18Oct Provisional translation of Pope Francis’ address at the closing of the Synod:

Vatican Radio’s provisional translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Synod Fathers:

Dear Eminences, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,
With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.
From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.

I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!
I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”
And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

– One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it… that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].
May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

11 Responses

  1. Darlene Starrs

    The tone and content of Pope Francis’s closing address seems to be incongruent with what actually unfolded and concluded at the Synod, in many respects.
    I am rather fatigued by it all, to say anything more. I also find it distasteful that Pope Francis continues to use exclusive language, when the use of “inclusive language” is very much the directive of Vatican II…..and Vatican II is what Pope Francis hoped to strengthen. Did he achieve that?

  2. Paddy Ferry

    I think — I hope- Fr. Thomas Reece has got it right.

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/synod-win-francis-and-openness

  3. Paddy Ferry

    When I posted my comment earlier@2 with the link to Thomas Reece’s piece, I had not read the comments at the foot of his article. You now have to click on “Show Comments” on the NCR site. The first comment is by Anthony Urban which is well worth a read and to share. Anthony Urban is a pseudonym which he explains at the end of his piece.

  4. Clare Hannigan

    Last week’s Irish Catholic newspaper available on line has an article entitled Vatican Row over synod mid-term family report. In the article Michael Kelly reports that a Vatican communique stated that welcoming gay people should be done prudently “so as not to leave the impression that the Church has a positive evaluation of this orientation”. Does the Vatican believe that sexual orientation is a matter of choice?

  5. Bob Hayes

    The content and tone of Pope Francis’ address at the closing of the Synod should come as no surprise whatsoever. The reason some are taken aback by his address is because these last eighteen months many amongst both the ‘progressive’ and ‘traditionalist’ camps have formed opinions based not on objective analysis of what the Holy Father has said and done, but upon their own imaginings – at times fuelled by the secular media.

  6. Tony mc

    So sad ,Pope Francis tried so hard to remove the hoarding hammering the windows of the church shut and allow even a sliver of light and air and the Spirit get in. We got a glimpse of what might have been. So business as usual then for Catholic families, straight and gay, divorced, remarried those unmarried.time moves on. At the ground the beautiful work of mercy beloved of Francis continues oblivious as always to on high. ps would like the Bishop +Martin like to give an account of how he ‘represented’ us. Is that too much to ask?

  7. Pew View

    Seems like Pope Francis is searching for some Holy Grail, an interface between mercy and justice (meaning the teachings of Christ and the Church) that no one has yet found Does is exist?. The question I cannot answer is why he believes the Church needs this ‘ interface’? Appeasement was never the way of the Church or where it was the consequences were a complete loss of credibility and authentic witness. Yes, we all in a sinful world, as sinners and with sinners. No one can cast a stone at another. However on the other hand if we do not rebuke our neighbour, we take his sin on ourself to paraphrase St Luke. We can do that without condemning. We can do that and respect the space and time in which God works in another soul. Perhaps that is all the Pope was telling us ??

  8. Mary Vallely

    Re Paddy’s comment @3 (Thank you, Paddy, for drawing our attention to it.) That letter is one of the most heartrending letters I’ve ever read. The saddest words were at the end, ” A gay man who must remain anonymous.” What sort of beings are we in this church of Christ that we have instilled such fear into people whose sexuality happens to be different from the usual hetero? Why on earth does it matter anyway? 85% of young American Catholics support gay equality. I am quite sure statistics are as high in this country. Thank God for their wisdom and understanding. Now the rest of us need to persuade the older men in mitres to reach the same level of understanding and compassion. We MUST make sure that “anonymous” is allowed to be who he really is, without shame or fear. We are ALL church, ALL members of the Body of Christ and we need to make our voices heard.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/17/young-catholic-gay-pew_n_6006328.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000051

  9. Soline Humbert

    Thank you very much Paddy@3 and Mary@8
    For those who cannot access the comments from the National Catholic Reporter online, here is the text of that heartrending letter.

