Archive photo of the pilgrimage and meeting of the Pontifical Council for Latin America at the Santuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe Archive photo of the pilgrimage and meeting of the Pontifical Council for Latin America at the Santuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe 

Pope: Synodality should lead us to live communion more intensely

In a videomessage for the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Pope Francis reflects on the meaning of synodality and communion, insisting both are necessary as the Church embarks on the synodal journey.

By Christopher Wells

Synodality has been taking root in the Church in Latin America for some time, embracing “a correct interpretation” of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council that implies “learning anew how to walk together” in the face of epochal changes in society.

At the same time, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, “we have to be aware of our limitation in order to be able to mature and bear evangelical fruit” on this synodal path.

The Pope was speaking on the theme of “Synodality and Communion,” in a video message to the Plenary Assembly of the Commission.

Holy Spirit: the protagonist of synodality

In his address, the Holy Father emphasized the importance of remaining open in our thinking, in order not to delude ourselves that we “know everything” or have all the answers. Imagining we know everything, he said, is “very dangerous” to synodality, as it leaves "no room for the Holy Spirit, the true protagonist of the synodal path.”

“The gift is the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said, “who does not impose Himself by force, but gently summons our affection and our freedom” to make us able to “acquire the form of unity and communion that He desires in our relationships.”

Pope Francis said that if we are able to receive this gift of the Spirit, our lives will become “a constant service to others.”

The Holy Spirit, he said, never takes from us, but instead moves in us, and renews us.

“The Holy Spirit is not a force of the past. Rather, Pentecost is occurring in our own time: the ‘Great Unknown’, who has no image, is always contemporary and never ceases to accompany and console us!”

Communion must animate synodal path

The Pope emphasized, too, that synodality is not only pneumatological, based on the Spirit, but also Eucharistic, as it involves communion with the Body of Christ, “a sign and instrumental cause of a relational dynamism that shapes the Church.”

This ecclesial communion, he said, prevents synodality from becoming mere parliamentarianism or populism.

Synodality, Pope Francis said, “is the dynamic dimension, the historical dimension of ecclesial communion founded in the Trinitarian communion, which – simultaneously cherishing the sensus fidei of all God’s holy people, apostolic collegiality, and unity with the successor of Peter – must animate the conversion and reform of the Church at every level.”

The duty to promote synodality

Pope Francis went on to consider the role of the Pontifical Commission, which he described as a diakonia, a ministry of service aimed at showing the affection and attention that the Pope has for Latin America.

In its current form, as indicated by the ongoing curial reform, it is aimed at “generating new dynamics and to disengage us from our clericalist customs” that continue to exist both in the Curia and in some Latin American communities.

The Pope likewise insisted on the duty of the PCLA to “promote true synodality as widely as possible.”

He insisted that synodality and communion must both be present in the process, warning against having one without the other.

“Communion without synodality can easily lend itself to a certain undesirable fixism and centralism. Synodality without communion can become ecclesiastical populism.”

Living our ecclesial communion more intensely

So, Pope Francis said, we must have both together: Synodality must lead us “to live more intensely our ecclesial communion, in which the diversity of charisms, vocations, and ministries are harmoniously integrated, animated by the same baptism, which makes us all sons and daughters in the Son.”

The Holy Father concluded his address by telling members of the Commission to beware of unilateral protagonism.”

He invited them, instead, to encourage processes that allow the people of God “to participate more and better in the common responsibility that we all have to ‘be Church’.”

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26 May 2022, 16:00