There was a broad, beautiful, thought-provoking array of news today at the Vatican, including Pope Francis’ weekly general audience with a new catechesis on the family, the publication of the Pope’s message for the January 1, 2015 World Day of Peace, entitled “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters,” and his Message to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Eighth World Meeting of Families in September 2015 in Philadelphia on the theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.”

Also taking place in the Vatican is the December 9-11 meeting of the C9, the Council of Cardinals who are advising the Pope on the reform of the curia and many other matters. The C9 members are Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State; Francisco Javier Errazuria Ossa, archbishop-emeritus of Santigo de Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa; Sean Patrick O’Malley OFM Cap, archbishop of Boston; George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State.

I am giving a lot of attention to the Pope’s general audience catechesis (a new one) on the family today for a number of reasons. In the first place, the title of today’s audience was “The True Synod.” I found that fascinating as it made me think of the many news stories, one often quite at variance with another, that came out of the October synod, causing not a little consternation among faithful Catholics who thought that some teachings of the Church were being too easily bandied about and subject to change.

It seems that Pope Francis today – can we say, “at last” – has answered some of those questions and put doubts to rest. And surely we will hear a lot more in coming weeks, and perhaps months, on the topic of the past and future synods and the focus of the new catecheses – the family

Below you will find the VIS account of the entire audience, and that is followed by some “short takes” on the other news of the day, especially Pope Francis’ Message for World Day of Peace where he speaks of “globalizing fraternity, not slavery or indifference,” “the many faces of slavery, yesterday and today,” and the phenomenon of man’s subjugation by man.” A sad, sad commentary on the world we live in!

Here are some of my favorite phrases from Pope Francis’ catechesis today (translated from the Italian):

“During the synod, the media did its work – there was great anticipation, much attention – and we thank them because they did their work in abundance. So many pieces of news. So many! This was all possible thanks to the press office that had a briefing every day. But often the media’s vision was a little in the style of a sports or political (writer): they often spoke of ‘two teams’, ‘for and against’, ‘conservative or progressive’, etc., etc. Today I want to tell you what the synod was.”

“No speech ever put into discussion the fundamental truth of the Sacrament of Matrimony, that is: indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life. This was not touched.”

“Everything took place ‘cum Petro et sub Petro’, that is, with the presence of the Pope, which is the guarantee for everyone of freedom and trust, and a guarantee of orthodoxy. And at the end, with my speech I gave a summary of the synodal experience. Therefore, the documents that came out of the synod are three: The Final message, the Final Report and the final speech of the Pope. There are no others.”


(VIS) – Having concluded his weekly series of catecheses on the Church, Pope Francis began a new series dedicated to the family at today’s general audience, saying this is “a new cycle in this intermediate period between two synod assemblies dedicated to this important reality.” Before considering the different aspects of family life, Francis began by speaking about the synod held this past October on the theme, “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of new evangelization.”

The Pope explained that, first of all he asked the Synod Fathers to speak frankly and courageously and to listen with humility.

The Holy Father first praised the work of the Holy See Press Office during the Synod, and the good work accomplished by the media responsible for covering the assembly. He went on to mention the events and results of the assembly, and emphasised that at no point was there any form of censorship and that the Synod Fathers were entirely free to speak frankly. “The only think I asked of them was that they speak with sincerity and courage, and listen with humility.”

 (Vatican Radio reported that,“The Holy Father told the thousands of faithful present that he wanted to share with them what took place and what the Synod has produced. He said that, that during this time there was much media attention on the work being done at the Synod and for that the Pope expressed his thanks. But, Pope Francis added, often the vision of the media was a bit ‘in the style of sports or political coverage: “they often spoke of two teams, pro and con, conservatives and liberals, and so on.”

”The Pope explained that, first of all he asked the Synod Fathers to speak frankly and courageously and to listen with humility. He also stressed there was no prior censorship and that everyone had the chance to say what was in his heart.)

He explained that the Instrumentum laboris always remained the basis of all the interventions that took place, and that this document was the result of a previous consultation involving all of the Church. He remarked that “no intervention challenged the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of Marriage: indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life.” All these interventions, in a second phase, were gathered together and gave rise to the Relatio post disceptationem or the post-discussion report, which was divided into three sections: listening to the context and the challenges to the family; looking steadily at Christ and the Gospel of the family, and comparison with pastoral perspectives. The third phase, the group discussions, followed this first approach at a summary. Finally, at the end of its work, each group presented a report and all the group reports were published immediately, “with transparency, so that what was happening was made known”.

Finally, a commission examined all the suggestions that emerged from the groups and the a Final Report was produced, maintaining the same structure as before – listening, looking to the Gospel and pastoral ministry – which was then sent to all the Episcopal Conferences worldwide to enable discussion prior to the Ordinary Assembly, scheduled for October 2015. As always, a Final Message from the Synod was approved, more concise and informative compared to the Report. The Holy Father remarked that the Synod Fathers “did not argue, but there were animated discussions. This is the freedom of the Church”, and added that there are three official Synod documents: the Final Message, the Final Report, and the Pope’s concluding discourse.

The Bishop of Rome emphasized that the Synod is not a parliament but rather a protected space that allows the Holy Spirit to intervene, and that now the work of prayer, reflection and fraternal discussion must continue in the particular Churches in preparation for the upcoming Assembly. “Let us commend it to the protection of the Virgin Mother, so that she may help us to follow God’s will in making pastoral decisions that offer greater and better help to families”, he concluded.


(VIS) – The 7th World Meeting of Families will take place from 22 to 27 September 2015 in Philadelphia, U.S.A., and its theme will be “Love is our mission: the family fully alive”, as announced by Pope Francis in a letter addressed to Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in which he also confirms his attendance at the event.

Francis remarked that during the recent Synod on the family the most urgent issues affecting the family in our society were identified, and he underlined that “we cannot qualify a family with ideological concepts, we cannot speak about a conservative family or a progressive family. The family is the family! The values and virtues of the family, its essential truths, are the strong points on which the family nucleus rests, and they cannot be called into question”. We are required, instead, to “review our style of life, that is always open to the risk of being ‘contaminated’ by a worldly mentality – individualist, consumerist, hedonistic – and to rediscover the high road, to live and to propose the greatness and beauty of marriage and the joy and being and forming a family.”

For entire Message in English, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/papal-message-for-the-world-meeting-of-families-in


Two excerpts from the Holy Father’s Message for the 48th World Day of Peace, to be held on January 1, 2015 on the theme “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters.’ For the full text, click on the link below:

“At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders. In doing so, I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.”

“…..Tragically, the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love. This abominable phenomenon, which leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity, takes many forms. I would like briefly to consider these, so that, in the light of God’s word, we can consider all men and women ‘no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters’.”

For entire Message, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/2015-world-day-of-peace-message-no-longer-slaves-b