(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the Fathers of the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Monday morning, as they began their first full day of sessions exploring the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.
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In remarks prepared for the occasion, the Holy Father called on all participants in the meeting to speak their minds with fearless frankness, and to listen to one another in a spirit of true charity. Pope Francis told the Fathers, “It is necessary [here] to say all that, which, in the Lord, one feels the need to say: without regard for station [It. Senza rispetto umano] and unabashedly [It. Senza pavidità].” Pope Francis also spoke of the concrete steps he has taken to show that he intends the gathering to be a truly and authentically collegial: an exercise of shared responsibility on the part of the shepherds of God’s flock.
Departing from his prepared text, the Holy Father explained that the officers of the Synod have been chosen – either directly or indirectly – by the organs of the Synod body, itself: the Relator of the Synod and the Secretary General have been directly elected by the post-Synodal Council, the members of which were chosen by the Fathers of the last Synod assembly; the Delegates-President of the Synod, on the other hand, were nominated by Pope Francis on the recommendation of the post-Synodal Council.
Pope Francis went on to offer renewed expressions of desire for a genuinely collegial spirit to govern the proceedings. “I ask you,” he said, “to speak with frankness and listen with humility.” He concluded, saying, “Do so with tranquility and peace, for the Synod always takes cum Petro et sub Petro – with Peter and under Peter – and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee for all and the safeguard of the faith.”