The synodal process is a pathway of engagement that makes room for the Holy Spirit, not “majority consensus like a parliament” to guide the universal Church, Pope Francis has said.
Addressing the leaders of French Catholic Action on January 13, the pope said synodality is “not a plan or a program to be implemented” but “a style to adopt” that listens to the spirit at hand. through the word of God, prayer and worship.
France’s bishops’ conference had said the purpose of the meeting was for Catholic Action leaders to present to the pope and other Vatican leaders a document titled “Being Apostles Today.”
The objective of this document, which is the culmination of two years of work by Catholic groups in France, is “to discern what unites them in their approach and their actions”, indicated the episcopal conference in a press release.
The French bishops’ conference also noted that the document aligns with the goals of the upcoming synod of bishops on synodality.
During their meeting with the pope and the various dicasteries, the leaders of Catholic Action were to “underline the relevance of their place as ‘apostles’ today in the French ecclesial landscape because of their immersion in a society more further removed from Christian references and the Church. ,” It said.
“This trip will also allow them to listen to what the authorities of the universal Church will have to say to them in order to broaden their vision, their reflections and their actions in order to better associate themselves, as partners, with the necessary evolutions of the Church. “, reads the press release.
Welcoming Catholic group leaders to the Vatican, the pope reflected on the call to be “effective apostles”, citing the example of the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus.
The disciples, he said, remembered their experience of being with Jesus, recognized his presence and then went to Jerusalem to announce his resurrection. Their experience, which Christians today should imitate, can be summed up in three words: see, judge and act.
Reflecting on seeing, Pope Francis stressed the importance of memory and that the first step in Christian witness is to look back at one’s life “to understand the meaning of what has been experienced and to perceive how God was present. every moment”.
Nevertheless, “the subtlety and delicacy of the Lord’s action in our lives sometimes prevents us from understanding it in the moment, and it takes this distance to grasp its coherence,” he said.
To judge or discern the presence of God in their lives, he continued, Christians must also submit their lives “to the scrutiny of the word of God.”
“In the encounter between the events of the world and of our lives, on the one hand, and the word of God, on the other, we can discern the calls that the Lord addresses to us,” the pope said.
He also called on Christians “to give equal space to prayer, interiority and adoration”, because this is how they place their lives under the gaze of Jesus and accept “this encounter between my poor humanity and its transforming divinity”.
Finally, to act is to support and favor the action of God by “adapting to the constantly changing reality”.
“Today, especially in Europe, those who frequent Christian movements are more skeptical of institutions, they seek less demanding and more ephemeral relationships,” he said. “They are more sensitive to emotions, and therefore more vulnerable, more fragile than previous generations, less rooted in faith, but nevertheless in search of meaning and truth, and no less generous.”
Pope Francis encouraged Catholic Action groups to continue their mission to help others “find or rediscover the joy of knowing the friendship of Christ and of announcing the Gospel.
“Your mission, as Catholic Action, is to reach them as they are, to make them grow in the love of Christ and of neighbour, and to lead them to a greater concrete commitment, so that they be protagonists of their own life and of the life of the Church, so that the world changes,” the pope said.