Pope Francis writes letter of “affection” to parish priests regarding Synodality

8 May, 2024 | Church, News, Pope, Synod, World

In his 2 May letter to parish priests who traveled from around the world to the Vatican to take part in the International Meeting ‘Parish Priests for the Synod’, Pope Francis offered his heartfelt thanks saying, “The Church could not go on without your dedication and your pastoral service.”

Addressing the three hundred priests who gathered in Sacrofano, outside of Rome, for the five-day meeting, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the generous work they do daily to sow seeds of the Gospel throughout the world.  The meeting was dedicated to listening, prayer, and discernment, and to address the question of how to be a local synodal Church on mission.

Pope Francis acknowledged the great diversity of the realities facing the priests, observing that bringing their diverse perspectives and experiences all the more enriches the process of synodality.  He said, “For this reason, a synodal Church needs its parish priests,” saying that without priests, we will never be able to learn how to walk together and to set out on the path of synodality.

The Holy Father called on all priests to accompany the communities they serve in the synodal process, while, at the same time, committing themselves with prayer, discernment and apostolic zeal.  Pope Francis went on to offer three suggestions to inspire parish priests in their activity and mission.

Firstly, the Pope urged priests to live out their specific ministerial charism in ever greater service to the varied gifts that the Spirit sows in the People of God.  “It is urgent to discover with faith,’ the many and varied charismatic gifts of the laity, which are indispensable for evangelizing any number of human situations and contexts,” he said, expressing his conviction, that, in doing so, they will bring to light “many hidden treasures,” and “feel less alone in the demanding task of evangelization.”

“You will experience the joy of being true fathers, who do not dominate others,” he said, “but rather bring out in them, men and women alike, great and precious possibilities.”

Secondly, he urged the priests to learn to practise the art of communal discernment, employing for this purpose the method of “conversation in the Spirit”, which has proved so helpful in the synodal journey and in the proceedings of the synodal Assembly itself.

Thirdly, Pope Francis urged the priests to base everything they do on a spirit of sharing and fraternity among themselves and with their bishops: “We cannot be authentic fathers unless we are first sons and brothers,” he said, “And we cannot foster communion and participation in the communities entrusted to our care,” he continued, “unless, before all else, we live out those realities among ourselves.”

To read Pope Francis’ letter please visit here

To learn more about the Irish Synodal Pathway and the Universal Synod, visit: www.synod.ie


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