Pope Francis presided over the Mass for the opening of the Synod in St. Peter's Square. Members of the public gathered with bishops, cardinals and participants of the Synod to inaugurate its opening.
But the start of the Synod has not been immune to controversy. During the days leading up to it, five cardinals wrote a public letter to the Pope. They asked him to clarify if the Synod will change the doctrine of the Church on topics such as the female priesthood or the blessing of homosexual couples.
During the Mass, the Pope used his homily to encourage a change in mentality towards the purpose of the Synod.
We do not need an immanent look, made of human ploys, political calculations or ideological battles. If the Synod opens this door…this is no good. We are not here to hold a parliamentary meeting or a reform plan. The Synod is not a parliament, dear brothers and sisters. The protagonist is the Holy Spirit. We are not here to hold a parliament. We are here to walk together with the gaze of Jesus.
The Pope insisted that this assembly should be lived in a less political and more spiritual sense.
If the holy people of God, with their pastors, from all parts of the world, nourish expectations, hopes and even some fears about the Synod that we are beginning, let us remember again that it is not a political meeting, it is not a parliament. It is a convocation in the Spirit.
He then pointed out the importance of placing God at the center—not the discussions between the supporters of one idea or those of another.
Brothers and sisters, holy People of God, in the face of the difficulties and challenges that await us, the blessing and the welcoming gaze of Jesus prevents us from falling into some dangerous temptations—such as being a rigid Church, a customs Church, which arms itself against the world and looks backwards; or being a lukewarm Church, which surrenders to the fashions of the world; or to be a tired Church, closed in on itself.
Before a St. Peter's Square filled with some 25,000 pilgrims, the Pope also made reference to St. Francis of Assisi, on the day of his feast day. The Pope chose St. Francis as his namesake because he was a saint of “poverty and peace” and said he was “the fool of God.”