    Anthony Urban •
    Please I beg– let this be shown

    To the Synod Of Bishops,

    I am a homosexual. I have known that I was gay since I was a child. I was not abused, molested, shown pornography, exposed to gay people or even aware of ‘gayness’ as a supposed lifestyle.

    I knew as a child that I liked other boys and that I didn’t feel the same way about girls. I knew this about myself since I was about 7 years old. I was very aware of it and not in a sexualized way. I simply knew what my heart felt.

    Other boys would fawn over females.

    I did not.

    Even at eight I’d see other boys talk about girls — innocently but with obvious infatuation- the way children do.

    I felt no such attachment.

    I did however know how I felt about other boys and because I was faithful, I soon found out that my attraction was supposedly evil.

    I cannot tell you the exact moment when I realized this, at what event or where I heard it because that’s not necessary.

    A child is not stupid- a child knows they don’t belong– a child sees the ridicule, the violence, the disdain — the exclusion.

    There are no weddings in the church for us, there is no place in the sacrament, our identities are nowhere to be seen.

    While same-sex marriage may not happen in the Catholic Church for a long time- I ask you to think why it matters.

    For millions of gay children and adolescents, the exclusion from church sacraments that pertain to unions basically says – “There is no place for you in God’s plan.” The exclusion and rabid anger against same-sex marriage and the simple cultural prejudice against homosexuality simply dooms us to wander through life, creating identities, practices and communities that accept us and do not exclude us from full expression of our identity.

    Today when I go to church and hear certain sermons on the sacredness of marriage and I hear Genesis 2:24 “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh”, I am reminded that I do not belong- that there is no place for me in God’s plans according to the Church. And worse, as I hear this and other similar verses in our churches, being repeated with strong enunciation on the words “man” and “wife”, I know it is done to ward off the oncoming tide of same-sex marriage legislation. It is done, as if to remind us- no matter what the world legally sanctions, the church will not budge.

    It is an example of how the Church denies the reality and importance of our sexuality. In doing so, the Church damages our identities, our spirituality, and our mental well being.

    Think of what this does.

    You affirm that our sexuality is disordered and that we should be pitied for it. What exactly does that mean?

    You have affirmed a place for heterosexual sex in God’s plan for many theological reasons over the millennia. It is not my wish to trace those arguments and positions. It is only my wish for you to actually think of what the exclusion of homosexuality and ‘homosexual’ sexuality does to us.

    You do not tell heterosexual children/adolescents that there is something wrong with them because of their sexual desires. You ask them to wait for marriage because sex is a gift from God, and that through that gift we all serve God’s plans.

    Do you have any idea what that does to a gay child? Do you have any idea how many teens have gone to bed every night in agony about their wickedness– simply because they are different.

    I spent countless nights as a child tossing and turning, terrified that if I was not part of God’s plan convinced that I must be demonic and only the devil would have my soul. The suffering and torment was horrific because I was faithful, because I believed in the glory of God and I wanted to be good.

    I remember going to sleep every night with deep anxiety and waking up with dread. It grew worse and worse the older I got and the stronger my attraction to other boys became. I can’t count how many nights I wished for the Lord to change me or kill me in my sleep.

    By the time I hit puberty and sexual thoughts entered into the picture, the pain was overwhelming.

    But something happened, because I was an intelligent child, I sought out to find out if this was normal. The church, society and family had taught me that I was, at best, a punch line, at worse – corrupt.

    As an intelligent and precocious child I found psychiatry books that said I was not sick, perverse or corrupt. There is no need to go into details but secular sources made me feel less evil, less damaged.

    You did not.

    And even as I had some comfort from the secular world, Catholicism was deep in my soul. My need for your approval was strong and I sought it out. I would scour through books and religious magazines throughout the 80s, looking for evidence that the Church did not condemn me to hell. I did this with the religious fervor of a faithful adolescent. I did it with the purity of a child wanting to please God.

    There was no comfort.

