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Pope Francis calls for participation and openness as synodal journey begins

Pope Francis led a moment of reflection at the Vatican before the official inauguration of the first phase of the Synod of Bishops.

The Pope said the Synod has three essential elements: communion, participation and mission.

The words “communion” and “mission” can risk remaining somewhat abstract, unless we cultivate an ecclesial praxis that expresses the concreteness of synodality at every step of our journey and activity, encouraging real involvement of each and every person.

Precisely to give voice to all Catholics, the Synod for the first time will begin at the diocesan level. The needs of local churches will be presented to the Pope in the final assembly of the Synod in 2023.

Pope Francis also spoke of the risks a Synod faces: falling to formalism, intellectualism or complacency. 

We have always done it that way; it is better not to change.” Those who think this way, perhaps without even realizing it, make the mistake of not taking seriously the times in which we are living. The danger, in the end, is to apply old solutions to new problems.

Change within the Church was a common theme at this gathering of clergy, religious and lay people. Theologian Cristina Inogés Sanz explained that fidelity to the Church sometimes requires change.

“It is good and healthy to correct one's errors, to ask for forgiveness for wrongs committed, and to learn to be humble. Surely, we will experience moments of pain, but pain is part of love, and we feel pain for the Church because we love it.”

Card. Mario Grech encouraged all Catholics to participate in the synodal journey, especially those with doubts about the process.

Secretary General, Synod of Bishops
“Do not be afraid to share your fears with us. We, the Secretariat for the Synod, are here also to listen to your doubts, your concerns. They can be healthy for this synodal process.”

The Pope explained that it is not necessary “to create another Church, but to create a different Church.”