October 2023: the month dedicated to the Synod and peace in the Middle East

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The month of October in the Vatican was marked by the Synod on Synodality. Pope Francis opened the assembly with a Mass in St. Peter's Square.

That afternoon, the Pope joined the more than 360 Synod members for the opening session. This month-long meeting is historic because the laity participated and women were able to vote for the first time.

Pope Francis asked the Synod participants to observe a certain level of media silence to avoid having the same problems as previous assemblies. For example, having the media influence their discussions and create pre-conceived ideas.

With the synod on the family, there was public opinion—that came not from our worldliness—to give communion to divorcees and that is how we started the synod. With the Amazon synod, there was public opinion and pressure to make viri probati. We started with this pressure. Now there are some hypotheses about this synod—but what are they going to do here: maybe women priesthood? I don't know, these things that are said outside.

On the same day as the opening of the Synod, Pope Francis released the second part of Laudato si', the papal document focused on integral care of the earth.

Following the Hamas attack on October 7, the Pope dedicated parts of his public appearances to praying for peace in the Middle East.

May the attacks and weaponry cease. Please! And let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people. War is a defeat. Every war is a defeat. Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine.

He even met with the President of the World Jewish Congress at the Apostolic Palace, where the latter asked the Pope to use his religious influence to petition for the safe return of the hostages taken to Gaza.

And just a few days after the Hamas attacks, the pastor at the only Catholic Church in Gaza received a call from Pope Francis.

Pastor in Gaza

I thanked him for his plea to cease all terrors, all wars, so that peace may be made, I hope it will really come.

The month ended with a document from this phase of the Synod, which called everyone to ponder on how to create a more synodal Church ahead of the next assembly in 2024. Among other topics, it encouraged a greater reflection on the relationship between the pope and bishops, the role of women in the Church and the part the laity play in the formation of priests.


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