Letter to priests: May the Church be a hospitable home
By Antonella Palermo
A hospitable house, with open doors, inhabited by the Lord and animated by fraternal relationships: this is the true face of the Church that the Pope proposes to show through the synodal process.
This was recalled by the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech, and by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Lazzaro You Heung Sik, in a letter addressed to all the priests of the world.
Call to avoid formalism, intellectualism and immobilism
The text reiterates the urgent need for fraternity in the world that, without realizing it, yearns to meet Jesus.
Listening to the Spirit, together with the entire People of God, is the way to "renew our faith and find new ways and languages to share the Gospel with our brothers and sisters.”
The risks of a 'formalism’, which reduces the Synod to an empty slogan, of ‘intellectualism’, which makes the Synod a theoretical reflection on problems, and ‘immobilism’, that “nails us to the security of our habits so that nothing changes,” are highlighted - as Pope Francis has already done.
Co-responsibility for evangelization
Certain of the wealth of experiences of synodality lived in this diocesan phase, Cardinal Grech and Archbishop You Heung invite priests not to consider the synodal journey as an additional burden of pastoral work, one more thing “to do”, but encourage them to use that contemplative gaze that is pleased to observe “many examples of participation and sharing that are already taking root” in their communities.
The other fear to dispel - the authors of the letter warn - concerns the role of leadership and the specific identity of ordained ministers. What will become of them? one may ask.
Here the invitation is to "discover more and more the fundamental equality of all the baptized and of stimulating all the faithful to participate actively in the journey and mission of the Church." In short, the keyword is co-responsibility for evangelization.
Mutual listening for mutual acceptance
Rooting the Word of God in our lives is essential, otherwise, we run the risk of walking in the dark and our reflections risk turning into ideology.
Listening to one another must lead to mutual acceptance: this is what is emphasized in the text, which also warns against the risk of self-referentiality. It is necessary, in essence, to feel like a single family, starting with the priests themselves.
"Take care that the journey does not lead us to introspection but stimulates us to go out to meet everyone," highlights another passage in which Evangelii Gaudium and Fratelli tutti are quoted, as well as that well-known dream of the Church going out, with the fire of charity and the compass of the Word.