Francis opening address at the Synod (“walking together”).
Read carefully. At least the Bolletino has it HERE…
Let’s just sloooooow doooooown the English speaking wooooooorld.
Here’s a version in English… my emphases and comments.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for being here at the opening of the Synod. You have come from many roads and Churches, each carrying questions and hopes in your hearts, and I am sure that the Spirit will guide us and give us the grace to go forward together, to listen to each other and to initiate discernment in our time, becoming in solidarity with the labors and desires of humanity. I reiterate that the Synod is not a parliament, that the Synod is not an investigation of opinions; the Synod is an ecclesial moment, and the protagonist of the Synod is the Holy Spirit. If there is no Spirit, there will be no Synod.
Let us live this Synod in the spirit of the prayer that Jesus addressed heartily to the Father for his own: “That they may all be one”(Jn 17:21). To this we are called: to unity, to communion, to the fraternity that is born from feeling embraced by the one love of God. All of us, without distinction, and we Pastors in particular, as St Cyprian wrote: “We must firmly maintain and claim this unity, especially we Bishops who preside over the Church, to give proof that even the episcopate itself is one and undivided”(De Ecclesiae Catholicae Unitate,5). In the one People of God, therefore, let us walk together, to experience a Church that receives and lives the gift of unity and opens herself to the voice of the Spirit.
The key words of the Synod are three: communion, participation, mission. Communion and mission are theological expressions that designate the mystery of the Church and of which it is good to remember. The Second Vatican Council clarified that communion expresses the very nature of the Church and, at the same time, affirmed that the Church has received “the mission of proclaiming and establishing in all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and of this kingdom constitutes on earth the seed and the beginning”(Lumen Gentium, 5). Two words through which the Church contemplates and imitates the life of the Most Holy Trinity, the mystery of communion ad intra and the source of mission ad extra. After a time of doctrinal, theological and pastoral reflections that characterized the reception of Vatican II, St. Paul VI wanted to condense precisely in these two words – communion and mission – “the main lines, enunciated by the Council”. Commemorating his openness, he affirmed that the general lines had been “communion, that is, cohesion and interior fullness, in grace, in truth, in collaboration […] and mission, that is, apostolic commitment to the contemporary world”(Angelus,11 October 1970), which is not proselytism.
Closing the Synod of 1985, twenty years after the conclusion of the conciliar assembly, Saint John Paul II also wanted to reaffirm that the nature of the Church is koinonia:from it flows the mission of being a sign of the intimate union of the human family with God. And he added: “It is supremely fitting that ordinary and, if necessary, even extraordinary Synods be celebrated in the Church” which, in order to bear fruit, must be well prepared: “that is, it is necessary that in the local Churches work be done on their preparation with the participation of all”(Address at the conclusion of the Second Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,7 December 1985). So here is the third word, participation. Communion and mission risk remaining somewhat abstract terms if we do not cultivate an ecclesial practice that expresses the concreteness of synodality in every step of the journey and of work, promoting the real involvement of each and every one. I would like to say that celebrating a Synod is always beautiful and important, but it is truly fruitful if it becomes a living expression of being Church, of an action characterized by true participation.
And this is not for the sake of style, but of faith. Participation is a requirement of baptismal faith. As the Apostle Paul says, “we have all been baptized by one Spirit into one body”(1 Cor 12:13). The starting point, in the ecclesial body, is this and no other: Baptism. From it, our source of life, derives the equal dignity of the children of God, even in the difference of ministries and charisms. For this reason, everyone is called to participate in the life of the Church and in her mission. If there is no real participation of the whole People of God, the discourses on communion risk remaining pious intentions. On this aspect we have made progress, but there is still a certain difficulty and we are forced to record the discomfort and suffering of many pastoral workers, of the participatory bodies of dioceses and parishes, of women who are often still on the margins. To participate everyone: it is an indispensable ecclesial commitment! All baptized, this is the identity card: Baptism. [Unless you want traditional sacred liturgical worship.]
The Synod, precisely while it offers us a great opportunity for a pastoral conversion in a missionary and also ecumenical key, is not exempt from some risks. I will mention three.  The first is that of formalism. You can reduce a Synod to an extraordinary event, but a façade, just as if you were looking at a beautiful façade of a church without ever set foot in it. Instead, the Synod is a path of effective spiritual discernment, which we do not undertake to give a beautiful image of ourselves, but to better collaborate in God’s work in history. Therefore, if we speak of a synodal Church we cannot be satisfied with the form, but we also need substance, tools and structures that favor dialogue and interaction in the People of God, especially between priests and laity. Why do I emphasize this? Because sometimes there is some elitism in the priestly order that makes it detach from the laity; and the priest eventually becomes the “master of the shack” and not the pastor of a whole Church that is moving forward. This requires transforming certain top-down, distorted and partial visions of the Church, the priestly ministry, the role of the laity, ecclesial responsibilities, government roles, and so on. [Imagine there’s no priesthood… It’s easy if you try. Be done in Deutschland. The Synod’s next in line.]
