By Paschal Norbert
VATICAN, MARCH 22, 2022 (CISA)- “It is well known that today’s world is in urgent need of fraternity. Without realizing it, the world yearns to meet Jesus. But how do we make this encounter happen? We need to listen to the Spirit together with the whole People of God, so as to renew our faith and find new ways and languages to share the Gospel with our brothers and sisters,” reads a letter to the priests dated March 19, signed by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Lazzaro You Heung Sik, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
The letter by the two prelates addresses the synodal process that Pope Francis proposes and whose objective is “to set out, together, in mutual listening, in sharing ideas and projects, to show the true face of the Church: a hospitable “house”, with open doors, inhabited by the Lord and animated by fraternal relationships.”
The letter also cautions priests against falling into the risks highlighted by the Pope on the synodal process “…that is, formalism, which reduces the Synod to an empty slogan; intellectualism, which makes the Synod a theoretical reflection on problems; and immobilism, nailing us to the security of our habits so that nothing changes -it is important to open our hearts and listen to what the Spirit suggests to the Churches (cf. Rev. 2:7),” while at the same time conveying the deep apprehensions that the clergy might be experiencing.
“First of all, we are well aware that priests in many parts of the world are already carrying a great pastoral burden. And now -it may seem -one more thing “to do” is added. Rather than inviting you to multiply your activities, we would like to encourage you to look at your communities with that contemplative gaze of which Pope Francis speaks to us in Evangelii Gaudium (no. 71) so as to discover the many examples of participation and sharing that are already taking root in your communities,” said the prelates.
“But there may also be another fear: if so, much emphasis is placed on the common priesthood of the baptized and on the sensusjidei of the People of God, what will become of our role as leaders and of our specific identity as ordained ministers? Without a doubt, it is a matter of progressively discovering the fundamental equality of all the baptized and of stimulating all the faithful to participate actively in the journey and mission of the Church. In this way we will have the joy of finding brothers and sisters who share with us the responsibility for evangelization,” they add.
In the letter, the prelates implore the clergy to make a threefold contribution to the synodal process by doing everything so that the journey rests on listening to and living the Word of God.
“Without this grounding in the life of the Word, we risk walking in the dark and our reflections risk becoming an ideology. Instead, by basing ourselves on the Word put into practice, we will build the house on rock (cf. Mt 7:24-27) and we will be able to experience, like the disciples of Emmaus, the surprising light and guidance of the Risen Lord,’ urged the prelates.
The prelates also urged the priests to strive to ensure that the synodal journey is marked by mutual listening and mutual acceptance, to avoid risks of individualism and self-referentiality, which many initiatives and potentials in society have fallen to.
“As pastors, we can do much so that love might heal relationships and heal the wounds that often affect the fabric of the Church, so that the joy of feeling that we are one family, one people on a journey, children of the same Father and therefore brothers and sisters to one another may return, beginning with the fraternity of priests,” they said.
Finally, the priests were asked to,” take care that the journey does not lead us to introspection but stimulates us to go out to meet everyone.”