Pope Francis Begins New Series on the Family
Pope Francis began a new series for his general audiences on December 10, 2014, and he chose as his subject the family. He said that he wanted to speak on this topic in between the two Assemblies of the Synod which is dedicated to the family and its challenges.
The Pope explained that the media often politicized the Synod in such a way that it seemed like there were “two teams,” so he wanted to talk about what it really was.
Pope Francis had asked the bishops “to speak frankly and courageously and to listen with humility.” Each participant was encouraged to “say what he had in his heart, what he sincerely thought,” rather than feeling in any way pressured to say one thing or the other. He acknowledged that this would most likely bring out arguments, but the Pope thought that argumentation is fine; after all, the Apostles themselves argued about things. Argument is not a bad thing, “so long as it is done with humility and with a spirit of service to the assembly of brothers.” Because each bishop was given time to speak from his heart, Pope Francis said, “It was a moment of great liberty, in which each one expressed his thought with frankness and confidence.”
The Holy Father noted that indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life, which are the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of Matrimony, were never brought into question.
The report (called the midterm report) was compiled by Cardinal Erdo, and groups of the Synod Fathers, divided by language, discussed this text. These groups all presented their own reports, which were published “for the sake of transparency.” Next, a Commission took those reports and wrote the Final Report, keeping the basic outline from the midterm report the same, and they also wrote the Final Message.
Responding to what seems to be the common question about “quarreling” in the Assembly, Pope Francis said, “Well, I don’t know if they quarreled, but they spoke strongly, yes, truly. And this is liberty; it is in fact the liberty that exists in the Church.” He pointed out that as the successor of Peter, his presence is “the guarantee for all of liberty and trust, and guarantee of orthodoxy.” His final intervention, he noted, is the third official document from the Synod. (The three are the Final Message, the Final Report, and the Pope’s final intervention.)
The Final Report was published this week with questions for episcopal conferences to reflect on and answer, which will then be included in the working document for the next Synod.
Pope Francis reiterated that the Synod is not a Parliament, but “a protected space so that the Holy Spirit can operate” and a process entrusted to the Virgin Mary. Finally, the Holy Father asked the faithful to pray for the Synod.