Pope: Celebrating Synod means walking together on the same road

Vatican News reports:

Pope Francis formally opened the Synod of Bishops on Sunday with a solemn Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

Faithful from around the world – including laymen and -women, priests, seminarians, women and men religious, cardinals and bishops – took part in the liturgy, which marked the beginning of a two-year synodal process.

In his homily, Pope Francis took the day’s Gospel reading, recounting Jesus’ encounter with a rich young man, as the starting point for a reflection on synodality: “Celebrating a Synod,” he said, “means walking on the same road, together.”
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  1. Paddy Ferry says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod means walking together on the same road…

    I read this quote from Francis somewhere else today.

    “Everything changes once we are capable of genuine encounters with [Jesus] and with one another, without formalism or pretense, but simply as we are,” said Francis in a homily in St. Peter’s Basilica.

    Now, wouldn’t that be wonderful! A sound man, is Francis.

  2. Soline Humbert says:

    Pope: Celebrating synod
    Am I to understand that Pope Francis, unlike his predecessors, is now open to a genuine encounter with women who feel called to the presbyteral ministry?
    And that he is at least willing to listen to them and not just repeat from a distance that ”Pope John Paul II has closed the door”?
    Or are we to continue to be treated as non-persons, unworthy of a response and an encounter?
    Has anything changed?

  3. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod…

    “Am I to understand … ?”
    Catherine of Siena, with four such urgent questions, wouldn’t have been content to fire them off into the ether of the ACP forum. She’d have been off to buttonhole Gregory XI at Avignon or Urban VI at the Vatican, after peppering them with Latin letters. Time for a trip to Domus Sanctae Marthae, methinks.

  4. Sean O'Conaill says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod…

    #2 Could it be, Soline, that knowing the limitations of his own power to change anything now by fiat, Francis is trying to make room for the Holy Spirit in the church – to change things via the interactions that could now take place even in Ireland?

    As we know well, even the presbyter can presume to ‘lord it over’ the merely baptised, so raising the missionary dignity of Baptism is for me the top priority now – if the iron grip of clericalism in Ireland is to be loosened.

    That none of the baptised should be disqualified from the presbyteral role by gender is also true for me, but the ‘flattening’ of the church I see as paramount, sequentially, in saying a final farewell to Christendom and clericalism.

    With Cardinal Grech I would give paramountcy to the parental rather than the presbyteral role, to resolve the basic problem of faith formation and continuity – if the clerical institution is to become subsidiary to the family rather than the other way about.

  5. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Pope: celebrating synod …

    Three weeks ago We Are Church advertised a Synodal Event with Bishop Paul Dempsey for tomorrow evening. Few if any of the 37 comments could be said to have had anything to do with the WAC post or event. It is a Zoom gathering which, unfortunately, my badly reduced hearing will deter me from joining, so I hope that there will be a follow-up transcription or even summary report. The recent Root & Branch “Bristol Text” and transcribed Speakers’ contributions were excellent in this regard. Indeed that “Bristol Text” should feed into any synodal discussion – local, diocesan, national, continental or universal. Meanwhile, may we hope that the present thread does not suffer from too much sidelining, too many red herrings, or what Francis worried about in his Saturday pre-synod reflection: a surfeit of “intellectualism or the usual people saying the usual things -YAWN”. So far so good, judging by Comments 1, 2 & 4 above.

  6. Soline Humbert says:

    Pope celebrating synod
    #3 Eddie, about women meeting popes…

    Marie Collins who is a survivor of clerical child sexual abuse was on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors until 2017 when she eventually resigned in frustration. In the four years she attended regular meetings in the Vatican and gave stellar service (unpaid) she was never given once the opportunity to share her valuable personal experience and insights with Pope Francis. It was only in 2018, when the Pope was in Dublin, that she eventually was able to have a short meeting (organised at very little notice) with him, as part of a group of survivors. And even that didn’t take place without people petitioning for it to happen.

    And for the record, the last time I was in Rome the Vatican called on Italian police to have me and another woman arrested for having a banner erected across a Roman street, outside the Vatican but visible from the Vatican. The banner which caused the clerics such ire read ”Ordain Women” in several languages. Unfortunately for them, much to their disbelief, we had managed to obtain a proper city permit for the banner. So they couldn’t arrest us (”to teach us a lesson”) and the banner remained up for a month (as paid for). There was nothing for the sensitive souls in the Vatican to do but to keep custody of the eyes if our banner offended them so much.
    As for letters to Pope Francis, either they don’t reach him or he chooses not to reply to some.

