Pope Francis during his meeting with Jesuits in Lisbon during WYD 2023 Pope Francis during his meeting with Jesuits in Lisbon during WYD 2023  (Vatican Media)

Pope tells Jesuits inclusivity, doctrinal evolution, synodality are crucial to Church

The Jesuit publication "La Civiltà Cattolica" publishes a transcript of the dialogue between Pope Francis and the Jesuits of Portugal during the Pontiff's visit to Lisbon for WYD 2023. In the conversation, the Holy Father addresses a range of topics, sharing insights on the Church's challenges and his vision for inclusivity, doctrinal development, and the Synod.

By Francesca Merlo

In an open dialogue with the Jesuits of Lisbon during his visit to Portugal for World Youth Day, Pope Francis engaged with them in conversation and covered a wide array of topics, sharing profound insights on the Church's contemporary challenges and his vision for inclusivity, doctrinal progression, and the Synod. 

Inclusivity takes centre stage

Central to the discussion was the theme of inclusivity. Throughout World Youth Day in Lisbon, the rallying cry for an all-embracing Church resonated powerfully with the words "Todos, todos" (Everyone, everyone), pronounced by Pope Francis as he stressed that the Church "has space for everyone". He emphasized the pivotal importance of creating a space for all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, within the Church. This message continued to echo through his exchange with the Jesuits of Portugal.

Acceptance for all

The Pope reiterated his call to embrace homosexual people within the Church. He critiqued the disproportionate fixation on sexual transgressions, noting that other 'offenses' often remain overlooked. He emphasized the need for a pastorally sensitive and imaginative approach to accompany individuals on their spiritual journeys.

The Pope also recounted an encounter with a group of transgender individuals who were moved to tears by the Pope's acceptance and empathy. He underscored the necessity of reaching out to marginalized communities who often grapple with feelings of rejection, and he accentuated the significance of empathy and compassion.

Urgent concerns regarding ongoing wars

Addressing critical global concerns, Pope Francis conveyed deep apprehension over the persistent prevalence of wars since the conclusion of World War II. He spotlighted the contemporary state of global affairs and underscored the imperative of seeking peaceful resolutions.

Doctrinal Development

The dialogue delved into tensions existing within the Church, including reactionary attitudes and resistance to the tenets of the Second Vatican Council. The Pontiff acknowledged the intricate challenges posed by those who scrutinize Vatican II without explicitly naming it. He underscored the dynamic nature of doctrinal evolution and expounded on the notion that Church doctrine is not an unchanging monolith, but rather an evolving entity. He invoked historical instances such as the changing perspectives on the death penalty, nuclear weapons, and slavery to illustrate the fluidity of doctrine over time.

Against spiritual worldliness 

Pope Francis expressed apprehensions about the encroachment of excessive worldliness into religious life. He cautioned against compromising core values with the allure of worldly ideologies. Referring to his recent communication to Rome's priests, he cautioned against succumbing to spiritual worldliness and the potential harm it could inflict on the Church. He further explored the challenges posed by a society permeated with an "eroticized" ethos and the implications of issues like pornography in the digital age.


Finally, Pope Francis conveyed his anticipation regarding the impending Synod, a gathering of Church leaders to deliberate on significant matters. He clarified that the Synod wasn't his brainchild; instead, it aimed to restore synodality within the Church—a concept first championed by Pope Paul VI. He emphasized that the driving force behind the Synod was the Holy Spirit, guiding its deliberations devoid of political bias or a focus on garnering votes.

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28 August 2023, 12:38