Holy Spirit is the principal actor of the Synod

Pope Francis began his address to the Synod Fathers reading from a text he had himself written. He highlighted what he called “the four dimensions of the synod: the pastoral dimension, the cultural dimension, the social dimension and the ecological dimension” and concluded by asking the synod fathers “to protect” the synod process by not divulging to the media what is said inside the synod hall.

Oct 13, 2019

By Gerard O’Connell
Pope Francis began his address to the Synod Fathers reading from a text he had himself written. He highlighted what he called “the four dimensions of the synod: the pastoral dimension, the cultural dimension, the social dimension and the ecological dimension” and concluded by asking the synod fathers “to protect” the synod process by not divulging to the media what is said inside the synod hall.

He described ideologies as “a dangerous tool” and noted that “we always tend to adopt an ideology to interpret a people. He said, “Ideologies are reductive and lead us to exaggeration in our pretension to intellectually understand [a people] but without accepting, to understand without admiring...so the reality is received in categories, the most common are the categories of the ‘isms.’” He mentioned such “isms’ as “indigenousism” and “developmentalism,” which “reformulate life from the illustrious and enlightened laboratory and use words like ‘civilisation’ and ‘barbarity’ that serve to divide, to annihilate peoples.”

He said he has seen this “contempt” for the original peoples in his own country, Argentina. He said he had seen it, too, here in Rome, even yesterday, and said, “I was pained to hear a sarcastic comment about a pious man with feathers on his head who brought gifts at the offertory of Mass” in St Peter’s Basilica.

Clearly upset by this remark, Francis said: “Tell me, what’s the difference between having feathers on your head and the three-peaked hat worn by certain officials in our dicasteries?” His words drew loud applause.

Pope Francis warned the synod’s participants against approaching the peoples of Amazonia “simply with pragmatic measures.” Instead, he said, “we need contemplation of the peoples, a capacity for admiration.” He added, “If one comes with pragmatic intentions then let that ‘sinner’ pray; let him be converted and open his heart to a paradigm perspective that is born of the reality of the peoples.”

He told the synod fathers, “We have not come here to invent programmes of social development or of the custody of culture, of the museum type, or of pastoral actions of the same, non-contemplative style with which they are carrying out actions of the contrary sign: deforestation, uniformisation, exploitation.”

These latter, he said, “make programmes that do not respect the poetry — allow me to use the word, the reality of the peoples who are sovereign.” He told the synod participants: “We have come to contemplate, to understand, to serve the peoples. We do it in a synod because a synod is not a parliament or a talk shop; it is not to demonstrate who has most power over the media and who has most power over the [social] networks to impose some idea or some plan.”

He said the synod approaches the Amazonian reality by “walking together under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the principal actor of the synod. Please, let us not throw the Holy Spirit out of the hall.”

He recalled that there had been much consultation and discussion in episcopal conferences and in the pre-synod council as the working document was drafted. He described it as a “martyred text,” “destined to be destroyed because it is the point of departure so that the Spirit can work in us and, now, let us walk together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

“We have to let the Holy Spirit express itself in this assembly, in us, through us, and let it express itself notwithstanding us, despite our resistances,” he said.

He urged participants to “pray much” then “reflect, dialogue, listen with humility, knowing that I do not know all. And speak with courage, with parrhesia, even if one is ashamed to say what one thinks, to discern and to do all that within [the synod], maintaining the fraternity that should exist in it.”America Magazine

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