In his round up of the Amazon Synod on Saturday, after the approval of the Final Document, Pope Francis told participants, and the whole world that “We are all winners” when we carry out our pastoral work all together.
The Pope noted that during the Synod, some things emerged that need reform. “The Church always needs reform,” he said. Starting with priestly formation, the Pope confirmed this is the responsibility of episcopal conferences and called for greater zeal among young religious. Their vocations are solid, but they need to be formed with apostolic zeal so they can go out to the peripheries.
Pope Francis said it would be a good idea for Vatican diplomats in training to spend one or two years in some challenging area of the world, at the service of a bishop in mission territory. Another good reform, he said, would be to redistribute priests within a country.
It is often said there are many priests from the Amazon ministering in the United States and Europe. Others go somewhere to study and end up staying there. One bishop from Italy told him there are priests who will not go to mountain villages unless they are paid. Pope Francis called this a scandal and said we need to be zealous in bringing about reform in these countries.
The Pope then spoke of the section in the document that deals with the role of women. He said the section was a bit short. “I would just like to underline this: we still have not realized what women mean in the Church.” We are only thinking about it from a functional point of view, said the Pope. “The role of women in the Church goes far beyond mere functionality,” he said.
The last part of the document touches on the issue of reorganization. It mentions service structures like REPAM. The Pope referred to the existence of episcopal conferences, semi-episcopal conferences, and regional conferences in other parts of the world, and asked why the concept of smaller bishops’ conferences could not be applied in the Amazon.
Pope Francis said the Synod had also discussed rites and liturgies. “These fall under the responsibility of the Congregation for Divine Worship,” he said, which would examine proposals aimed at inculturation. Speaking of existing Rites in the Church, the Pope noted that they started off small and grew. We should not be afraid of these entities that have a special nature within Holy Mother Church. She is the “Mother of all who supports us on this pathway,” said the Pope.
With regard to an Organization within the Roman Curia, the Pope said this is something that needs to be done, and that he will speak with Cardinal Turkson to open an “Amazon section” within the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The Pope then thanked all those “who worked outside this room”, including secretaries, the media, the broadcasting team, those who prepared the meetings, all those who contributed to what happened “behind the scenes”, making things work.
After thanking the Presidents, and General Secretariat of the Synod, Pope Francis said he wanted to express his gratitude in a special way to the communications media for disseminating the news of the Synod.
He asked that, when communicating the Final Document, the media focus on the diagnosis presented regarding the cultural, social, pastoral, and ecological dimensions discussed. Society needs to take this up as its own, he said. There is a danger of giving importance to specific groups, whereas the world needs to understand all four areas analyzed. There are always people who want to focus on a small part of the document, said the Pope: the disciplinary or intra-ecclesiastical areas. They want to see who won and who didn’t. “We are all winners” when we carry out our pastoral work all together, said Pope Francis.
The Pope then referred to what he called the “elites”, Catholics or Christians who focus on the technicalities and forget the broader picture. He recited a line from Charles Péguy’s “Joint Note on Descartes and Cartesian Philosophy” (1914).
“Because they lack the courage to take up earthly affairs, they believe they are taking up God’s. Because they are afraid to be part of humanity, they think they are part of God. Because they love no one, they delude themselves into thinking they love God.”
Pope Francis said we cannot be the “prisoners of this select group” that pursues their own ends in this area of the Synod and “forget the major part of the Synod and the diagnosis that we have made.”