 A second risk is that of intellectualism – abstraction, reality goes there and we with our reflections go elsewhere – to make the Synod a kind of study group, with cultured but abstract interventions on the problems of the Church and on the evils of the world; a sort of “talking to us”, [“talking the talk and walking the walk”… together!] where we proceed in a superficial and worldly way, ending up falling back into the usual sterile ideological and party classifications and detaching ourselves from the reality of the holy People of God, from the concrete life of the communities scattered around the world.
 Finally, there may be the temptation ofimmobility: [“walking together”… on a treadmill.] since “it has always been done this way” (Ap. Evangelii Gaudium,33) – this word is a poison in the life of the Church, “it has always been done this way” – it is better not to change. Those who move in this horizon, even without realizing it, fall into the error of not taking seriously the time we inhabit. The risk is that in the end old solutions will be adopted for new problems: a patch of raw cloth, which in the end creates a worse tear (cf. Mt 9:16). For this reason it is important that the Synod be truly such, a process in progress; involve, in different phases and from below, the local Churches, in a passionate and incarnate work, which imprints a style of communion and participation marked by the mission.
Let us therefore live this occasion of encounter, listening and reflection as a time of grace,brothers and sisters, a time of grace that, in the joy of the Gospel, allows us to seize at least three opportunities. The first is to set out  not occasionally but structurally towards a synodal Church:an open place, where everyone feels at home and can participate. The Synod then offers us the opportunity to become  the Church of listening: to take a break from our rhythms, to stop our pastoral anxieties to stop and listen. [Execept to those people… you know the ones.] Listen to the Spirit in adoration and prayer. How much we miss the prayer of adoration today! Many have lost not only the habit, but also the notion of what it means to worship. [“OVER HERE!” – WAVING ARMS – “ON THE MARGIN! OVER HEEEEERE!”] Listen to our brothers and sisters on the hopes and crises of faith in the different areas of the world, on the urgent needs for the renewal of pastoral life, on the signs that come from local realities.  Finally, we have the opportunity to become a Church of closeness. Let us always return to God’s style: God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness. [Tradionis custodes.] God has always worked like this. If we do not come to this Church of closeness with attitudes of compassion and tenderness, we will not be the Church of the Lord. [!] And this not only in words, but with presence, so that greater bonds of friendship with society and the world may be established: a Church that does not separate itself from life, but takes charge of the fragility and poverty of our time, healing wounds and healing broken hearts with the balm of God. Let us not forget God’s style that must help us: closeness, compassion and tenderness. [Tradionis custodes.]
Dear brothers and sisters, may this Synod once inhabited by the Spirit! Because we need the Spirit, the ever new breath of God, who frees us from all closure, revives what is dead, loosens the chains, spreads joy. The Holy Spirit is the One who guides us where God wants and not where our personal ideas and tastes would take us. Father Congar, of holy memory, recalled: “We must not makeanother Church,we must make a different Church”(Vera e falsa riforma nella Chiesa,Milan 1994, 193). And that’s the challenge. For a “different Church”, open to the newness that God wants to suggest to her, let us invoke the Spirit with greater strength and frequency and humbly listen to him, walking together, as he, creator of communion and mission, desires, that is, with docility and courage.
Come, Holy Spirit. You who arouse new languages and put words of life on your lips, preserve us from becoming a museum Church, beautiful but mute, with so much past and little future. Come among us, because in the synodal experience we do not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by disenchantment, we do not water down prophecy, we do not end up reducing everything to sterile discussions. Come, Holy Spirit of love, open our hearts to listening. Come, Spirit of holiness, renew the holy faithful People of God. Come, Creator Spirit, make the face of the earth new. Amen.
A few take-aways…
- “We must not make another Church,we must make a different Church”
- … the time we inhabit. The risk is that in the end old solutions will be adopted for new problems…
- The first is to set out not occasionally but structurally towards a synodal Church
Congar… “We must not make another Church, we must make a different Church”.
Okay. But I don’t think that means the same thing for everyone. This is something that we are going to have to look at: the roots of this notion in “nouvelle théologie”, etc.
Dear readers… go to confession.
Examine your consciences, looking for possible holes in the way you are living your state in life. Redouble your devotions and your will to do penance in reparation.
I’ve turned on the moderation queue.