    Nothing I found affirmed any part of my sexual identity. There were meager offerings of pity- hate the sin not the sinner; Pope Benedict’s writing on the pastoral care of homosexuals etc. Everything I found took me back to the same conclusions-
    There is something intrinsically wrong with you
    You cannot ever express or enjoy your sexuality
    You can not love another sexually the way heterosexuals do because they are a part of God’s plan and you are not.

    Think of that for a moment.

    The Church basically condemns millions of adolescents to an identity deprived of the full range of human emotions. Our love must be sexless ,which is fine for those that choose celibacy- a choice which is made willingly by many. For us the choice is supposed to be made because we are fundamentally deficient, because otherwise God does not want our damaged selves.

    You view all of this as purely an issue for the fully formed sexual human who chooses to practice certain sexual acts. You see your role is to categorize the magnitude of sexual sins in that context. But in doing so, you condemn us for no reason other than being who we are.

    What the Church’s position fails to consider is the role sexual identity plays in the development of a healthy human psyche. A fractured damaged, guilt ridden sexual identity prevents the full formation of a healthy human psyche. Do you not consider these things to matter? Does our mental health not matter to you? Do you understand that when you condemn our sexuality you are basically asking us to choose between mental health and God?

    It is perverse and cruel to ask such a thing.

    Those of us who need to reclaim some semblance of a healthy psyche must, at some level, reject your condemnations to accept ourselves. And for the millions of gay Catholics in the world, we remain faithful for the love of God, in spite of you.

    How is any of this healthy for us or the Church?

    You have the opportunity to honestly and forthrightly begin to heal many wounds.

    I remain a Catholic, grudgingly so. I have not ran to other more accepting denominations because I believe that you have the power to change this situation for millions.

    I understand that you do not go fully into the breach because to do so would be revolutionary and the Church prefers slow evolutionary change. Fine. I do not expect to see two men or two women married in a Catholic Church in my lifetime. I can hope but I know that this won’t happen.

    But surely you can stand up to the tide of an irrational, fearful world that persecutes us from the moment we are aware of our identities, surely you can teach acceptance?

    I know you fear causing turbulence and maybe even losing some people to other churches. Yes, if you were to be fully accepting, the Church would lose people- but only in the short term. In the long run, the Church will secure its place on the right side of history and ,in my estimation, you will lead the world in our ever evolving relationship with God.

    Respectfully,

    A gay man who must remain anonymous for the time being.

  10. Joe O'Leary

    Bruno Forte, who was “outed” as the redactor of the sections on homosexuality in the interim synod report, and who fielded brilliantly a question from zealot Michael Voris (in terms echoed by Cardinasl Schönborn and Wuerl), seems to have crossed a threshold of fame; he is mentioned by name by Pope Francis and will surely be cardinal soon. I have no doubt that his line will prevail and that Francis and the sager heads in Rome are in agreement with it.

  11. Martin Harran

    @Mary Vallely “85% of young American Catholics support gay equality. I am quite sure statistics are as high in this country.”

    It’s interesting looking at how tolerance/understanding of gays decreases with age. I have to be honest and admit that where we expect to teach our children, this is an area where they taught me. Like most people of my generation – I’m 63 – I regarded homosexuality as some sort of abnormality and expressed some discomfit when I discovered my children’s circle of friends included several open gay young people. My kids – fair play to them – challenged me to explain my hypocrisy, I had always taught them to be tolerant of other people with different religions or ethnicity, making the point that ethnicity is definitely an accident of birth and religion is largely an accident of birth. They asked me to therefore justify why I was so intolerant of people whose sexuality was equally an accident of birth. I found I had no answer and that really knocked me back about my views.

    They’ve now done the same, by the way about next year’s referendum on same sex marriage. When I said I would probably vote no, they’ve challenged me why; I’ve give them the usual answers about marriage being for a man and woman, family being the heart of society and so on and they’ve said fair enough, I’m entitled to those views but why do I think I have the right to impose them on other people who think differently? Again I find that I have no satisfactory answer.


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