Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pope Francis' closing statement to the Synod. Worth the read!

Originally posted by Rodrigo Guerra López. Thank you!

Pope Francis at the conclusion of the 
Extraordinary Synod on the Family
October 18, 2014

Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.

From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.

I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!

I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

- One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

- The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

- The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

- The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

- The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

This is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God's People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it... that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].

May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!


  1. This is great! I've been seeing a whole lot of the "Destructive tendency toward goodness" lately in certain Catholic most, actually. I know it's a backlash against the big, bad monster of legalism, but it's just as frustrating from the outside looking in. And yes, I still consider myself very much a Catholic outsider.

  2. Kristi, I never would even begin to think of you as a Catholic outsider! You are as Catholic as anyone I know! :)

  3. This is such a fiasco. I'm trying to trust the Pope here, but what kind of a weaselly speech is this? His carefully-picked administrators were caught red-handed trying to manipulate the Synod, and sabotage the teaching of the faith. Instead of saying "no more of this!" what does he do? Dishonestly imply "ok, we were caught, but the other side is just as bad" and then promise to guarantee us another 12 months of chaos. He knows what the media is going to do for the next 12 months: they're going to tell every Catholic and non-Catholic in the world that the formerly absolute prohibitions on adultery and sodomy are now "open questions" that the bishops will reconsider and vote on sometime next year.

  4. As Christopher West said ... it reminds him of the storm with Jesus asleep in the boat. We just need to trust and keep close to Our Lord. God is a better "chess" player than all of us and he will see to it that the Barque is safe. Trust.

  5. Marie, exactly! And Joseph, I can't agree. I don't assign those motives to the Holy Father. To call him dishonest is troubling. Would I have conducted things as he did? Nope, but I am not the Vicar of Christ, so that is not my call. I trust the Spirit to work as He wills to work. And, I don't ever trust the media. ;) Not now, not during the pontificate of JPII, not during the pontificate of Benedict (remember what they did with his condom comments?). Do you think the media was any different at any other time in the past 40 years? They will always distort, lie, play ignorant, push their agenda.

  6. I have been practicing fb abstinence; staying away from my more luke-warmish Catholics friend's walls regarding this stuff and absolutely staying away from the media's take. It works wonders, and the story of Jesus asleep on the boat during the storm.... thank you Marie M, perfect picture for me to keep in my mind. :)

  7. Leila, I hope you're right and there were no ill motives on the Pope's part, but I certainly can't see what you see in the speech transcribed above. At Mass today (at the Church of the Assumption in Nashville, TN -- I'm here for a conference) the priest used the phrase "don't worry" several times in his homily and I have been carrying that with me. It reminds me of the Padre Pio quote, "Pray, hope, and don't worry!" Worrying about the aftermath of the synod isn't going to do me any good, so I'll try to remind myself of that saint's good advice.

  8. Joseph, Amen! Jesus commanded us not to worry. I'm not thrilled with a lot of what went on in the synod, but I'm trusting that God will use all of it for a greater good. At the very least, it's amazing how the media and the world is focusses on the "old, outdated, irrelevant" Catholic Church. ;)

  9. The Holy Father's statement is beautiful and challenging. I especially love this: "reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them." What a challenge to priests.

    At the same time... much of what I've been reading, and I follow bloggers who are faithful to and love the Church, is tending to be very negative. The mid-term report was horrendous. But I think Pope Francis recognizes the aspects of the report that, if followed, would weaken the Church when he warns against "a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo]... that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots." That is the "goodness" found in Catholics who march at gay rights parades, as the Catholic teachers did in Toronto. They think they are showing love by showing some kind of support, yet by their actions they ignore the causes and roots of a sin that often has deeply painful causes and roots. They are, in fact, celebrating a wound. I am glad to see that Pope Francis recognizes that such "goodness" only seems to be good, but in reality avoids giving people what they truly need.

    The most encouraging thing I've read has ironically come from Michael Voris, a commenter I normally avoid because he just brings too much bad news. I think anyone who is finding himself or herself truly anxious over the direction of the Church, and who finds the anxiety is much worse after the Synod, would do well to watch this video, entitled, "Let's Just Say".

    It is a good reminder that, even if things really are as bad as they could possibly be, we are still members of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, and the crosses that we carry for the Church can be used by our Lord for the benefit of His Church.

