In response to media “interpretations” of what took place in the Synod Hall last October, Pope Francis is telling the world what actually happened.
He did so at this morning’s weekly general audience in a sunny St. Peter’s Square, when he began a new series of catecheses on the family.
The Pope said: “The synod is not a parliament, but a protected space where the Holy Spirit can work.”
“This,” he told the pilgrims gathered, means “there was no clash between factions, as in a parliament where this is licit, but a discussion between bishops, which took place after a long work of preparation and which now will continue with other work, for the good of families, of the Church and of society.”
“It is a process,” he noted. “It is the normal synodal way.”
He noted the timeliness of a catechesis series on the family, given its place between each phase of the synods on the family.
The Pope reminded those present how the pastoral challenges involving the family were discussed in a recent meeting of the Synod of Bishops in preparation for the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod, Oct. 4-25, 2015.
During the synod, Francis said, “the media did its work – there was much expectation, much attention – and we thank them because they did so also with abundance.” He noted this was possible thanks to the Holy See Press Office, which held a briefing daily.
“However,” he continued, “the view of the media was often somewhat in the style of sports or political chronicles: often there was talk of two teams, for and against, conservatives and progressives. Today I want to tell you what the Synod was.”
“Some of you might ask me: ‘Did the Fathers quarrel?’ Well, I don’t know if they quarreled, but they spoke strongly, yes, truly. And this is liberty; it is in fact the liberty that exists in the Church.”
Everything, he explained, “happened ‘cum Petro et sub Petro,’ that is, with the presence of the Pope, which is a guarantee for freedom and trust.”
He said the meeting began with a very frank discussion of the serious challenges being faced by the family.
All Synod Fathers, he explained, have been able to speak on serious challenges, and everyone listened. He described this as “a moment of great freedom, in which each has exhibited his thoughts with frankness and confidence.”
Pope Francis noted, “No intervention has questioned the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of Marriage: the indissolubility, unity, loyalty and openness to life.”
From these discussions, he explained that their “fruits” were collected in a preliminary report and then discussed in smaller groups during the second week. Observations and suggestions which emerged were incorporated in a final report, which were used as the basis for the final message of the Synod Fathers.
The Pope explained how this final report is being sent to episcopal conferences worldwide; the results of this survey will be brought to next October’s synod.
“Therefore,” he said, “the official documents that issued from the Synod are three: the Final Message, the Final Report and the Pope’s final address. There are no others.”
The 77-year-old Pontiff concluded asking for prayers, through the intercession of Mary, that the synod process will result in pastoral decisions truly beneficial to the family, the Church and society.
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