Synod14: Full Text of Pope Francis’ Opening Words

“It is necessary to say everything that, in the Lord, one feels should be said, with human respect, without fear, and, at the same time, one must listen with humility.”

This morning, in the course of the 1st General Congregation of the 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis addressed the following words of gratitude and greeting to the Synodal Fathers, which we translate below

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Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellences, Brothers and Sisters,

I give you my cordial welcome to this meeting and my heartfelt thanks for you solicitous and qualified presence and attendance.

In your name, I would like to express my earnest and profound gratitude to all the persons who worked for long months, with dedication, patience and competence, reading, evaluating and elaborating the topics, texts and works of this Extraordinary General Assembly.

Allow me to address my particular and cordial gratitude to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod; to Monsignor Fabio Fabene, Under-Secretary, and, together with them, all the reporters, writers, advisers, translators and all the staff of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. They worked tirelessly, and continue to work, for the good outcome of the present Synod: thank you, truly, so much and may the Lord recompense you!

Likewise, I thank the Post-Synodal Council, the reporter and the Secretary General; the Episcopal Conferences that truly worked so much and, with them, I thank the three Presidents Delegate.

I also thank you, dear Cardinals, Patriarchs, Bishops, priests, men and women religious, laymen and laywomen for your presence and for your participation, which enriches the works and the spirit of collegiality and synodality for the good of the Church and of families! I also wanted this spirit of synodality in the choice of the reporter, the Secretary General and the Presidents Delegate. The first two were elected directly by the Post-Synodal Council, which was also elected by the participants in the last Synod. Instead, as the Presidents Delegate  must be chosen by the Pope, I asked the Post-Synodal Council itself to suggest names  and I appointed those that the Council proposed to me.

You carry the voice of the particular Churches, gathered at the level of local Churches through the Episcopal Conferences. The universal Church and the particular Churches are of divine institution; the local Churches thus understood are of human institution. You will carry this voice in synodality. It is a great responsibility: to carry the realities and the problems of the Churches, to help them walk on that path that is the Gospel of the family.

A basic general condition is this: to speak clearly. No one must say: “This can’t be said; he will think of me this way or that …” It is necessary to say everything that is felt with parrhesia. After the last Consistory (February 2014), in which there was talk of the family, a Cardinal wrote to me saying: too bad that some Cardinals didn’t have the courage to say some things out of respect for the Pope, thinking, perhaps, that the Pope thought something different. This is not good; this is not synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that in the Lord one feels should be said, with human respect, without fear. And, at the same time, one must listen with humility and receive with an open heart what the brothers say. Synodality will be exercised with these two attitudes.

Therefore, I ask you, please, for these attitudes of brothers in the Lord: to speak with parrhesia and to listen with humility.

And do so with much tranquillity and peace, because the Synod always unfolds cum Petro et sub Petro, and the Pope’s presence is the guarantee for all and protection of the faith.

Dear Brothers, let us all collaborate so that the dynamic of synodality is clearly affirmed. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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