive do-goodery, which in the name of a false mercy bandages wounds without first curing and medicating them; which treats symptoms and not their causes and roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders”, of the fearful and even the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

- The temptation to turn stone into bread so as to break a long, heavy and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4), and also to turn bread into stone and throw it at sinners, the weak and the sick (cf. Jn 8.7), that is, to turn it into “unbearable burdens” (Lk 10:27).

- The temptation to come down from the cross, to please people, and not to stay, to fulfill the will of the Father; to bow to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

- The temptation to neglect the “deposit of faith, not considering themselves custodians, but masters or owners, or, on the other hand, the temptation to ignore reality by using meticulous language and language so polished that saying many things result in not having said anything! Such language used to be called “byzantine”, I think, such language ...”
While the above are strong accusations, Francis does not list them out of a desire to tell the Synod Fathers off, but sees them as a sign of the reality and seriousness of the work done over the preceding two weeks:
“Dear brothers and sisters, temptations must neither scare nor disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; therefore since Jesus was tempted - and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) - his disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would have been very worried and saddened, if there hadn’t been these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St. Ignatius (EE 6) called it, if all were in agreement or silent in a false, quietist peace. Instead I saw and heard - with joy and gratitude - speeches and interventions full of faith, doctrinal and pastoral zeal, wisdom, frankness, courage and boldness [parresia]. And I felt that was put in front of your eyes was the good of the Church, of families and the “suprema lex”, the “salus animarum” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always - as we have said here, in the hall - without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of Marriage: indissolubility, unity, fidelity and procreation, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056 and Gaudium et Spes, 48).”
Next, Francis presents his vision of the Church - a Church welcoming of all, open to all:
“And this is the Church, the Lord’s vineyard, the fertile Mother and caring [female] Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on the wounds of men (cf. Lk 10: 25-37); who does not look at humanity from a glass castle to judge or categorize people. This Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, in need of His mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, seeking to be faithful to her spouse and to his doctrine. It is the Church who is not afraid of eating and drinking with prostitutes and tax collectors (Luke 15). The Church that has doors wide open to receive the needy, the repentant and not only the righteous or those who think they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and does not pretend not to see him, what’s more, she feels involved and almost obliged to raise him and encourage him to continue his journey, and she accompanies him to the final encounter with her ​​Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

This is the Church, our mother! And when the Church, in the variety of its charisms, is expressed in communion, she can make no mistakes: this is the beauty and strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of faith, which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and to learn to follow Jesus in our lives, and this must not be seen as a source of confusion and discomfort.”
Wow! This is indeed the Church, my Church, and the Church I am proud for all of my friends to meet.

Francis then continues with this magnificent line of thought, but, for today that’s all from me :).



1 Since, at the time of writing this post, only the Italian version has been made available, the following is my, rough translation.