The synod opens with Pope Francis saying “Let’s talk!”

Synod2014The Extraordinary Synod on the Family opens with Pope Francis saying “Let’s talk!” and an Australian couple takes him up on it saying gay partners should be welcomed in families and parishes.  Vatican Radio live streamed the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on the Family this morning and the big message from Francis was,”let’s talk.”

In his opening statement he said, “Speak out. Let no one say: ‘This can not be said’…After the last consistory (February 2014)…a Cardinal wrote to me saying: pity that some Cardinals have not had the courage to say some things out of respect for the Pope, believing perhaps that the Pope thought something different. This is not good, this is not collegiality, because you have to say everything that you feel you have to say…without timidity. And, at the same time, you should listen with humility and accept with an open heart what your brother says.”

He ended exhorting all, “…please..speak with frankness and listen with humility.”

FutureChurch at the press briefing

At the 1pm press conference Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, French Cardinal André Vingt-Troi, Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte and Mexican Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes reported on the guidelines set out for the synod process.  All four reinforced the message of Pope Francis saying the Church needs leaders who will listen openly and speak honestly and respectfully as they interact, but Archbishop Forte voiced it most compellingly.

Wanting a more robust synodal process in line with Francis’ call for a climate of freedom and authentic dialogue, Archbishop Forte pointed out that although Paul VI had instituted synods so that all bishops could participate in decision making, “after decades we are still learning something about them.”  When asked by reporters what would be different at this synod, he commented that past synods were too inflexible and that this synod would offer more opportunities for intercessions – the most important element for change.

Several spoke about new processes related to the Synod. Cardinal Vingt-Troi said he has been asked by Catholics to create synod teams at each parish where they would take up the topics being discussed at the synod and offer him their insights. Vingt-Troi said he would in turn share their wisdom and experience with the Cardinal who promises to take this back to the Ordinary Synod in 2015.   He said he would then come back next year “with food for thought.”

While Vingt-Troi said he wasn’t sure he agreed with Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposition for divorced and remarried Catholics returning to the sacraments, he said his position should be respected and considered suggesting to the journalists, “probably some colleagues of yours will talk about the conflict at the synod.”

Mexican Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes was the only speaker to talk about violence against women as a root cause of marital and family destruction. Problems such as immigration, abduction and poor education certainly contributed to breakdowns in families, but he emphasized that violence against women, rape and violence in the family are some of the most destructive aspects of family life and topics that need to be addressed at the synod. 

Australian couple ask that gays be accepted in parishes as in families 

Ron and Mavis Pirola told Pope Francis and the synod participants that gay couples should be as accepted in parishes as they are in families. Telling the story of friends who showed their love for their son by accepting him and his partner during a visit to their home, the Pirola’s suggested that parishes would do well to demonstrate the same welcoming spirit.  (Francis X. Rocca,
FutureChurch will be reporting on the daily work of the synod .  Follow us on our Blog,  Facebook and Twitter.



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