On Sunday, November 23, 2014, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, delivered a lecture on the topic: “What really happened at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops” in the Christian Culture Lecture Series at Windsor’s Assumption University. It was the first in a series of this year’s theme “The Call to Holiness.” The lecture took place in St. Paul’s Church in LaSalle, Ontario, just outside of Windsor. Salt and Light Television filmed the lecture which will air on our network early in 2015.
Excerpt from Fr. Rosica’s lecture:
The recent extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme ‘Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,’ will be remembered as a milestone in the history of the church. Blessed Paul VI shared this vision and established in Rome ‘a permanent council of bishops for the universal church,’ called ‘the Synod of Bishops’ on September 15, 1965. Many say that the October 2014 assembly was the first time since Blessed Paul VI established this organ of collegiality that the assembly functioned as a synod and not a staged gathering of pseudo-concord.
You may have heard or read that this Synod has been about changing the teaching of the Church on marriage, family life or sexual morality. This is not true! It was about the pastoral care that we try to offer each other, the ‘motherly love of the Church’, especially when facing difficult moments and experiences in family life.
You may have heard that the Synod represented a ‘defeat for Pope Francis’ or that he was disappointed at its outcome. This is not true! At the Synod, Pope Francis invited the universal Church to journey together as we reflected on the joys and hopes, dark moments and light moments of what it means to be family today. It is a very complicated journey that involves everyone in the Church, and that requires a profound, systematic reflection on the pastoral and dogmatic issues. At the end of our two intense weeks together, Pope Francis spoke at length about his joy and satisfaction at its work. He told us to look deeply into our hearts to see how God had touched us during the Synod, and to see how we may have been tempted away from the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Synod, he insisted, has been a spiritual journey, not a debating chamber.
In his opening address to all of us in the Synod hall on Monday morning, October 6, Pope Francis shared these words with us: “After the last Consistory (February 2014), in which there was discussion on the family, a Cardinal wrote to me saying: too bad that some Cardinals didn’t have the courage to say some things out of respect for the Pope, thinking, perhaps, that the Pope thought something different. This is not good; this is not Synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that one feels should be said in the Lord, without a merely human respect, without fear. And, at the same time, one must listen with humility and welcome with an open heart what the brothers say. With these two attitudes one practices Synodality. And so I ask you, please, to observe these fraternal attitudes in the Lord: to speak with parresia and to listen with humility.”
“It has been a great experience, in which we have lived synodality and collegiality, and felt the power of the Holy Spirit, who constantly guides and renews the church,” Pope Francis said in his homily on Sunday Oct. 19, as he closed that assembly and beatified Paul VI.