Let the games begin

Today I went to the Vatican press office to see if they will grant me free lance journalist accreditation. They will but I will need to get a piece of documentation from the Missoulian on their letterhead. I just have the email from them that, while it does have the offical logo, the press office will not accept. I called the editor of the Missoulian who was a but surprised to be getting a call from Rome but she is going to send the letter as an email attachment. The press office said I can email it to them. Phew….I am glad that is going to happen!! Now I can sit in on the daily news conferences. You will be getting the latest developments from your very own correspondent!

This is the day that the opening session of the Synod was held. Before going to the Vatican, I watched the last half of the live feed of the first session this morning.  I only got to hear Cardinal Erdo, the Relator of the Synod session, speak. This will be their only public session. While hanging out in Vatican Square this afternoon, waiting at the press office just to see who was going in for the first press conference, I started reading some of the first articles on the address that Erdo made. His was after the pope’s so when I got home, I watched the pope in the first half of the opening session and then translated his remarks. I know now why the pope was restless when Erdo was speaking. Erdo held a very hard line on “no change” in his remarks. I think the pope is going to have a hard pull but he is tough and he is clever and we are all praying for him. Below is my translation of Papa Francesco’s remarks as the Vatican website still has not posted the English. I think I am good enough at translating at this point to say it is fairly accurate:

Dear Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies, brothers and sisters,

Today the Church resumes dialogue begun with the convocation of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family–and certainly long before–to assess and reflect together on the text of the Instrumentum laboris, elaborated from the Synodi Relatio and the response of the Episcopal Conferences and entitled bodies.

The Synod, as we know, is a walking together with the spirit of collegiality and synodality, courageously adopting pareesia, pastoral and doctrinal zeal, wisdom, frankness and placing before our eyes the good of the Church, families and the suprema lex (supreme law), the salvation of souls (cfr Canon, 1752)

I would like to recall that the Synod is not a convention or a “parlor” (note: the word he used is translated as “parlor” but I wonder if his thinking could be to say “talk shop”…rr), it is not a parliament or a senate, where there we put on agreement.  This Synod, instead, is an ecclesial expression, that is the Church that walks together to read reality with the eyes of faith and with the heart of God;  it is the Church that has questioned itself on its fidelity to the deposit of the faith, that does not represent a museum to look at, nor only to safeguard, but is a living font from which the Church shall drink to quench herself and to give drink and light to the deposit of life.

The Synod moves necessarily in the bosom of the Church and within the Holy People of God, to which we belong in the quality of pastors, that is servants.

The Synod in other words is a protected space where the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit.  In the Synod, the Spirit speaks through the language of all the people who let themselves be guided by the God who always surprises, by the God who reveals to the least that which he hides from the wise and the intelligent, by the God who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not the other way around, by the God who left the ninety-nine sheep to seek the single lost sheep, by the God who is always greater than our logic and calculations.

We recall, therefore, that the Synod will be a space of the action of the Holy Spirit only if we participants clothe ourselves with apostolic courage, evangelical humility, and trusting prayer.

The apostolic courage that refuses to become frightened or face the seductions of the world, that tend to extinguish the light of truth in the hearts of men and women substituting it with small and temporary lights, nor even in the face of the hardening of some hearts that–despite good intentions–distance people from God.  Apostolic courage brings life and does not make a museum of memories of our Christian life” (cfr Homily at Santa Marta, April 28, 2015)

Evangelical humility that knows to empty itself of its own conventions and prejudices to listen to brother Bishops and to fill itself with God.  Humility that does not lead to pointing the finger against others to judge them, but taking their hand to raise them up without ever feeling itself superior to them.

Trusting prayer is the action of the heart when it opens itself to God, when it silences all our moods to listen to the sweet voice of God who speaks in the silence.  Without listening to God all our words will only be “words” that do not satisfy and do not serve.  Without letting ourselves to be guided by the Spirit all our decisions will only be “decorations” (note: the word he used here was clearly “decorations” but I wonder if he is thinking “window dressing”…rr) that instead of exalting the Gospel, covers it and hides it.

Dear brothers,

As I have said, the Synod is not a parliament to reach a consensus or a common agreement you must negotiate, plea bargain compromise, but the unique method of the Synod is that of opening itself to the Holy Spirit, with apostolic courage, with evangelical humility and with trusting prayer; so that He may guide us, illuminate us and make us place before our eyes, not our personal opinions, but faith in God, fidelity to the teaching, the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.

Finally, I would like to thank from the heart Cardinal Lorenzo Baldessari, Secretary General of the Synod, Mons. Fabio Fabbene, Under-secretary; the Relator Cardinal Peter Erdo and the Special Secretary, Mons. Bruno Forte, the President delegates, the writers, the consultors, the translators, and all those who have worked with true faithfulness and total dedication to the Church.  Thanks from the heart

I equally thank all of you, dear Synod Fathers, Fraternal Delegate Auditors and Assessors for your active participation is fruitful.  

I would like to direct a special thanks to the journalists present in this moment and tho those following us at a distance.  Thanks for your impassioned participation and for your admirable attention.

We begin our journey invoking the help of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph.  Thanks!

Yesterday, the pope’s homily was long, very long.  He usually does not do that.  In fact, he has told priests to keep a homily to 8 to 10 minutes otherwise you are giving a lecture.  He was giving the assembled “Synod Fathers” a lecture.  I have read it was quite a lecture but I have yet to see an English translation or to translate it myself.  Today’s remarks were short and to the point.  Keep praying, dear readers, keep praying.  Tomorrow I will tell you the story of the group of wonderful people I met today.

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