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Synod on the Family Needs Prayer, Not Gossip, Says Pope Francis

Catholic Church England
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Prayers for Struggling Families Must Be Animated by Jesus’ Compassion

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has once again issued a call for prayer for the upcoming October Synod on the Family, saying that what is needed is prayer, not chatter and gossip. 

Addressing the faithful at his Wednesday general audience in a rainy St. Peter’s Square on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Holy Father reiterated that the Church is like a mother who never abandons her family, even when its members fall into sin. 

“She will always do everything to try to care for it and heal it, to invite it to conversion and reconciliation with the Lord,” he said. “And so here is what, together with my collaborators, we have thought to propose today: to renew prayer for the Synod of Bishops on the Family.” 

Pope Francis’ call for prayer comes just a day after Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has kept himself out of the public eye since the last synod, also stressed the importance of praying for the synod. “We should all pray for it because a battle is going on,” he said at a book presentation this week.

Cardinal Kasper has argued that the Catholic Church ought to study the Eastern Orthodox Church’s allowance of divorce and remarriage, and has proposed that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics be allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist, after a penitential process in the Catholic Church.

The Pope’s call for prayer also comes one day after some 500 priests from England and Wales signed an open letter stating their “unwavering fidelity” to the Church’s traditional doctrine regarding marriage and human sexuality. 

According to reports, following “much confusion” that derived from last October’s Synod, and ahead of next October’s Synod on the Family, the priests said they wished to “commit [themselves] anew” to presenting the Church’s magisterial teaching in its fullness, while reaching out “with the Lord’s compassion” to those who struggle to live the Gospel “in an increasingly secular society.”

The Pope said Wednesday he would like prayers for the synod to be “animated by the compassion of the Good Shepherd for his flock, especially for persons and families who for various reasons are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” 

Animated by the grace of God, he said, the Church will be “even more committed, even more united in the witness to the truth of God’s love and of his mercy for families in the world, no one excluded, either inside or outside the fold.”

Pope Francis invited the faithful at Wednesday’s audience to pray together a special prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod which he offered the Church at his December 29, 2013 Sunday angelus address. 

A worldwide Eucharistic adoration novena of prayer for the Synod has already begun under the patronage of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose parents are to be canonized during the October synod. A generous response has already come from around the world, especially in Africa where local bishops have promoted the novena in parishes across their diocese. All the faithful are invited to take part in the Eucharistic adoration novena on the first Thursday of every month until October. For more details, click here

Here below is a translation of the Pope’s address.

***

Dear brothers and sisters,

Good morning. On our journey of catecheses on the family, today is a somewhat special step: it will be a pause for prayer.

On March 25, in fact, in the Church we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the beginning of the mystery of the Incarnation. The Archangel Gabriel visits the humble maiden of Nazareth and announces to her that she shall conceive and give birth to the Son of God. With the announcement, the Lord illumines and strengthens Mary’s faith, as he will also do for her husband Joseph, so that Jesus might be born into a human family. 

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