By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis opened the 75th Extraordinary General Assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) on Monday. The meeting is taking place in Rome from 22 to 25 November.
The Pope arrived at the Ergife Hotel in Rome at 4:00 pm and spoke privately with the Italian bishops. The Holy See Press Office reported that as he initiated the meeting, Pope Francis greeted the prelates with a card containing an image of the Good Shepherd and the text of a reflection entitled "The Beatitudes of the Bishop". He returned to the Vatican at about 6:00 pm.
Reflecting on the Sinodal process in Italy
In his introductory address, CEI president Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti thanked the Holy Father for the gift of his presence. Quoting St. Paul VI, he assured him that the Italian Bishops will use the meeting as an opportunity to rediscover and meditate on the word of Christ and revive the faith, but also to reflect on the synodal path which CEI launched during its General Assembly in May this year, involving all Catholic communities and in line with the 2021-2023 Synodal process.
A "family moment"
Commenting on the bishops’ meeting with the Pope, CEI general-secretary Bishop Stefano Russo told Italian Catholic Television Sat2000 that it was a “beautiful family moment”. "The card the Holy Father gave us”, he said, “is a call on the bishops to be witnesses of mercy. The main focus of this Assembly is the synodal journey of the Italian churches, a time of listening, and, as always, the Pope gave us testimony of this: today he came among us and listened”, the prelate added.
The agenda of the meeting
During the four-day meeting Italian Bishops will listen to a presentation by Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, on the ongoing synodal process. Cardinal Grech's presentation will be followed by a floor debate and a speech on the topic by Bishop Erio Castellucci, the vice-president of the CEI.
In addition to their considerations on the synodal process, the Bishops will discuss the implementation of the recent reform of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, which introduces new penal sanctions in the Church for several offences including pedophilia; and the elaboration of new CEI Guidelines and norms for the seminaries in light of the Vatican document "Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis", on the gift of the priestly vocation.
At the close of the Assembly, on November 25, Cardinal Bassetti will give a live broadcast press conference at 1:00 pm local time.