Miracles can happen when Church is united

The unity of the Catholic Church’s bishops is fundamental in correcting past wrongs and in confronting challenges today, said Pope Francis.

Aug 08, 2022

Pope Francis attends a closed-door meeting with Jesuits in Québec, Canada, July 29, 2022. (Vatican Media)

VATICAN: The unity of the Catholic Church’s bishops is fundamental in correcting past wrongs and in confronting challenges today, said Pope Francis.

Meeting with a group of Jesuits on the last day of his penitential pilgrimage to Canada, the Pope said his visit was made possible by the unity of the country’s bishops in seeking reconciliation with Indigenous peoples who experienced abuse or attempts at forced assimilation at church-run residential schools.

“When an episcopate is united, then it can deal with the challenges that arise,” the Pope told his Jesuit confreres. If the reconciliatory journey is going well, the Pope clarified, “it is not because of my visit. I am just the icing on the cake. It is the bishops who have done everything with their unity.”

The Pope said that while he witnessed the “familiarity between the bishops and Indigenous peoples,” there are still “some who work against healing and reconciliation.”

“Even last night,” the Pope recalled, “I saw a small traditionalist group protesting and saying that the Church is something else; but that is the way things are. I only know that one of the worst enemies against the unity of the Church and of the episcopates is ideology.”

He acknowledged that the process of reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples is not complete, but observed that “the most important thing is precisely the fact that the episcopate came together in agreement, took up the challenge, and moved ahead.” He called what he observed in Canada, “an example of a united episcopate.”

The Pope applauded how the Indigenous peoples, with humility, are “very capable of dealing with the question and committing themselves,” and praised the fruitful relationship between the Indigenous and the bishops.

“These are the miracles that can happen when the Church is united.”

The Holy Father normally reserves a private moment to meet with his Jesuit brothers during his Apostolic Journeys, and responds to questions in an informal conversation with those gathered. Among the Jesuits was the Prefect of the Vatican’s Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny.

In the conversation, the main themes which emerged were synodality, great concern for Haiti, love for family and the liturgy.

“The synod,” Pope Francis said, does not refer to “a political meeting,” nor “a committee for parliamentary decisions.”
Rather, he underscored, “it is the expression of the Church where the protagonist is the Holy Spirit.”

“There may be democracy, parliament, debate, but there is no ‘synod.’ If you want to read the best book of theology on the synod, then re-read the Acts of the Apostles. There you can clearly see that the protagonist is the Holy Spirit. The action of the Spirit is experienced in the synod. The dynamic of discernment happens.”

The synod, he continued, means walking together, precisely what had been the theme of his Apostolic Visit, during which he applauded, “the unity of the Church emerged.”

The Pope recalled the saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if instead you want to go surely, go together.’

The Pope continued reflecting on the power of effective synodality. He reiterated that the synod “is not a political meeting nor a committee for parliamentary decisions” but rather an “expression of the church where the protagonist is the Holy Spirit.”

He also warned that Christians risk “losing the overall picture, the sense of things” if a synod is reduced to focusing on singular issues. Recalling the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family, the Pope said some erroneously believed that “it was organised to give Communion to remarried divorcees.”

Nevertheless, he said, his post synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, only addressed that specific issue in a footnote “because all the rest are reflections on the theme of the family, such as that on the family catechumenate.”

“There is so much richness,” the Pope said. “One cannot squeeze it all into the funnel of a single issue. I repeat, if the Church is Church, then it is synodal. It has been so from the beginning.” CNS/ Vatican News

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