Pope Francis: Synodality moves us to share in others’ suffering

Pope Francis on synodality Pope Francis made his remarks on synodality during an annual meeting for moderators of international associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements, and new communities, organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on June 13, 2024. | Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis said Thursday a synodal spirit asks us to react with empathy to the suffering and painful experiences of others.

Synodality “asks us to let ourselves be moved, even ‘hurt,’ by the voice, the experience, and suffering of others: of our fellow believers and all those around us. Be open, with an open heart,” the pope said at the Vatican on June 13 to approximately 200 leaders of international Catholic movements and communities.

The pope made his remarks on synodality during an annual meeting for moderators of international associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements, and new communities, organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

“The Challenge of Synodality for the Mission” was the theme of the 2024 meeting.

“Synodality,” Pope Francis said in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall, “asks us to look beyond the barriers with magnanimity, to see the presence of God and his actions even in people we do not know, in new pastoral approaches, in uncharted mission territories.”

He also warned against “the fear of losing our sense of belonging and identity by opening up to other people and differing viewpoints, which stems from failing to recognize diversity as an opportunity rather than a threat.”

Do not enclose yourselves in your own groups, he stressed.

“These are ‘enclosures’ in which we all risk imprisonment,” the pontiff said. “Let us be attentive: Our own group, our own spirituality are realities that help us journey with the people of God, but they are not privileges, for there is the danger of ending up imprisoned in these enclosures.”

He said some of the challenges within ecclesial movements and communities are the temptation to be limited to what the “circle” thinks or “being convinced that what we do is right for everyone, defending, perhaps inadvertently, positions, prerogatives, or the prestige of the ‘group.’”

Pope Francis made his remarks on synodality during an annual meeting for moderators of international associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements, and new communities, organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life on June 13, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis made his remarks on synodality during an annual meeting for moderators of international associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements, and new communities, organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life on June 13, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis also underscored the importance of spiritual conversion in the synodal journey.

“I have often emphasized that the synodal journey requires a spiritual conversion because without an interior transformation, lasting results cannot be achieved,” he said. “My hope is that following this Synod [on Synodality], synodality may endure as a permanent mode of working within the Church, at all levels, permeating the hearts of all, pastors and faithful alike, until it becomes a shared ‘ecclesial style.’”

These goals, however, require a change within each of us, he added.

As part of this spiritual conversion, he also encouraged the meeting participants to foster humility — “the gateway to all virtues.”

“It saddens me when I encounter Christians who boast: because I am a priest from this place, or because they are laypeople from that place, because I am from this institution... This is a bad thing. Humility is the door, the beginning,” he said.

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