  10. Leila
    What are you "not thrilled about?"

  11. Johanne, I was not thrilled with the posturing of the more "liberal" factions there, who would (let's face it) like to see a change in the moral law and Church teaching, and I was not thrilled at how they were able to manipulate the draft and its release. Lots written about that. The majority of the bishops were incredibly upset by those shenanigans. And I was not pleased that Cardinal Kasper insulted the African bishops (who have literally mopped up the blood of the martyrs in their flocks), then lied about it, then had to back up that lie when an audio tape of the interview was presented.

    1. Should be more clear: Kasper had to concede the lie, then apologize (sort of) when he was caught.

  12. I haven't been following to closely but I see the Pope simply letting light in the room so arguments can be made in the open and not whispered into like minded ears. If a leader announces " I'm all ears" and he gives everybody cover by saying " you may be right", then everybody truly spills their guts and promotes what they believe. That in turn brings out passionate counter arguments. In that setting nobody can hide behind their alliances and friends. I think the Pope is not afraid of making a mess as long as it somehow brings more people to the Truth in the end. Most people it seams, have this idea that all the rules of the church originate from a bunch of old men voting and are used to the idea of men deciding what is true or not. Well, Jesus is the only problem. Once everything is vented and hashed out only the Gospel is left and Jesus standing there saying " nice try, you weenies" ( and the Pope just shrugs his shoulders its'because Jesus' church). No doubt the Pope understands that the truth will prevail and all who have ears to hear may hear the Truth with more clarity. I believe the end result will be that the world will see the full spectrum of arguments as to why we must make sin ok, only to have Truth left standing tall like the lighthouse. Now that, might just stir some souls.
    All through history the Church has faced impossible challenges and this is no different. There has always been clergy pleading from the pastoral point of view that the problem of sin is endless and exhausting and "something must be done!" Man has been trying to justify sin from the beginning. Good thing we have "the Way, Truth and Life" protected by the Holy Spirit and not man. The Pope understands as well as anyone that convincing someone that a sin is not really a sin doesn't help them one bit and will never work. I think we know how this ends. Jesus' church will remain Jesus' church no matter how hard the world tries to change it.

  13. And if I may. I know a there are some real prayer warriors on this blog. Please pray for our friends who are going through fire right now. Tim and Bernadette are parents to six kids (youngest is 7) and he is coming home on hospice care with cancer. tough days ahead and who knows what kind of galvanizing work God is doing here. Please pray for peace through this trial. Thanks

    1. May Tim, Bernadette and their children feel the strength of God's grace in the coming days. We will remember them in our family prayers.

  14. Leila, what do you think of stories like this one?

    Most importantly: “I was very disturbed by what happened” at the synod, Chaput said. “I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion."

    Do you think it's wrong of Archbishop Chaput to make comments like that? Do you think it comes across as critical of the Holy Father? I think people see Pope Francis as being responsible for the confusion, since he chose such controversial Cardinals to have important roles in the Synod. I am at the point where I'd rather see upbeat attitudes like yours. A strong positive that I saw coming from Pope Francis is the placement of the Cardinal Napier of South Africa on the committee that wrote the final report of the Synod. I think that sent a strong message to Cardinal Kasper and was important in the vast improvement of the final report over the mid-term draft.

  15. Sharon, I can't disagree with Archbishop Chaput. The confusion was great, and it's unfortunate. I wish it had played out differently. But I do like what Pope Francis has to say here at the closing. It's sad that the dissenting faction got to play the media and the public the way they did. I didn't like that at all. I am glad that the majority of bishops straightened that out in the end.

  16. Late thoughts, Leila. Here is one thing that I wonder. About whom do you think the Holy Father was speaking when he referred to traditionalists? What, to Pope Francis, do you think represents hostile inflexibility? Obviously I see Cardinal Kasper as one who would bind untreated wounds, but I can't say that I know who fits the opposite description. What are your thoughts on that?

  17. Sharon, good question. I think he is referring to those Catholics (and I've seen them plenty of times and talked to them and debated them) who really do wish to hold to a Javert-like inflexibility to anyone deemed "less than" pure either liturgically, morally, etc. They do not have a loving heart towards folks who are not quite where they are on the journey (and it takes some folks longer than others... I've see it, I've lived it). It's sort of the "if I have faith to move mountains but have not love, I have nothing" situation, and those who are truly Pharisaical. I have seen it, and when I see it, it's harsh and ugly, and I do believe it drives souls away, rather than drawing them in. I assume that is what he meant.


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