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Pope Francis opens synod on synodality

October 11, 2021

Pope Francis opened the two-year synod of synodality with an address on October 9 and Mass on October 10.

The theme of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is “For a synodal church: communion, participation, and mission.” The synod has now begun at the local level and concludes in Rome in October 2023.

In his address at the opening of the synodal process, Pope Francis said that the Synod has

  • three “key words”: communion, participation, and mission
  • three risks: formalism, intellectualism, and complacency
  • at least three opportunities:
    • “that of moving not occasionally but structurally towards a synodal Church”
    • “the opportunity to become a listening Church . . . to listen to the Spirit in adoration and prayer”
    • “the opportunity to become a Church of closeness”

He concluded:

Come, Holy Spirit! You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips: keep us from becoming a “museum Church”, beautiful but mute, with much past and little future. Come among us, so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm, dilute the power of prophecy, or descend into useless and unproductive discussions. Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice! Come, Holy Spirit of holiness, renew the holy and faithful People of God! Come, Creator Spirit, renew the face of the earth! Amen.

At Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica the following day, Pope Francis reflected on the synod in light of the Gospel reading (Mark 10:17-30).

“Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together,” he preached. “Let us look at Jesus. First, he encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life. Encounter, listen and discern.”

God’s word “guides the Synod, preventing it from becoming a Church convention, a study group or a political gathering, a parliament, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Spirit,” the Pope continued. “In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time. And the direction in which he wants to lead us.”

Pope Francis concluded:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us have a good journey together! May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.


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