« There is no need to create another Church, but to create a different Church » 

From Pope Francis’s opening address (9.10.2021)

And so, brothers and sisters, let us experience this moment of encounter, listening and reflection as a season of grace that, in the joy of the Gospel, allows us to recognize at least three opportunities.  First, that of moving not occasionally but structurally towards a synodal Church, an open square where all can feel at home and participate. 

 

The Synod then offers us the opportunity to become a listening Church, to break out of our routine and pause from our pastoral concerns in order to stop and listen.  To listen to the Spirit in adoration and prayer.  Today how much we miss the prayer of adoration; so many people have lost not only the habit but also the very notion of what it means to worship God!  To listen to our brothers and sisters speak of their hopes and of the crises of faith present in different parts of the world, of the need for a renewed pastoral life and of the signals we are receiving from those on the ground.  Finally, it offers us the opportunity to become a Church of closeness. 

 

Let us keep going back to God’s own “style”, which is closeness, compassion and tender love.  God has always operated that way.  If we do not become this Church of closeness with attitudes of compassion and tender love, we will not be the Lord’s Church.  Not only with words, but by a presence that can weave greater bonds of friendship with society and the world.  A Church that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses herself in today’s problems and needs, bandaging wounds and healing broken hearts with the balm of God.  Let us not forget God’s style, which must help us: closeness, compassion and tender love.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, may this Synod be a true season of the Spirit!  For we need the Spirit, the ever-new breath of God, who sets us free from every form of self-absorption, revives what is moribund, loosens shackles and spreads joy.  The Holy Spirit guides us where God wants us to be, not to where our own ideas and personal tastes would lead us.  Father Congar, of blessed memory, once said: “There is no need to create another Church, but to create a different Church” (True and False Reform in the Church).  That is the challenge.  For a “different Church”, a Church open to the newness that God wants to suggest, let us with greater fervor and frequency invoke the Holy Spirit and humbly listen to him, journeying together as he, the source of communion and mission, desires: with docility and courage.

 

Come, Holy Spirit!  You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips: keep us from becoming a “museum Church”, beautiful but mute, with much past and little future.  Come among us, so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm, dilute the power of prophecy, or descend into useless and unproductive discussions.  Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice!  Come, Holy Spirit of holiness, renew the holy and faithful People of God!  Come, Creator Spirit, renew the face of the earth!  Amen.