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The Vatican facade for the Together 2023 eventMichael Haynes/LifeSiteNews

Pledge your prayers and fasting for protection of the Church during the Synod on Synodality HERE

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) –– Pope Francis joined with male and female religious leaders outside St. Peter’s Basilica today to lead an ecumenical prayer vigil for the Synod on Synodality.

Organized as the unofficial first event for the 2023 October meetings of the Synod on Synodality, the “Together 2023” ecumenical prayer vigil took place around Rome and culminated in St. Peter’s Square on September 30.

Participants could take part in numerous workshops around the city, including those with a focus on learning from Islam and Buddhism. Organized with a particular focus on attracting young people, “Together 2023” had as its highlight the ecumenical vigil at the Vatican.

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Pope Francis outside the Vatican at the Together 2023 vigil
Pope Francis at the Together 2023 vigil

According to the organizers, the vigil was intended to highlight prayer at the Synod, but also “to underline the articulation between the synodal path and the ecumenical path, which all the documents of the synodal path have highlighted.” 

“Synodality and ecumenism are two paths to be traveled together,” they stated. “The commitment to build a synodal Church has several ecumenical implications.”

Joining Pope Francis on the outside altar were leaders from the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant, Methodist, Baptist and Evangelical communities.

Pope Francis stands next to Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby during a reading
Pope Francis addresses the Together 2023 vigil

Referencing the impending Synod, Pope Francis highlighted “silence” and called for “the entire people of the baptized,” to “walk together.”

“We ask that the Synod be kairós of fraternity, a place where the Holy Spirit purifies the Church of chatter, ideologies and polarization,” said Francis.

During the event, Francis and the religious leaders watched a video with different “stations” each giving thanks for various parts of creation. A group of people acted out the Scripture passages of the Good Samaritan parable, and young people spoke about their highlights from the Synod so far.

Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby watch the ‘stations’ video

Toward the close of the event, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby intoned the Our Father, which was then taken up by the crowd.

Finally, Pope Francis took center stage with the other religious male and female leaders, to give a joint blessing on those attending the prayer vigil.

Pope Francis joins the ecumenical leaders to give a joint blessing

The Square was decorated with foliage, as often happens at the Vatican for special liturgical feasts. However, according to the prayer vigil organizers, the decoration was not for the consistory of cardinals earlier in the day, but for the ecumenical vigil. Since the event took place days before the Vatican-honored “season of creation” ends on October 4, the organizers wrote how the plants were “an invitation to rekindle a sense of wonder and gratitude for the gift of creation.”

Additionally, the religious leaders were handed “some seeds in a bag given by the representatives of the four groups who made the presentations before the vigil, as a sign of the seeds of unity/synodality to plant at home and make grow (with reference to 1 Cor 3:6 ‘I planted, Apollo watered, but God made it grow’).” 

The ecumenical vigil was a project born chiefly out of the Taizé Community, and brought into fruition alongside the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops – which is organizing the Synod – and the Dicastery for Christian Unity. 

The event’s timing so close to the Synod was a direct intervention of the Dicastery, and it was Pope Francis who decided that he would preside over the event.

Its link to the Synod was further marked by the fact that all the Synod participants were requested to attend the vigil.

Pledge your prayers and fasting for protection of the Church during the Synod on Synodality HERE