Pope Francis at the 18th General Congregation Photo: Vatican Media

Pope Warns Synod: Either the Church Is the Holy People of God or It Ends Up Being a Service Company

The Holy Father’s address to the participants in the Synod on Synodality on Wednesday afternoon, October 25

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ZENIT News / Vatican City, 25.10.2023).- On Wednesday afternoon, October 25, in the course of the 18thGeneral Congregation  of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis gave an address that, in fact, he pronounced on the same day that the Assembly made known a Letter to the People of God, which Letter received 336 votes in favour and 12 votes against.

Here is the Pope’s address.

* * *

I like to think of the Church as the faithful People of God, holy and sinful, a people convoked and called  with the force of the Beatitudes and of Matthew 25.

Jesus did not assume for His Church any of the political schemes of His time: not the Pharisees’, not the Sadducees’, not the Essenes’, not the Zealots’ — no “closed corporation.” He simply took up Israel’s tradition: “You will be my people and I will be your God.”

I like to think of the Church as this simple and humble people that walks in the presence of the Lord (the faithful People of God).This is the religious sense of our faithful people. And I say faithful people so as not to fall into the many ideological approaches and schemes, with which the reality of the People of God is “reduced.” Simply faithful people or, also, holy faithful People of God on the way, holy and sinful. And the Church is this.

One of the characteristics  of this faithful people is its infallibility; yes, its infallible in credendo. (In credendo falli nequit, says Lumen Gentium 9). Infabilitas in credendo. And I explain it thus: When you want to know what Holy Mother Church believes, go to the Magisterium, because it is in charge of teaching it to you, but when you want to know  how the Church believes, go to the faithful people.

 An image comes to mind: the faithful people gathered at the entrance of the Cathedral of Ephesus. History (or legend) says that the people were on both sides of the path to the Cathedral, while the Bishops made their entrance in procession and in chorus repeated: “Mother of God,” asking the Hierarchy to declare that truth a dogma, which they already had as People of God (some say they had sticks in their hands and showed them to the Bishops). I don’t know if it’s history or legend, but the image is valid.

The faithful people, the holy faithful People of God has a soul, and because we are able to speak of the soul of a people, we can speak of an hermeneutic, of a way of seeing the reality, of an awareness. Our faithful people is conscious of its dignity, it baptizes its children and buries its dead.

We, the members of the Hierarchy, come from that people and we have received the faith of that past, generally from our mothers and  grandmothers, “your mother and your grandmother” Paul says go Timothy, a faith transmitted in feminine dialect, as the Mother of the Maccabees, who speaks to her sons “in dialect.” And here I like to underscore  that, in the holy faithful People of God, the faith is transmitted in dialect, and generally in feminine dialect. This not only because the Church is Mother and it’s precisely women who best reflect it; (the Church is woman) but because it is women who know how to wait, how to discover the resources of the Church, of the faithful people, they risk beyond the limit, perhaps with fear but courageous and in the twilightof a day that is dawning they approach the Sepulcher with the intuition (not yet hope) that there might be something of life.

 The woman of the holy faithful People of God is a reflection of the Church. The Church is feminine, is Bride, is Mother.

When ministers exceed themselves in their service and mistreat the People of God, they disfigure the face of the Church with machista  and dictatorial attitudes (suffice it to recall the intervention of Sister Liliana Franco). It is painful to find in some parish offices the “list of prices” of sacramental services like a supermarket. Either the Church is the faithful People of God on the way, holy and sinful, or it ends up being a company of varied services. And when pastoral agents take this second way the Church becomes a supermarket of salvation and the priests mere employees of a multinational. It’s the great defeat to which clericalism leads us. And [I say] this with great sadness and scandal (suffice it to go to ecclesiastical tailors in Rome to see the scandal of young priests trying on cassocks and hats or albs and rochets trimmed with lace).

Clericalism is a whip, a scourge, it’s a form of worldliness that soils and injures the face of the Lord’s Bride; it enslaves the holy faithful People of God.

And the People of God, the holy faithful People of God, goes forward with patience and humility, enduring the contempt, mistreatment, marginalization by institutionalized clericalism. And with how much naturalness we speak of the Princes of the Church, or of Episcopal promotions as career promotions! The horrors of the world, the worldliness which mistreats the holy faithful People of God.


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