Pope Francis Appeals For Unity And Fraternity Ahead Of Major Synod
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis appeals for unity and fraternity ahead of major synodas he expressed his hope on Saturday that the upcoming global encounter at the Vatican, known as a synod, would serve as a “kairos” of fraternity and not lead to further polarization within the Catholic Church. The 86-year-old pontiff shared his thoughts at an ecumenical prayervigil attended by leaders from various Christiandenominations in St. Peter's Square, prior to the opening of the month-long meeting in the Vatican set to start on Wednesday.
"Let us ask that the synod be a 'kairos' of fraternity, a place where the Holy Spiritwill purify the Churchfrom gossip, ideologies, and polarization," he said. The Pope’s call comes ahead of the synod that has sparked both anticipation and controversy among various groups.
While many have welcomed the synod as an opportunity to change the Church's power dynamics and amplify the voices of lay Catholics, including women and marginalized individuals, others view it as a potential threat to the hierarchical structure and traditional doctrine of the nearly 1.3 billion-member Church.
Despite differing opinions, approximately 365 "members" with voting rights will attend, alongside about 100 other participants such as observers and delegates from other Christian Churches. Remarkably, women will be granted voting rights for the first time in this synod.
Pope Francis emphasized the need for unity in his homily at the event where he elevated 21 prelates to the rank of cardinal, saying it is his job as the “conductor” to listen and achieve a "creative fidelity." He used the metaphor of an orchestra to highlight the potential divisions within the Church, stating that one section or instrument cannot play alone or drown out the others.
He further meditated on the topic of silence, noting its significance in the ecclesial community for enabling true discernment and fraternal communication. “Silence,” he began, “lies at the beginning and end of Christ’s earthly existence. The Word, the Word of the Father, became 'silence' in the manger and on the cross, on the night of the Nativity and on the night of his Passion.”
In this silence, the truth “does not need loud cries to reach people’s hearts,” the Pope highlighted. He urged the participants of the upcoming Synod meetings to ask the Holy Spiritto bestow the gift of listening upon them. This silence, according to the Pope, is essential for the journey of Christian unity as it is fundamental to prayerand ecumenism begins with prayer.
In his concluding remarks, Pope Francis reaffirmed his desire for the synod to be a kairos of fraternity. He stated, “Let us ask that the Synod be a kairos of fraternity, a place where the Holy Spiritwill purify the Church from gossip, ideologies, and polarization," and "may we know, like the Magi, how to worship in unity and in silence the mystery of God made man, certain that the closer we are to Christ, the more united we will be among ourselves.”
The Pope’s recent appointment of 21 new cardinals, including an American, to help in the reformation of the Catholic Church also echoes his commitment to diversity and unity. In his instructions to the new cardinals, Pope Francis said their variety and geographic diversity would serve the church like musicians in an orchestra, who sometimes play solos while performing as part of an ensemble other times.
Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable. However, each sound must contribute to the common design. This is why mutual listening is essential: each musician must listen to the others.- Pope Francis
These appointments, along with the synod, reflect Pope Francis’s enduring endeavor to bring about unity, fraternity, and reform within the Catholic Church, even amidst existing controversies and challenges. Despite the divisions and the discordant voices, the Pope’s message remains clear: like an orchestra, each member of the Church must contribute to the common design for the achievement of unity and fraternity.