Day 4 in Rome
As Catholics stream to the opening mass for the Synod, reformers ask for a vote and run into the police
As the crowds streamed into the Vatican Basilica for the opening mass for the Synod on the Family, members of Catholic Church Reform International were joined by International Movement of We Are Church, Women’s Ordination Worldwide and other international reform groups to protest the lack of real decision making power for families at the Synod. They unfurled a sign that read, “Families must have vote in family synods.”
The group was quickly surrounded by the police who challenged their right to be in the square. Leader Rene Reid, showed the officers the permit she had obtained for the event, but that was not sufficient. With more than a dozen officers surrounding the group, the police snapped photos of the group’s signs, song sheets, and confiscated Reid’s passport. Given the circumstances, the group rolled up the signs and waited. The police later returned with Reid’s passport and agreed they could conduct their peaceful protest.
At Opening Mass Pope Francis sounds a warning
During the mass with cardinals, patriarchs, major archbishops, archbishops, bishops and priests, and members of the Synod, Pope Francis had some powerful words of warning for the Synod fathers. Here are important excerpts:
“God’s “dream” is his people…But in both ancient prophecy and in Jesus’ parable, God’s dream is thwarted.”
“In Jesus’ parable, he is addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the “experts”, the managers. To them in a particular way God entrusted his “dream”, his people, for them to nurture, tend and protect from the animals of the field…Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.”
Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people…We [the bishops] too can be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants.”
Francis’ words leave little doubt about his hopes for this Synod. His words this morning set the stage for tomorrow’s first day of work.
The Angelus provides another moment to raise awareness
At the noon Angelus, reformers stood again holding their signs asking that families would get a vote in the Synod on the Family. This time they were able to do so without any interference from the police.
A little later, FutureChurch friend Miriam Duignan from the Winjgaards Institute in the U.K. took a moment to greet Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria who was in the crowd listening to Pope Francis’ blessing. Onaiyekan represents a region with explosive Catholic growth and some predict a future Pope will come from that region. Although he is not a participant in the Synod, he has been talking about the needs of families in Nigeria. Onaiyekan said, “the major problem of the family is how do families maintain themselves if there is massive poverty around, when young people cannot marry not because they do not want to marry, but because they have not got any job and they are waiting for when they can get a good job so they can marry.”
Getting ready for the real work bright and early Monday morning
It is late in Rome as this blog is being written. Friends of FutureChurch, Paul Collins and his wife Marilyn Hatton from Australia reported passing by Cardinal Sean O’Malley on the street as he took a late evening stroll. He was praying the rosary. O’Malley’s prayers are joined by the multitude of prayers by ordinary Catholics who pray for a new day in this Church as the Synod begins. May the work of the Synod be blessed by the God who has big dreams for all of us!