  7. Ger Hopkins says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod means walking together…

    How great it is to have a resource like this website and the chance to take the temperature of one wing of the Irish Church in advance of the Synod.

    I’m still trying to form an idea of where ACP members are coming from – there’s a long way to go yet – and in sharing my initial impressions I recognise the need to be as sensitive as possible. There’s obviously a delicacy required in attempting to characterise other people’s views.

    What I don’t see here, so far, is people making an attempt to engage with, understand or put themselves in the shoes of conservative traditional Catholics who make up the majority of Irish church goers today.

    I don’t see any discussion of possible areas of compromise. This site would be a good place to try out the softening of language that would be required for future dialogue.

    That may reflect a lot of things – there’s plenty of time to go, this is a website principally for those of a particular outlook, you’re still at the stage of rallying the troops, you’ll engage when you get to the Synod.

    But it could also be that – and I say this from the point of view of trying to understand, certainly not as a criticism – for a long time you have characterised yourselves as outsiders. That status or self perception can engender feelings of frustration and anger. Which is a very difficult place from which to engage in dialogue.

    Adding to the feelings of frustration may be the lingering perception that the positions most ACP members hold dear will probably not be endorsed in the final report drawn up by the Bishops. (Given that Francis doesn’t endorse them, given that our Synod has now been subsumed to an extent in a universal Synod, given that most of the worlds practicing Catholics don’t endorse those views either. Something to which we will no doubt return.)

    We shall see what happens; the Synod has powers to call on that are outside of history and time. But my uninspired view at the moment is that this pessimism about what can be achieved within the Synod means it may be used by ACP members as a place to formally raise issues that they will then take up and discuss outside the Synod in the old media. Which is not really dialogue and could be done already without the need for a Synod at all.

    To repeat, all this is nothing more than my current impression and I would be delighted to see the Synod move all parties towards dialogue and mutual understanding. Stranger things have happened under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    Footnote: As if to illustrate the above, Fr Roy Donovan has been in the media over the last few days comparing the Irish Church to the Taliban. It hardly needs to be said what that means for dialogue with other Church members. But more importantly it sends what to a lot of people is a pretty clear message about why dialogue is being rejected. What comes across is that someone would only do this if they think failure to achieve their goals through dialogue is preordained. As somone who wouldn’t share Fr Donovan’s agenda you can guess my reaction to this strong signal of the futility he apparently feels in trying to win over other Church members. I hesitate to say ‘more please’ but on the other hand…

    Interesting times ahead.

  8. Sean O'Conaill says:

    Pope Francis: Celebrating Synod…

    #7 “…conservative traditional Catholics who make up the majority of Irish church goers today.”

    Evidence please, prior to mere assertion?

    The origin of your certitudes on such matters is baffling to me, Ger, as I keep an eagle eye out for such research-needy conclusions – and the Irish Catholic clerical Church does not show anything like the same enthusiasm for statistical research as e.g. the UN.

    ‘Nother question: as the ‘mission’ obligation implicit in ‘Communion, Participation and Mission’ (Synodality) surely obliges us to show interest in and understanding of all those who are no longer ‘church goers’, are you in danger of believing that the majority of church goers have absolutely no missionary spirit or curiosity?

    My experience is that what church goers are praying for above all is the arrival of a missionary mood in their own parish – to replace the defensive maintenance mood that has us standing still or in decline.

    Again, if you think me wrong in that belief, evidence please!

  9. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod …

    After ‘Santo Subito’, I’m not so sure that even multilingual banners on or near Piazza San Pietro are such a good idea. Have you tried prayer? For the Conversion of the Pope to your cause, I mean. We spent a century or more praying after Mass for the Conversion of Russia and it seemed to work about thirty years ago. There again, look what they ended up with. Careful what you pray for, I’d say.

    The alternative might be to consign Pope Francis to Ger Hopkins’ psychologist’s couch – once s/he has finished psychologising the ACP as if they were all of one mind and intent. I see @7 s/he’s continuing the patronising cajolery approach, after a somewhat unconvincing spark of interest in Mayo-Dublin football fell flat with Brendan and Sean passed up on her/his offer to introduce him to some more conservative Catholic group(ie)s.

  10. Joe O'Leary says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod…

    I agree with Soline that a Synod that refuses to discuss women’s ordination (and many other taboo topics) is defective.

    Fr Paul Surlis (1936-2014) was a passionate advocate for the ordination of women. Here are some excerpts from his article ‘The Ordination of Women: Divinely Prohibited or Inevitable Development’ (Japan Mission Journal 68.3, Autumn 2014, 181-8):

    ‘Consider how transformative it would be if half the priests and bishops in churches and dioceses all over the world were women, if half the curia were women, if the next pope might be a woman, if half the Vatican nuncios were women, if half the personnel representing the Vatican at the United Nations were women. Would Vatican policies, especially concerning women and reproductites in developing countries, be what they are today if half the personnel implement them were women?

