Cardinal Parolin reflected on the importance of the "sensus fidei," the "sense of the faith" in guiding Church teaching. He cited the discussions that led to the solemn declarations of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ahead of hese declarations, the cardinal said, "the entire Church was involved in a large-scale synodal process, where everyone was active, each in its own way: the Pope, who started and ended the process; the bishops, who replied to the Pope attesting their faith and that of the faithful entrusted to them; the People of God, who witnessed a faith that manifested the 'sense of the Church'."
For the cardinal, the "sense of the faith" represents "a vital resource for the new evangelization." He cited Pope Francis' first Angelus address, which cited an elderly woman who said, "If the Lord did not forgive everything, the world would not exist." The Pope commented on this statement: "That is the wisdom which the Holy Spirit gives."
"The intuition of that woman is a touching manifestation of the 'sensus fidei', which allows a certain discernment of the things of faith and at the same time nourishes true wisdom and arouses the proclamation of truth," said the Pope.
The Pope's 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium stressed the importance of the laity, praising those with "a rooted sense of community and a great fidelity to the commitment of the love of Christ."
Cardinal Parolin noted that the exhortation characterizes clericalism as "a sin against the lay faithful." While in some cases the laity have not been formed for important responsibilities, in others the laity have not found space in their particular churches "because of excessive clericalism that keeps them on the margin of decisions."
Parolin cited Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro of Bologna's intervention during the council, in which he linked the "mystery of Christ in the Church" to the "mystery of Christ in the poor" and emphasized the need for the council to be for "the Church of the poor." For Cardinal Parolin, this was a very strong statement, meaning poverty is understood "as the mode of being essential to the mystery of the Church."
Also a topic of the cardinal's speech were various efforts to reconsider papal primacy, centralization, and local authority. He noted then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's concerns that bishops' conferences might suppress the role of the individual bishop.
At the same time, the council documents Christus Dominus and Lumen gentium discuss the collegial nature of bishops' ministry and base these conferences' mission in the sacramental origin of the bishops' ministry.
"In other words, these conferences are really 'episcopal': they have their reason for being not in a sociological principle of collaboration, but in the implementation of the ministry conferred on each bishop with episcopal consecration," the cardinal said.
Cardinal Parolin's U.S. visit included attendance at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' fall assembly and a visit with Vice President Mike Pence.