Pope asks family synod not to thwart God’s dream for people

On the eve of the opening of the synod on the family, Pope Francis said the secret to solving situations of difficulty lies in gazing on the face of Christ.

“Every time we return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and un-thought of possibilities open up,” the Pope said at a prayer vigil the night before the synod opened.

He recommended gazing on the face of Christ for unity and renewal.

“With the joy of the Gospel we will rediscover the way of a reconciled and merciful Church, poor and friend of the poor; a Church ‘given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without’.”

The Pope asked the Holy Spirit for three things for the October 5-19 synod participants; the theme of which is “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”.

The first is the gift of listening as God does to the voices of people, “until they breathe the will to which God calls us”.

The second is openness to sincere discussion, with confidence that Christ will unify all in the end.

The third is being able to gaze on the face of Christ, so that the synod discussions, loved in return with the gaze of Christ, might be a providential occasion for renewal of Church and society.

Opening the synod at a Mass the next day, the Pontiff commented on the readings, warning the synod fathers not to take over the vineyard entrusted to them.

He warned against “bad shepherds lay[ing] intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move”.

The pontiff also laid out clearly what the synod is not to do.

“Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent,” said Francis.

“They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realise his dream, his loving plan for his people.”

The Pope warned synod participants not to “thwart God’s dream” by failing to “let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit”.

“The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity,” he continued.

The synod’s deliberations are not open to the public, and the Vatican has said information released from it will be limited.

But reporters will get a daily briefing from a Vatican spokesman.


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