    ‘… would a narrow sexual agenda by lifted up as the church’s dominant concern?… The Church by denying full co-equal rights… offers, at least indirectly, support to governments and others who wish to confine women to subordinate or second-class status… There are no compelling reasons why women should not be deacons, priests, bishops, and pope in a community symbolizing and working for the reign of God which Jesus announced and inaugurated in his person and ministry, and in his death and resurrection.’

    Surlis surveys the Councils of Elvira, Chalcedon, and Lateran I, II, and IV, and quotes works by Samuel Laeuchli (Power and Sexuality, 1972), Sandra Schneders (in Leonard and Arlene Swidler, ed., Women Priests, 1977), Edward Schillebeeckx (Ministry, 1981), Anne Llewellyn Barstow (Married Priests and the Reforming Papacy, 1982), Daniel Maguire (The Moral Revolution 1986), Gary Macy (The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination, 2008).

    I wonder if these writers are read and studied. Are they ignored instead of being discussed? Defenders of the status quo seem to have no comparable output.

  11. Ger Hopkins says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod…

    I would also love to see some polling on the attitudes of Irish Catholics today, Sean @8. Especially some polling that focussed on the views of those who are still attending Mass weekly or more often.

    Unfortunately we don’t have that. My belief that the majority of regular Mass goers are conservative is mostly based on two things. The first being my own experience which you may discount. The second, what seems like a reasonable argument; numbers attending Mass have dropped off and those Catholics who had a major problem with the Church’s teachings on gay marriage, womens roles, abortion etc. are the ones most likely to be staying away. The ones attending regularly you would imagine are the ones more likely to be comfortable with the Church’s teachings on these issues.

    Obviously there are many exceptions to this – a lot of them ACP members.

    But I agree with you what we really need is polling. In the States good data is provided by lay groups – the Pew Research Centre and the KOC for example. Has anyone here got the money?

    Your second question seems to be making my point for me. I was hoping to see more evidence on this site of attempts to understand where conservatives are coming from, walking a mile in their shoes or, to put it in your terms, I was hoping ACP members would see “the ‘mission’ obligation implicit in ‘Communion, Participation and Mission’ (Synodality) surely obliges us to show interest in and understanding of “them.”

    Of course I agree that everyone is hoping for the arrival of a missionary mood. But I’d add that if you spend time around conservative Irish Catholicism you’d already be seeing signs of it.

  12. Ger Hopkins says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod

    Thanks, Soline. The first sentence in the article linked to in #12 says that this woman, Anne Tropeano, is about to be ‘ordained as a Roman Catholic priest’. I don’t understand what that is supposed to mean. I can’t make sense of it as a statement. Can anyone explain?

    (Anne sounds like a marvellous person. I’ve no doubt we’ll be hearing more from her.)

  13. Maureen Mulvaney says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod…

    We are sick and tired of walking together since Vatican II. We were all excited then and loved the open windows and fresh air. We had meetings and discussions and flip charts and suggestions. Women spent years here in Dublin in discussion and discernment about equality and justice for women. They gave their report to Archbishop Martin and got no response. Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI put us in reverse mode and marched us back towards Vatican I. People are now sick of walking as per clerical directions and are now correctly walking away from the abusive patriarchs. We were told in no uncertain terms that parish bodies – if any allowed by “the man” are merely consultative. The clerics proscribe the walking route and set up the red lines and roadblocks. Unfortunately, that appears to be the position as we are being shepherded on to a lovely synodal pathway.

    We have listened to the holy men in their unchallenged pulpits for far too long. It is past time for them to listen to us and proceed towards substantial reform Catholics have discerned since 1968 that Humanae Vitae was outdated and defective teaching of the Ancient Fathers. They show no sign yet of walking with us or listening to us on that and lots of other crucial “Red Button” issues.

    Enough of the walking, it is now time for honest action and reform. The Holy Spirit is waiting. Let’s go dance with the Lord of the Dance! The poor sheep have been going round in circles for too long.

  14. Paddy Ferry says:

    Pope: Celebrating Synod.

    Maureen, what an honest and refreshing reflection !!

    Well said.

  15. Phil Dunne says:

    Pope celebrating synod

    Maureen @ 15

    Couldn’t agree more with you Maureen. I too have done far too much futile walking. I see nothing to celebrate about this synod.

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