Listen to and trust the lay faithful, pope tells synod members

lay faithful

The lay faithful are important Pope Francis told synod on synodality members last Wednesday. He emphasised they should respect and honour the faith of all baptised Catholics.

This includes the women who trust “the holy, faithful people of God” and remain faithful even when their pastors act like dictators.

“I like to think of the church as the simple and humble people who walk in the presence of the Lord — the faithful people of God” Francis told the synod assembly.

Pope speaks of infallibility

In a rare intervention as the assembly was nearing its conclusion, Francis told members to trust the faithful.

They should trust the fidelity of the people they listened to during their preparation for the synod over the past two years.

“One of the characteristics of this faithful people is its – yes, it is infallible in ‘credendo'” – in belief, as the Second Vatican Council taught, Francis said.

“I explain it this way: When you want to know ‘what’ Holy Mother Church believes, go to the magisterium because it is in charge of teaching it to you, but when you want to know ‘how’ the Church believes, go to the faithful people.”

Francis then shared the “story or legend” of the fifth-century Council of Ephesus.

Crowds lined the streets shouting to the bishops “Mother of God.”

They demanded the bishops declare as dogma “that truth which they already possessed as the people of God” Francis said.

“Some say that they had sticks in their hands and showed them to the bishops.

“I do not know if it is history or legend, but the image is valid.”

“The faithful people, the holy faithful people of God” have a soul, a conscience and a way of seeing reality, Francis explained.

Women pass on the flame

All the cardinals and bishops at the synod come from the faithful people of God, Francis said. They received the faith from those people – usually through their mothers and grandmothers.

“And here I would like to emphasise that, among God’s holy and faithful people, faith is transmitted in dialect and generally in a feminine dialect.

“This is not only because the Church is mother and it is precisely women who best reflect her.”

It is also because “it is women who know how to hope, know how to discover the resources of the church and of the faithful people, who take risks beyond the limit, perhaps with fear but courageously.”

He reminded the assembly that it was the women disciples who at dawn “approach a tomb with the intuition – not yet hope – that there may be some life.”

Disfiguring the face of the Church

Francis spoke of damage that can be wrought when ministers overstep in their service and mistreat the people of God.

They “disfigure the face of the Church with chauvinistic and dictatorial attitudes” the pope said.

This happens when despite ongoing service, commitment and fidelity, Catholic women often face exclusion, rejection and mistreatment.

“Clericalism is a whip, it is a scourge, it is a form of worldliness that defiles and damages the face of the Lord’s bride” the Church, Francis said. “It enslaves God’s holy and faithful people.”


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