Pope wants listening Church with right view of hierarchy

Pope Francis has called for a Church that listens and learns at every level, but he said this requires the correct view of Church structure.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, Francis outlined his vision for a Church that is “synodal” at every level.

“A synodal church is a listening church, aware that listening is more than hearing. It is a reciprocal listening in which each one has something to learn,” Pope Francis said.

Through Baptism and Confirmation all members of the Church have been anointed by the Holy Spirit.

The entire Christian community is infallible when its members discern together and speak with one voice on matters of faith and morals, Francis said.

“The ‘sensus fidei’ (sense of faith) makes it impossible to rigidly separate the ‘ecclesia docens’ (teaching church) and the ‘ecclesia discens’ (learning church) because even the flock has a ‘nose’ for discerning the new paths that the Lord is opening up to the Church,” the Pope said.

But people sometimes misunderstand the Church’s hierarchy and see it as a structure in which some people are placed above others, he noted.

The Church’s structure, the Pope said, “is like an upside down pyramid” with the top on the bottom, which is why the ordained are called “ministers” – they serve the others.

In a diocese, he said, the bishop is the “vicar of that Jesus who, at the Last Supper, knelt to wash the feet of the apostles,” and the pope is called to truly be “the servant of the servants of God”.

Francis said that “the pope does not stand alone above the Church”, but he is “within it as a baptised person among the baptised and in the episcopal college as a bishop among bishops, called at the same time – as the successor of the Apostle Peter – to guide the church of Rome, which presides in love over all the churches”.

He added that a pope acts “ . . . as the supreme witness of the faith of the entire Church”.

Pope Francis said the Synod of Bishops is the convergence point of “this dynamic of listening conducted at all levels of Church life”.

Cardinal John Dew blogged that it is very clear the Pope “has sought to re-energise the synod”.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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