Pope calls for welcoming Church as Synod opens

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Vatican City (Matters India): Pope Francis on October 4 opened a three-week gathering of bishops from around the world by asserting the need for the Church to show love and understanding toward all.

The Pope led a solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to open the synod on the theme of the family in the modern world.

Nearly 300 Church leaders, including some lay people, are currently in Rome to address such issues as how to approach couples who live together without being married or wish to take communion after being divorced.

It is the most highly-anticipated meeting of the Church leaders since the Second Vatican council, some 50 years ago, BBC reports.

Pope Francis dedicated one third of his homily to the topic of love between man and woman and its role in procreation.

The Vatican Radio said the Mass readings centered on three themes — “solitude, love between man and women, and the family.”

They “seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing,” Pope Francis remarked.

The First Reading was from the book of Genesis on God giving Adam a helpmate. Pope Francis compared Adam’s loneliness to solitude humans in modern world, especially the elderly, widows and widowers and those left by their spouses experience. Many today, the pontiff added, are lonely because they are misunderstood and unheard – referring particularly to migrants and refugees.

The pontiff spoke of the “paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families.” Many in the world experience growing interior loneliness because they have “many liberties, but little freedom.”

Speaking on the family Pope Francis said that people today are “less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad.”

“Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.”

Pope Francis said that God did not make men and women to live in sorrow or alone but, rather, for happiness.

Reflecting on Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus was asked about divorce, the Pope said Jesus brings everything back to the beginning of creation: “to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and dissolubility.”

Jesus, he added, wants people to overcome “every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centeredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.”

The Pope said that the Church has to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love in an “extremely difficult social and marital context.”

But the run-up to the synod was dominated by gay issues.

On October 3, the Vatican dismissed a Polish priest from his Holy See job after he came out as gay and called for changes in Catholic teachings against homosexual activity.

Conservative Catholics held a conference in Rome just before the synod started on how homosexuals can live by Church’s rules that they should be chaste while Catholic gay activists held another demanding full acceptance of active gays in the Church.

However, Pope Francis stressed that the Church must be more welcoming, charitable, compassionate and merciful to all people, particularly those whose lives have been wounded and who those find it difficult to adhere to all of the Church’s regulations.

The leader of the 1.2 billion member Church said the person “who falls or errs must be understood and loved.”

“The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock,” he said.

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