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Pope Francis celebrates the Synod's opening MassLifeSiteNews

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has officially opened the October assembly of the Synod on Synodality with a Mass in St. Peter’s Square alongside the newly created cardinals from Saturday’s consistory and all the synod participants. 

Presiding over a Mass Wednesday morning, Pope Francis initiated the proceedings of the month-long Synod on Synodality event. The entire synod began in 2021 and is not set to come to a close until October 2024.

READ: Here’s what will take place at the Synod on Synodality this October  

The Mass was attended by Synod on Synodality participants, with the lay members sat up next to the assembled clergy and prelates. St. Peter’s Square was sparsely populated by those attending the Mass.

Delivering his homily, Pope Francis stated that synod participants were “not here to carry out a parliamentary meeting or a plan of reformation.” 

“The synod is not a parliament,” he said, echoing previous statements. “The protagonist is the Holy Spirit… we are here to walk together with the gaze of Jesus.”

Referencing the “gaze of Jesus,” Francis stated how “the primary task of the synod, to refocus our gaze on God; to be a Church that looks mercifully on humanity: a Church that is united and fraternal, that listens and dialogues: a Church that blesses and encourages, that helps those that serves the Lord.”

Cdl. Müller at the Synod’s opening Mass
Cardinals and bishops at the Synod’s opening Mass

Francis added that the the synod looks to enact “a Church that has God at its center and therefore it is not divided internally and is never harsh externally. This is a Church that takes risks with Jesus. This is how Jesus wants the Church, His bride.”

Quoting Pope Paul VI, Francis said there was a need “to become a Church that makes itself a conversation” and “that does not impose burdens.”

“The Church has doors open to everyone, everyone, everyone,” he said, before once again attacking “rigid” Catholics. 

Blessing and welcoming the gaze of Jesus prevents us from falling into certain temptations. From being a rigid Church which arms itself against the world and looks backward.

The Pope’s comments come in light of recent days which have been dominated by news of interventions by cardinals warning of dangerous outcomes from the synod. 

On October 2, five cardinals published their five dubia which they had sent to Pope Francis during the summer, containing questions on Catholic doctrine and morals relevant to the synod discussions. 

READ: Five cardinals write Dubia to Pope Francis on concerns about Synod, Catholic doctrine

The cardinals highlighted the urgency of the synod as a catalyst for the intervention, noting the synod as an event “which many want to use to deny Catholic doctrine on the very issues which our dubia concern.”

One of the signatories, Cardinal Raymond Burke, subsequently spoke at a conference on October 3, at which he expanded on his prior concerns about the synod.

Burke stated that the frequent references to the Spirit by those defending the synod was not a heartfelt appeal for divine assistance, but more of a “political” agenda.

READ: Cardinal Burke responds to dubia criticism, warns Synod aims to change Church’s structure

“It is unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the side of some has for its purpose the advancement of an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine,” Burke warned. 

He also stated that the synod’s working document, which underpins the month-long discussions, “certainly contains statements that depart strikingly and gravely from the perennial teaching of the Church.”

READ: Cardinal Burke warns Synod is part of ‘revolution’ to ‘radically’ change the Catholic Church

Pope Francis joins the new cardinals for a group photo, Oct 4, 2023.

Indeed, the Instrumentum laboris promotes Amoris Laetitia’s argument that the divorced and “re-married” can be admitted to Holy Communion as a settled point of “magisterial and theological teaching.” Allowing divorcees in new unions to receive Holy Communion is now a position which, following the Pope’s and Cardinal Victor Fernández’s recent response to Cardinal Dominik Duka’s dubia, has again been affirmed by the Pope as the authentic interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.

READ: Pope Francis signs text affirming Amoris Laetitia allows Communion for divorced and ‘remarried’

One of the many prelates who has offered his strong support for the five cardinals’ dubia related to the synod is Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

Müller has been vocal in his condemnation of numerous aspects of the synod, previously calling it a “hostile takeover” of the Church that threatens to “end” Catholicism. More recently, he re-issued his condemnations of the event, arguing that through the synod  “false prophets” are looking to transform the Church “into an aid organization for Agenda 2030.”