A synod of bishops “is no place for debating bright, original ideas or seeing who is the smartest,” Pope Francis told his fellow bishops this morning. It is for “taking better care of the Lord’s vineyard.”
In kicking off the summit on marriage and the family, the Pope underscored the bishops’ responsibility for the people of God. He also encouraged them to work generously “with true freedom and humble creativity.”
This is the task of shepherds of the people, said the Pope, “care for the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work.”
Francis’ insistence on “freedom” and “creativity” dovetails with the message he offered at a prayer vigil last night, in which he asked the thousands present to pray for the bishops, especially so that they will be good listeners, open to God and to their brother bishops.
Francis obviously does not want the bishops to feel restricted by pre-conceived notions, but has urged them to be open to new possibilities. “Does not Church history perhaps recount many similar situations,” the Pope asked, “which our Fathers knew how to overcome with persistent patience and creativity?
In fact, he said, “every time we return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and un-thought of possibilities open up.”
Last year, the Pope expressed his concern for families, which led to the convocation of this synod. According to Francis, “The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis,” which affects the whole of society. The weakening of family bonds “is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another,” he wrote.
Before praying the Angelus today at noon, the Pope once again asked the people gathered in the square for prayers for the synod.