Closing of the Extraordinary Synod; Looking Ahead to the Ordinary Synod
Pope Francis gave a closing address to the Synod Fathers at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, October 5-19.
In this address he spoke of what the experience of the Synod has been like, some challenges it has faced and the task it now has moving forward.
He said of the Synod experience:
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.
Moving on to speak about some challenges or temptations the Synod faced, Pope Francis noted, among others, the temptations towards hostile inflexibility and also deceptive mercy. He emphasized that the Synod needed to be open to the will of God and all that He wanted to teach the Fathers, but also firm in their conviction to try to heal the wounds of the world and not just treat the symptoms.
Looking ahead to the Ordinary Synod on the Family that is to take place in October 2015, Pope Francis stated: “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.”
Francis concluded his address by invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.
Pope Francis also gave a homily at the closing Mass of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which was also the Beatification of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI.
Francis reflected on the Gospel of the day, which states “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21). He said that for Christians, to render to God the things that are God’s means to “look to the future, God’s future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest — with our feet firmly planted on the ground — and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.”
It was in this spirit, Francis said, that the Extraordinary Synod on the Family was carried out. He said: “It has been a great experience, in which we have lived synodality and collegiality, and felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church. For the Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.”
Pope Francis then turned his attention to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in 2015 and invoked the Holy Spirit in prayer: “May the Holy Spirit, who during these busy days has enabled us to work generously, in true freedom and humble creativity, continue to guide the journey which, in the Churches throughout the world, is bringing us to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in October 2015.”