by Jay Chin
To conclude the week long Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Pope Francis addressed the Synod Fathers in a short but powerful speech. After a few remarks of thanksgiving to the secretary, the sub-secretary, and all those who made the Synod possible, he delineated some of the temptations they had faced: inflexibility, deceptive mercy, false solutions, giving in to the demands of the world, and neglecting the deposit of faith. But such things should be expected, for they give way to zeal, wisdom and sincerity in discussion. The Church, as Mother, heals the wounds of the needy and penitent and then lifts them up to set them of the path towards Christ. As defender of the faith, when She expresses Herself in communion, She cannot err. Even in moments of heated disputation, the Holy Spirit is at work, and so those episodes need to be managed with tranquility. The duty of the Pope is to remind the pastors, the priests and bishops, that they must nourish their flocks and go out and find the lost sheep.
Further, as Pope Benedict XVI explained, the pastors of the Church protect, guide, and correct their flocks because of their deep love of Jesus Christ. For it is the will of the Lord that the Apostolic College educate His people in the faith in order that His people will be led in the Holy Spirit to their purpose in accordance with the message of the Gospel. This priestly vocation of instruction and protection is a commitment of love to make manifest the infinite mercy of God towards sinners. The Church, as the bride of Christ, and her Magisterium, are servants; and the Pope, as the head, is the servant of servants, who guarantees conformity to the will of God, the Gospel, and the Tradition of the Church. In light of these facts, the Synod will have a year to reflect on the issues brought up before the Extraordinary Synod and find true solutions to the challenges of the family. This speech was received with a four minute standing ovation. Afterwards, the Te Deum was sung and Benediction was given.
These remarks come after a series of controversies, ranging from interviews with cardinals to the Relatio shared in the middle of the Synod. The media has spared no expense is dramatizing what occurred, following with particular interest Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Burke, who are portrayed to express two opposing sides, leading people to wonder what camp Pope Francis himself lies in. However, the Supreme Pontiff, who does not conform to the stories of the media, has made it clear that he takes no stance and instead affirmed that the Synod was not called not to push any personal agendas but to bring clarity to those in need in light of the teachings of the Church. As to what exactly needs clarifying, he did not speak of, leaving such statements for the second half of the Synod in 2015.