Monday, October 05, 2015

"The Deposit of Faith Is Not A Museum" – In the Aula, It's Showtime

(Updated with Pope's opening remarks.)

After seeming eons of prayers, publications and politicking, now the process finally begins – 9am Rome time this Monday sees the opening work-session of this climactic Synod on the Family, with Vatican cameras live in the Aula to capture the only substantive piece of the three-week assembly that'll be visible to the outside world.

As plans stand, the usual opening reports are to be delivered by the Synod's Secretary-General, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, and the Relator (keynoter) of the family assemblies, the Hungarian primate Cardinal Peter Erdö... with the duo most likely to be followed (again) by a word from the Pope.

Here, the livefeed – as ever, texts as they emerge:

Over each day of the Synod, leading members of the assembly will help brief the press at the start of the lunch break. Among other key pieces of what ensues, the "interventions" – now three-minute floor speeches (reduced from five) – from each of the 300-odd Fathers and delegates begin in today's afternoon session and continue through the 15th, interspersed with meetings of the circuli minores, the language-based small discussion groups.

As previously relayed, each of this assembly's three weeks is slated to cover one part of the Synod's instrumentum laboris – its sprawling working document. However, the alert's unusually been made that "the calendar isn't definitive [and] can be changed by the decision of the President": that is, the Pope.

SVILUPPO: And as expected, beyond the reports of the gathering's chiefs, Francis rose to outline the parameters of the discussion, highlighting the three key qualities he expects from the Fathers' exchanges, including along the way the core principle underpinning his recent broad reform of the annulment process.

Here, the Vatican translation of the Pope's kickoff remarks (emphases original)....

Dear Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies, brothers and sisters,

The Church today takes up once again the dialogue begun with the announcement of the extraordinary Synod on the family, and certainly even long before that, to evaluate and reflect on the text of the Working Document (Instrumentum laboris), elaborated on the basis of the [Extraordinary Assembly’s] final report (Relatio Synodi) and the responses of the Bishops’ Conferences and from the other organizations with the right to contribute.

The Synod, as we know, is a journey undertaken together in the spirit of collegiality and synodality, on which participants bravely adopt parrhesia, pastoral zeal and doctrinal wisdom, frankness, and always keep before our eyes the good of the Church, of families and the supreme lex [supreme law], the Salus animarum [the salvation of souls].

I should mention that the Synod is neither a convention, nor a parlor, nor a parliament or senate, where people make deals and reach compromises. The Synod is rather an Ecclesial expression, i.e., the Church that journeys together to read reality with the eyes of faith and with the heart of God; it is the Church that interrogates herself with regard to her fidelity to the deposit of faith, which does not represent for the Church a museum to view, nor even something merely to safeguard, but is a living source from which the Church shall drink, to satisfy the thirst of, and illuminate, the deposit of life.

The Synod moves necessarily within the bosom of the Church and of the holy people of God, to which we belong in the quality of shepherds – which is to say, as servants. The Synod also is a protected space in which the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Synod, the Spirit speaks by means of every person’s tongue, who lets himself be guided by the God who always surprises, the God who reveals himself to little ones, who hides from the knowing and intelligent; the God who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa; by the God, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep; the God who is always greater than our logic and our calculations.

Let us remember, however, that the Synod will be a space for the action of the Holy Spirit only if we participants vest ourselves with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and trusting prayer:

with that apostolic courage, which refuses to be intimidated in the face of the temptations of the world – temptations that tend to extinguish the light of truth in the hearts of men, replacing it with small and temporary lights; nor even before the petrification of some hearts, which, despite good intentions, drive people away from God; apostolic courage to bring life and not to make of our Christian life a museum of memories;

evangelical humility that knows how to empty itself of conventions and prejudices in order to listen to brother bishops and be filled with God – humility that leads neither to finger-pointing nor to judging others, but to hands outstretched to help people up without ever feeling oneself superior to them.

Confident prayer that trusts in God is the action of the heart when it opens to God, when our humors are silenced in order to listen to the gentle voice of God, which speaks in silence. Without listening to God, all our words are only words that are meet no need and serve no end. Without letting ourselves be guided the Spirit, all our decisions will be but decorations that, instead of exalting the Gospel, cover it and hide it. 
Dear brothers, as I have said, the Synod is not a parliament in which to reach a consensus or a common accord there is recourse to negotiation, to deal-making, or to compromise: indeed, the only method of the Synod is to open up to the Holy Spirit with apostolic courage, with evangelical humility and confident, trusting prayer, that it might be He, who guides us, enlightens us and makes us put before our eyes, with our personal opinions, but with faith in God, fidelity to the Magisterium, the good of the Church and the Salus animarum.

Finally, I would like to thank: His Eminence Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod; His Excellency, Archbishop Fabio Fabene, Undersecretary; and with them I thank the Rapporteur, His Eminence Cardinal Peter Erdö and the Special Secretary, His Excellency Archbishop Bruno Forte; the Presidents-delegate, writers, consultors, translators and all those who worked with true fidelity and total dedication to the Church. Thank you so much!

I also thank all of you, dear Synod Fathers, fraternal delegates, auditors and assessors, for your active and fruitful participation.
I want to address a special thanks to the journalists present at this time and to those who follow us from afar. Thank you for your enthusiastic participation and for your admirable attention.

We begin our journey by invoking the help of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Thank you.
While it wasn't part of the formal reports, in a brief homily given as part of the Midmorning Prayer that opened the talks, the influential head of Francis' "Gang of Nine" chief advisers – the Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga – tellingly spoke of the process as a means of providing "a new day for the families of the world," adding a prayer that the Synod's consensus would produce "a path of joy and hope."